Flying Around for Safe Routes to School

Dave JanisOne of the exciting aspects of the National Partnership’s state network project is the uniqueness of the seven different states. And while this uniqueness is the culture, the people and the geography, one thing is certain, they just can’t get enough of Safe Routes to School! The best ways to understand, appreciate and experience it are to attend their network-related meetings in person. Lately I have gotten to do just that and more. As much as I prefer bicycling to meetings, I had to fly.

In June I attended meetings with North Carolina Department of Transportation staff as well as the first North Carolina network meeting. While Terry Lansdell, the National Partnership’s state advocacy organizer blogged about that meeting, I want to give my impressions.

I learned a long time ago there is much more Safe Routes to School activity going on than we will ever know. And these folks didn’t disappoint. We heard about the well-known, successful projects, but know there are many others. At the meeting it was evident that much is going on around the state and many regional jurisdictions want to sponsor network meetings. Some small and medium size towns are taking ownership of Safe Routes to School. And one community is talking about planning a Safe Routes to School summit.  It was quickly obvious there is a lot of pent up demand and our starting a network has stirred a lot of people in to action. We have developed a great relationship with the state DOT and are looking forward to seeing the results of a survey they are conducting of their program. 

I also attended network-related meetings in Ohio. A meeting with Ohio Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School staff was enlightening as we learned about how they are improving their school travel plan process and heard about some of the difficulties staff faces at the local level. The network meeting was attended by nearly 50 people from all over the state and represented a very diverse group of communities and stakeholders. As is often the case, the public health community was well-represented as were people working on Safe Routes to School in their communities.  Much is going on in Ohio as the demand is through the roof. We will be hearing much more about it, so watch our blog, where you can also learn how to join our network.            

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