Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #68: August 2011
Safe Routes to School E-News is a monthly email newsletter published by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership (National Partnership), which is leading the national movement for Safe Routes to School by coordinating and energizing more than 500 organizations, government agencies, schools and professional groups. 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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In this issue:
Since our July update, we had some more promising news on the transportation bill but a lot of work remains when Congress returns after Labor Day from its August recess.
In the Senate, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released a short outline of its transportation bill, which is called Moving Ahead for the 21st Century (MAP-21). The Senate approach is for a two-year transportation bill, at current funding levels. While the outline does not mention bicycling and walking, at a July 21 hearing on the outline, Chairman Boxer (D-CA) indicated that Safe Routes to School, “bike paths” and “recreational trails” are included in MAP-21. This is promising news—but we need to see the details before we know that the integrity of Safe Routes to School is maintained, that these projects won’t be competing against expensive highway projects and that the funding level is sufficient.
Because the federal gas tax is no longer enough to fund current transportation spending levels, the proposed Senate bill would require an infusion of approximately $12 billion. Right before Congress left for the August recess, news reports indicated that Sen. Baucus (D-MT) has identified a funding source to fill the $12 billion gap. If reports are accurate, and the funding source is acceptable to Republicans, this could help jumpstart consideration of the Senate transportation bill in September. Because Congress will be spending much of the fall working on major spending cuts related to the debt limit deal, a transportation bill must move in early fall or risk getting caught up in the larger debt debate.
In the House, there was no further movement on the transportation bill subsequent to the early July unveiling of the 20-page summary of the House draft. Chairman Mica (R-FL) spent much of his time in July wrangling with the Senate over extending the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Much like the surface transportation bill, the FAA has been extended repeatedly over several years. Because Congress could not come to agreement on another extension, the FAA shut down for nearly two weeks before an emergency extension was passed.
Rep. Mica has indicated he will play hardball with the surface transportation bill and extension as well. With the current surface transportation extension plus the bulk of the federal gas tax expiring on September 30, it does raise concerns about prospects for an extension. If Congress does not come to agreement either on a long-term transportation bill or another extension by September 30, it would shut down the flow of funds to state departments of transportation for a wide range of transportation programs, including Safe Routes to School.
Clearly, September will be a pivotal time for the transportation bill. We will continue to work hard to sustain and strengthen Safe Routes to School. Look for more information coming soon about the role you can play in ensuring Safe Routes to School’s continued success.
It is hard to believe the 3rd Safe Routes to School National Conference, taking place August 16-18 in Minneapolis, MN, is less than a week away. Close to 600 advocates and leaders are currently registered to attend. Online registration is now closed, but on-site registration will be available for walk-ins. It’s not too late to join us!
The National Partnership staff is presenting in several sessions, and our director, Deb Hubsmith, will give an energy-filled, inspiring speech at the opening and closing plenary sessions too! Here is a list of National Partnership sessions so you can make plans to attend:
- Tuesday, August 16 - 1:30-2:45pm – Parent Engagement with Fire Up Your Feet! – Beth Richards
- Tuesday, August 16 - 3:15-4:30pm – Advocacy: A Key to Sustainability and Support – Margo Pedroso
- Thursday, August 18 - 8:45-10:15am – Authentic Engagement in Diverse Communities – Robert Ping
If you won’t be able to join us in Minneapolis, make sure you check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for live updates from the Conference. And be sure to include the hashtag - #SRTSconf - in your tweets or retweets about the Safe Routes to School National Conference.
The National Partnership’s free Annual Meeting, is being held Monday, August 15 from 1-5pm in conjunction with the Safe Routes to School National Conference in Minneapolis. The Annual Meeting will give Safe Routes advocates time to join together to discuss successes and challenges, and how we can grow Safe Routes to School exponentially. You won’t want to miss an exciting agenda designed to build momentum nationwide, complete with the always popular topic-specific breakout groups, a World Café on “Building the Movement,” a federal legislative update and more.
We are also hosting a Safe Routes Social on Monday, August 15 from 5-6:30pm, directly after our Annual Meeting. This will be a great opportunity to network with other Safe Routes to School enthusiasts from across the country. So stick around to say “Hello!” We hope you will plan on spending the afternoon with us.
4. Partnership for Prevention Releases Report on Transportation and Health
Transportation and Health: Policy Interventions for Safer, Healthier People and Communities
The Partnership for Prevention collaborated with the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) at UC Berkeley, Booz Allen Hamilton and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to produce Transportation and Health: Policy Interventions for Safer, Healthier People and Communities—a report that examines the effects of transportation policies on public health in three key areas—environment and environmental public health, community design and active transportation and motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities.
Their analyses show that many of the policies in this document can have immediate, mid-term or long-term effects. Installing streetlights, new sidewalks and bicycle-friendly infrastructure can have positive effects that are felt immediately. Incorporating bicycle boulevards or greenways into comprehensive community plans will likely bring about changes over time.
In order for transportation policy to positively affect health, expanded education and relationship building with multiple stakeholders at various levels is necessary. National, state and local collaborations that bring together health policy leaders, the business community, government officials and educators are steps in the right direction. The authors encourage all organizations and individuals promoting health-focused transportation policies to urge policy makers to adopt policies consistent with the evidence-based recommendations presented in the report.
Because demand for federal Safe Routes to School funding far exceeds most states’ budgets for their program, state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) must carefully select the Safe Routes to School proposals that receive an award. This report from a Safe Routes to School study, which was conducted in partnership by the Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin DOTs compares how the five state DOTs select the most promising Safe Routes to school proposals for funding. It reviews how the five states approach the selection process by considering grant types, Safe Routes to School plans, eligibility requirements, program distribution policies, proposal review processes and established selection criteria.
The results provide insights into how the five state DOTs define an effective Safe Routes to School program and how they prioritize awards for the many good Safe Routes to School program proposals they receive. Examples of effective selection practices are identified as a basis for making specific recommendations on what constitutes a promising proposal selection process. Helping make sure awards go to programs with the highest potential to increase both safety and the number of children walking or bicycling to school. For a copy of the full report, go to http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/743.2.pdf.
With more than $8,000 in prizes for the winning entries, the Alliance for Biking and Walking invites professional, amateur and advocate photographers to submit their best images of bicycling and walking to the 2011 People Powered Movement Photo Contest.
The contest aims to both celebrate the beauty and energy of active transportation and continue to build an online library of high-quality images that can be used by bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations across North America.
Categories include bicycling, walking, advocates in action, women, equity and open streets. The National Partnership encourages you to submit photos of children walking and bicycling! Please consider sharing whatever photos you submit for the photo contest with us as well. You can send the photos to Brooke Driesse, for possible inclusion in future National Partnership publications on Safe Routes to School – we will make sure to credit you with the photo!
From August 1 to September 30, individuals can submit up to 20 photo entries via the contest website. From October 1 to 31, public voting will determine the finalists in each category. A panel of expert and advocate judges from across the continent will then determine the winners, to be announced in March 2012. The overall grand prize is an all-expenses-paid, 10-day bike trip to Tuscany, Italy, from VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. Additional prizes are also available. All winning photos also will be featured in the March 2012 issue of Momentum magazine.
Peer-to-peer learning has been an important element in the 2010-2011 Safe Routes to School state network project’s (network project) goals of changing policies and leveraging funding in nineteen states and the District of Columbia. Through monthly meetings with the 20 network organizers, weekly policy discussion cafés, and shared documents and webinars, the network organizers have benefited from each other’s experiences and advice, even though they are based in offices throughout the US. The monthly group meetings are focused on sharing strategies, discussions on policy topics that are of importance to the network project, federal transportation funding updates and more. Some specific areas in which we have seen the benefits of this cross-pollination of ideas that turn into real policy change include: efforts to improve the award and obligation rates of federal Safe Routes to School funds, protecting the neighborhood or community-centered school, Complete Streets that are safe and convenient for all modes including bicyclists and pedestrians, strengthening bicycle and pedestrian education requirements in states, and many other policy change initiatives.
During the weekly policy discussion cafes, we tend to narrow the focus a bit more. While café topics cover a broad range of subjects, they provide a great means to explore policies from various vantage points. During a policy café, a national expert or network organizer will provide a brief update on a particular topic, which in 2011 has ranged from joint use agreements that allow schools and parks to share facilities, to how to collaborate with or educate staff from state agencies, to a discussion on the latest research data concerning Safe Routes to School.
Another area that is advancing our peer-to-peer learning network is in the technological arena. We have recently converted to cloud computing, which allows for social media type interactions, better document sharing, database and calendar management and much more. With easier ability to “chat” and share documents we have seen the effects of learning from one another greatly enhanced.
For more information on the network project, click here.
To-date in North Carolina, the Safe Routes to School program has impacted 218 schools. Out of 87 projects awarded, six non-infrastructure projects and eight infrastructure projects are complete, and 10 more projects recently entered the construction phase. Some of these projects were selected through a competitive grant process, but many more infrastructure projects are identified through North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) 14 Divisions, who submit project requests on a rolling basis to the Safe Routes to School coordinator. NCDOT also funded the development of 16 Safe Routes to School action plans, which will all be wrapping up this summer.
North Carolina’s Safe Routes to School program is also funding a unique study evaluating the effectiveness of driver speed feedback – “Your Speed” – signs in school zones to assist in enforcement of speed limits within school zones. Before “Your Speed” signs were installed at the first school in the study, 89 percent of traffic exceeded the 25 mph speed limit, with most speeders going about six to seven mph over the speed limit. A year after installation, speeds had been reduced by 25 percent, with speeders averaging only two mph over the speed limit during the reduced-speed school times.
Wyoming DOT (WYDOT) recently awarded its seventh round of Safe Routes to School projects. Nine Safe Routes to School projects were awarded, totaling $975,728. Wyoming is a minimum guarantee state and its annual Safe Routes to School allocation is $1,000,000.
The application cycle for infrastructure applications will open again on September 15, 2011 and will close on December 31, 2011. Non-infrastructure applications are accepted year-round.
Monies have been awarded for fiscal years FY05-FY11. Of the FY11 awards, five were for infrastructure (mostly sidewalks along local roads) and four were non-infrastructure (mainly education, encouragement and enforcement). Many communities have received repeat awards over the past five years. The City of Cheyenne is one of those communities and has successfully completed the construction of two projects and will complete a third this fall. A map showing the location and type of Wyoming’s Safe Routes to School awards can be found here.
Safe Routes to School news around the country keeps growing! Updated regularly, see our new Safe Routes to School 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.
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