Saluting A Safe Routes to School Leader
While all states have a SRTS coordinator, few, if any, have been at it as long as Pat Pieratte with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). She just retired after 35 years with the department, serving six years as the SRTS coordinator. Before she left to go folk dancing in Croatia and Slovenia, there was a gathering to talk about her successes and wish her well.
I have worked with Pat since 1994 in a variety of capacities and can’t say enough good things about her. Pat & I met on a group bicycle tour of the Pacific Northwest in 1994 with Dan Burden. He was FDOT state bicycle coordinator and Pat was FDOT assistant state bicycle coordinator. I was starting out as bicycle pedestrian coordinator for West Florida Regional Planning Council and learned so much on that trip. I have been asking Pat for advice ever since, especially while serving as administrator of the Florida School Crossing Guard Program. She was invaluable keeping the Florida Safe Routes to School state network going until I was hired by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and then introducing me to all the people and programs to keep it successful. But let’s see how successful the FDOT Safe Routes to School program was under Pat’s leadership:
Pat did an outstanding job in obligating Safe Routes to School funds.
There was $56 million in funding received thru 6/30/12.
Pat has programed $86.4 million in the 5-Yr Work Program.
- 246 projects were selected & put into the Work Program
- 189 projects have been started
- 100 projects have been completed
- 260 Florida elementary and middle schools will benefit from infrastructure improvements
- 1,000 schools have been estimated to benefit from the infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects
- Countless successful Walk to School and Bike to School Day events were held
- 14 schools increased bicycling and walking to school from 17.8 percent to 22.6 percent.
Florida has made great strides in the first six years showing that a big impact with a small investment is possible. With Pat’s work we have brought walking and bicycling to school as normal and fun activities, not to mention healthy.
The new coordinator, Sarita Taylor, has an outstanding record working with Safe Routes to School on a district level and we look forward to her continuing the program’s successes under Pat’s leadership.