Safe Routes to School (SR2S) is a worldwide movement to make it safe, convenient and fun for children to bicycle and walk to school.
Michigan’s program started in 2003 with an 11-school pilot program, which was expanded and made available to all schools statewide in 2005. When routes are safe, walking and biking to school are fun, easy, and inexpensive ways for students to get some of the daily physical activity they need for good health.
Safe Routes to School initiatives also help ease traffic jams and air pollution, unite neighborhoods and contribute to students’ readiness to learn in school. Studies have shown that physically active kids have improved mood and concentration, a stronger self-image, and more self-confidence. Physically active kids also have fewer chronic health problems and report lower levels of smoking and alcohol consumption.
Most of today’s parents walked or biked to school when they were young: they explored their neighborhoods regularly on bike or on foot. Things are much different today. Today’s children are driven to nearly all their activities, and only about 10 percent of children walk to school. There are several reasons for this sharp decline, and the SR2S planning process is here to help communities identify and address the barriers. One of the cornerstones of Safe Routes to School is the acknowledgement that safer walking and biking routes can best be accomplished through a combination of infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects and programs.
These are known collectively as the "5 E's":
As an affiliate of the Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan’s Safe Routes to School organizes two main events to get kids active in their communities while traveling to school:
- Walk to School Day: An event celebrated nationwide in October, Walk to School Day encourages walkable communities and encourages physical fitness and healthy habits in young students across Michigan. Learn more at saferoutesmichigan.org/w2sd.
- ACES & Bike to School Day: All Children Exercise Simultaneously and Bike to School Day are global initiatives aimed at bringing community leaders, parents, students and stakeholders together to build awareness for communities to be healthy, walkable and bikeable. Learn more at michiganfitness.org/aces.