Our Safe Routes to School Program Keeps Growing!

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Our Safe Routes to School Program Keeps Growing!

Since our Safe Routes to School program started in 2019, we have acquired multiple bicycle fleets (available for student and community use), installed bicycle racks at schools, taught bicycle classes, piloted a walking school bus, and secured approximately 1.7 million dollars in grant funding, including Safe Routes to School grants from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, for the Richfield community.

We are excited to continue building on these accomplishments thanks to three new grants we were recently awarded!

The first is a Coordinator Grant, which funds the Safe Routes to School coordinator position for an additional three years - with increased hours! This allows us to continue building on our success while also taking things to the next level. Over the next three years, Tim Brackett, our Safe Routes to School coordinator, will be working to create a culture where families feel that their child can confidently bike or walk to school. 

“One of the projects I’m most excited about moving forward is engaging with families and the community,” explained Brackett. “We will be running focus groups and providing multiple opportunities for people to have a voice in shaping the projects and activities we provide.”

The second grant is a Boost Grant, which will take our program to the next level by addressing physical and psychological safety concerns. Brackett will collaborate with our Student Support Services team to develop a trauma-informed curriculum for the Safe Routes to School program. 

“By ensuring students - and their families - feel safe walking and biking to school, we hope to increase the number of students who walk and bike to school,” he said. “During the past five years, the number of families who feel comfortable allowing their child to bike/walk to school alone in fourth and fifth grade has increased 50% overall. However, only 7% of students from Spanish-speaking families bike or walk to school, compared to 14% of the total district population, showing clear work that we can do around equity and inclusion.”

Lastly, we received a Planning Assistant Grant, which will fund the updating of our comprehensive Safe Routes to School plan, which was written ten years ago. Over the past decade, we worked hard and addressed 19 of 26 recommendations in the original plan, with four more currently in progress.

“This level of success far exceeds the average Safe Routes to School plan,” noted Brackett. “The norm is somewhere closer to 50%, so we are well above that and I think that track record is why we were able to secure the additional funding. Richfield has been a real leader in this work.”

The acquisition of these three grants marks a significant milestone for our Safe Routes to School program, affirming our dedication to promoting pedestrian and cyclist safety while addressing broader community concerns. By leveraging these resources, we aim to continue our trajectory of success, fostering safer and more inclusive routes to school for children in our community. As the program enters a new phase of growth and development, we remain steadfast in our commitment to prioritizing safety, equity and community engagement.

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