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PennDOT Safe Routes to School Program Makes a Comeback

June 23, 2023 11:00 AM
By: Zachary Appleby

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​PennDOT is finding ways to encourage students to safely walk or ride their bikes to school. Infrastructure that supports walking and biking to school promotes healthy, daily exercise, cuts down on vehicle emissions, and creates more livable and sustainable communities.

In the past, walking and biking were the main ways students traveled to school, but the practice has dwindled through the decades. Walking or bicycling as the main form of school travel steeply decreased from 50% in 1969 to 10.4% in 2017. As children and teens become more sedentary, there is growing concern about their overall health.

To foster more walking and bicycling to and from school, PennDOT is promoting the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. SRTS provides funds from the State Transportation Alternative Set-Aside (TASA) program to eligible school districts, municipalities, and nonprofit organizations that want to encourage students from kindergarten through twelfth grade to safely walk or bike to school. Proposed projects must be within two miles of a school to qualify.

SRTS funds two types of projects: infrastructure and non-infrastructure. Infrastructure projects improve walking and biking safety through construction projects. Some examples include sidewalk construction; curb ramps; crosswalks; upgrading traffic signals for pedestrian crossing; bicycle parking facilities; and on-road bicycle lanes or bicycle pathways separated from vehicle traffic. 

Non-infrastructure projects include educational and encouragement programs and events, such as student sessions on bicycle and pedestrian safety; volunteers and managers of SRTS programs for a city, school district or region; public awareness campaigns; and traffic education and enforcement near schools.

Applications for SRTS projects open on May 30, 2023. The deadline to submit the mandatory Draft Application is July 17, 2023.  Applicants will discuss their Draft Application with their local PennDOT District and their Metropolitan Planning Organization or Rural Planning Organization (MPO/RPO) before submitting the Final Application, which is due on September 15, 2023.

To learn more about SRTS, go to: https://bit.ly/PennDOTSRTS.

Applicants must apply for SRTS funding through TASA (https://bit.ly/PennDOTTASA).