Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN)
Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
“Safe Routes to School has the potential to improve the living habits of an entire generation of schoolchildren. It provides our children with fresh air and exercise. It reduces fuel consumption and air pollution, and promotes safety.
In 2000, I brought together bicycling advocates and officials from the federal Departments of Transportation, Education, and Health and Human Services to explore a new role for the bicycle in American society. I was inspired to do this by the successful three-year Sustainable Transportation experiment in the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, where 30 percent of all trips are made by bicycle. We began with modest pilot programs in California and Massachusetts.
In July 2005, Congress passed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), continuing and significantly building upon the path created by previous highway authorization bills to ensure bicycling and walking garner a more prominent role in our nation’s transportation system. Most importantly, SAFETEA-LU reaffirms the Federal government’s commitment to make America a safer, healthier nation through broad funding eligibility for bicycling and walking projects. The legislation provides $612 million for Safe Routes to School programs nationwide.
SAFETEA-LU is due to expire in 2009, so we are now preparing to draft the next surface transportation authorization act. As Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I plan to build upon these previous accomplishments.
Deb Hubsmith and the SRTS National Partnership have been with me since the beginning, and a great share of the credit for the success of this initiative goes to them.
With the cooperation of federal, state, municipal, and local school officials, as well as parents, dedicated individuals and groups such as the SRTS National Partnership, we can continue to help establish Safe Routes to School programs throughout this country, and help our children live healthier, more active lives.”