The Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) was created by the U.S. Congress as part of a federal transportation bill called SAFETEA-LU. SAFETEA-LU and SRTS expired in 2012.
The primary reason for developing this nationwide program was this country's growing epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes.
One of the causes of the epidemic was children's inability to get physical activity, such as biking and walking to school, due to the lack of safe and convenient ways to do so. The program accomplished this safety and convenience by providing funds for schools and communities to implement infrastructure projects (such as sidewalk improvements, trails and traffic calming) and noninfrastructure programs (such as education campaigns, law-enforcement efforts and prize giveaways).
The SRTS program had 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 near schools