We're so pleased to share a wonderful resource: Working Together to Make Meaningful Change: A Toolkit for Engaging Communities Across Colorado! Created by the Safe Routes Partnership with support from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado Safe Routes to School, this toolkit offers tips and strategies for authentic and equitable community engagement. For a thorough overview of the toolkit, check out the recording from our webinar introducing this resource!

Safe Routes 101

Below you will find key resources to aid you in your research and help guide your programming efforts. Please sign up for our bi-monthly e-newsletter to receive up-to-date information on programs across the state. Email [email protected] to be added to the list. Additionally, be sure to check out recordings from our webinar series presented by the Safe Routes National Partnership and tailored to Colorado. 

For helpful guidance on Safe Routes to School in general, these sites are a great place to start:                                                                              
  • National Center for Safe Routes to School
    The National Center serves as the information clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School program.  The organization also provides technical support and resources and coordinates online registration efforts for U.S. Walk to School Day and facilitates worldwide promotion and participation.
  • Safe Routes to School Guide
    This guide is a comprehensive online reference manual designed to support SRTS programs. One of the basic tenets of pedestrian and bicycle safety is that to be effective, safety programs must be comprehensive - involving engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement, and evaluation. This online guide provides “one-stop shopping” on all aspects of SRTS.
  • Safe Routes to School National PartnershipA network of organizations, government agencies and professional groups working to set goals, share best practices, leverage infrastructure and program funding, and advance policy change to help agencies that implement Safe Routes to School programs.
  • CSRTS Five-Year Strategic Plan: In August 2017, this five-year strategic plan was developed to articulate how Colorado Safe Routes to School (CSRTS) can comprehensively get more children walking and bicycling to and from school. The goals and strategies in this document have been vetted by a project team and the CSRTS Advisory Committee and have guided the program's efforts during the next five years. Currently, CDOT is in the process of updating this plan to serve years 2023 through 2028.
  • The Colorado Safe Routes to School 2020 Statewide Program Assessment Report shares the findings of a recent census review conducted by the National Safe Routes Partnership. Here you will find a high-level assessment of challenges, innovations, and opportunities for Safe Routes to School programs in our state.
  • Our SRTS Fact Sheet provides a general overview of the Safe Routes to School program and its framework here in Colorado. 

Program Elements

Getting more students to safely walk and bike to school requires a comprehensive approach, known as the 6 Es of Safe Routes to School. For more than 15 years, Safe Routes to School programs used what was known as the five E’s, Encouragement, Enforcement, Evaluation, and Engineering, as their organizing framework. In recent years, a 6th E, Equity, was added to bring the focus towards creating healthy, thriving communities for people of all ages, races, ethnicities, incomes, and abilities. 

In June 2020, the National Safe Routes Partnership dropped Enforcement from the framework, replacing it with Engagement. The Colorado Safe Routes to School program is committed to revisiting the E’s presented in its Strategic Plan to reflect the value of equity and engagement in SRTS projects across Colorado and consider how enforcement is related to CSRTS. At this time, we encourage all applicants to consider project components holistically. This can include drawing from the “Es” now a part of the National Safe Routes Partnership framework (education, encouragement, engineering, equity, engagement, and evaluation), and, depending upon project circumstances, does not necessarily need to exclude enforcement. See below for brief descriptions of each of these elements, as well as helpful resources.

All Safe Routes to School initiatives should begin by listening to students, families, teachers, and school leaders and working with existing community organizations, and build intentional, ongoing engagement opportunities into the program structure.

Working Together to Make Meaningful Change: A Toolkit for Engaging Communities Across Colorado: Created by the Safe Routes Partnership with support from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado Safe Routes to School, this toolkit provides a community engagement framework for individuals, organizations, and government agencies, along with additional tools and resources to help you develop your practice. It also highlights several community engagement best practices happening right in Colorado! 

Safe Routes for Youth Toolkit: Created by the Safe Routes Partnership, this toolkit provides tips and strategies for effectively engaging young people in Vision Zero, including ideas for integration into SRTS programming, general principles of youth engagement, and more.

Two Vision Zero for Youth resources, created in a collaboration by youth activists and transportation researches, provide a framework and recommendations for meaningfully engaging youth to advance safer streets for all. Created in two parts, "Engaging youth to advance safer streets for all" offers a guide and inspiration for partnership between youth and adults and also recommendations for meaningful youth engagement

Park(ing) Day is a global, public, participatory project where people across the world temporarily repurpose curbside parking spaces and convert them into public parks and social spaces to advocate for safer, greener, and more equitable streets for people. Communities have been utilizing this day as an opportunity to particularly engage high school age students, whether in September in line with the official dates, or at another time that is more workable for academic calendars. 

Ensuring that Safe Routes to School initiatives are benefiting all demographic groups, with particular attention to ensuring safe, healthy, and fair outcomes for low-income students, students of color, students of all genders, students with disabilities, and others.

Equitable Enforcement to Achieve Health Equity is an introductory guide for policymakers and practitioners from ChangeLabSolutions.

"Examining Practices that Promote Access to Safe Routes to School Programs in Vulnerable Communities" presents findings on approaches to applying for and planning to implement funds which may best facilitate awards in vulnerable communities.

Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Safe Routes to School: Progress and Opportunity in New Jersey shares key topics and strategies on how to successfully include more children with disabilities in SRTS activities as part of an initiative in New Jersey to educate and train regional SRTS Coordinators about the benefits of inclusive SRTS programs alongside facilitating discussions on strategic development aimed at doing so successfully. 

Creating physical improvements to streets and neighborhoods that make walking and bicycling safer, more comfortable, and more convenient.

Designing Streets for Kids, from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Global Designing Cities Initiative captures best practices, strategies, and policies that cities around the world have used to design spaces that enable children of all ages and abilities to utilize city streets. The guide includes design recommendations and case studies that highlight safe, enjoyable and inspirational street designs. 

Pop-Up Projects for Safe Routes to School, a guide from Massachusetts Safe Routes to School, explores how schools can use "pop-up" demonstration projects to improve safety on and around campus. These temporary activations, often referred to as tactical urbanism, can be used to promote walking and biking to, from, and around campus. Here you will find examples of local, national, and international projects--including Denver examples, tips to support implementation efforts, and links to additional resources.

Generating enthusiasm and increased walking and bicycling for students through events, activities, and programs.

  • Walk Bike to School: Maintained by the National Center for SRTS at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center and funded by US DOT, this site provides many dynamic, fun resources for setting up, promoting, and supporting your on-going Walk to School Day or Bike to School Day event.  Register your WTSD/BTSE events each year on this website.
  • Off Ramp Case Studies: Off ramp was an out-of-class initiative that encouraged secondary school students to walk, cycle, or take transit to school more often, thereby reducing car use. It increased awareness of transportation and climate change issues, provided incentives, and reduced barriers to transportation alternatives. In short, it improved the availability and popularity of sustainable transportation within the schools and their communities.

Providing students and the community with the skills to walk and bicycle safely, educating them about the benefits of walking and bicycling, and teaching them about the broad range of transportation choices.

  • We have a comprehensive collection of lesson plans for educators, including Core Subject and Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Plans. Email [email protected] if you would like to receive these by email. Please also check out our Community Coalition Building Toolkit designed to help you through the steps to organize an SRTS coalition in your community. You can further find information School Crossing Guard Training materials under our Training and Curriculum tab.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): NHTSA has a number of resources that are relevant to Safe Routes to School programs, including bicycle and pedestrian safety tips for parents and caregivers.

Assessing which approaches are more or less successful, ensuring that programs and initiatives are supporting equitable outcomes, and identifying unintended consequences or opportunities to improve the effectiveness of each approach.

National Center for Safe Routes to School – Parent Survey and Student Travel TallyFor years, this online tracking system has provided a way for local and regional SRTS champions to enter and view data collected using the standardized Student Travel Tally and Parent Survey questionnaires. In March 2022, however, the national data system has been closed due to loss of funding. Forms are still currently accessible and can offer templates from which design data collection forms. Please be assured that ongoing work is taking place to determine next steps. We will share new information here as it becomes available.