Ideas for leveraging

Safe Streets & Roads for All Grants


It’s time to go Big & Bold for Vision Zero

What we’ll cover:

  • Why SS4A funding matters
  • How to maximize SS4A for lasting safety improvements
  • How to jump-start your community’s embrace of Vision Zero & Safe System approach

Vision Zero is more than a goal, more than a tagline, more than even just a program. It is a fundamental shift in how we approach roadway safety. This will take strong leadership, community engagement, a focus on equitable and effective safety strategies, and willingness to change the status quo.

And funding helps too. Thanks to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) commitment to a zero roadway deaths nationally and its shift to a Safe System approach, which underpins Vision Zero, we are seeing stepped-up policy and funding commitments to help communities prioritize safety. We want to help your community leverage these important opportunities to advance Vision Zero, starting with the new Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) grant program.

Here, we’re providing our suggestions on how to make the most of this funding opportunity to make meaningful, lasting Safe System change in your community.

*This is not the official grant website. For critical information & details about the SS4A grant program, see USDOT’s informative website.

SS4A Basics

What is Safe Streets & Roads for All (SS4A)?

New funding opportunity to advance nation’s goal of Zero Roadway Deaths

$1 Billion / year for Vision Zero planning & implementation at the local, regional and tribal levels

Opportunity to invest in the Safe System approach for lasting change in your community.

Emphasis on…

Complete Streets, Encouraging walking/biking/transit, Advancing equity, Managing speeds, Making systemic change… and more!

Who can apply for grants:

Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs)

Counties, cities, towns, transit agencies, or other special districts that are subdivisions of a State

Federally recognized Tribal governments

Multi-jurisdictional groups comprised of the above entities

Deadline for Technical Questions: August 15, 2022 | Proposals due: September 15, 2022

Register for This takes time, so do it ASAP.

SS4A Basics

SS4A Webinars

Watch our June 28, 2022 webinar recording

for Tips to Make the Most of SS4A Grants.

Recording is here.

Watch USDOT’s “How to Apply” webinar series here.

SS4A Basics

Don’t be daunted! 

Communities of any size or type can succeed
Are you concerned about the small size of your community?

Your community can team with other entities to strengthen your application. For example, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) can submit & manage a proposal for multiple towns, villages, and counties. If you’re concerned about your agency’s capacity to manage a federal grant, consider teaming with others who share your safety goals. Learn more about joint applications and partnership here.

Are you new to Vision Zero & Safe System work?

That’s OK. This is a prime opportunity to start, especially given the new federal commitment to the Safe System approach at USDOT. Your work can start – and be funded by SS4A – with developing a Vision Zero Action Plan (Tips here). This is an important process to engage key stakeholders and build buy-in to this shift in roadway safety work. And, developing a strong Vision Zero Action Plan and local commitment can set you up well for applying for a SS4A Implementation Grant next year.

Are you concerned about matching funds?

20% match can include funding from the applicant, in-kind contributions and other non-Federal contributions (staff, goods, services, space, utilities…) – learn more form USDOT FAQ.

Are you concerned about how much work it takes to apply?

USDOT has streamlined the application process & lowered barriers to entry. Check out the application instructions and watch “How to Apply” webinars.

SS4A Basics

Why SS4A Funding Matters?


people died

on U.S. roads in 2021

(data source)

0 %

increase of fatalities

from 2020 among all road users

(data source)

~ 0 %

more likely for Black people

to be killed by drivers while walking than

White, non-Hispanic Americans

(data source)

~ 0 x

more likely for people in low-income communities

to be killed by drivers than

in high-income areas

(data source)

~ 0 %

increase of

pedestrian deaths

over the 2010-2019 decade

(data source)

SS4A Basics

SS4A Basics

Shifting the Paradigm for Roadway Safety

It is time to evolve beyond the traditional “E’s” of roadway safety (education, enforcement, engineering) to a Safe System approach

This includes prioritizing…

Safe speeds

Self-enforcing roadway designs & Complete Streets for all road users

Safe, convenient options for transit, walking & biking

Equitable strategies & outcomes, not over-reliance on enforcement & education measures

SS4A Basics

SS4A Funding

Shifting the Paradigm for Roadway Safety

Whether you’re in the early stages of developing a Vision Zero Action Plan or implementing priorities of your plan,

this SS4A grant is an opportunity to deepen your community’s PIVOT to a SAFE SYSTEM approach.

Check out these examples at local, state, and federal levels

SS4A Basics

Which type of grant should you apply for?

Both Planning and Implementation grants can include funding for pilot projects.

0 %

of funding

Implementation Grants

(must have Action Plan*)

Planning Grants: Actions Plans

Don’t think of this as just “another plan” to sit on the shelf…

A strong Vision Zero Action Plan can be the catalyst for your community’s shift to a Safe System – a more effective and equitable approach to safe mobility.

Resources to develop a strong Action Plan:

Planning Grants: Action Plans

Beyond the Basics

A strong Vision Zero (or roadway safety) Action Plan can be a catalyst for:
  • More effective roadway safety spending
  • Prioritizing safety investments in underserved communities, especially in Historically Disadvantaged Communities and Tribal lands
  • Pivoting to a Safe System approach
  • Increasing and improving walking, biking, scooter, transit trips
  • Using a data-driven approach to prioritize problem locations (High-Injury Network)
  • Learning of community members’ concerns when data doesn’t tell a full story

Examples of Vision Zero Action Plans

Planning Grants: Supplemental Planning

Don’t count this category out!
This can be more impactful than you may think!
Already have an Action Plan?

This is a chance to improve it with critical, deeper-dive work to priority Vision Zero areas, such as:

Developing a racial and health equity framework for roadway safety strategies, including alternatives to over-emphasis on traffic stops

Creating a citywide speed management plan

Improving lighting for pedestrians with a citywide plan

Evolving your E’s-based Vision Zero Plan to a Safe System plan

Developing a proactive, predictive approach to roadway safety (Check out these encouraging examples)

Planning Grants: Supplemental Planning

Elevating Equity in Roadway Safety planning, strategies, outcomes

We must recognize and address that some communities are disproportionately impacted by unsafe street designs and policies, particularly communities of color and people in low-income areas. SS4A grants emphasize safety investments in Historically Disadvantaged Communities and Tribal lands.

Supplemental planning funds can be used to prioritize collaborations with and support for these communities. For example, if you have a Vision Zero Action Plan that does not analyze and address impacts on these communities, a Supplemental planning grant can do so, and be used to empower and build capacity among nonprofit partners and community leaders to participate more fully in planning.

Planning Grants: Supplemental Planning

Elevating Equity in Roadway Safety planning, strategies, outcomes

Philadelphia pivoted from the traditional “E’s” approach in its first Vision Zero Action Plan (2017) to a Safe System approach in its 2020 Plan update.

This includes greater emphasis on designing roadways for safer speeds and Complete Streets for all, and recognizing that we cannot Educate nor Enforce our way to Vision Zero.

Philadelphia is using this guidance to rely less on police-led traffic stops of non-dangerous behaviors (such as tinted windows, broken tail lights), recognizing problems of racial bias in these encounters.

Planning Grants: Supplemental Planning

Quick-build Strategies

Supplemental planning activities can include demonstration/quick build projects to:
  • Test Action Plan concepts on-the-ground before full implementation
  • Conduct feasibility studies using quick-build strategies to inform future, permanent projects
  • Create opportunities for stakeholder engagement & feedback on ideas tested in the community
Benefits of demonstration/quick build projects include:
  • Greater cost-efficiency to test designs using lower-cost materials
  • Faster turnaround time to assess results & reactions
  • Chance to tweak designs real-time
  • Building community & political buy-in
  • USDOT encourages innovation – so try new safety strategies for your community

Planning Grants: Supplemental Planning

Quick-build Strategies

Pilot “safe school streets” by limiting car traffic in the streets surrounding schools during drop-off and pick-up times. Use temporary, quick-build features such as portable barriers, traffic cones and signage. Leverage these feasibility studies to inform future, community-wide work.

Use temporary, inexpensive quick-build designs to pilot and test impacts of reconfiguring intersections, traffic-calming streets or demonstrating other road-safety strategies. Use paint, plastic bollards, movable planters – and your imagination – to gather information about effectiveness and build buy-in for change.

Implementation Grants

Key Points from SS4A website:

Must have VZ Action Plan or existing plan that is substantially similar and meets eligibility requirements

See USDOT’s examples of fundable activities

USDOT encourages Implementation applications to include Supplemental Plan activities to update or improve upon existing plans (exs: speed management planning, racial & health equity prioritization, street lighting plans)

Vision Zero Network suggestions:

Prioritize Historically Disadvantaged Communities & Tribal lands

Don’t shy away from the most pressing problems because we know how to fix deadly streets

Remember to include community outreach & budget to compensate community-based partners

Implementation Grants

Implementation Grants

These important resources from USDOT should inform your work:

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Register for This can take time, so do it ASAP.
  • See USDOT’s informative SS4A website for critical details & examples for strong proposals.
  • Consider partnerships to strengthen applications & long-term collaboration.
  • Use this opportunity to build internal buy-in & momentum for meaningful, lasting systems changes (= more than a one-off grant application).

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • The process can be as important as the product to build buy-in & momentum for systems change
  • Deepen work to prioritize equity and manage speeds for safety, especially for people walking, biking
  • Include funding for valuable, non-traditional partners, including public health staff and nonprofit & community-based groups
  • Set shared goals, specific actions, owners of actions & timelines
  • Plan for regular updates and evaluations to share with the public
  • Reminder: Demonstration, or pilot, projects can be included in both Action Plan & Supplemental Planning grants

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Reminder: USDOT encourages Implementation Grant applications to include Supplemental Plan activities to update or improve upon existing plans (exs: citywide speed management planning, racial & health equity prioritization, street lighting plans)
  • These must be safety-oriented projects (not road widenings or adding auto capacity)
  • Prioritize safety improvements in Historically Disadvantaged Communities and Tribal lands
  • Include funding to collect data and measure impacts of projects
  • Support meaningful community engagement efforts, including funds to empower & build capacity amongst community-based leaders, organizations
  • Go BIG & BOLD with your proposals! SS4A grants should fund meaningful, lasting systems change

Look at these three examples of quick-build strategies for different types of streets

Key Takeaways

Quick-Build Strategies: Suburban Communities

Many suburban streets and intersections are wider than necessary. Their “design speeds” are too high, encouraging people to drive too fast and compromising safety and neighborhood livability. Travel speeds on suburban streets can be lowered relatively easily with the use of low-cost quick-build traffic-calming measures, including:

  1. Painted “chicanes,” alternating mid-block curb extensions, or islands, that create a serpentine, or slalom-like, effect slowing drivers
  2. High-visibility painted crosswalks
  3. Lowering posted speed limits (ex: from 30 to 25 mph)
  4. Mini roundabouts at intersections, constructed with temporary or semi-permanent materials, such as paint, plants in moveable pots and signage

Explore more examples on quick-build strategies here. Thanks to 3M team for working with us on creating these and the following images.

Key Takeaways

Quick-Build Strategies: Commercial Streets

Commercial corridors serve a range of users, including residents, shoppers and people employed in the area. They likely travel in a mix of ways, including walking, biking, driving and riding transit. Too often, though, street design caters mainly to car traffic to the detriment of others. Quick-build design treatments can make these commercial streets safer and more inviting and attract more customers to the area’s businesses. Examples include:

  1. Adding corner extensions, or bulb-outs, to slow drivers making the turn to safe speeds. These can be designed with pain, posts and plants in moveable pots
  2. Narrowing travel lanes, which encourages slower driving speeds
  3. Adding high-visibility crosswalks
  4. Adding “Parklets” (sidewalk extensions, usually in the parking lane, that provide public space using low-cost materials such as soft-hit posts and traffic delineators, wood pallets, wheel stops, reflective elements, etc.) 
  5. Lowering posted speed limits (ex: from 30 to 20 mph)

Explore more examples on quick-build strategies here.

Key Takeaways

Quick-Build Strategies: Arterial Streets

Arterial streets often offer little or no consideration — or physical space — to people walking and bicycling. Arterials are disproportionately dangerous for people walking. While arterials are designed to carry high volumes of vehicle traffic, they can be retrofitted to function better for other road users. This is especially important as many arterials host a range of destinations which people walk and bike to, so their safety needs to be prioritized. Depending on width, configuration and traffic volumes, quick-build treatments could include:

  1. Narrowing travel lanes, which encourages slower driving speeds
  2. Reducing the number of travel lanes, possibly replaced by dedicated left-turn pockets and/or bike lanes
  3. Buffered, or protected bike lanes, separated from travel lanes with paint and posts and/or planters
  4. Green-painted “crossbikes” (essentially crosswalks for bicyclists)
  5. Adding high-visibility painted crosswalks
  6. Lowering posted speed limits (ex: 35 to 25 mph)

Explore more examples on quick-build strategies here.

Photo credits:

USDOT, Travis Estell, Seattle DOT, Tim Durkan, ​​Will Porada on Unsplash, Jeanne Clark, Hackney Council, City of Missoula, Rethinking the Future, Sport&Impianti, BikePortland

Special thanks to those who contributed to developing this resource, including Eric Tuvel & Niko Letunic

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