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Safe Routes To School Program FAQ's

What are the benefits of a Safe Routes to School program?
A: There are so many benefits to having a Safe Routes to School program. First of all, walking and bicycling to school is a perfect way for Arkansas children to start the day. This physical activity invigorates children and allows them to start the school day refreshed and alert. Studies show an increase in academic performance when children actively commute to school. Also, actively commuting to school gives children a sense of autonomy and freedom and allows them to become more familiar with the world around them. Active commuting is also associated with approximately 20 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day, and it may help combat childhood obesity. When a Safe Routes to School program is in place, children are not simply walking or biking to school, they are doing so safely. A SRTS program ensures safe practices and a safe environment. The infrastructure improvements will not only benefit your school, but also your community as a whole.

What is the federal Safe Routes to School program?
A: The National Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program was established in August of 2005 as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users Act (SAFETEA-LU). SRTS funding is provided in section 1404 of this legislation, and is a Federal-Aid program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

What are some of the barriers to walking and biking to school?
A: In a rural state like Arkansas, one of the most difficult barriers to walking and biking to school is the long distances children sometimes live from the school. One possible solution to this issue is the Walking School Bus. Many other barriers can be identified with a walkability or bikeability assessment. Once you have identified specific barriers in your community, you can begin to formulate your plan to address the barriers. If you have specific barriers in your community and would like our advice, please feel free to contact us. Also, if you have devised a creative solution to a specific barrier in your community, we would love to hear about it. You could be featured in our “AR SRTS Success Stories” section.

What is a “walking school bus?“
A: A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. This can be as simple as two families taking turns walking the children to school. Schools can organize walking school buses by allowing the school buses to drop children off a half mile from the school and appointed several qualified adults to walk with the children from that point to the school. Some schools get even more creative by giving the children yellow t-shirts with windows on them, so the children look like a school bus. Remember to follow the rules of pedestrian safety within your walking school bus program. A fun idea is to create colorful posters or pedestrian flags for the children to carry as they walk.

What is “traffic calming?“
A: While the actual definition of traffic calming varies, the concept is simple. Traffic calming aims to reduce vehicle speeds, make a friendlier pedestrian environment, improve safety and enhance the quality of life. For more information about specific traffic calming measures.

What is a “walking audit?“
A: A walking audit is another name for a walkability assessment, and the same concept as a bikeability assessment. In a walking audit, community members gather to walk the area surround their school and document walking conditions. There is no better way to assess your community’s strengths and weaknesses than to actually walk the routes to the school.

Who should be involved with a Safe Routes to School program?
A: Anyone who is interested in the concept and willing to help should be involved with SRTS! School employees, city officials, city planners, parents, students, law enforcement personnel, local wellness committees, local bicycle advocacy organizations, and physical activity groups are all valuable participants in planning and facilitating a SRTS program. It is always best to involve as many community members as possible from the beginning of your SRTS planning. This will help you address community concerns, as well as provide you with valuable insight from a variety of stakeholders.

What is Walk to School Day and how is it different from Safe Routes to School?
A: Safe Routes to School programs encourage children to actively commute to school as often as possible. Walk to School Day is an international event in which children walk to school on one particular day. This year, International Walk to School Day is October 6th. We hope all of our Arkansas schools will participate safely in this celebration of walking to school. Please share your accomplishments with us.

How can I start a Safe Routes to School program at my school?
A: The deadline is generally late February or early March. Use our online Walking and Wheeling toolkit to assist you in the planning process. Also see our helpful links section for more resources to aid your project.

What is the Safe Routes to School Walking & Wheeling Toolkit?
A: Click here to learn more about SRTS.

What are the “5 Es?”
A: Click here to learn more about the Five Es.

Where can I find local grant-writing assistance?
A: Arkansas is divided into 8 Planning and Development Districts. Each planning district covers six to twelve Arkansas counties which are bound together by common economic problems and opportunities. The planning districts provide many services including grant writing and administration for economic development projects in Arkansas. See below for contact information:

Central Arkansas Planning & Development District
Counties: Faulkner, Lonoke, Prairie, Pulaski, Saline
Rodney Larsen, Director
115 Jefferson Street / P.O. Box 300
Lonoke, Arkansas 72086
Phone: 501-676-2721

East Arkansas Planning & Development District
Counties: Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Greene, Lawrence, Lee, Mississippi, Phillips,
Poinsett, Randolph, St. Francis
Richard Spelic, Director
2905 King St / P.O. Box 1403
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72403
Phone: 870-932-3957

Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District
Counties: Baxter, Boone, Benton, Carroll, Madison, Marion, Newton, Searcy, Washington
Mike Norton, Director
818 Hwy 62-65 412 North / P.O. Box 190
Harrison, Arkansas 72601
Phone: 870-741-5404

Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District
Counties: Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Cleveland, Desha, Drew, Grant, Jefferson, Lincoln
Glenn Bell, Director
721 S. Walnut / P.O. Box 6806
Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71611
Phone: 870-536-1971

Southwest Arkansas Planning & Development District
Counties: Calhoun, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Miller, Nevada,
Ouachita, Sevier, Union
Terry Sherwood, Director
600 Bessie Street / P.O. Box 767
Magnolia, Arkansas 71753
Phone: 870-234-4030

West Central Arkansas Planning & Development District
Counties: Clark, Conway, Garland, Hot Spring, Johnson, Montgomery, Perry, Pike, Pope, Yell
Dwayne Pratt, Director
835 Central Avenue, Suite 201 / P.O. Box 21100
Hot Springs, AR 71903
Phone: 501-525-7577

Western Arkansas Planning & Development District
Counties: Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Polk, Scott, Sebastian
John Guthrie, Director
P.O. Box 2067
Fort Smith, AR 72901
Phone: 479-785-2651

White River Planning & Development District
Counties: Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, White,
Van Thomas, Director
1652 White Dr. / P.O. Box 2396
Batesville, Arkansas 72503
Phone: 870-793-5233

 What types of projects have been funded previously?
A: Applicants that have previously been funded for projects such as sidewalks, pedestrian bridges and flashing beacons clearly described the need for infrastructure improvements in their comprehensive SRTS plans.  Non-infrastructure projects have included bike and pedestrian safety education both in the classroom and through bike rodeos. 
What is a Safe Routes To School Plan?
A: Safe Routes to School Plan should describe the process by which students are encouraged and educated on the benefits of safely walking and biking to school.  It should present the provisions for enforcing traffic laws in the vicinity of schools for the safety of children.  It should define or prioritize the engineering requirements for infrastructure and include an evaluation of all these processes for results.

Is there a deadline for completion of a project?
A: The legislation does not have a deadline for completion of a project.

What is the maximum funding awarded?
A: $200,000 is the maximum funding awarded.

What do you mean by Right-of-Way certification?
All Safe Routes to School projects must be within public lands or publicly accessible lands.  Applicants are required to prove that the proposed project is within the public right-of-way.

David Harmon, Right of Way Coordinator at the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, has generously offered to supply technical assistance for all of your right-of-way questions.  Please contact him at (501) 569-2584 or david.harmon@ardot.gov if you have any questions regarding right-of-way issues.




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