April 2011

Safe Routes to School E-News

Issue #64: April 2011

Safe Routes to School E-News is a monthly email newsletter published by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership (National Partnership), a growing network of more than 500 non-profit organizations, government agencies, schools and professional groups that are working to set goals, share best practices, secure funding and provide detailed policy input to implementing agencies for advancing the Safe Routes to School national movement. Our mission is to advocate for safe walking and bicycling to and from schools, and in daily life, to improve the health and well-being of America’s children and to foster the creation of livable, sustainable communities.

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To receive future issues of E-News, email info@saferoutespartnership.org.

In this issue:

1. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
Contact your Senators to support Safe Routes to School!

2. Fire Up Your Feet! Pilot Program Going Live in Minnesota
Get more info at FireUpYourFeet.org

3. Center for Safe Routes to School New Interactive Map
Now available at http://maps.saferoutesinfo.org

4. National Partnership’s Call for Steering Committee Nominations
Deadline to apply is May 10; all nominees must be partner affiliates

5. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
Addressing school siting and closures

6. Free Webinar: Organizing Successful Bike Trains
May 5 at 1pm EST – register today

7. Funding Opportunity with Health Impact Project
Accepting brief proposals through June 1

8. Zapping Out Inactivity in Nebraska
Nebraska Department of Roads awards $450,000 in funding

9. New York Safe Routes to School Update
Completed local infrastructure example included

10. Safe Routes to School News Throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links


1. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
Contact your Senators to support Safe Routes to School!

The last several weeks have been difficult ones as Congress worked to finalize spending for the remainder of the fiscal year. At the last hour on Friday, April 8, the President and Congress reached a spending deal, averting a shutdown of the federal government. After the smaller details are finalized this week, the House and Senate will vote on the deal.

With FY2011 appropriations nearly complete, Congress can focus on other matters. Already, battles are shaping up for FY2012 and beyond as Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has proposed a FY2012 budget outline that would significantly scale back spending. He calls for consolidating transportation programs and cutting transportation spending so that no gas tax increase is required. Similarly, Rep. Mica (R-FL), chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, has also indicated that the transportation bill will need to be no larger than what can be supported with the current gas tax, which means less funding that was in the 2005 SAFETEA-LU transportation bill. And, while the President’s budget calls for significantly increasing funding for transportation, it also calls for consolidating programs—including Safe Routes to School.

In this difficult environment, we have shifted our strategy on Safe Routes to School to focus on preserving the program at its current funding level of $183 million/year, and on making policy tweaks that strengthen the program. Fortunately, we have great support from key Members of Congress and partner organizations that will help us sustain Safe Routes to School:

  • This week, Senators Harkin (D-IA), Merkley (D-OR) and Sanders (D-VT) and nine other Senators introduced S. 800, the Safe Routes to School Program Reauthorization Act. This bill would authorize Safe Routes to School at $183 million/year for another five years. It would also add limited eligibility for high schools and safe routes to bus stops projects, incorporate research and evaluation funding and reduce regulatory burden. Please help us grow the number of cosponsors by contacting your Senators! National organizations can also sign onto our letter to Congress supporting the legislation—sign-ons are due to margo@saferoutespartnership.org no later than April 21, 2011.
  • On April 12, hundreds of advocates for the American Heart Association blanketed Capitol Hill to ask Members of Congress to support legislation that helps kids and families be healthy. One of their asks was to support Safe Routes to School—we are grateful to AHA, which is a steering committee member, for their active support for Safe Routes to School.
  • John Burke, the CEO of Trek Bikes, testified before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on March 30, 2011. The Committee was seeking input on the next transportation bill. Mr. Burke made the case for how federal investments in bicycling and walking help spur economic benefits. He included a request to sustain the federal Safe Routes to School program.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership will continue to work hard to ensure that the federal Safe Routes to School program is protected—and we are grateful to all our partners and supporters for their help.


2. Fire Up Your Feet! Pilot Program Going Live in Minnesota
Get more info at FireUpYourFeet.org

Throughout the development of the National Partnership’s 2011-2015 Strategic Plan, we interviewed partner affiliates, parents and Safe Routes to School practitioners and frequently heard of the need to create avenues for parents and students to become Safe Routes champions and advocates. Our new Fire Up Your Feet! program is the start of a national grassroots program to encourage parents to become involved in Safe Routes to School and to create champions who are advocating for healthy, livable and sustainable communities across the country. Minnesota is serving as the pilot state for this new program and website community that provides easy-to-use web-based tools to support families as they get started walking or bicycling to school and in their neighborhoods. At FireUpYourFeet.org, parents can track a variety of trips and their family’s daily minutes of physical activity, helping them see the difference they are making in CO2 saved. FireUpYourFeet.org provides a central resource of information, incentives and hands-on support for starting and growing programs in your community.

Visit FireUpYourFeet.org whenever you need easy-to-find information about Safe Routes to School and to connect with other parents throughout the state, and eventually the nation, who are getting fired up to be more physically active and healthy, and who are creating more livable and sustainable communities. The Minnesota pilot of Fire Up Your Feet! is supported by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, through Prevention Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s long-term statewide health improvement initiative. Tobacco settlement proceeds fund this work in Minnesota to tackle the root causes of preventable heart disease and cancer.

Look for more information in future E-News articles and on FireUpYourFeet.org as the program goes national in 2012. Sponsors and cause marketing partners are being lined up now. For additional information about this opportunity, please contact Beth Richards, development director at (603)230-2425 or beth@saferoutespartnership.org.


3. National Center for Safe Routes to School New Interactive Map
Now available at http://maps.saferoutesinfo.org

The National Center for Safe Routes to School recently developed an interactive map, which depicts more details on federally-funded Safe Routes to School projects across the United States.

Search results include the location of the school or school district that benefit from one or more awards, the amount of funding awarded and the year that the project award was announced (note that this is not always the year that the project was or will be funded). The map is searchable by state and county, congressional district, physical address and year.

The interactive map is based on data included in the National Safe Routes to School project list, a resource developed and maintained by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. A static version of the data used for the map can be found online at www.saferoutesinfo.org/project_list.


4. National Partnership’s Call for Steering Committee Nominations
Deadline to apply is May 10; all nominees must be partner affiliates

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership (National Partnership) is now accepting nominations for several Steering Committee positions. Our Steering Committee, a diverse group of up to 21 members, functions as the National Partnership’s Board of Directors and holds decision-making responsibility for the National Partnership. The estimated time commitment for Steering Committee members is eight hours a month.

Each organization that holds a seat on the Steering Committee must appoint an individual representative and an alternate to serve on behalf of his or her organization. The deadline to submit an application is Tuesday, May 10, 2011. For detailed information on the call for nominations and to download the nominations form, click here. Open seats and their terms are:

  • National pedestrian group (2011-2014 three-year term)
  • National group representing bicyclists and/or pedestrians (2011-2014 three-year term)
  • National group representing local government agencies (2011-2014 three-year term)
  • State or local bicycle group (2011-2014 three-year term)
  • State or local bicycle and/or pedestrian group (2011-2014 three-year term)
  • Local school or school district (2011-2014 three-year term)
  • State or local at large (2011-2014 three-year term)

If you have any questions after reading the nomination instructions, please email Brooke Driesse, Communications Manager, at brooke@saferoutespartnership.org.


5. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
Addressing school siting and closures

Imagine building a Safe Routes to School program at a school for two years, with walking school buses, education classes, bicycle giveaways, Walk to School Days and infrastructure planning, and then the school district decides to close the school. This could happen to you, and it did happen to one of our schools where we are providing technical assistance, in Atlanta, Georgia. This is just one reason to get involved in school siting and/or consolidation policy in your community. Recently the Safe Routes to School state network project (network project), which works on state school siting policy in targeted states, convened national experts and our state network organizers in Washington, DC to discuss the issue of school siting, closures and consolidation.

Present at the meeting were the 21st Century School Fund, EPA, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Policy and Legal Analysis Network/PHLP, Safe Routes to School National Partnership staff and contractors, UC Berkeley Center for Cities and Schools and others.

The discussion included what kind of partners should be involved at the local level - educational reform; school transportation; business officers; PTA/PTO’s; parents; students; facility planners; land use groups; architects; realtors; Safe Routes to School and other related youth health and transportation groups; and more.

The group also discussed what is needed for the field on school closures and consolidation such as research, best practices and success stories, and decided to develop a tip sheet for local advocates and school boards. The tip sheet, once completed, will be posted to our website later this spring. If you are interested in getting involved, contact Robert Ping. For more information about the network project, go to: www.saferoutespartnership.org/state/network.


6. Free Webinar: Organizing Successful Bike Trains
May 5 at 1pm ET – register today

Walking school buses are popping up everywhere, but have you seen or heard of a bike train? Starting a bike train, a group of children and parents who ride to school together with other families, is a great way to get students actively commuting to school from farther distances. Bike trains have the same underlying principles as walking school buses but forming a consistent, sustainable bike train that allows students to safely bicycle to school while parents, teachers and administrators rest easy, requires a deft balance between organization, encouragement and training. This webinar hopes to tackle those hurdles and leave attendees with the tools to either tune up their current bike train or start one anew.

This webinar will focus on success stories from Tampa Bay, Florida; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, DC that will provide insight from the nuts and bolts of grassroots organization to bike trains that are arranged and endorsed at the multi-school level. Presenters will highlight their unique programs but also outline the steps necessary to create and organize a bike train that will make a difference and the tips and tricks to keep them running smoothly. Click here to register now!

Our presenters include:

  • Kiel Johnson, Bicycle Safety Educator, Bicycle Transportation Alliance (Portland, Oregon)
  • Jason Jackman, Program Planner Analyst, Center for Urban Transportation Research (Tampa Bay, Florida)
  • Parrie Henderson, Parent Organizer, Mt. Pleasant Peloton (Washington, DC)
  • David Cowan, Program Manager, Safe Routes to School National Partnership (Denver, Colorado)

Thanks to the SRAM Cycling Fund, we will be holding six webinars in 2011 on bicycling and Safe Routes to School. You can view our March webinar on getting bike shops involved in Safe Routes to School here.


7. Funding Opportunity with Health Impact Project
Accepting brief proposals through June 1

The Health Impact Project is issuing its second-round call for proposals (CFP) to demonstrate the effectiveness of health impact assessment (HIA) and promote its use by decision-makers in a wide variety of fields. This CFP will fund organizations that plan to undertake an HIA of a proposed policy, project or program currently or soon to be under active consideration by a decision-making body. Government agencies, educational institutions and non-profit organizations are encouraged to apply. Brief proposals must be submitted on or before Wednesday, June 1, 2011.

For more details, visit http://www.healthimpactproject.org/project/opportunities. The Health Impact Project is a collaborative project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust.


8. Zapping Out Inactivity in Nebraska
Nebraska Department of Roads awards $450,000 in funding

This year has brought some exciting new developments for Nebraska’s Safe Routes to School program. Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) awarded approximately $450,000 in federal Safe Routes to School Program funds to communities for five statewide projects.

Additionally, Safe Routes Nebraska is proud to be sponsoring the 4th Annual Spring Walk to School Day on April 20 to promote healthy, active lifestyles for children through safer routes to walk and bicycle to school. Across the state, schools and community groups are planning events where kids can meet and walk together along safe routes.

Safe Routes Nebraska proudly welcomes Angela Barry as the new Safe Routes to School coordinator. Previously, Angela served as a marketing director for a local engineering firm. She has a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Finally, one of NDOR’s award recipients, Public Health Solutions, has teamed up with Boltage on the “No Child Left on Their Behind” project, which currently operates in 17 schools throughout 12 communities for the last three years. So far, Boltage has been well-received in Beatrice – the first rural site in Nebraska selected to pilot Boltage - with 216 students signing on.

For more information on all of the new developments in Nebraska’s Safe Routes to School program, visit their website or contact Angela Barry, Safe Routes to School coordinator at abarry@sinclairhille.com.


9. New York Safe Routes to School Update
Completed local infrastructure example included

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) last requested applications in a single funding round for all five years of the SAFETEA-LU allocation in Fall 2007, with 70 projects announced in 2008 worth approximately $27 million. The projects range from crosswalk enhancements and new signage to brand new sidewalks, multi-use paths, pedestrian countdown signals, bike racks and speed radar devices that provide driver feedback. Approximately $10 million went to New York City to support their comprehensive citywide (across the five boroughs) Safe Routes to School program. They have roughly 9-10 projects that are completed with more to come in 2011. NYSDOT will request applications again in early 2012 with the funds they have from the SAFETEA-LU extension (about $15 million).

The Town of Maryland, NY received Safe Routes to School funds through a partnership with the rural Schenevus Central School District. The project was celebrated with a jointly hosted walk to school event, as a follow-up to the “Walk This Way” event sponsored by FedEx and with the assistance of the town, school, PTO, police department and the school transportation department before project construction began. The event was repeated the following year after the sidewalks were in place. This $70,000 project was built on-time, within budget and constructed more than 750 feet of sidewalk, provided crosswalk improvements and implemented radar devices that have had a significant impact on the overall speed traveled in the school zone.

For more information on New York’s Safe Routes to School program visit their website, or contact Mary Harding, Safe Routes to School coordinator at mharding@dot.state.ny.us.


10. Safe Routes to School News Throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links

Safe Routes to School news around the country keeps growing! Updated regularly, see our new SRTS in the News media center for the latest in local, state, and national SRTS news.


Help Grow the National Partnership!

Joining the National Partnership is free. Please encourage other organizations, schools, businesses, and government agencies to join the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a network of more than 500 organizations and agencies.

Funding for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has been generously provided by the Bikes Belong Coalition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kaiser Permanente, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SRAM Cycling Fund, individuals and partner affiliates.

For more information, contact:

Brooke Driesse, Communications Manager
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
brooke@saferoutespartnership.org
www.saferoutespartnership.org
(619) 272-0097