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Am J Prev Med. 2013 Oct;45(4):401-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.04.024.

Assessing the distribution of safe routes to school program funds, 2005-2012.

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Department of City and Regional Planning (McDonald), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Electronic address:



The federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program was launched in 2005 to increase the safety of, and participation in, walking and biking to school.


This study assesses how SRTS funds were allocated to public and private schools and communities and whether there were demographic or locational differences between schools that benefited from SRTS funding and those that did not receive SRTS awards.


The study analyzes all SRTS projects awarded between 2005 and 2012 (N=5532) by using descriptive statistics to profile SRTS funding amounts and purposes, and to compare demographic and neighborhood characteristics of schools with and without SRTS programs. Analysis was conducted in 2013.


The average SRTS award was $158,930 and most funding was spent on infrastructure (62.8%) or combined infrastructure and non-infrastructure (23.5%) projects. Schools benefiting from the SRTS program served higher proportions of Latino students and were more likely to be in higher-density areas. Few differences existed in neighborhood demographics, particularly educational attainment, work-trip commute mode, and median household income.


Schools benefiting from the SRTS program are more urban and have higher Latino populations but are otherwise comparable to U.S. public schools. This suggests that disadvantaged areas have had access to the SRTS program.

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