Safe Routes to School National Partnership Releases Report Demonstrating How Safe Routes to School Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Air Pollutants

12-10-08

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 10, 2008

Contact:

Margo Pedroso, Policy Manager, Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Office: (301) 292-1043, Email: margo@saferoutespartnership.org

Boulder, CO – The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has released an exciting and informative report, Safe Routes to School: Steps to a Greener Future, which was prepared for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report focuses on how Safe Routes to School initiatives can reduce carbon emissions and air pollutants. The transportation sector in the United States accounts for 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more carbon dioxide emissions than any other nation’s entire economy, except for China. Studies also clearly link air pollution produced by traffic to asthma, chronic respiratory illnesses, and certain cancers. These emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants are having a negative impact on our children, our communities and our planet.

Five communities that have made strides in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and harmful pollutants around schools through the implementation of Safe Routes to School programs are profiled in the report. By carrying out a focused and planned effort, these communities demonstrate the increase in walking and bicycling and related decrease in traffic congestion and vehicle miles that is possible.

The five case studies documented in this report demonstrate initial promising successes, and show how one school’s effort often spreads to additional nearby schools, furthering the environmental impact. Columbia, MO; Las Cruces, NM; Longmont, CO; Marin County, CA; and Windsor, VT are featured. The report concludes that changing the habits of just 20 percent of the children living within two miles of school to get them to walk or bicycle to and from school instead of being driven would be the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road each year, preventing the emission of over 350,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 21,500 tons of other pollutants. The report can be viewed at www.saferoutespartnership.org.

Congress provided $612 million for Safe Routes to School in the 2005 SAFETEA-LU federal transportation bill. Communities in all 50 states are now using this funding to construct new bike lanes, pathways and sidewalks, as well as to launch Safe Routes to School education, promotion and enforcement campaigns in elementary and middle schools. The demand for the program far outreaches the funding available, so the Safe Routes to School National Partnership is pressing to have the upcoming federal climate bill include Safe Routes to School as a beneficiary of auction proceeds. By making it safe, convenient and fun for children to walk and bicycle to and from school, SRTS is helping communities find solutions to carbon emissions, traffic congestion, poor air quality, and high rates of childhood obesity.

To support the SRTS movement at the national level, the SRTS National Partnership is working to set goals, share best practices, and secure additional funding for agencies that implement SRTS programs. Additionally, the Partnership manages the State Network Project in nine states - California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia - and the District of Columbia to bring together statewide partners to leverage additional resources, remove barriers to walking and bicycling to schools and to generate long-term policy changes. Additionally, the Partnership has released five other reports in recent months, prepared for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that explore topics ranging from how SRTS improves the built environment to how SRTS increases collaboration between public health and school officials. The reports can be accessed at www.saferoutespartnership.org.

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