2009 Legislative Archives

This page includes archives of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership's legislative actions in 2009.  Since this is a historical archive, links may not work.  Current information on our legislative priorities is available on our National webpage. You may also visit our legislative archives by year:  2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008-2007.

Legislative Archives 2009

Partnership Submits Comments to NHTSA
December 23, 2009
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has requested public comment on the development of their 2010-2015 Strategic Plan. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership submitted comments encouraging NHTSA to strengthen their focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety, including children.

Continued uncertainty on timeline for transportation bill
December 2, 2009
Congress has shifted its primary focus to health care and the unemployment numbers, leaving little room for movement on transportation and climate bills. However, the current extension for the SAFETEA-LU transportation bill expires on December 18. Congress will have to act by then to ensure that transportation funds continue to flow. There has been talk of Congress passing a six-month extension, but the situation is still very fluid. Congress and the Administration are also discussing passing a “jobs bill” to address the rising unemployment rate. Many ideas—including transportations spending—are currently being considered to accelerate job growth. The size and make-up of the bill have not been worked out, but Congress hopes to have a bill passed by the State of the Union in January. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is monitoring the situation for opportunities to include Safe Routes to School funding in the package.

Climate bill pushed back to next year
December 2, 2009
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed its climate bill on November 5—with all Republicans boycotting the vote. Discussions are now taking place between Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Graham (R-SC) to identify a compromise climate bill. Further action by the Senate is not expected until next spring.

New State of the States Report Tracks Award and Obligation Rates
November 20, 2009
Each quarter, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership issues a “State of the States” to track the movement of each state Department of Transportation (DOT) in awarding and obligating federal Safe Routes to School funds. The November 2009 State of the States Chart reveals that over the last quarter (July through September 2009), DOTs have awarded close to $23 million in Safe Routes to School awards and have obligated more than $34 million to allow already-awarded projects to move forward. Many states made big strides in obligating funding, with almost all states obligating funding this past quarter. Overall, approximately 73% of the overall funds have been awarded and 39% have been obligated. The Partnership urges SRTS advocates to continue to work with state leaders to get 100% of the funding awarded and obligated.

LaHood talks with advocates about pedestrian safety and livability
November 16, 2009
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership participated in a coalition meeting with Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss pedestrian safety and Transportation for America’s new report, Dangerous by Design. The Partnership discussed how Safe Routes to School programs and Complete Streets policies improve safety for children walking and bicycling. In a blog post after the meeting, Secretary LaHood affirmed his support for Complete Streets planning to make sure roadways are designed for all users—including bicyclists and pedestrians.

New Blumenauer Bill Would Expand Safe Routes to School to High Schools
November 13, 2009
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and nine other Representatives have just introduced H.R. 4021 to make high schools eligible for Safe Routes to School funding. Allowing high schools to compete for federal Safe Routes to School funding will help adolescents be more physically active, continue healthy and green transportation habits, and reinforce bicycle and pedestrian safety for high school students. Learn more and contact your Representative in support of H.R. 4021.

Serving Students with Disabilities Through Safe Routes to School Programs Position Paper
November 4, 2009
The Partnership created the Serving Students with Disabilities Through Safe Routes to School Programs position paper to apprise Congress, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the National Center for Safe Routes to School (the Clearinghouse) on recommended strategies for meeting the stated goal in section 1404 of SAFETEA-LU for serving students with disabilities through Safe Routes to School programs. The position paper is organized to address the background and need of serving students with disabilities, challenges and benefits, and four recommendations which focus on training and curricula; outreach to parents and students; pilot programs; and evaluation of the inclusion efforts for students with disabilities in Safe Routes to School programs. We hope that this paper will lead toward increased action and focus on serving students with disabilities through existing SRTS funds.

Transportation Bill Update
November 3, 2009
Congress has again pushed back a decision on the timeline for the transportation bill. All transportation programs have been extended one more time, at FY2009 funding levels, until December 18, 2009. There continues to be disagreement between the House and the Senate about the best way of proceeding on a long-term transportation bill. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is using this delay to ensure that Members of Congress know the value of Safe Routes to School.

  • During October, three more Senators [Sens. Nelson (D-FL), Klobuchar (D-MN), and Wyden (D-OR)] joined S. 1156, the Safe Routes to School Program Reauthorization bill. Please – keep contacting your Senators to ask them to cosponsor so we can continue to expand support for this important bill.
  • In the House, we continue to talk with Members about the important changes that Chairman Oberstar (D-MN) included for Safe Routes to School in the draft Surface Transportation Authorization Act.
  • Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR) will soon be introducing legislation to expand Safe Routes to School to high schools; we will circulate additional information and a call to action as soon as that happens.
  • Finally, we want to thank everyone who participated in our Dear Congress campaign. We received more than 800 letters from parents, children and community leaders and are now sharing those with members of Congress.

Climate Bill Update
November 3, 2009
Senators Boxer and Kerry have released the funding allocations and updated language for their Senate climate bill, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. The bill language requiring large metropolitan areas to develop transportation plans reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains intact. In other positive news—funding for the transportation section has increased significantly over the House climate bill, which had provided only up to 1% of climate revenues for transportation. Over the forty-year life of the Senate bill, anywhere from 1.8% to 3.1% of climate revenues each year would go to transportation, averaging 2.4% per year. Half of this funding would go to transit agencies and the other half would be used for transportation planning and competitive grants for green transportation projects. While this falls short of the 10% for transportation that we were supporting through CLEAN-TEA, it’s a step in the right direction. Transportation emissions represent nearly 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a series of hearings on the legislation last week. This week, the Committee held a business meeting to consider the bill, but Republicans boycotted the session. Next steps are still under discussion.

Transportation Bill in a Holding Pattern
October 13, 2009
During September, Congress was unable to come to agreement on the length of the extension to the current transportation bill, which was set to expire on September 30, 2009. As we’ve reported previously, the House was pushing for a 3-month extension, while the Senate and Administration have been pushing for an 18-month extension. The House and Senate could not come to agreement, and instead did a short-term 1-month extension. That means discussion over the timeline for when to consider the next transportation bill will continue throughout October.

Climate Bill on the Front Burner
October 13, 2009
On September 30, Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Boxer (D-CA) unveiled the Senate climate bill, called the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. The bill will include a substantial section on transportation planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a competitive grant program for green transportation projects—such as transit, bicycling and walking infrastructure. The draft also includes funding set-asides for state and local governments to do the planning and carry out the projects, but the dollar value of those set-asides are unclear until additional details are included until later in the Committee process. We have endorsed S. 575, CLEAN-TEA, which would direct 10% of climate auction revenues to green transportation planning and infrastructure. We have also joined with a number of other organizations on a joint letter to Senators Boxer and Kerry to encourage them to include adequate funding for green transportation as the bill moves forward. We encourage Safe Routes to School supporters to contact their Senators to urge them to include adequate funding for transportation in the climate bill.

Join the Safe Routes to School “Dear Congress” campaign and help spread the word
Deadline has been extended to October 23, 2009
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has launched a “Dear Congress: Why Safe Routes to School is Important” campaign. We need your help. We’re striving to generate hundreds—if not thousands—of letters from children, parents, program staff and volunteers, and school and city leaders talking about why Safe Routes to School is important to individuals and communities. We will bundle your letters and share them with members of the House and Senate so that they know how many people in their states and districts value Safe Routes to School. Read on for how you can join the campaign.

CDC Releases Grant Application for Hundreds of Millions in Community Prevention Dollars
September 29, 2009
Through the new Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant program, the CDC will award $373 million to 30 to 40 communities throughout the country to reduce obesity and tobacco use. The program is an opportunity for bicycle and pedestrian advocates and local and state health departments to work together to secure significant funding to increase walking and bicycling for transportation and recreation.

Rescissions Process Likely to Result in Loss of Up to 4.45% of SRTS Funds in Each State
September 21, 2009
In our last issue of E-News, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership notified you that a number of transportation programs are currently subject to rescissions. All state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) must return a portion of their federal transportation funds to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)—including the Safe Routes to School program. The rescissions process is complicated for SRTS – but states will have to return a maximum of 4.45% of their SRTS funds. For additional information on how the rescission amount will be calculated, including a state-by-state table of maximum SRTS rescissions, please review our rescissions memoUPDATE: The final rescission numbers for each state are now available.

Federal Funding for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects Under Attack – Call Your Senator Today
September 15, 2009
Our friends with several bicycling and walking organizations have shared a critical call to action. On September 16, Senators Coburn of Oklahoma and McCain of Arizona plan to offer amendments to the transportation appropriations bill that would eliminate funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure—including Transportation Enhancements and possibly other programs like Safe Routes to School. Please act now—call your senator and ask him or her to vote against the proposed amendments. Learn how on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website. If you follow the link to their website, you will find sample talking points, a link to your Senators’ phone numbers, and a form to report the response from your Senators.

The Latest on the Transportation Bill
September 10, 2009
The House and Senate have approximately three weeks left before the current transportation bill expires, and must come to agreement on the length of an extension. The Senate and the Administration want a longer extension of 18 months, while the House prefers a much shorter extension. The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee may move forward with further consideration of its existing House transportation draft bill in the meantime. Whatever the length of the extension, it is expected to continue all current transportation programs at their current fiscal year 2009 funding levels. However, an extension may create difficulties for state DOTs in committing to new projects and grants as they will be receiving money in installments over the course of the year. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership will continue to monitor state DOTs to ensure that Safe Routes to School funds are awarded and obligated in a timely fashion.

State DOT Rescissions in the Works
September 10, 2009
In other federal news, it is time for rescissions. In this federally-mandated process, state DOTs must return a portion of their existing transportation funds in a number of programs to Washington. For most transportation programs subject to the rescission, the loss of funding will be approximately 5% of a program’s total funding from FY2004-2009. Safe Routes to School is unique in that there are two methods of calculating the rescissions for each state -one based on unobligated balances as compared with other programs, and one is based on the funding level as compared with other programs. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is working closely with the Federal Highway Administration to determine the impact on state Safe Routes to School programs. At this point it appears that the maximum rescission will be around 4.5% of a state’s Safe Routes to School funds, but could be less in some states depending on obligation levels. As soon as we have more details, including state by state figures, we will share those via a subsequent email alert.

Make Plans Now to Meet With Your Members of Congress in August in Support of SRTS
August 11, 2009
As August draws near, many Americans are thinking about vacations and trips to the beach or pool. But – it’s also an important time to connect with your Members of Congress, who spend August at home in their districts talking with constituents. That makes it a perfect time to discuss Safe Routes to School with your Members of Congress. Read on for the key ways you can help.

Transportation Bill Update
August 11, 2009
Both the House and Senate have passed a bill that fixes the funding shortfall for current transportation programs until the end of September. The current transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, expires at the end of September—but there is disagreement about how to proceed. The Senate has already moved forward on legislation that would extend the current transportation bill another 18 months (funding all programs, including SRTS, at the FY2009 until March 2011). The House prefers to focus on passing a full transportation bill instead of a long-term extension. The House and Senate will have to resolve their differences and decide on a way forward for the next transportation bill before the end of September.

Climate Bill Update
August 11, 2009
In June, the House passed H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act.  Since then, the Senate has held several hearings on the climate bill, including on the role transportation plays in greenhouse gas emissions.  Several members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are publicly supportive of providing sufficient climate funding for green transportation alternatives like public transit and bicycle/pedestrian networks.  The numerous Senate committees who have jurisdiction over the climate bill are expected to release draft climate legislation and proceed with consideration in September.

Exciting New Reports Released This Summer
August 11, 2009
There are several exciting new reports that were released in July that show deepening support nationwide for Safe Routes to School.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention release an MMWR report  with 24 Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States. Several of the strategies focus on key issues related to Safe Routes to School including school siting, walking, bicycling and complete streets.
  • The July/August issue of the Federal Highway Administration’s magazine, Public Roads, included a big story – “Safe Routes to School—Making a Big Difference Via Small Steps” , featuring how all 50 states and DC are participating and more than 5,200 schools are already being served. The story includes lots of great case studies from throughout the country.
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity released a position statement on the intersection between transportation and public health. The paper lists four strategies for advancing healthy transportation including: expanding Safe Routes to School, serving low-income communities, enacting complete streets, and proving more public transportation options.
  • PolicyLink and the Prevention Institute released the Transportation Prescription commissioned by the Convergence Partnership which includes a forward by Congressman Oberstar, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This policy guide includes great statistics and analyzes the intersection of transportation, health and equity. It provides key policy and program recommendations that can improve health outcomes in vulnerable communities, create economic opportunity, and enhance environmental quality.

House Passes American Clean Energy and Security Act
June 28, 2009
The House passed H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), which is focused on addressing climate change. ACES includes provisions requiring large Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to address greenhouse gas reductions in their transportation planning. In addition, states will receive ten percent of auction revenues for renewable energy and energy efficiency. States can use up to ten percent of those funds to pay for the matching funds on federally-funded transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects. Action on the climate bill now moves to the Senate.

House Transportation Bill and Blumenauer Bill Support Safe Routes to School
June 24, 2009
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit unanimously approved its draft of the transportation bill, called the Surface Transportation Authorization Act. Chairman Oberstar included a number of provisions to strengthen Safe Routes to School. In addition, in November, Rep. Blumenauer introduced H.R. 4021 to expand Safe Routes to School to high schools. Neither the Surface Transportation Authorization Act nor the Blumenauer bill address funding levels at this point. Please contact your Representative to express support for Chairman Oberstar’s provisions and H.R. 4021. We provided sample text for you to use in your email here.

Update on House Transportation Bill and Safe Routes to School
June 19, 2009
Over the past few days, there has been a lot of movement on the transportation bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Thursday, June 18, Reps. Oberstar, Mica, DeFazio, and Duncan, who are the lead Democrats and Republicans on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, released a Blueprint of the transportation bill.  For more information, click here.

House Transportation Bill May Be Unveiled This Month
June 8, 2009
Chairman Oberstar of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee may be releasing a draft of the next transportation bill, or at least white papers outlining his intended approach, this month. To prepare for the transportation bill, Members of Congress spent much of May building support for their priorities. Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Lipinski (D-IL), and Edwards (D-MD) each took the lead on letters to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee in support of SRTS and other bicycle/pedestrian and safety programs. Several dozen Members of Congress signed on to the letters, which help demonstrate that there is broad support for the program’s expansion in the next transportation bill. 

Climate Bill Has Many Steps Ahead
June 8, 2009
On May 20, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The bill would establish a system for capping greenhouse gas emissions and auctioning off emissions allowances, and includes a transportation planning section to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, the final bill included a potential funding source for the transportation planning, but not for implementing the plans. We are continuing to work with Transportation for American and the Smart Growth and Climate Change Coalition to strengthen the transportation provisions in H.R. 2454, and to ensure that the transportation bill works well with the climate bill. The bill still has several steps to go before it could become law, including consideration by other House Committees, the full House, and the Senate.

House GOP Proposes Eliminating SRTS as Part of Budget-Cutting Effort
June 4, 2009
Today, Reps. Boehner and Cantor, who are part of the House Republican leadership issued a list of dozens of programs they propose eliminating to reduce spending and the deficit. Among many of the items they propose to eliminate is the Safe Routes to School program (along with other bike/ped programs like Transportation Enhancements and the Non-Motorized Pilot Program), arguing it should be handled by local governments. This list of proposed reductions was released to the media today in the form of a letter to President Obama, and is not a part of the regular budget and appropriations process at this point. The Associated Press did an article on the proposed cuts which highlights Safe Routes to School. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is continuing to work to ensure the extension and expansion of the Safe Routes to School program. Rep. Oberstar, the Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, should soon be releasing his draft transportation bill and we hope there will be positive language in there for Safe Routes to School. We also recently worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to secure introduction of S. 1156, the Safe Routes to School Program Reauthorization Act , which would expand funding to $600 million per year and make changes to strengthen the program. We are finding a lot of support for Safe Routes to School on both sides of the aisle.

New Safe Routes to School Senate Bill Sets Stage for Next Federal Transportation Bill
May 21, 2009
Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Burr (R-NC) , Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Susan Collins (R-ME) joined together to introduce the Safe Routes to School Program Reauthorization Act (S. 1156). The new Safe Routes to School bill proposes to build on successes around the country and strengthen and expand the federal Safe Routes to School program. We need assistance from all Safe Routes to School supporters and advocates to ensure that this legislation is ultimately included in the next transportation bill which is up for reauthorization this year. Please follow the links below to learn more and take action.

• For Individuals: Take Action and Contact your Senators
• For Organizations: Write a Letter to your Senators (.doc)
Current Senate Supporters
List of Supporting Organizations
Press release from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Press release from the Senate bill sponsors
Summary of the legislation
Full text of the legislation
Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s reauthorization recommendations

Contact Your Member of Congress Today to Make Sure Bicycling, Walking, and Safe Routes to School Are a Part of Our Transportation System
May 19, 2009
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership needs five minutes of your time to help make sure that Members of Congress support bicycling and walking in the multi-year federal transportation bill, a draft of which is scheduled to be released in a couple of weeks. There are two different “Dear Colleague” letters being circulated in the U.S. House of Representatives that call for increased federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs in the next transportation bill. With your help as a constituent, we can get a critical mass of Members of Congress to sign on to these letters and show strong, broad support for bicycling, walking, and Safe Routes to School in the next transportation bill. For more information on signing onto these letters, click here.

Transportation for America Issues Blueprint for Transportation Reform
May 14, 2009
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership joins the Transportation for America Coalition in supporting the Route to Reform, a detailed plan to recreate the nation’s transportation programs to build a smart, safe and clean transportation system that provides transportation options to all Americans. The Route to Reform outlines a renewed vision for the federal transportation program as well as ways to pay for it, coupled with a restructuring that can produce results. If the reforms outlined in the blueprint were enacted by Congress, Americans would see more funding dedicated to public transit, bicycling, and walking—and would have safer, healthier, and cleaner options for getting around. Specific recommendations pertinent to Safe Routes to School include setting a national performance goal of tripling the mode share for walking, bicycling, and transit in 20 years; expanding the Safe Routes to school program; requiring Complete Streets policies; prioritizing senior and pedestrian safety; and creating a new “Transportation for Livable Communities” grant program.

Transportation Bill Coming Soon; SRTS Making Progress
May 12, 2009
Rep. Oberstar, Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, has indicated he will be releasing his version of the transportation bill in early June. We are working closely with Chairman Oberstar’s staff to ensure that Safe Routes to School is included in the draft. We are also partnering with America Bikes on a support letter that members of the House Transportation Committee can sign to show support for Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets, bicycle/pedestrian funding, and a “fair share for safety.” On the Senate side, we expect Senator Harkin (D-IA) to introduce a Safe Routes to School reauthorization bill, based on the Partnership’s platform, in the coming weeks. As soon as the House support letter and Senate bill are available, we will alert SRTS supporters and ask you to take action.

Making Schools Green and Kids More Active
May 12, 2009
Last week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed a new Green Schools bill that would provide $6.4 billion for school construction projects to modernize schools and make them more energy-efficient, including through improving bike/ped access to schools. The full House of Representatives passed the bill on May 14. It must now be taken up by the Senate before it can become law.  In other related news, the Partnership has endorsed the FIT Kids Act, which would require school districts and states to report on the level and quality of PE they provide to children, and would add physical activity and wellness as eligible uses of funding for a variety of education programs. The FIT Kids campaign is led by the American Heart Association, and it is hoped that Congress will consider these changes as part of a future education reauthorization bill.

Draft Climate Bill Includes Transportation Title
May 12, 2009
Rep. Waxman, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a draft climate bill in late March that would establish a system for capping greenhouse gas emissions and auctioning off emissions allowances. The draft includes a transportation section that would require states and large metropolitan areas to submit goals and plans to reduce their transportation greenhouse gas emissions—including through bike/ped infrastructure. Funding would be provided to implement the plans, although funding levels are not specified in the draft. We are working with Transportation for America and the Smart Growth and Climate Change coalitions to support adequate funding for the transportation section.

Partnership Releases Working Group Report on SRTS Implementation Challenges
May 7, 2009
Last fall, the Partnership has convened a Working Group on Implementation to examine the impact of the title 23 regulations that govern SRTS on project delivery and costs and develop more specific recommendations. Together, Working Group participants convened monthly to discuss implementation challenges and opportunities. The Partnership’s Working Group on Implementation has just released the product of those discussions, a report entitled “Implementation Challenges with the Federal SRTS Program: An Examination of Title 23 Regulations, the Impact on Project Costs and Timing, and Opportunities for More Efficient Project Delivery".  The report provides background on the existing regulatory processes, identifies best practices that many state DOTs are already undertaking, and proposes legislative and administrative solutions that could make SRTS projects more efficient, without undermining important environmental and labor projections. We have already begun to share the report with key Congressional offices and the Federal Highway Administration, and hope that state SRTS Coordinators will find it useful in their own implementation. We would like to thank the members of the Working Group, who are identified in the report’s appendix, and all those local SRTS recipients who completed the implementation survey last December.

SRTS Supporters Host Sen. Bond (R-MO) and Rep. Johnson (R-IL) for Site Visits
May 1, 2009
Local SRTS supporters have an important role to play in building support for the program and ensuring that Congress will strengthen and expand funding for the program as part of the upcoming transportation bill. The easiest way to do this is to ask your Senator or House Member to come to an upcoming SRTS event to see the positive impact these federal dollars are having on children and families in your community—like two recent events:

  • In April, the PedNet Coalition of Columbia, Missouri invited Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) to walk to school as part of their Walking School Bus program. The Senator had a chance to interact with local kids and get some exercise. Afterwards, he addressed the children, encouraging them to develop healthy habits through the Walking School Bus. Local media covered the event, resulting in positive articles in local papers, including one headlined “Senator Bond Gets on the Health Bus.”
  • Also in April, the Champaign-Urbana SRTS Project hosted an event with Mark Fenton that included a walking audit and Safe Routes to School planning workshop. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL) walked with the group during the audit, shared his own stories of walking and biking around the Urbana area as a child, and saw the new school zone signs that were installed with SRTS grant funds. Rep. Johnson told the group of his support for increasing funding for SRTS in the next transportation bill.

These two events are examples of how you can connect Members of Congress with the impact of SRTS—through events you may already be planning for your families, communities and schools. All it takes is a little planning—and we have a Toolkit for Building Congressional Champions with step-by-step instructions, templates and tools to help you plan and carry out your event. Please also don’t hesitate to contact Margo Pedroso, Policy Manager for the Partnership, if you need any help during the process or would like to share your site visit story.

America Bikes Releases Transportation Authorization Priorities
April 10, 2009
America Bikes, the coalition of eight national bike organizations, has released its transportation platform. Overall the recommendations encourage Congress to invest 3% of transportation dollars into bicycling and walking, which will help double the mode share of bicycling and walking. Among numerous recommendations, the America Bikes platform also endorses reauthorizing and expanding funding for Safe Routes to School.

Transportation for America Releases Town Hall Resources
April 10, 2009
Transportation for America, the nation’s most diverse coalition working to reform the upcoming federal transportation bill, is collaborating with partners to organize town halls and house meetings across the country. The purpose of these meetings is to document discussions about the kinds of transportation projects communities want, and why those projects should be funded by the transportation bill. Leaders in health and safety will play a vital role in these discussions, joining a national movement to tell our members of Congress that we want transportation projects that improve the health and safety of residents. Make your voice heard by organizing a town hall or smaller gathering in your area. Review the customizable toolkit at http://t4america.org/townhalls, and e-mail Rochelle at rochelle.carpenter@t4america.org if you would like to learn more!

SRTSNP State Networks Focus on Stimulus Dollars
April 10, 2009
The 10 State Networks periodically focus on new opportunities that arise in their state. This year, the stimulus bill – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) – is such an opportunity, and as it turns out, a challenge as well. The funding through ARRA is dedicated to infrastructure, which could mean money for sidewalks, bike paths, pedestrian crossings, and other projects that could help children safely bicycle or walk to schools in the U.S. There are four such eligible categories in ARRA, including highway funding and Transportation Enhancements. State Networks have been working to get some of these funds dedicated to bicycle, pedestrian, and Safe Routes to School projects.

State Networks started by sending letters to elected officials, including governors, state legislators, and transportation agency leaders, asking them to spend money on bicycle, pedestrian, and SRTS projects, and to utilize complete streets concepts – designing and rebuilding roadways for all mode users – when spending the highway funds. The Networks specifically asked that the Transportation Enhancements funding be spent on bicycle and pedestrian projects, not on highway landscaping and beautification. The State Networks also conducted outreach to local communities, organizations, Safe Routes to School leaders, and others to let them know that this funding is available, and to request projects from their local elected officials and agencies.

One big success is that Washington DC has dedicated $4 million in ARRA funding to Safe Routes to School! But in several states, so far virtually no money has been allocated to bicycle, pedestrian, or Safe Routes to School projects. Networks continue to work to influence the spending of money that is still ‘in the bank’.

New Resource Encourages Use of Stimulus Dollars for Healthy Communities
April 10, 2009
To highlight recovery act funds that can be used to increase opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy foods, Leadership for Healthy Communities created a policy brief entitled Supporting Healthy Communities Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. All of the recommendations in the policy brief are supported by research and accompanied by examples of how similar funds have been used to achieve healthy eating and active living objectives.

Bike/Ped Infrastructure Dollars Available To States, Cities and Counties through ARRA Energy Efficiency Grants
April 1, 2009
This week, the U.S. Department of Energy released guidelines for the billions of stimulus dollars available through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG). A total of $2.7 billion will be distributed to states and eligible cities and counties to improve energy efficiency in a number of ways, including through development of bicycle and pedestrian networks. Applications from states are due May 25, 2009 and city/county applications are due June 26, 2009. In addition to the EECBG funding, advocates should continue to focus on the Transportation Enhancements (TE) funding within their states. States have access to approximately $800 million in stimulus funds for the TE program, and many states are making decisions now about how to program this funding. This is a primary source of funding for bicycle, pedestrian, and Safe Routes to School projects. For additional information on either of these programs, please review our newly updated Frequently Asked Questions document.

Complete Streets Legislation Introduced
March 24, 2009
Both the House and Senate have introduced the Complete Streets Act of 2009 (H.R. 1443 and S. 584). The leads for the legislation are Rep. Matsui (D-CA) in the House and Sen. Harkin (D-IA) in the Senate. The bills would require that states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) adopt ‘complete streets’ policies that ensure that future road improvements also take into account the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and people of all ages and abilities. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership included Complete Streets in our transportation reauthorization platform and supports the bills. To ask your Senators and Representative to co-sponsor the Complete Streets legislation, please use the National Complete Streets Coalition’s sample letter.

CLEAN-TEA Bill Introduced to Direct Climate Revenues to Transportation
March 24, 2009
Legislation to address climate change and greenhouse gases is likely this session of Congress. Senators Carper (D-DE) and Specter (R-PA) and Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Tauscher (D-CA), and LaTourette (R-OH) are the lead sponsors of new legislation called CLEAN-TEA (H.R. 1329 and S. 575). The Clean Low-Emissions Affordable New Transportation Equity Act would target ten percent of any revenues from future climate bill cap and trade revenues for lowering greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. States and local communities could tap into this funding to create safe, convenient, and environmentally-friendly transportation alternatives such as building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has submitted a letter of support for CLEAN-TEA.

Federal Update
March 10, 2009
Congressman Oberstar of Minnesota, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has indicated that he hopes to have a surface transportation bill through his Committee by the end of May. That would leave the summer for both the House and Senate to move forward on the legislation before it expires at the end of September 2009. The new transportation authorization bill provides an important opportunity to strengthen and expand the federal Safe Routes to School program.

Partnership Unveils 2009 Policy Report
March 10, 2009
The Safe Routes to School 2009 Policy Report - Moving to the Future: Building on Early Achievements examines the first three years of the federal Safe Routes to school program and identifies ways in which the program could be strengthened through policy changes at the national and local levels. It also identifies discusses a number of "big-picture" policies and practices that can help build a supportive environment for Safe Routes to School programs.

Learn More and Take Action on the Economic Stimulus
February 18, 2009
The economic stimulus bill, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, has now been signed into law. The law provides $789 billion in spending and tax cuts to stimulate the economy, and is an important opportunity for states, cities, counties, and schools to create healthier communities. Funding is available to build sidewalks, bike lanes, pathways, and to create complete streets. This infrastructure can help to create an interconnected bicycle and pedestrian network, improving safety and providing opportunities for increased physical activity for both children and adults. Please review our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information about potential funding sources and then take action to secure funding for bicycle, pedestrian, Safe Routes to School, and Complete Streets projects in your community.

Congress To Move On Stimulus Bill Vote By Weekend
February 13, 2009
The U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote today or tomorrow on a $789 billion economic stimulus package that provides $27.5 billion to modernize roads and bridges, and includes a 3% set-aside of each state’s share of the $27.5 billion for the Transportation Enhancements program, which is a primarily source of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure funding, which can also be used for Safe Routes to School. At least half of funds must be obligated by states within 120 days and the remainder within one year, or the U.S. Secretary of Transportation can recall unobligated funds. Also included is $8.4 billion to increase public transportation and improve transit facilities; $8 billion for investment in high-speed rail; and $1.5 billion for a discretionary surface transportation grant program to be awarded competitively by the Secretary of Transportation. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration have issued guidance to assist state and local agencies in preparing for implementation of the stimulus bill. Other sections of the bill include potential funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects through the state fiscal stabilization fund, the Energy Efficiency and Block Grant program, and the Prevention and Wellness Fund. The bill text and joint explanatory statement are now available here. The Partnership will be issuing a Frequently Asked Questions once the bill is signed into law with additional information and next steps for accessing the funding. Check back to our website next week for details.

All Eyes on the Economic Stimulus Bill
February 12, 2009
For the past several months, Congress has been focusing on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, meant to stimulate the economy and create and sustain jobs. Recently, the House and Senate both passed their respective versions of the economic recovery bill, and this week they quickly entered into negotiations, called a conference, to work out the differences between the two bills. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership immediately issued a letter to the conferees asking them to include provisions that would support healthy and green transportation options for families that also create jobs. We also sent out action alerts nationwide, and want to thank the grassroots supporters who swung into action on short notice to call their Members of Congress to ask for their help on these issues.

Stimulus Bill Next Steps: Call Your Members of Congress This Week
February 10, 2009
Congress is nearing the end game on the economic stimulus/recovery bill, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This week is critical for decisions about the final funding levels and programs in the bill, because the House and Senate are now negotiating a final, compromise bill in conference committee. Please take ten minutes today to call your Senators and House Representative. With your help, we can ensure that Safe Routes to School projects and initiatives that promote bicycling and walking will be able to access some of the recovery bill’s funding. This will create jobs while also making children safer. There are three programs we are focusing on for the final bill: Transportation Enhancements, school modernization funding, and the Healthy Communities program.

Safe Routes to School at the National Bike Summit
February 10, 2009
The theme of the National Bike Summit 2009 is Go for Green: Building Bicycling into the Transportation Bill. The Partnership will be participating in two workshops you won’t want to miss at the National Bike Summit! Please join us: every Congressional District needs to be represented.

The first session, Safe Routes to School Times Three, makes the argument that the remarkable success of the Safe Routes to School program signifies the need for a significant increase in funding and easier project delivery. Discover the game plan for boosting Safe Routes to School in the new transportation bill. The second workshop, Getting a Fair Share for Safety, will address ways that the next transportation bill can redress the balance of bicyclists and pedestrians accounting for 13% of traffic fatalities yet getting less than 1% of federal safety funds. If you are planning on attending the National Bike Summit, and are involved with SRTS, please contact Margo Pedroso at margo@saferoutespartnership.org so that we can help you make the most of your visit to the nation’s capitol.

Act Now on Federal Stimulus Dollars
January 14, 2009
Congress is currently working on an economic stimulus/recovery bill that is expected to invest hundreds of billions in funding into infrastructure improvements for roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and more. The funding is an attempt to jumpstart the economy and avoid a deeper recession. Will Safe Routes to School projects be included? The answer to that question may be related to how loudly we collectively demand that Safe Routes to School be funded. Once Congress passes its legislation, it appears likely that the state DOTs will only have a short window of two to four weeks to submit their final project lists to Congress, documenting how they will spend billions in recovery dollars. While most of these state DOT lists are not public, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group has examined the lists from 19 states, and just 0.3% of their recommended projects are for bike/ped infrastructure, when bicyclists and pedestrians already comprise 10% of all trips. We need to change this inequitable dynamic and ensure that your local bike/ped projects are incorporated into the lists being prepared by governors and state DOTs. Your bike/ped projects also need to be included on your local community lists being prepared by local officials – including mayors, city councils/board of supervisors, and MPOs. If a concerted effort does not take place immediately, it is likely that the lion’s share of the hundreds of billions being invested in transportation will be focused on road and bridge projects, without a fair share for balanced transportation infrastructure including sidewalks, bike lanes, and multi-use paths. Make a difference by taking action this week:
1. Call your local mayor, city councilperson/county supervisor, department of public works, state legislators, and/or MPO and use our talking points to make the case for including bike/ped projects in their lists.
2. Send a letter to your Governor and/or state DOT Director asking that they include your ready-to-go project in their list.

President-Elect Obama Selects Ray LaHood Transportation Secretary
January 10, 2009
President-Elect Obama announced recently that former Congressman Ray LaHood, a Republican from Illinois, is his selection to serve as the new Secretary of Transportation. Congressman LaHood is a moderate that is known to have worked well across party lines. He most recently served on the House Appropriations Committee for several years, and previously served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The League of Illinois Bicyclists shares that Congressman LaHood is an active supporter of bicycling and trails, and stood up against his party leadership to support the Transportation Enhancements program, which provides a great deal of funding to bicycle and pedestrian projects. In floor remarks supporting the restoration of funding to Transportation Enhancements in 2003, Congressman LaHood spoke about the importance of trails and facilities that encourage Americans to exercise and get healthy. We look forward to translating his support for trails into support for the Safe Routes to School program.

EPA Makes Connection Between School Siting and Environmental Issues
January 10, 2009
In 2009, EPA will be issuing voluntary school siting guidelines, in response to December 2007 legislation. School siting is a very important policy issue in the SRTS movement as the number one reason parents give for why their children don’t walk or bicycle to school is distance. The purpose of this effort is to provide state and local planning agencies, which are directly responsible for the location of schools, with guidance in respect to environmental issues when making siting decisions. EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection and Environmental Education is designated as the lead office to manage this agency-wide effort. As a first step in assisting states and other organizations, this November, EPA launched an information
clearing house that can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/schools/siting.html