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Boston Safe Routes to School

The citywide effort promotes walking and biking to school, and supports and rallies neighborhoods and the community as a whole to work toward making walking to school safe, popular, and fun.

The Boston Public Health Commission encourages residents to choose active transportation methods to move around the city.  Below are some key programs and resources to support walking, biking, and rolling through the city!

Safe Routes to School

Background Information

History of Boston Safe Routes to School & Task Force 

The city-wide Boston Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) initiative began in 2015, led by the Boston Public Health Commission’s interest in increasing physical activity among youth by promoting active commutes, and preventing pedestrian and bicycle rider injuries. BPHC and BPS developed a district SRTS initiative with in-depth SRTS programming at priority K-8 schools and developed systems to improve walking and biking to school, including:

  • Creating school-based walking route maps; 
  • Updated Pedestrian safety units in BPS Physical education classes; and
  • A city-wide SRTS brand and communications plan.

In 2019, the Boston Planning and Development Agency and Boston Transportation Department secured a MassDOT infrastructure improvement grant for the Garrison-Trotter neighborhood in Roxbury and BPHC launched the city-wide Boston SRTS Task Force. Along with BPHC, BPS, and BTD, members of the Task Force include the Massachusetts SRTS Program, Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), and Boston Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

The program works through a set of core elements, known as the 6 Es:

  1. Equity
  2. Engagement
  3. Encouragement
  4. Education
  5. Engineering
  6. Evaluation

The core elements work collectively to address infrastructure and environmental concerns while educating and promoting involvement. Equity needs to be built into each aspect of a comprehensive Safe Routes to School initiative. Each E needs to include equity in its assessment and action items. But, equity also needs to be considered separately. We want to ensure that the overall effects of individual considerations add up to a meaningful and sufficient investment in the safety and health of all students and communities. For details on the strategies and tools, please see the SRTS Boston Digital Toolkit.

Safe Routes Strategies

Examples in BPS


An equity approach recognizes that different people need different approaches to ensure easy and safe mobility in their neighborhoods. It also recognizes that Black, Indigenous, and communities of color and low-income communities have experienced systemic disinvestment that impacts active transportation. It ensures that SRTS initiatives benefit all communities through targeted approaches.

  • SRTS Boston intentionally considers the barriers, concerns, and opportunities that face families in each of our neighborhoods and school communities. It is the goal of the SRTS Boston program to consider equitable opportunities in each strategy of this initiative.


As a collective effort, SRTS relies on continued engagement with:

students and families

school staff and leaders

community organizations

members of the community, and

City leaders.

The goal is to create an environment and culture that supports safe, fun, active transportation opportunities.


  • To ensure that SRTS addresses the unique needs of a school community, SRTS programs are often led by and/or invite participation from different groups. These include School Parent Councils, School Wellness Councils, Equity Roundtables, School Site Councils, and various other school-based groups.
  • School-based programs are encouraged to partner with others in their neighborhood and city. The goal is to foster a shared commitment to safer streets and ensure the long-standing positive impact of their efforts. 


Events like Walk to School Day provide opportunities to encourage students to walk or bike to school on special days and establish healthy habits. Walking School Busses make it easier and safer for more students to walk to school, facilitated by a grown-up. 

  • International Walk to School Day occurs on the first Wednesday of October and is a great way to kick off SRTS Boston!
  • Winter Walk Days (Wednesdays in February) provide opportunities to conduct winter-themed activities or challenges and highlight winter-specific safety behavior.
  • Annual Spring Walk to School Day celebrates spring on the first Wednesday in May, by encouraging a return to active transportation.


We give students and families the options available and information about taking an active approach to school travel. We also provide students with specific safety instruction and training.

  • The Office of Health and Wellness Physical Education Team supports a pedestrian safety curriculum for students in K-8.
  • Walking tips and simple pedestrian safety lessons designed for the classroom are available online.


The goal of engineering efforts is to improve the physical conditions:

  • that surround a school, and
  • along students’ pathways to and from school.

Efforts focus on making improvements to the built environment that create safer walking routes for students, reduce traffic, reduce driver speed, and improve driver safety. 

  • School-based walk audits provide information that the City uses to repair crosswalks and curbs, provide better traffic signage near schools, and implement additional improvements to the built environment.
  • Infrastructure concerns in neighborhoods are reported through BOS:311 for engineering repairs.


This ensures that the aims of the program are being met. It also confirms that strategies to support active transportation are delivered to the schools and neighborhoods that show the greatest need or opportunity for success.

  • Evaluation of student transportation methods occurs through student hand tallies.
  • Evaluation of walking routes occurs via walk audits that lead to improvements and preferred walking routes.
Safe Routes to School

Schools from all over the state come together for this annual Safe Routes to School event. We celebrate students’ active commutes, including:

  • walking, biking, and rolling to school, or
  • even during recess or lunch.

These celebrations encourages safety, fun, and healthy and active lifestyle. Learn more and sign up here!

Children walking to school alongside a police officer

Learn about this and similar events

Walk/ BIke/ Roll to school Days You’re Invited to Walk, Bike, and Roll!

Join in on Safe Routes to School's Flagship Days this school year!

It’s easy to join. We’re bringing together schools from all over the state for this annual Safe Routes to School event. Our goal is to celebrate students’ active commutes, including:

  • walking, biking, and rolling school, or
  • even during recess or lunch.

We’ll provide the goodies. Safe Routes to School can give you ideas to encourage safety, fun, and participation, including free student bookmarks and stickers. You can also download fun activities on our website.

Schools – don’t miss the fun! Make your school and students count by registering online.

Families – encourage your school to register now! If school is virtual for you on iWalk day, you can still join in by taking a break outside to walk, bike, or roll in your neighborhood.

Show your spirit. Showcase your iWalk day by posting photos and videos (be sure to tag us!) to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using #MASRTS

Neighborhood Slow Streets:

Neighborhood Slow Streets focuses on improving street safety at the neighborhood scale.  They work alongside communities to understand safety issue and then propose small scale improvements that have a long-lasting impact. This program specifically focuses on solutions that are for smaller, residential streets.  View a map of all projects in the City that are slowing speeds and improving safety. This map includes projects on larger streets.

Vision Zero:

Vision Zero Boston is a Boston Transportation Department (BTD) program. BTD is focusing the City’s resources on proven strategies to eliminate fatal and serious traffic crashes in Boston by 2030. We are inspired by the belief that even one fatality is too many.

Roxbury Safe Routes to School Project: 

We are working together with residents and Ellis Elementary to develop a plan for improving street safety in the neighborhood. Ideas include:

  • adding speed humps
  • raised crosswalks, and
  • curb extensions to create safer streets and crossings. 

Citizens can report non-emergency issues. These include issues like broken street signs or traffic signals, faded crosswalks, or other impediments to active travel.

Walk Boston:

Makes walking safer and easier to encourage better health, a cleaner environment, and vibrant communities. It also offers information on conducting walk audits, walk maps, and supportive publications.

Boston Bikes:

Aims to make safe and inviting conditions for biking. Boston Bikes sponsors events and provides resources such as bike maps and safety tips.

Bikes Not Bombs:

Uses bicycling as a vehicle for social change. It also offers youth programs, bike repairs, and earn-a-bike programs to mobilize youth and adult leaders.

Kids speaking up for road safety

This free program includes ready-to-use, 45- to 60-minute lesson plans for grades 2 to 3, 4 to 5, and 6. The lessons help students become part of the solution to end distracted driving – long before they are drivers themselves. and Safe Roads Alliance developed these lesson plans and collaborated with psychologists, SEL experts, content developers, videographers, and animators experienced in creating educational programs. 

On April 11, 2024, City Councilors Sharon Durkan and Enrique Pepen hosted a working session with the Streets Cabinet to launch an initiative to standardize the implementation of school zones. The presentation by the Streets Cabinet is provided below.

View April 2024 presentation

Safe Routes to School and Active Transportation Events

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