The SRTS program is administered by the IDOT. SRTS uses a multidisciplinary approach to improve conditions for students who walk or bike to school. The program has three main goals:
Illinois SRTS funds both infrastructure improvements to the physical environment as well as non-infrastructure projects. Eligible project sponsors include schools and school districts, governmental entities and non-profit organizations. Projects may be organized on a variety of jurisdictional levels.
History of Safe Routes to School: From Denmark to Chicago
The SRTS concept began in the late 1970s in Odense, Denmark over concern for the city’s pedestrian accident rate. The city implemented a number of improvements including a network of pedestrian and bicycle paths, slow speed areas, narrowed roads and traffic islands. The result was an 85 percent reduction in traffic injuries to children.
The first SRTS program in the United States began in 1997 in the Bronx borough of New York City. In August 2005, federal transportation legislation devoted $612 million for the federal SRTS Program from 2005 through 2009. In 2012, SRTS activities were eligible to compete for funding through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation bill.
Not long ago, children routinely moved around their neighborhoods by foot or by bicycle, often traveling to and from school in this way. This is no longer the case. In 1969, 42 percent of children aged 5-18 years old walked or biked to school. In 2001, that number had dropped to 16 percent. However, the 2009 National Household Travel Survey data reveals that the percentage of students walking and bicycling to school has remained constant at about 12 percent over the last 15 years.
Figure 1. Travel Day Mode to School for Children Ages 5-14 Years
Figure 2. Usual School Arrival Travel Mode for Children Ages 5-14
Figure 2 provides further analysis from the National Center for Safe Routes to School shows that 13 percent of children five to 14 years old usually walked or biked to school compared with 48 percent of students in 1969. Conversely, 12 percent of children arrived at school by private automobile in 1969, and, by 2009, this number increased to 44 percent. Rates of school bus ridership to school over this same 40-year span showed the least change, increasing from 38 to 40 percent.What Caused the Decline in Walking and Bicycling to School?
The circumstances that have led to a decline in walking and bicycling to school did not happen overnight. Understanding the many reasons why so many children do not walk or bicycle to school is an important first step. In 2005 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a nationwide survey of parents to find out the most common barriers preventing them from allowing their children to walk to school. Top concerns cited by parents included:
For more information on this information, visit the SRTS Guide at www.saferoutesinfo.org.
Benefits of Safe Routes to School
SRTS programs can help reverse the downward trend in physical activity levels among children. Walking and bicycling to and from school can contribute towards the development of a lifelong habit of incorporating physical activity into daily routines. Children who walk to school are more physically active overall than those who travel to school by car. Among the benefits of successful SRTS programs are:
At this time there are no funding opportunities available through the SRTS program. The last funding cycle was 2013-2014. To date, there have been four funding cycles with past awards in 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2014. Funding opportunities will be posted here as they become available. To be notified of future funding opportunities, please contact the Safe Routes to School Coordinator at DOT.SafeRoutes@illinois.gov.
This page will be updated any time there is a program or policy change. These changes will also be communicated to registered users via email. Please continue to check this page as you plan and implement Safe Routes in your community.
Survey Tool - Free Online Parent Surveying in English and Spanish
Parent Perception Surveys and Student Travel Tallies are required for all funded SRTS projects. The National Center for Safe Routes to School has established an online data reporting portal which gives local Safe Routes to School programs the ability to collect parent survey responses online in both English and Spanish. This online parent survey option is offered in addition to the national center's free service of processing hard copies of the English and Spanish Parent Surveys.
To access the National Center for Safe Routes to School’s online data collection portal, visit http://www.saferoutesdata.org/.
Monitoring Policies for SRTS Award Recipients and Subrecipients
This policy was established to ensure subrecipients of federal SRTS funds are meeting the required guidelines. IDOT will maintain a report detailing invoice monitoring and on-site monitoring results.
Funding Application Policy Guidelines
New funding guidelines have been put in place for the 2008 and future funding cycles. These guidelines were determined by the Illinois SRTS Implementation Committee in conjunction with our consultant partners at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) and League of Illinois Bicyclists. IDOT also worked with the Illinois Safe Routes to School State Network Advisory Committee and took into consideration the application processes of other states, the previous Illinois application cycle, the concerns of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, and the guidance provided by the National Center and the Federal Highways Administration.
The funding guidelines are as follows:
One Non-infrastructure Application per school district
We believe that these guidelines will help us to use Illinois’ Safe Routes to School funding to address the most pressing student pedestrian and bicyclist issues in cooperation with the schools, governmental bodies and non-profit organizations of Illinois. We also believe that these guidelines will allow for a relatively large number of projects to be funded throughout the state in coming years. This approach was developed to encourage school districts to apply for projects that address their highest priorities and emphasizes the importance of non-infrastructure programming. It also reinforces the important partnerships between schools, municipalities and community partners.
Can I apply for a project on private land (private school or parochial campus)?
The Federal Highway Administration’s Safe Routes to School Guidance addresses the issue as follows:
For infrastructure projects, public funds must be spent on projects within the public right of way. This may include projects on private land that have public access easements. Public property includes lands that are owned by a public entity, including those lands owned by public school districts. Construction and capital improvement projects also must be located within approximately two miles of a primary or middle school (grades K – 8). Schools with grades that extend higher than grade 8, but which include grades that fall within the eligible range, are eligible to receive infrastructure improvements.
For projects on private land, there must be a written legal easement or other written legally binding agreement that ensures public access to the project. There must be an easement filed of record, which specifies the minimum length of time for the agreement to maximize the public investment in the project. The minimum length of time for such easement is 20 years.
The project agreement should clearly state in writing:
The project must remain open for general public access for the use for which the funds were intended for the timeframe specified in the easement or lease. The public access should be comparable to the nature and magnitude of the investment of public funds.
Reversionary clauses may be appropriate in some instances. These clauses would assure that if the property is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was acquired, it would revert to the original owner.
Is in-house engineering and construction eligible for funding?
IDOT’s policy allows in-house engineering and construction as fundable parts of SRTS infrastructure projects. However, please note, that the SRTS program will not cover expenses incurred before your project has been approved for funding and the notice to proceed has been given. There will be no retroactive funding for costs incurred prior to the notice to proceed.
Is there a GIS mapping requirement?
The GIS mapping is required for both School Travel Plans and infrastructure project applications. Further details on any mapping requirements will be made available in the application materials when funding is available.
The 2013/2014 funding cycle is now closed. Please subscribe to our email list to be notified of future SRTS funding opportunities. Past application materials can be found below. They should be used as a reference only, and will be updated before the next call for projects is released.
No announcements at this time
C-U SRTS Project has successfully partnered with various community organizations and businesses to leverage its IDOT SRTS Community Education Grant thereby gaining more media coverage than the original $25,500 grant could purchase. The grant was awarded in 2008 to: “Train School and Community Audiences about Safe Routes to School.”
C-U SRTS Project has had major support in developing a successful SRTS program since 2004 from the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD). CUMTD has contributed considerable staff support, in-kind contributions such as copying, and interior advertising space for International Walk To School Day events. CUMTD has been a leader in the community in advocating for pedestrian and bicycle issues and safety.
The project approached the CUMTD about the opportunity to put pedestrian safety messages on bus boards on the exterior of buses in the spring of 2009. CUMTD responded by offering the expertise of its marketing director to help design ads based on copy provided through:
Four bus board designs were developed. The project paid for the production of eight signs, two for each message, and the CUMTD will place the bus boards on buses when ad space is not being used by paying customers. This has saved the Project thousands of dollars and given us the opportunity to disseminate our pedestrians and SRTS safety message widely within the community.
Please click the links below to see the different bus boards:
As part of our C-U SRTS Project grant, we developed a Crossing Guard Appreciation program. With this program, schools can nominate their crossing guard to receive recognition through presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation, a gift card to a local restaurant, and their picture in our monthly newspaper ad. We are using this program to again draw awareness to pedestrian and school zone safety. We use this along with our billboard advertising as well as our BusBoards on our local CU MTD buses. All of these media awareness ads are used to bring the awareness to the community as a whole on pedestrian safety for our children.
For more information, please contact:
Rose M. Hudson, Project Co-Chair
C-U SRTS Project
Wilmette has generously shared examples of their successful Caught Being Good program. With the assistance of the Police Department and local merchants, Wilmette has instituted a summer-time program where police officers who "catch" students wearing their bike helmets can provide that student with a coupon redeemable for a summer treat.
This is a great program and a wonderful way to involve everyone in safe cycling!
Do you have a success story about how Safe Routes to School has impacted your school or community? We are always looking for stories to share and to inspire the Safe Routes community. If you have a Safe Routes success story to share, please send us the information at DOT.SafeRoutes@illinois.gov.
IDOT Quarterly Reporting for Safe Routes to School
National Safe Routes to School Information
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
National Center for Safe Routes to School
National Safe Routes to School Program Promotes Role for Law Enforcement
NHTSA Safe Routes to School
FHWA Safe Routes to School
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
League of American Bicyclists
Walk Bike to School
League of Illinois Bicyclists
Active Transportation Alliance
Illinois Bicycling Guide – Department of Natural Resources
Regional Bicycling Information in Illinois (green.illinois.gov)
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
Illinois Department of Transportation – Bicycle
Engineering Design Manuals
IDOT Bureau of Local Roads Streets Manual
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
State and Federal Policies and Laws
Davis-Bacon Act (Federal law regarding prevailing wages on public works projects)
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
Title 23 Highway Legislation/Regulations
CDC Kids Walk to School Site
For additional information regarding the Illinois SRTS program you may contact:
State Safety Engineer
Division of Highways
Illinois Department of Transportation
Stay Informed – Subscribe now!
An e-mail subscription service is available to assist IDOT in communicating important information regarding the Illinois SRTS program. This is a one-way announcement service. Your email address will be kept private and not sold or otherwise distributed outside the department.
To subscribe or unsubscribe, click on the link below and send the blank email that pops up. (Do not add anything to the subject line or to the body of the email).