SRTS Community Toolkit
Introduction & Background
Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) and the School Wellness Coalition are pleased to release the Jeffco Safe Routes to School Community Toolkit. This toolkit provides guidance and resources to help Jefferson County schools, parents, students and other community champions make walking and wheeling to school safer and create a healthier community for everyone.
Children today have become less active, which can lead to serious physical health consequences like childhood obesity and diabetes. According to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, nearly 50 percent of all children in the U.S. (and nearly 90 percent of those within a mile of school) walked or bicycled to school in the late 1960s. By 2009, that number plummeted to fewer than 15 percent.1 However, travel patterns reported in a 2016 study show a promising upward trend: walking to and from school increased from less than 14 percent to more than 17 percent of all school trips between 2007-2008 and 2014.2
Physical activity also has a role to play when it comes to learning and development. Physical activity and fitness can help boost learning and memory in children, and when children get physical activity before class, they are able to stay on task more and fidget less.3
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are one way the Jefferson County community can work together to promote health and development by encouraging children and their families to incorporate more physical activity into their daily routines. SRTS programs aim to increase the number of students who choose active transportation — like walking and wheeling — by making it safer and more accessible for children and their families.
Throughout this toolkit you will notice that we make frequent reference to “walking and wheeling” rather than “walking and bicycling.” We have decided to use the more inclusive term of “wheeling” to emphasize that Safe Routes to School programs are intended to be inclusive of all students, including those who may have physical challenges. Safe Routes to School encourages active transportation for all — whether that be by foot, bicycle, wheelchair, walker, scooter, rollerblades, skateboard or any other form of equipment.
In response to a growing trend of long-term health and traffic consequences, in 2005 Congress approved funding for implementation of Safe Routes to School programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Though there have been policy shifts, SRTS is still eligible for funding under the 2015 federal transportation bill, FAST Act. Communities use funds to construct new bicycle lanes, pathways and sidewalks, and launch SRTS campaigns in elementary and middle schools.1
In Colorado, the Safe Routes to School Program is overseen by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), which makes SRTS education and infrastructure funding available to support local SRTS efforts.
Addressing safe routes to school in Jefferson County was identified as a priority by members of the Jeffco School Wellness Coalition, one of seven coalitions within the Healthy Jeffco network. Through a collaborative process, a SRTS Education Grant was submitted and approved for funding for FY2017-2019. Through the Jeffco SRTS initiative, Jefferson County partners are working to coordinate county-wide and individual, school-level efforts to encourage safe walking and wheeling to Jeffco Schools.
Key partners in this effort have been:
- Jeffco Public Schools – Jeffco Healthy Schools Initiative
- Jeffco Parent Teacher Association
- The Colorado Department of Transportation
- Jefferson County Transportation & Engineering
- Jefferson County Public Health
- Fairmount Elementary
- Free Horizon Montessori
- Mountain Phoenix Community School
- Van Arsdale Elementary
- The City of Arvada – Engineering
- The City of Wheat Ridge – Public Works
Click the pages in the left sidebar to navigate through the toolkit. For additional information or assistance to use the kit, contact Elise Waln, MPH, Special Projects Coordinator, at [email protected].
Last Updated July 2018