Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is an international movement to enable and encourage students to safely walk and bicycle to and from school. SRTS programs are the result of parents, schools, communities and government joining forces to improve the health and safety of our children, our future leaders.

SRTS programs focus on the "5E's":

  1. Education efforts to teach pedestrian and bicycle safety skills
  2. Encouragement activities to build interest and enthusiasm
  3. Enforcement measures to address safety issues
  4. Engineering solutions to maintain traffic control devices and physical infrastructure
  5. Evaluation methods to monitor impact and identify areas for improvement and growth


Northeast Iowa has the state's ONLY rural, regional SRTS program, which serves over 10,000 K-8th students in Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek Counties. The Northeast Iowa SRTS Program, managed by UERPC’s Regional SRTS Coordinator, partners with the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative to increase physical activity among students and advocate for safe community routes in many ways:

  • Walking School Bus. A Walking School Bus is a group of students walking to/from school with responsible supervisors. It can take place daily, weekly or monthly.
  • Remote Drop-off. This is a variation of a Walking School Bus. Students who live far from the school can be dropped off at a location away from school grounds to walk the remaining trip to school.
  • Bike Rodeo.  A Bike Rodeo is a popular and fun event teaching children how to properly and safely ride a bike.
  • Mileage Club. Students earn rewards by walking a certain number of laps around a track, gym or school hallway. It could take place at gym class, recess or an after-school club.
  • Active Classroom Learning. Sneak physical activity into classroom learning. One example is Stories in Motion, where students act out stories as they are read aloud.
  • SRTS Community Coalitions. School and community advocates join forces to build SRTS efforts and increase safety measures locally.


Children feel better when they are active.  They are hardwired to move.  Their bodies need it, and their brains need it.

In today's world, however, our kids are not moving enough.  As a society, we have created a culture of convenience at the expense of our health, and no one suffers more than our kids.  This culture of convenience is the reason why today's generation of children is projected to live shorter life spans than their parents.  This is unacceptable.

By creating more opportunities for children to be physically active on a daily basis, we CAN make things better.  One of the best ways to do this is through supporting SRTS.  While SRTS programs are geared toward students and schools, it's really the community as a whole that benefits.  When routes to school and other community locations are safe and accessible for children, they are safe and accessible FOR EVERYONE because we are all pedestrians at some point during the day.

SRTS is the answer to creating a better world for our children, our school, our communities and ourselves.  Join the SRTS effort today by contacting Ashley Christensen, Regional Safe Routes to School Coordinator for Northeast Iowa at 563-382-6171 or achristensen@uerpc.org.

"I am way too busy - but I enjoy this, and love the kids!  If it were any other time of day I could not make it work.  I am not an "earlybird" by any means, but I have really enjoyed this."
~Volunteer for morning Walking School Bus in West Union

"This was so well publicized and ran. My entire family enjoyed ourselves during the event and the kids were so excited to get practice on their big-boy bikes! I hope you continue doing it."
~Parent who attended the North Fayette Valley Bike Rodeo


News Headlines

UERPC March Newsletter

Posted: Tue, March 22, 2016
Some of the headlines you can read about:
*Annual STEM Festival
*Sam Whitehead replaces Organist at FCED
*Christensen Attends Conference in Minnesota
*EDA Priorities
*Audit Complete
*Financing Options for Small Business
... [ Read More ]

UERPC February Newsletter

Posted: Mon, February 15, 2016

Some of the headlines you can read about this month:

  • USDA Community Facility Loan Program
  • Board Member Spotlight - Denise Schneider
  • Expansion Planned in Decorah
  • Brownfields Workshop
  • Retirement Party for Mary
  • Audit Complete
... [ Read More ]

American Heart Association Hosts Safe Routes to School Legislative Breakfast at Iowa State Capitol

Posted: Mon, January 18, 2016

The American Heart Association of Iowa held their first Legislative Breakfast of 2016 on Wednesday, January 13th at the Iowa State Capitol focusing on the need for a state funded Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.  As a federally-funded program, SRTS provides the financial resources to repair sidewalks, hire crossing guards, and remove the barriers that discourage parents from allowing their students to walk to school.  Because Iowa has received limited federal funds, the American Heart Association is encouraging the state legislature to invest $1.8 million to create a state-funded Safe Routes to School program.

Supporters and volunteers from across the state joined the American Heart Association at the Iowa State Capitol to talk with their lawmakers about why they support a state-funded SRTS program due to the health, safety and economic benefits it will provide for all Iowans, and especially children.  Supporters were able to talk with approximately 50 Iowa legislators who were in attendance at the breakfast including Senator Liz Mathis, Representative Dave Heaton, Senator Mike Gronstal, Representative Linda Miller, Senator Janet Petersen and Representative Dave Maxwell, who is also a heart disease survivor.  

One supporter who came to talk with legislators at the event was Ashley Christensen, Safe Routes to School Coordinator for Northeast Iowa.  She talked about the health benefits saying, “Children today are not getting enough physical activity which leads to many health issues.  And one of the best ways to create more opportunities for our children to be active is through supporting Safe Routes to School.”

There are safety and economic benefits, along with many others, that a SRTS program would provide as well.  It would cut down on pedestrian accidents because in areas without sidewalks, children are twice as likely to be struck by a vehicle.  And allowing school districts to cut even just one bus route would save a school district $37,000 per year, easing the financial burden on schools already struggling with budget cuts.

To learn more about Safe Routes to School in Iowa the public is encouraged to contact the American Heart Association’s Safe Routes to School Campaign Manager Carrie Mueller at Carrie.Mueller@heart.org or 515-414-3212 or visit www.HealthierIowa.com.

About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association:
The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit www.heart.org.

... [ Read More ]

UERPC January Newsletter

Posted: Mon, January 18, 2016

Some of the headlines you can read about this month:

  • Transportation Alternatives Project (TAP) Applications due February 26, 2016
  • Board Member Spotlight-Mark Kuhn
  • Surface Transportation Project (STP) Applications due February 26, 2016
  • I-Walk Project
  • Housing Fund Receives Grant
  • UERPC Hosts Annual Legislative Event
  • Safe Routes Approved for Funding
  • IowaWorks Did you Know-Apprenticeships
  • IARC Hosts Legislative Event at Capitol
... [ Read More ]
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