Safe Routes to School

Image of school kids walking and smiling


What is Safe Routes to School?

Denver's Safe Routes to School program serves school communities to create safe, equitable environments for travelling to and from school while creating opportunities that enable physical activity and lower the obesity rate and risk for children and their families and caregivers.


Resources and FAQ

How does Denver's SRTS Program work with school communities?

Denver Public Schools (DPS)

  • We partner with Denver Public School's Department of Safety & the Crossing Guard Program.
  • We work with School Administrations to address traffic safety concerns and create drop-off plans or travel plans.
  • We partner with DPS’s Transportation for bus loading services & zones.
  • We partner within DOTI to review and recommend safety enhancements and multimodal accessibility in school zones.

Parents and Caregivers

  • Join us in practicing and promoting safe travel habits in and around school zones.
  • Submit school-related concerns to 311 or Pocketgov.org, or through the resource inbox at SRTS@Denvergov.org.
  •  Organize and provide walking school buses, bicycle trains, or other safety-related programming to get kids actively travelling to school.  We can provide guidance and subject-matter expertise regarding these programs.

Students

  • Provide experience to the Safe Routes to School program to help us understand how to enhance safe walking, bicycling, and rolling routes to their school from their perspectives.  Student input is critical to understand how DOTI can plan the transportation system to prioritize their needs.

Teachers


Community Residents Near Schools

  • Join us in practicing and promoting safe travel habits in and around school zones.
  • Submit school-related concerns to 311 or Pocketgov.org, or through the resource inbox at SRTS@Denvergov.org.

Why Safe Routes to School?

Health and safety are key benefits of Safe Routes to School.  Studies have shown that the community benefits from Safe Routes to School initiatives include:

  • Safer students: Improved traffic safety and increased confidence for students through opportunities to learn about and practice road safety.
  • Healthier students: Increased daily physical activity, forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime, helping students build strong bones, muscles, and joints, and decreasing the risk of chronic disease and obesity.
  • Better focus: Increased daily physical activity yields more awake and alert students, which can lead to better focus and concentration and improved academic performance.
  • School transportation improvements: Solutions to school transportation issues such as hazardous traffic congestion during pick-up/drop-off times, and student absences and tardiness due to transportation challenges.
  • Community connections: Increased family and community engagement, providing positive social opportunities for students and families.
  • Healthier environment: Reduced idling times during drop-off and pick-up, combined with more carpooling, walking, and/or biking to school results in cleaner air and reduced asthma rates. 

Safe Travel Guidelines for Drop Off, Pick Up, and Traveling Through School Zones

We can often feel rushed when we are taking our children to and from school. To increase safety, health, & performance of our students, Denver Safe Routes to School (SRTS) encourages students and families to walk, bike, or bus when possible. 

For the safety of our students and community:

  • Do not make u-turns or 3-point turns within school zones
  • Avoid across-the-street drop-offs and pick-ups that cause children to cross the street (especially mid-block)
  • Always have children enter/exit vehicles on sidewalk sides
  • Avoid distractions like cell phones, eating, etc. while driving
  • Follow all signage and posted speed limits
  • Do not park or stop in the school bus loading zone, in intersections, or in any moving travel lanes, including bike lanes

If your school utilizes a kiss-and-go or drop-off/pick-up lane:

  • Please approach the lane via the proper direction
  • Pull fully over into the kiss-and-go zone and wait your turn as you approach the front of the kiss-and-go lane
  • A staff or parent volunteer will open the passenger-side car door and help the student unload
  • Follow directions given by school administration

Looking to create a drop-off/pick-up plan or kiss-and-go lane at your school? Have your school administration contact us at srts@denvergov.org for best practices and support.

How to submit a Safe Routes to School Support Request through 311

We are transitioning our support requests to a process that we hope will better support your needs. While we are transitioning this process, please submit your request by calling 311 and be sure to include one (1) of the following statements in your request to ensure that we receive it: 

Please note: Denver’s 311 operators have specific questions they will ask you (for example, what school are your concerns related to? Who is the best person to contact at a school?). 

  • This is a Safe Routes to School request, and I would like recommendations on how to increase safety at drop off and pick up.
  • This is a Safe Routes to School request, and I would like the best options that encourage more walking, biking, or carpooling to school in our school community.
  • This is a Safe Routes to School request, and I would like to host some safety education events at our school and seek your support.
  • This is a Safe Routes to School request, and I would like to host some walking and/or biking safety education events at our school and seek your support.
  • Or if you have a different request start it with: This is a Safe Routes to School request and <insert your specific need here>. 

Save the case number you are given in case you have questions about the status of your request.

Safe Routes to School Action Plan

The Safe Routes to School team have been hard at work between 2020-2021 creating Denver’s first, comprehensive, five-year Action Plan for the Safe Routes to School Program.  The Action Plan’s overall goal is to double the mode-share of families who walk or bike to school, from about 14% in 2022 to 30% by 2027.  The Action Plan contains 50 goals to accomplish by the end of 2027, categorized within 8 focus areas.  The Action Plan includes a data-driven approach using typologies and overlays to create a school prioritization list.  Additional information can be found at the links below. 

For a brief overview of the development process of the Safe Routes Action Plan as well as an explanation of some of the tools and outcomes of the planplease see this ArcGIS StoryMap that was created.

Safe Routes to School Documents:

Safe Routes to School Action Plan(PDF, 30MB)

Safe Routes to School Prioritization Matrix + Methodology(PDF, 82KB)

Education and Encouragement Opportunities

Are you a staff member at a school or a parent who is interested in helping with Safe Routes to School programming at your local school?  Here are some resources and ideas to get you started: 

CommuteDPS 

Denver Public Schools partnered with other Denver stakeholders to develop CommuteDPS, a resource for families, students, and school leaders to help improve transportation at schools in Denver.  Please view the documentation that DPS has at the following link: CommuteDPS


Denver Public Schools Crossing Guard Program 

The City and County of Denver and Denver Public Schools have partnered to train and staff Crossing Guards to enhance the safety of families and students arriving to and leaving Denver schools.   

More information about the program can be found here: 

Teacher Champion Program

Looking for ways to encourage walking, biking, and transportation safety for youth and families at your school? Check out our educational modules available by request here! These are meant to be delivered in a classroom setting for ages K-5. Some modules have take-home components to do with families and adults.  The modules are:

  • Basic Helmet Fit & Bike Check module to increase safety and success while bike riding,
  • Child Passenger Safety while riding in a car, whether it be in a car seat, a booster seat, or with a seatbelt,
  • Safe Walking, Rolling, and Biking tips for route planning & building confidence getting around on sidewalks and streets, and
  • Safe Drop-Off teaches children, staff, families, and caregivers tips, ideas, and tools to help school drop-off go safely and smoothly. 

Each of these great modules includes a kid-friendly educational video with subtitles in English and Spanish, as well as plenty of valuable resources like lesson-plans and take-home handouts for students, parents, and teachers alike.  

Request access to the education modules here: SRTS Education Modules Request Form


DRCOG Schoolpool

The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), as a part of their Way to Go Transportation Demand Management strategies, offers the Schoolpool program in the Denver region.  The Schoolpool program is free to schools to help connect parents and caregivers with each other to find ways to walk, bike, roll, or carpool together to their school locations while building community.  Visit DRCOG’s Schoolpool website to learn more: DRCOG Schoolpool


Walking Audits

Walking audits can help identify safety concerns in proximity to the school and can be conducted by school staff or a school PTA/PTO. For instance, School Safety Zones are set up in a standardized approach by DOTI, and sometimes signs are knocked down, or signs and/or roadway striping has faded.  These issues and more can be documented and provided to Denver’s Safe Routes to School program to help ensure school zones are communicated to roadway users in a uniform and accurate way.


Walking School Bus

A Walking School Bus (WSB) is a program organized like a traditional bus stop and route, with the exception that the students are walking instead of riding a bus. A WSB has designated routes that are led by a WSB Adult Leader and designated "stops" along those routes at set times where students can join the WSB to walk to school in a group under adult supervision.


Bicycle Trains

A Bicycle Train is a program organized like a traditional bus stop and route, with the exception that the students are riding bikes instead of riding a bus. A Bicycle Train has designated routes that are led by a Bicycle Train Adult Conductor and designated "stops" along those routes at set times where students can join the Bicycle Train to bike to school in a group under adult supervision.


Remote Drop Off/Pick Up
 
Remote Drop-Off is a policy that encourages or requires parents to drop students off at a location a few blocks from the school. This policy can either rely on parents or volunteers/school staff to walk student(s) from the remote drop-off location to the school building.  Consider locations near the school that might be able to facilitate remote drop-offs and see if a partnership can be identified (for example, using a nearby parking lot to try to alleviate traffic pressure immediately around the school).


Kiss-and-Go Lane

Kiss-and-Go lanes are an operational improvement to help increase the efficiency of arrival and dismissal at schools.  The Kiss-and-Go Lane generally consists of a marked loading/unloading section that is directly outside the school’s main entrance or one of the main entrances, requires parents/caregivers to stay in their vehicle, and requires the vehicle to remain running and to follow the flow of traffic through the line.

Some aspects of Kiss-and-Go operations that are most successful:

  • Highly recommended to have dedicated staff/volunteers to supervise, maintain
    • 2-3 people are necessary to operate kiss-and-go
    • One or two people should be established at the “front” of the line to open & close car doors and welcome children to school
    • One person can “float” alongside the lane to continue to encourage drivers to pull forward to the front of the line, where children exit a vehicle 
  • Use of traffic cones to denote where the kiss-and-go lane is established and to dissuade parents from pulling out of the lane early 

  • Signage at the start and stop of the kiss-and-go with instructional information

  • Denver’s Safe Routes to School Program has further information on information that can be printed and added to self-standing “A-Frames” that can be used for Kiss-and-Go lanes

Safe Routes to School Design and Construction Projects

Infrastructure Projects: SRTS is dedicated to improving the built environment where Denver students travel to and from school. See the list below for current updates on engineering design and construction projects. These projects were identified following Travel Plan studies or because of other planning initiatives that DOTI identified.


Cole Campus Enhancements: Status – Construction

Description: The Cole Campus enhancements is planned to be installed in 2022 at two locations on Bruce Randolph Avenue: Humboldt and Franklin Streets.  The enhancements will install concrete curb extensions at the corners for the school, shortening pedestrian crossings, increasing visibility at the intersections for all roadway users, and slowing turning vehicle movements for these critical intersections that connect to the Cole Arts and Sciences (CASA) and DSST: Byers Middle and High School Campus locations. 

This project is being constructed in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT’s) Safe Routes to School Grant funding that was awarded to Denver to improve connections to schools that encourages families/caregivers and students to walk, bike, or roll to their school of choice.


McAuliffe International Campus Enhancements: Status – Construction Procurement

Description: The improvements for the McAuliffe International School will enhance connectivity to the school by constructing new sidewalks, implementing a pedestrian refuge island to improve pedestrian access, and installing a new streetlight.  These improvements will fill gaps in the pedestrian network and enhance crossings on the south side of the school. The installation is anticipated to begin in either 2022 or early 2023.   

This project is being constructed in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT’s) Safe Routes to School Grant funding that was awarded to Denver to improve connections to schools that encourages families/caregivers and students to walk, bike, or roll to their school of choice.   

See more information about the project here:  


Greenlee Elementary School: Status – Engineering Design

Description: In partnership with the Neighborhood Transportation Management Program (NTMP), and as identified in the La Alma Lincoln Park NTMP Action Plan (2020) two intersections will be improved that provide access to Greenlee Elementary on Kalamath Street at W 12th and W 11th Avenues.  Both intersections will be enhanced with paint-and-post curb extensions and hardened centerlines to slow turning vehicles, and the paint-and-post curb extensions will also shorten pedestrian crossings and enhance pedestrian visibility.  These project locations were prioritized by the neighborhood stakeholder group that worked closely with the NTMP Action Plan’s study and development.


Montbello Travel Plan Pedestrian Refuge Islands: Status – Engineering Design

Description: The Safe Routes to School Program completed two Travel Plans in late 2021 that included recommendations to enhance pedestrian crossings at two schools: Maxwell Elementary and DCIS at Ford Elementary.  Two pedestrian islands will be installed at each of the schools that will enhance driver visibility of pedestrians crossing the roadway, allow crossings to be completed in two stages, and provide traffic calming at/along the two schools.  Design is anticipated to be completed in 2022 for these projects.  The installation locations include: 

  • Maxwell Elementary: Dillion Street at Bolling Drive & Dillon Street at Deephaven Court
  • DCIS at Ford: Maxwell Place at Dearborn Street and N Sable Street

Holm Elementary Sidewalk Construction: Status – Construction Procurement 

Description: In partnership with Denver Parks and Recreation, Safe Routes to School provided funding to help enhance a walkway that is currently non-ADA compliant to be rebuilt into a full concrete walkway to improve access to Holm Elementary.  For more information, please see the documentation that has been presented by Denver Parks and Recreation: 

Safe Routes to School Plans and Studies

Travel Plan Study

A Travel Plan is a planning study that works directly with schools to identify the challenges and constraints using active transportation to walk, bike, or roll to and from school.  Travel Plan Studies typically last for 6-9 months, and include opportunities to hear from school leaders, parents, caregivers, and students.  The conclusion of a Travel Plan study provides a report that identifies infrastructure and programming recommendations that the Safe Routes to School Program can work with schools to complete.

Travel Plans are conducted at schools using the Safe Routes to School Action Plan’s Prioritization Matrix.

Cole Campus Travel Plans: Status – Study 

  • Description: The Safe Routes to School team has been working with the Cole Campus since September 2021 to understand challenges and concerns about travelling to and from school using active modes of travel.  The Travel Plan is nearing completion with a prioritized list of operational and project opportunities to be programmed through the SRTS program for completion.  The Travel Plan Study is set to be published in 2022.

Evie Dennis Travel Plans: Status – Study 

  • Description: The Safe Routes to School team began engagement with the Evie Dennis Campus in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhoods in Spring 2022.  The first round of engagement has been completed alongside a site visit at the school to see challenges firsthand, and the project team heard from each school’s leaders.   

The project team will be finalizing existing conditions during the 2022 summer break and will be gearing up for engagement opportunities with families/caregivers and students in Fall 2022.

2022 Education and Encouragement Projects

Description: In 2021, the City and County of Denver’s Safe Routes to School Team applied for a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) non-infrastructure grant to pilot bicycle and pedestrian safety education using Teacher Champions at three Denver schools.   

The pilot program kicked off in the Spring of 2022 with 6 Teacher Champions at 3 different schools in Denver: Castro Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, and Maxwell Elementary.  The pilot program completed its first semester, hosted a range of Bike and Roll activities during the month of March, and are working on end-of-semester data.  The grant pilot program will continue through the 2022-2023 school year at the three partner schools.

Past Safe Routes to School Projects

Ruby Hill Pedestrian Enhancements

The Ruby Hill SRTS Pedestrian Enhancements focused on pedestrian treatments near two elementary schools: Schmitt and Godsman Elementary Schools.  Four pedestrian islands in total were constructed, and a flashing beacon was upgraded to a pedestrian-activated flashing beacon.  These improvements were installed at:

  • Florida Avenue at Tejon and Nevada Streets
  • Jewell Avenue at Tejon and Vallejo Streets
  • Pedestrian Activated Flashing Beacon: Florida at Navajo Street 

This project was funded as a part of the Grandoozy Funding to enhance multimodal safety in the Ruby Hill/Overland area. 


Maxwell Elementary School Travel Plan Study

  • The Maxwell Elementary School Travel Plan Study helped identify safety enhancements to evaluate and identify projects for implementation, starting in 2020 and finalizing in 2021.


DCIS at Ford Travel Plan Study

  • The DCIS at Ford Elementary School Travel Plan Study helped identify safety enhancements to evaluate and identify projects for implementation, starting in 2020 and finalizing in 2021.


  • The Montbello Bicycle Course was constructed in partnership with Denver Parks and Recreation to provide an outdoor hands-on bicycle skills course at the Montbello Recreation Center.  It was completed in 2020 and is available to be booked for events through Denver Parks and Recreation.


Westwood Travel Plan Study (2020)

  • The Westwood Travel Plan was conducted in the Westwood neighborhood and identified safety opportunities at three schools (Castro Elementary, Kepner Beacon Middle School, Pascual LeDoux Academy).  The study kicked off and was completed in 2020.


Smith Elementary Travel Plan Study (2020) 

  • The Smith Elementary School Travel Plan Study helped identify safety enhancements to evaluate and potentially implement, starting in 2019 and finalizing in 2020.


  • The Cory Merrill Safe Routes to School Project constructed new sidewalks and a new bicycle lane, rebuilt a traffic signal, and replaced a paint-and-post curb extension with a concrete, permanent curb extension.  The project area was along E Florida and Iowa Avenues.