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“Safe Routes to School Projects” launches

170 schools have been notified that they have been selected for the first round of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Programme to support walking and cycling infrastructure for primary and post-primary schools.  

The scheme was announced in March of this year, with 932 schools showing interest. 

The schools selected were assessed against a range of criteria including school type, location and the school’s commitment to sustainable travel. 

Schools that have applied this year and who have not been included in the first round of funding will not be required to reapply as they will come into the programme on a rolling basis. There will be no additional call for schools to join the SRTS programme at this time. 

The programme is funded by the Department of Transport through the National Transport Authority (NTA) and is supported by the Department of Education. An Taisce’s Green-Schools is co-ordinating the programme, while funding will be made available to local authorities which will play a key part in delivering the infrastructure along access routes and at the school gate. 

The Safe Routes to School programme aims to create safer walking and cycling routes within communities, alleviate congestion at the school gates and increase the number of students who walk or cycle to school by providing walking and cycling facilities. 

The improvements to the school commute range from an upgraded footpath or new cycle lane to a complete reworking of the road outside a school’s entrance. Cycle and scooter parking will be provided to most schools that are part of the programme. 

Precise details of the works to be undertaken in and around the individual schools will be determined after a detailed assessment has been carried out by the relevant local authority. The process of engagement between the schools, NTA and the local authorities is already under way. 

€15m has been allocated for projects included in Round One. The subsequent schools will be engaged with on a rolling basis in each local authority. This money will be provided from the €1.8 billion funding earmarked in the Programme for Government to support sustainable transport. 

Work on some individual projects may get under way over the summer, to be completed this year. Interventions that may require planning permission, will take longer to deliver, in some instances, a number of years. The delivery of this programme will also be supported by additional staff being recruited in local authorities, as announced by the Department of Transport in January 2021. 

SRTS Infrastructure Officers from Green-Schools will be liaising with all Round One schools over the coming weeks to ascertain the issues schools are facing at the school gate and on the journey to school. 

Green-Schools will also be working with all local authorities to progress the programme in each county, however the rollout of the programme is dependent upon the capacity of all parties. The delivery of this programme will also be supported by additional staff being recruited in local authorities, as announced by the Department of Transport in January 2021. 

Schools that have expressed an interest in that are not in round one will come into the programme on a rolling basis and at that stage SRTS Infrastructure Officers will commence work with these schools. 

All schools were eligible to apply to the programme. The selected schools for Round One will work with a designated Infrastructure Officer from Green-Schools who will liaise with the school and local authority as works are planned and carried out.