Safe Routes to School in California | California's Active Transportation Program | State and Regional Networks | Other Statewide and Regional Programs | Success Stories | California Partner Affiliates | Existing Legislation and Policies
California is one of seven jurisdictions participating in the Safe Routes to School state network project (network project), funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. California has been a network state since 2007. The network project's goal is to advance state-level policy reform, resulting in the award and obligation of federal transportation funds, street-scale improvements and shared-use agreements.
California created a new funding program for active transportation, including Safe Routes to School, in 2013, and more information on the Active Transportation Program (ATP) can be found below and here.
The California network's action plan can be viewed here. You can follow activities of the California Safe Routes to School state network in our blog section and on the state-specific website; this site features meeting announcements and local success stories.
California Safe Routes to School Regional Networks
California has two regional network projects, in the Bay area and in Southern California. These projects have been provided funding by Kaiser Permanente with a goal to leverage additional resources for walking and bicycling initiatives through regional and local policies and plans such as Regional Transportation Plans. More information on the regional network project can be found here.
Detailed information on the work of the Southern California regional network may be found in the Southern California regional platform, and information on the Bay Area regional network may be found in the Bay Area regional platform.
You can follow activities of the regional networks in our blog section and on the California state website, which features sections for the Bay area and Southern California regions where you can find their regional action plans, meeting announcements and local success stories.
Funding for Safe Routes to School
In 2014 and future years, the source for Safe Routes to School funding in California will be the Active Transportation Program. The ATP Guidelines have been released and call for applications will be held from March 21 to May 21, 2014. More information on the ATP is posted here.
Since 2005, 353 projects totaling more than $156 million have been selected for funding in California. View a complete listing of the award recipients here.
There are two pots of federal dollars currently available for Safe Routes to School programs and projects. The first pot is from the old transportation law (SAFETEA-LU), and does not require matching funds. This pot is still available in many states, find out about California here. The second pot of money is from the Transportation Alternatives Program, in the current transportation bill (MAP-21), and it requires local matching funds. Find out how the California Department of Transportation is handling this transition here.
Find out more information on federal funding by exploring our MAP-21 Resource Center, reviewing the most current State of the States funding report and reading the most recent national news on Safe Routes to School.
Visit the Caltrans Safe Routes to School program website for more information.
$48.5M in SR2S funds were allocated in the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 state fiscal years budget. The approved list of selected projects of Cycles 1 to 10 can be viewed here.
These funds are not to be confused with Federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funds associated with SAFETEA-LU. Applications must be for capital projects such as sidewalks, pathways, bike lanes, traffic calming, etc. (with up to 10% available for non-infrastructure activities such as education, encouragement and enforcement).
In 2013, California enacted a new state program to fund Safe Routes to School, pedestrian, and bicycle projects - the Active Transportation Program (ATP). The ATP combines federal Transportation Alternatives funding with state funds to focus on increasing walking and bicycling, improving safety and public health, and advancing social equity. The ATP will be administered by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and projects will be selected by the California Transportation Commission. See below for more information.
In 2014, $360 million will be awarded competitively as grants to communities across California for Safe Routes to School, walking, and bicycling projects and programs. That amount represents three years of state and federal active transportation funding from the 2013-14 through 2015-16 budget years. Learn more about preparing an ATP project application.
State Advisory Committee
The California Transportation Commission will establish the Active Transportation Program Advisory Committee to assist with reviewing and scoring project applications, and making recommendations for improvements to the program.
The ATP Advisory Committee has not been established yet as of November 2013.
State Outreach Programs
California Safe Routes to School Technical Assistance Resource Center (TARC) assists local communities with creating Safe Routes to School programs by providing targeted trainings and resources to implement safe and successful strategies throughout the State. TARC is supported by a federal Safe Routes to School grant through the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and will continue to be funded through the Active Transportation Program.
In Federal (SAFETEA-LU) Cycle 1 a “Before/After Study Report” form is sent to the grantee at the time of award. This report asks for a number and percentage count of existing (before) and increased (after) bicycling and walking and should be submitted after the project is completed. In Cycles 2 and 3, grantees must electronically complete and submit the Student Tally form and the Parent Survey developed by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. The tally and survey must be completed within two months prior to project implementation during the regular school year, and two months after implementation and sent in hard copy to the National Center for Safe Routes to School. TARC (CDPH) will be evaluating the data that has been collected for cycle 1 and 2.
Caltrans completed a survey of federal Safe Routes to School grantees, which was developed by Cities Counties Schools (CCS) Partnership. The survey consists of Cycles 1 and 2 grantee perspectives on their experience of the planning, application and implementation phases. Caltrans and TARC staff reviewed and contributed to the survey questions. Read more about this project here.
Find out which organizations in your state have pledged their support for the Safe Routes to School movement. If your organization isn't yet a partner affiliate, we would love for you to join us; it's free! Find more info on joining here.
SB 99 Active Transportation Program
In 2013, Senate Bill 99 established a state Active Transportation Program to fund pedestrian, bicycle, and Safe Routes to School projects with federal Transportation Alternatives, State Highway Account, and other federal funds. The ATP will be the primary source for federal and state Safe Routes to School grants in California starting in 2014.
AB 1915 Safe Routes to School Bus Stops
In 2012, AB 1915 was passed, stating that up to 10% of program funds may be used to assist eligible recipients in making infrastructure improvements outside the direct vicinity of the school that create safer access to schoolbus stops (excluding schoolbus shelters).
AB 516 Amendment of Safe Routes to School project selection criteria
In 2011, AB 516 amended the Safe Routes to School program by revising the process of evaluating project applications to mandate use of a specified public participation process, that must identify community priorities, ensure those priorities are reflected in the proposal, and secure support for the proposal by relevant community stakeholders. The bill also added the benefit of a proposal to a low-income school as a factor in the selection process. A low-income school is defined as a school where at least 75 percent of students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.
AB 1358 The Compete Streets Act
The 2008 CA law AB1358 (Complete Streets Act) took effect on January 1, 2011, requiring all city and county General Plan updates to include a policy on complete streets as part of the circulation element, embedding the planning, designing, and building of multimodal transportation networks into the larger planning framework. These networks should allow for all users to effectively travel by motor vehicle, foot, bicycle, and transit to reach key destinations within their community and the larger region. The State Office of Planning and Research issued the guidance to cities and counties for implementation. Complete Streets policies are viewed as a key element for achieving Safe Routes to School goals, as children are one of our most vulnerable roadway users, and there will never be enough stand-alone Safe Routes to School funding to fix all of the state’s safety problems.
- AB 1358 Text
- DD-64-R1 - Caltrans Deputy Directive instructing manuals and other programs to be revised to include Complete Streets
- Complete Streets in CA - Examples from CA compiled by the National Complete Streets Coalition
- Sample model Complete Streets policy resolution for San Francisco Bay Area - developed by ChangeLab Solutions, in conjunction with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the Marin County Bicycle Coalition
- SB 375 Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act
Enacted on September 30, 2008, California Senate Bill 375 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing financial and environmental review incentives to reduce sprawl and promote development patterns that give people transportation options so they can drive less. Click here to view a fact sheet with more information on SB 375. Many think Southern California faces the toughest challenges and potentially most rewarding outcomes under SB 375. In order to address this challenge and opportunity, The Safe Routes to School National Partnership launched a regional network in Southern California, covering the 6 counties that fall under the jurisdiction of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). SCAG, the region’s voluntary council of city and county officials, will develop a regional consensus in response to this new law and its implementation through the development of Sustainable Community Strategies (SCS).
AB 321 Helps reduce school zone traffic speeds
On January 1, 2008, a new law took effect that will help bring down traffic speeds in school zones. This law, authored by Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), enables local government to extend school zones to 1000 feet and reduce the speed limit within 500 feet of a school site to 15 mph at schools that are located in residential areas, or on highways with a speed limit of 30 mph or less. At 15 mph, most pedestrians will survive a crash, often sustaining only minor injuries. Yet minor increases in impact speed have a profound effect on crash severity. At 20 mph, most pedestrian crashes result in serious injury, and almost half are fatal. At 40 mph, 90% of crashes are fatal. Reducing traffic speeds will enable more children to walk or bike to school safely.
This law is voluntary. In order to benefit from it, parents and school administrators need to go to their city councils, or county boards of supervisors, if living outside city limits, and ask them to enact this law at qualifying schools. The following cities/counties/schools have adopted AB 321: City of Goleta, Santa Barbara County, Taylor School and Alvin School in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Buena Park and Casmalia.
- AB 321 Text
- California MUTCD – adopted January 2010, see Part 7, pages 7B-5 under Extended and/or Reduced Speeds in School Zones
- City of Goleta Sample Resolution - Part 1
- City of Goleta Sample Resolution - Part 2
- Guide for Parents and Government Staff on How to Implement AB 321
AB 57 Safe Routes to School Bill
In 2007, AB 57 extended the existing state Safe Routes to School program indefinitely with funding provided from the State Highway Account. Section 2333.5 of the Streets and Highways Code calls for the Department of Transportation, in consultation with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), to make grants available to local governmental agencies under the program based upon the results of a statewide competition.
AB 1475 Safe Routes to School Program established
In 1999, the governor signed AB 1475 to establish California’s state Safe Routes to School program. The initial legislation included a requirement to study and submit a report to the Legislature on the effectiveness of the program in reducing traffic accidents, improving safety, and reducing the number of child injuries and fatalities in the vicinity of the projects.
California Active Communities
In partnership with the University of California, San Francisco, California Active Communities is home to the Safe Routes to School Technical Assistance Resource Center (TARC) within the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Strategic Growth Council and Health in All Policies
The Strategic Growth Council (SGC) is a muilt-agency, cabinet level committee that is tasked with coordinating agency activities related to housing and infrastructure, natural resources, transportation, and public health, and to assist in planning to meet the goals of California's climate change and sustainable communities laws. In 2010, the SGC created the Health in All Policies Task Force housed at the California Department of Public Health to identify and recommend priority programs, policies, and strategies across the 19 state agencies to improve the health of all California residents.
Safe Transportation Research & Education Center
The Safe Transportation Research & Education Center (SafeTREC) resides at the University of California, Berkeley, and conducts cutting-edge research to address transportation safety issues. A 2007 study by SafeTREC on the safety benefits of Safe Routes to School in California was presented to the California State Legislature in support of the program. SafeTREC has also developed a valuable Safe Routes to School mapping tool that correlates bicycle and pedestrian collisions in the vicinity of school locations in every community in the state.
New Resources for California Schools
New resources from the California School Boards Association (CSBA) and California Project LEAN (Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition) (CPL) to assist school districts and County Offices of Education with developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating physical activity and physical education programs and policies. All of these resources can be found under “Physical Education/Physical Activity” at www.csba.org/pab.aspx.
- Physical Activity and Physical Education in California Schools: A Survey of District/County Offices of Education Practices and Perceptions. This research brief developed by CSBA and CPL summarizes key results from a confidential online survey given to California school board members on "Physical Activity and Physical Education in California Schools." Based on the survey results, this brief highlights actions school districts/COEs can take to support physical activity and physical education.
- Safe Routes to School: Program and Policy Strategies. This policy brief developed by CSBA and CPL provides information about the Safe Routes to School Program and how school districts/COEs can engage in policy and program strategies to increase active transportation to and from school.
- BP/AR 5142.2- Safe Routes to School Program. CSBA developed this sample board policy and administrative regulation to support school districts in developing new and strengthening existing policy around the Safe Routes to School Program.
California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)
CHIS is a comprehensive source of health information in California. CHIS data are used by legislators, policy makers, local health departments, state agencies, community organizations, advocacy groups, foundations, researchers, and many others.
If you would like to submit a success story for consideration, please email it to Margaux Mennesson.
Alameda County, CA: Transportation Sales Tax Measure
Alameda County, CA passed a transportation sales tax measure that funds Safe Routes to School programs –both for engineering improvements that make it safer to walk and bicycle to and from school and for encouragement and education activities that promote walking and bicycling. This is a great example of a local county group leveraging additional money for Safe Routes to School. Alameda County has also been successful developing partnerships between schools and law enforcement, health departments, public works, neighborhood associations, community organizations and advocacy groups. These partnerships can help engage organizations and businesses in removing the barriers that keep students from safely walking and bicycling to school.
Marin County, CA: Local Funding Model
The Transportation Authority of Marin’s Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) program is currently in 43 schools in Marin County, California, serving 18,000 students including almost all public elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, as well as a few private schools. There are teams in each school run by either parents or students, with a teacher advisor who organizes encouragement programs. Trained instructors teach pedestrian and bicycle safety curriculum as well as health and environmental lessons.
In November of 2004, Marin County voters passed Measure A, a 20-year transportation sales tax that included 11% of the funding, or $36 million for Marin’s Safe Routes to School program. This local funding allows the County to serve all grade levels, including high school.
Riverside County Department of Public Health Injury Prevention Services received Safe Routes to School Cycle 1 funds to provide pedestrian and bicycle education and encouragement activities at schools in the city of Riverside. The program selected elementary schools with the highest injury and fatality rates among children ages 5-15. Many of these schools are considered low-income, with 75 percent of the student population eligible for free and reduced meals. We profiled this best practice on our blog, view the complete story here.