COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has an opportunity for school districts and community partners to apply for funding to develop and implement projects which enable and encourage children to safely walk or bike to school.
ODOT’s Safe Routes to School program is funded at $4 million annually for infrastructure improvements such as pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements, new or improved sidewalks, and bike racks and non-infrastructure activities such as walk to school days, bike rodeos, public awareness campaigns, or educational programs.
“Keeping our children safe as they travel to and from school is important,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “This program provides adequate resources for necessary bike and pedestrian improvements, so routes between home and school are safe, convenient, and accessible.”
Eligible applicants include local governments, school districts, health districts, park districts, or key non-profit partners involved in advancing safe routes to school in communities. ODOT will make awards on a competitive basis to projects that have been identified in a plan or to applicants requesting School Travel Plan development assistance. For full guidance on eligibility, be sure to check out the 2022 SRTS Application Guidance.
Many Safe Routes to School projects have been completed throughout Ohio. One example is a project in the City of Eaton which included multiple pedestrian related improvements associated with the Eaton Community Schools School Travel Plan including the installation of signage, high visibility crosswalk markings, and other measures to improve cross walk safety.
Several have been completed in the Milan school district, including promoting Walk to School Day where students received prizes for participating and a bike rodeo where school officials, health department officials, or even police officers come to teach kids about bicycle safety.
A project to construct new sidewalks in Richwood was complete just in time to welcome students back for the 2021-22 school year. Improvements included bridging the gap between the existing residential sidewalks and North Union Elementary School. To learn more about this project, check out it’s segment in ODOT’s video series, The Loop.
Projects will be selected based on their ability to demonstrate improved connectivity, improved safety, impact on school trips, and need. Additionally, projects will be reviewed for accurate cost estimates, program sustainability, and overall community commitment to implementing the project or program.
For more information on applying, visit www.transportation.ohio.gov/saferoutes. Located there are additional application guidelines as well as each region’s Safe Routes to School contact. The application deadline is March 4.