“Turning over” new Safe Routes to School jobs in North Carolina
In North Carolina this year, thanks to the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) Safe Routes to School Coordinator Ed Johnson, the waters are “turning over” for Safe Routes to School and the prioritization of bicycle and pedestrian safety in a variety of ways and partnerships.
To explain what I mean, I must share a little of my experiences while riding my bike around Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes which holds 5% of the earth’s total fresh water supply. There is a unique phenomenon that happens when the water temperature of the lake hits 39 degrees. Water becomes heaviest at that critical temperature, making the cold water on top sink and the warmer water underneath rise, thereby causing the lake to “turn over.” When this occurs, it revitalizes the lake by sending nutrients to the bottom and redistributing oxygen throughout the lake. This makes the entire Lake Superior ecosystem healthy and able to sustain all life that lives in and around it.
North Carolina’s Department of Transportation is "turning over the waters" for a healthier North Carolina. They have added health to their mission statement, are implementing Complete Streets Designs and are continuing to fund the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator Position. In the latest news, NCDOT has announced a new grant to create 12 new jobs dedicated to the programs and policies of Safe Routes to School in North Carolina. This much-needed funding and policy support is helping sustain the Safe Routes to School Program.
At a time of high unemployment, North Carolina is creating these new jobs and vitality through new partnerships with the Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch, the Community Transformation Project of the Centers for Disease Control, our school system and the divisional leadership of the NCDOT. Each of the 10 new Safe Routes to School Coordinators spread across North Carolina will create and advance Safe Routes to School programs at local community schools. The new coordinators will help identify and solve the physical barriers across their region that prevent safe walking and biking to school. They will work with Active Living Managers and others working to promote mode shifts, healthy living to prevent obesity, active transportation and healthy joint use agreements.
North Carolina’s ecosystem for walking and bicycling has undergone an important and valuable “turning of the waters” and Safe Routes to School has been provided sustenance to thrive for years to come.