National Policy and Advocacy

National Policy and Advocacy

A key focus of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership is to serve as an advocate for Safe Routes to School and related issues with Congress and the federal government and to monitor implementation of Safe Routes to School funding. Because Safe Routes to School affects communities in so many ways, our legislative priorities include transportation, education, health, and the environment.

Below you will find the latest information on the National Partnership’s legislative priorities and calls to action. You can explore the links on the left for more detailed information on legislative priorities, implementation, policy background, and a toolkit to help you engage Members of Congress.

MAP-21 Resource Center

In late June 2012, Congress passed a new transportation bill, MAP-21, that makes significant changes to funding for bicycling, walking and Safe Routes to School. Background on the bill and the Transportation Alternatives Program and its impact on Safe Routes to School in our MAP-21 Resource Center.

Latest News and Information:

Congress Punts Transportation Until Fall

July 30, 2015: After weeks of work, the Senate passed the DRIVE Act today to reauthorize transportation policy and funding, on a vote of 65-34.  However, the House of Representatives has forced the Senate’s hand into accepting a three-month extension of current law. This sets up a busy fall; read more in our latest federal policy blog.

Senate Inches Forward on Transportation Bill

July 24, 2015: The Senate is now actively considering the DRIVE Act, with improvements to the TAP program plus some other areas where we hope for improvements that would benefit Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking.  Get up to speed with the latest from our federal policy blog.

House and Senate on Different Paths for Transportation

July 16, 2015: The House has just passed a five-month extension to current transportation law, while the Senate leadership is attempting to do a long-term funding and policy bill.  As part of that the Commerce committee passed a bill that includes Complete Streets language.  Read all about the action in our latest federal policy blog.

Senate Committee Unveils DRIVE Act; Needs More to Support Bicycling and Walking

June 22, 2015: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has unveiled their new six-year transportation bill, called the DRIVE Act.  While the bill does sustain and make small improvements to the Transportation Alternatives Program, it needs more work to make bicycling and walking a safe option for more Americans.  Get all the details in our latest federal policy blog.

House rejects amendment to limit safe routes to transit

June 10, 2015: Late in the evening of June 9, the House of Representatives voted down an amendment to the transportation appropriations bill that would have prohibited federal dollars from being used to put in sidewalks, crosswalks and lighting around new transit stops.  Defeating this amendment helps show support for local control and bicycling and walking; learn more in our latest federal update and then contact your Member of Congress to share your views on their vote!

Safe Routes to School allocations top $1 billion; states keep moving on TAP funds

June 5, 2015: As of March 31, 2015, according to our quarterly look at federal Safe Routes to School spending, a few states awarded new Safe Routes to School funds, bringing the total awarded to local programs to just over $1 billion.  Most states also moved forward on obligating remaining Safe Routes to School funds. Bigger movement was seen in the quarterly report on the Transportation Alternatives Program, with $56 million in funds obligated for TAP projects and $54 million in new funds promised to Safe Routes to School projects.

Federal Transportation Bill Extended Again

May 26, 2015: Congress has once again voted to extend current transportation law--this time until July 2015.  That could be a make-or-break moment--can Congress actually do a long-term bill with a funding solution or will they extend current law again?  Members of Congress continue to debate, and critics point to the tiny amount of bicycle and pedestrian spending as one of the reasons for our transportation funding shortfall.  Learn more and take action against critics in our latest federal policy blog.

Momentum Builds for Transportation Alternatives Bill

April 29, 2015: Congress will have to act in the next few weeks to extend current transportation law into July or even through the end of the year, giving us time to keep pushing for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). In the month since Senators Cochran (R-MS) and Cardin (D-MD) introduced S. 705, the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act, thousands of individuals and dozens of national partners have asked their Senators to support the bill.  Learn more about the legislation and our national partners in our latest federal policy blog.

Broad support for the Transportation Alternatives Program

April 7, 2015: Today, 44 national organizations joined together to ask Senators to cosponsor S. 705, the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act. We greatly appreciate the broad coalition of support!

Ask your Senator: Speak Up For Safe Routes to School

March 25, 2015: We need YOUR help to make sure Congress doesn't cut the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) that helps support Safe Routes to School projects.  Ask your Senators to cosponsor the new S. 705 to support TAP.

Two new bills advance funding and safety for Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking

March 19, 2015: Congressional supporters have introduced two new pieces of legislation to advance funding and safety for bicycling and walking. S. 705 would strengthen the Transportation Alternatives Program and HR 1274 would create grant funding for Vision Zero initiatives around the country.  Read our latest blog for more details on both.  

States receive and allocate new TAP dollars, continue progress on Safe Routes to School

March 17, 2015: With the start of the new fiscal year, states now have access to eight more months of Transportation Alternatives Program dollars, through May 2015. With the $650 million in new funds, states now have nearly $2.2 billion of TAP funds to allocate.  The state of states for the Transportation Alternatives Program shows that another $37 million in funds were newly obligated, with more than half of all states moving projects forward.  While a few additional states maxed out their TAP transfers, we are pleased to see that just 10% of TAP funds have been transferred to other programs.  As this is well below the max transfer of 50%, it helps demonstrate that most states value the program and what it funds. On the federal Safe Routes to School funding, a few states continued to award and obligate remaining funds, bringing the program to 87% of all funds awarded and 73% of funds obligated.  Take a look and see how your state is progressing.

What’s at stake this spring in Congress

February 24, 2015: While Congress debates about how to fund our transportation shortfall, the transportation committees are actively working on drafting the policy and making decisions.  That means this spring is a critical time to make our voices heard on behalf of Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking.  Read our federal update to learn more about what we’ll be pushing for on Capitol Hill this spring and how we can connect at the National Bike Summit from March 10-12 in Washington, DC. 

Congress Casts about for Transportation Funding Solution

January 30, 2015: As the new Congress convenes, pressure is on legislators to keep transportation dollars flowing.  The current transportation law, MAP-21, expires in just four months in May 2015. Congress must find at least $16 billion per year just to keep transportation spending at current levels.  Read our federal update to learn more about the funding options being floated on Capitol Hill.

Two New National Partnership Publications Highlight Federal Safe Routes to School Policy

December 2, 2014: This week, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership published a new policy report with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, entitled Safe Routes to School: How States are Adapting to a New Legislative FrameworkAdditionally, we updated our Snapshot of State Implementation of the Transportation Alternatives Program. While both provide a still incomplete picture of how Safe Routes to School is faring under the now two-year-old Transportation Alternatives Program, the report in particular gives some reason for optimism. You can read more about both reports, with our analasys on this month's federal policy blog.

In the Wake of the Midterm Elections, Some Big Changes Coming to Capitol Hill

The results of the November 4th elections were exactly what pollsters and political prognosticators had been indicating since early summer: a number of Republican pickups in the House, and enough wins in the Senate to take control for the first time since 2008. You can read more about the changes coming to Congress and what that might mean for walking and biking programs in our latest federal policy blog.  

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces Major New Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Initiative

September 12, 2014: Advocates for bicycle and pedestrian safety are celebrating a significant victory this week, with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx announcing a number of new safety initiatives to be undertaken at the USDOT. The announcement, made by Secretary Foxx at this week's Pro Walk, Pro Bike, Pro Place conference, couldn’t be better timed, with injuries and deaths for bicyclists and pedestrians on the rise across the nation. Read More...