Illinois Safe Routes to School (SRTS)

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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:

  • To enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school.
  • To make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.
  • To facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity (within two miles) of both public and private primary and middle schools (grades K-8).

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. They 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. Because of the success of the program in Denmark, the SRTS concept spread internationally, with programs developing throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. The first SRTS program in the United States was started 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. Although this legislation expired in 2009, funding for its programs has been extended, pending a new transportation safety bill. It is this program that funds Illinois’ SRTS Program.

Why We Need Safe Routes to School: The Decline of Walking and Bicycling

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. Whether looking at the total proportion of children walking and bicycling to school, or just those children that live within a mile of the school, the decline in walking and bicycling to school is apparent.

     In 1969

  • 42 percent of children 5 to 18 years of age walked or biked to school.
  • 87 percent of children 5 to 18 years of age who lived within one mile of school walked or biked to school.

     In 2001

  • 16 percent of children 5 to 18 years of age walked or biked to school.
  • 63 percent of children 5 to 18 years of age who lived within one mile of school walked or biked to school. (See Figure 1)

Figure 1.  Active Transport to School: 1969 National Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) versus 2001 National Household Transportation Survey

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As walking and biking to school has declined the rates of obesity and asthma among children have increased dramatically. Public health and medical professionals have begun to speculate that the current generation of children may be the first that will not live as long as their parents. (See Figure 2)

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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 and have created a self-perpetuating cycle. As motor vehicle traffic increases, parents become more convinced that it is unsafe for their children to walk or bicycle to school. They then begin driving their children to school, which adds even more traffic to the road and sustains the cycle. Understanding the many reasons why so many children do not walk or bicycle to school is the first step in interrupting the cycle. The following reasons are often cited by parents:

  • Distance to School. Beginning in the 1970’s, rather than renovating existing schools or building within the community, most new schools were built on the edges of communities where the land costs were lower. This requires many students to travel farther making it difficult, if not impossible, for children to walk or bicycle to school.
  • Traffic-Related Danger. In 2004, 493 pedestrians and bicyclists ages 14 and under were killed and approximately 29,000 children were injured while walking or bicycling in the United States. An increasingly common response by many parents is to drive their child to school. However, being inside a motor vehicle does not ensure safety. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for school-age children.
  • Weather Conditions. While the weather has not changed much since a generation ago when so many children walked or biked, adverse weather is frequently cited as a reason for not allowing children to walk to school.
  • Crime Danger. Crime concerns may be based on both real and perceived crime. In any case, these fears affect how many children are allowed to walk or bicycle to school. SRTS programs work to identify the real dangers and perceptions and try to address both.
  • Opposing School Policies. Some schools or communities enforce school policies that prohibit children from walking and bicycling to school. Although the restriction may have stemmed from safety concerns for students, its implications could work against a SRTS program. The solution may be to address the safety issues rather than permanently prohibit walking and bicycling to school. Identifying and understanding the reasons underlying the policy can help programs address important issues and reverse the policy if appropriate.
Benefits of Safe Routes to School

SRTS programs can help reverse the dangerous 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:

  • Reducing the number of children hit by cars.
  • Reducing congestion around schools— parents driving their children to school account for 20 percent to 25 percent of morning rush hour traffic. (Source: NHTSA 2003; Dept. of Environment).
  • Improving children’s health— physical activity is needed for proper growth and development.
  • Reducing air pollution— this is important since air pollutants have been shown to exacerbate asthma.
  • Saving money for schools— reduce need for School Safety Busing in which bus service is provided for children who live close to school because the routes are not safe for walking.
  • Improving community security— increases eyes on the street.
  • Increasing children’s sense of freedom.
  • Teaching pedestrian and bicycle skills.

Policy

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.


 
Policy Page Index
New Survey Tool - Free Online Parent Surveying in English and Spanish
SRTS 2010 Funding Cycle - Dates and Funding
Implementation of Monitoring Policies for SRTS Award Recepients
SRTS 2008 Deadlines (Updated 9-15-08)
2008 Funding Application Policy - New Guidelines!
2007 SCHOOL TRAVEL PLAN DEADLINE MAY 31, 2007 at 5:00 PM
SRTS Policy Update/Clarification - Projects on Private Land
In-House Engineering and Construction
2007 GIS Mapping Requirement
2007 SRTS Deadlines


 
New Survey Tool - Free Online Parent Surveying in English and Spanish
December 9, 2010

Parent Perception Surveys and Student Travel Tallies are required for all funded SRTS projects. The National Center for Safe Routes to School has added another convenient option to get these surveys completed!

The National Center for Safe Routes to School (the National Center) has launched a new feature which gives local Safe Routes to School programs the ability to collect parent survey responses online in both English and Spanish. The online parent survey option is a free service that streamlines the data collection and submission processes, and saves local programs administrative time and money. The new feature enters parent survey responses directly into the National Center's online data system which eliminates the need for additional fee-based survey software. Previously, organizers had to subscribe to Survey Monkey in order to collect responses and then go through additional steps to submit their local data to the National Center. 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 see if online surveying is appropriate for your school and for information on how to start using this new feature, visit www.saferoutesinfo.org/resources/evaluation_parent-survey-instructions.cfm.


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SRTS 2010 Funding Cycle - Dates and Funding
Friday, May 7, 2010

The 2010 planning and funding cycle has begun. To participate, interested parties are required to submit a current school travel plan (either an updated, cloned plan based off of a previous approved plan OR a new, from scratch plan) for approval. New applications will also need to be submitted.

If you have any questions, please contact the Safe Routes to School Coordinator at DOT.SafeRoutes@illinois.gov.

The dates for the 2010 cycle are:

May 31: School Travel Plan submittal becomes available (submit button turned on)

October 1: Call for Projects opens. An approved School Travel Plan is necessary to access the application.

November 1, 5:00:00 P: Last day to submit School Travel Plan for review and comment. All Plans received after this date will either be approved or denied, and there will not be an opportunity to resubmit.

November 12, 5:00:00 P: Last day to submit a School Travel Plan for 2010 planning and application cycle. No Plans will be accepted after 5:00.

December 15, 5:00:00 P: Call for Projects closes. All applications must be in before 5:00:00. No late applications will be accepted.

January 2011: Application review and scoring begins.

Mid-Late 2011: Funded Projects announced.

At least $7M in funding will be available. The Department may also use next year's anticipated federal funding to supplement this amount, increasing the total amount awarded. This decision is at the discretion of the Department, and will be announced if/as the future funding is allocated to the state.

The funding guidelines are the same as for the 2008 planning and application. They are:

One infrastructure and one non-infrastructure application permitted per school district*
(*exception for Chicago Public Schools)

One Infrastructure Application per school district
- $250,000 funding limit for total application, with up to a 3 project maximum
- $2,000 minimum funding per individual project
- Associated municipality, county, township, or park district must sponsor – school districts and non-profits may NOT sponsor
- All infrastructure projects must be within 2 miles of a public or private that houses any combination of students in grades K-8

One Non-infrastructure Application per school district
- $100,000 funding limit for total application, with up to a 3 project maximum
- $2,000 minimum funding per individual project
- School district, municipality, county, township, or park district or non-profit may sponsor.


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Implementation of Monitoring Policies for SRTS Award Recipients
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Policy for Monitoring of Sub recipients of federal Safe Routes to School funds

REASON: Per the finding of the Office of the Internal Auditor, Safe Routes to School (SRTS) must enact a policy to ensure the monitoring of sub recipients of federal SRTS funds.

Invoice Monitoring Policy: It is our policy that all invoices submitted for payment must include appropriate documentation to support the claims being submitted. Invoices without sufficient support will be denied payment until supporting details are provided. A random sampling of invoices from 5 percent of the projects by count for each project cycle will be completed to determine effectiveness in carrying out this policy.

On Site Monitoring Policy: Beginning with the 2008 Funding Cycle (announced in August 2009), the Department initiated a policy to begin on site monitoring of at least 5 percent of SRTS projects by count for each cycle. Infrastructure projects will receive one visit before and after project completion. Visits before project implementation will be used to ascertain the reliability of the funding application submitted. Visits after project implementation will be used to ascertain the reliability of funds provided to meet the scope of work in the funding application. Non-infrastructure projects will receive one visit while the project is ongoing. Visits during project implementation will be used to ascertain the appropriate use of funds provided to meet the scope of work in the funding application.

The product of this monitoring will be a report detailing the site visit to be kept on file.

For additional information on the information and documentation required for the payment of invoices, please visit our FAQ.


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SRTS 2008 Deadlines (Updated 9-15-08)
September 15, 2008

May 1, 2008:
School Travel Plan available.

September 29, 2008:
Call for Projects (Applications) Opens.

October 20, 2008 at 5:00:00 pm:
Deadline to submit STP for Coordinator review & comment.

October 31, 2008 at 5:00:00 pm:
Deadline for STP submittal for ALL 2008 plans. You must have an approved School Travel Plan in order to access the funding application. If you do not have an approved School Travel Plan, you will not be eligible to participate in the 2008 SRTS funding cycle.

December 15, 2008 at 5:00:00 pm:
Call for Projects (Applications) Closes.

Please note that all program documents (School Travel Plan/Application) are due at 5:00:00 pm on the day of the deadline. You will lose the ability to submit these documents at 5:00:01 pm on the day of the deadline. This time is kept according to the official US time according to the US Naval Observatory Master Clock. You can find this tool online at: http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/what.html.

Please make sure that you submit your required documents with time to spare, in order to insulate yourself against any possible computer problems or system issues either on your end or ours, or just waiting too long to click the "SUBMIT" button. Once the "SUBMIT" function is disabled for the specific program document, we are unable to allow any documents to be submitted for the rest of the cycle.


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2008 Funding Application Policy - New Guidelines!
July 14, 2008

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, Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and League of Illinois Bicyclists. We 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 infrastructure and one non-infrastructure application permitted per school district*
(*exception for Chicago Public Schools)

One Infrastructure Application per school district
$250,000 funding limit for total application, with up to a 3 project maximum
$2,000 minimum funding per individual project
Associated municipality, county, township, or park district must sponsor – school districts and non-profits may not sponsor
All infrastructure projects must be within 2 miles of a public or private that houses any combination of students in grades K-8

One Non-infrastructure Application per school district
$100,000 funding limit for total application, with up to a 3 project maximum
$2,000 minimum funding per individual project
School district, municipality, county, township, or park district or non-profit may sponsor

*Because all Chicago public schools fall under Chicago Public Schools’ application, we recommend that they are allowed a total of 5 applications, 3 Infrastructure and 2 Non-Infrastructure. This multiplier is based on the enrollment data provided to us from the Illinois State Board of Education, showing a total of 1.3 million public school students attending school daily statewide. The 2007 average daily attendance for K-8 schools in Cook County schools was 494,829 students, roughly five times greater than the average daily attendance of the next largest county – DuPage, with 98,703 students attending. The funding cap per application will remain the same, making Chicago Public Schools eligible for $750,000 in Infrastructure and $200,000 in Non-Infrastructure Funding.

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 will encourage school districts to apply for their highest priority issues, and emphasizes the importance of non-infrastructure programming. It also reinforces the important partnerships between schools, municipalities and community partners.


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2007 SCHOOL TRAVEL PLAN DEADLINE MAY 31, 2007 at 5:00 PM
Thursday, May 24, 2007

This is a reminder that all school travel plans for this planning/funding cycle are due by May 31 at 5:00 pm. Plans submitted after this time will not be accepted and will not be eligible for Safe Routes funding for this cycle.

Plans submitted through Monday, May 28 will either be approved or sent back to you requesting additional information.

Plans that have been returned to the sponsor requesting additional information MUST be re-submitted by 5:00 pm on May 31 to be approved for this cycle.

Plans submitted on Tuesday, May 29 or later will either be approved or rejected.

Again, the deadline for travel plan submittal is 5:00 pm on MAY 31, 2007.
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SRTS Policy Update/Clarification - Projects on Private Land
Friday, April 13, 2007

There have been several questions on the funding of infrastructure projects on private or parochial school campuses. 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 purpose of the project.

• The minimum timeframe (20 years) for the easement or lease.

• The duties and responsibilities of the parties involved.

• How the property will be used and maintained in the future.

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.

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In-House Engineering and Construction
Monday, April 2, 2007

Our policy has been revised to now allow in-house engineering and construction as fundable parts of SRTS infrastructure projects.

Please note, though, 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.

We hope that this will help to better facilitate your potential infrastructure projects. If you have any questions, please contact me.

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2007 GIS Mapping Requirement
Friday, March 2, 2007

As the GIS mapping portion of the School Travel Plan is currently being updated to make it more user-friendly, you will not be required to complete the GIS mapping portion of the Travel Plan for the spring 2007 planning cycle, which ends on May 31st.

This means that you will be able to submit a School Travel Plan for approval without completing the GIS mapping section. Once your plan is approved, you may then move directly into the Application process.

We believe that this should help to simplify your planning process, particularly in regard to the limited time-frame in place for this planning and funding cycle.

Please note that, if you receive Safe Routes funding for an infrastructure project during this cycle, you will be required to complete GIS mapping (using our mapping tool) as a requirement of that funding.

GIS mapping will be a requirement for all School Travel Plans created after this funding cycle, for example, plans created and submitted for the 2008 and 2009 funding cycles.

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2007 SRTS Deadlines
Friday, February 16, 2007

The deadlines for Safe Routes To School travel plans and applications have been extended.

The final day to turn in a School Travel Plan will be May 31, 5:00 PM.

The final day to turn in an Application will be June 30, 5:00 PM.

Call for Projects/Application will still open on March 1.

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Submit an Application

The 2013/2014 funding cycle is now closed. Please visit our page again in the fall or subscribe to our email list

Funded Project Announcement

On January 24, 2012, Governor Quinn announced the funding recipients for the 2011 Funding Cycle. 229 projects have been chosen to receive funding totaling $21.7 million. The full list of awarded projects is available for viewing by clicking the link "2011 Funded Projects" below.

2011 Funded Projects

Press Release - January 24, 2012

For additional information regarding the Illinois SRTS program you may contact:

Priscilla Tobias
State Safety Engineer
Division of Highways
Illinois Department of Transportation
(217) 782-3568
DOT.SafeRoutes@illinois.gov

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).