ODOT targets $3.9 million for Safe Routes to Schools

Federal funds aimed at encouraging more students to walk or bike to school  

COLUMBUS (Thursday, April 16, 2009) - With the return of warmer weather, more of Ohio’s elementary and middle school students may choose to walk or bike to school. To make sure those children get to class and home safely, the Ohio Department of Transportation is targeting $3.9 million to 66 communities as part of ODOT’s Safe Routes to School program.

Schools zone can be dangerous: Between 2006 and 2008, Ohio’s school zones were home to more than a 1,000 crashes. In 2008, one person was killed, and 121 people were injured.

This year, ODOT is awarding $3.7 million in federal transportation funds to 13 local communities to build mutli-use paths, bike racks, and sidewalks near schools, as well as improve lighting and signage near school zones.

Another five communities will receive $296,000 to develop educational materials and events or increase law enforcement near schools zones to encourage more students to walk or bike to school. 

An additional $756,000 will go to 53 communities to create School Travel Plans, a required outline of how communities will encourage parents and children to travel by means other than a motor vehicle to and from school.

This is the second year ODOT has granted awards through the federal Safe Routes to School program. Last year, ODOT awarded nearly $4 million to communities across the state for school crossing signals, sidewalks, educational materials and school travel plans.

Some of the communities that will benefit from the Safe Route to Schools program include:

  • Montgomery County - The City of Dayton will improve sidewalks, curbs, lighting and pedestrian crossings near Cleveland, Edison, Fairview, Keiser and Ruskin Schools, improving travels for students in grades kindergarten through eighth.
  • Franklin County - The City of Columbus will add sidewalks to the residential area between Dana Elementary and Starling Middle Schools to improve walk-ability in the Franklinton area near downtown.
  • Hamilton County - The City of Madeira will build a sidewalk near Madeira Elementary, making it safer for parents and the nearly 600 students in pre-school through fourth grade to walk to the school
  • Brown County - ODOT will construct a half-mile shared use path from the village of Aberdeen to RULH Middle School. Without this path, students are not allowed to walk or ride to the school - currently the only way to get to RULH Middle School is to walk on U.S. Route 52.

More than a third of youths aged 9 to 15 live within a mile of school, but less than half of these students walk or bike even one day a week. This is a lost opportunity for students to get much-needed physical activity and to learn more about their neighbors and the community.

National statistics from 1969 showed that half of all students walked or bicycled to school. Today, fewer than 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or biking. Instead, more than half of all children arrive at school in private automobiles.

For more information on ODOT’s Safe Routes to School program, log on to http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/Local/Projects/SafeRoutes/. To learn more tips for getting to school safely, go to www.saferoutesinfo.org.

For more information, contact:
Scott Varner, Central Office Communicationsat 614-644-8640 or
Nancy Burton, Central Office Communications, at (614) 728-8915

For a complete listing of the Safe Routes to School projects, go to: http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/Local/Projects/SafeRoutes/