Announces 2006 Safe Routes To School Program
(COLUMBUS)Ohio Department of Transportation
(ODOT) Director Gordon Proctor today announced ODOTs new Safe Routes
to School Program (SRTS). The program will make it easier and safer
for children to commute to school using their own power and is the
first of its kind for Ohio.
Each year, approximately 2,000 children (grades
kindergarten through middle school) are injured and 28 are killed in
fatal accidents as they travel to and from Ohios schools. With
increased traffic on the road and fewer designated areas to walk or
bike, the number of children traveling to and from school by walking
or riding their bikes has decreased from half of all school aged
children in 1969 to about 15 percent in 2006. This initiative will
help reverse that downward trend, reduce congestion and increase
We are expanding ODOTs focus to improve safety
by going beyond infrastructure improvements and adding an educational
and encouragement component to our work, Proctor said. The Safe
Routes to School Program can help children again become active and
ODOT will allocate about $19 million dollars over
the next four years for a variety of activities from educational,
encouragement and health projects to infrastructure projects such as
sidewalks, pedestrian and bike paths, crosswalks, traffic calming,
bike racks or planning activities.
The educational, encouragement and health aspects
of the program are unique for ODOT. The department will have new
opportunities to work with representatives from public health, trails,
parks, law enforcement, education and the public. Because these
aspects of safety and outreach are so new to ODOT, these
representatives are helping ODOT develop the program.
Following an extensive review process and
adoption of policy and procedures, Ohio expects to request the first
round of grant applications by January 2007. Likely applicants will be
state, local, and regional agencies including nonprofit organizations.
SRTS enables communities to make walking and
bicycling to school a safe and routine activity. Funding will be
available through 2009 for a wide variety of programs and projects,
building safer street crossings to establishing
educational programs that encourage children in kindergarten through
middle school, including those with disabilities, and their parents to
walk and bicycle safely to school.
The program was created by the recent federal
transportation bill, which specifies how states can spend federal gas
- The program is 100 percent federally funded
through the Federal Highway Administration, which means there will
be no required match from applicants.
- A minimum of 10 percent and a maximum of 30
percent of Ohios allocation must be used for non-infrastructure
related activities such as education, enforcement and encouragement.