Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #60: December 2010
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:
2. EPA Releases Draft of Voluntary School Siting Guidelines
National Partnership participated in review group strengthening physical activity piece
3. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
Congress is finishing this year’s work and getting organized for next year
4. National Partnership Collaborating with CDC on Policy Change
Providing technical assistance to the Communities Putting Prevention to Work program
5. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
Walking and bicycling education through policy change
6. Equity Caucus Focuses on Alleviating Transportation Disparities
National Partnership joins dozens of groups in this call to action
7. New Online Parent Survey Feature
Saves local Safe Routes to School programs time and money
8. Rhode Island Awards $2 Million for Safe Routes to School Projects
Kids at 16 schools will be able to walk and bicycle more safely as a result
9. South Dakota Safe Routes to School Improving Process for Rural Communities
Currently accepting applications for 2011 until March 24
10. SRTS News Throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links
1. Take Part in Our Five for Five Year End Giving Campaign
Make your donation today at www.saferoutespartnership.org/contribute
Remember five years ago?
Before there were 10,000 schools benefitting from federal funding for Safe Routes to School…
Before you knew how powerful the 5Es of Safe Routes to School would be in helping your community achieve more walking and bicycling…
Five Years of Safe Routes to School is something to celebrate!
Help us continue to grow the Safe Routes to School National Partnership with a contribution to our year end Five for Five campaign. We have a goal of $5,000 to celebrate our 5th anniversary – or Five for Five!
We appreciate every gift and know that each one is a significant step towards our goal. Consider giving $5 for each of the 5 Es or $25 – whatever you can contribute $5, $50 or $500 – provides vital generating operating funds to the National Partnership. These operating funds help us staff our federal advocacy efforts in Washington DC – which is a critical component of our work. Thank you for all the work you do for Safe Routes to School – you are key to our collective advocacy efforts and together we can change the habits of an entire generation.
Please give today to support the Five for Five Year End Giving Campaign.
Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a draft of voluntary guidelines for siting schools. This draft is now open for public comment until February 18, 2010.
School districts face difficult choices when a new school is needed, including whether to renovate the existing school or to identify a new location for the school. Over the years, school campuses have gotten increasingly larger and are located farther and farther from the children they serve. The percentage of children who live within a mile of school has dropped from 41% in 1969 to 31% in 2009.
The EPA was charged by Congress to develop the draft school siting guidelines to provide school systems with a voluntary framework to use when making decisions about selecting school sites. During the development of this draft, the EPA convened a school siting task group as part of the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership was asked to join the task group. We advocated that the school siting guidelines clearly address the positive health and environmental benefits that can come from siting schools near the children they serve and ensuring safe routes for children to walk and bicycle to school.
We are pleased that the draft guidelines set a good balance between examining the positive aspects of a prospective school site and avoiding hazardous sites. We are also glad to see that the draft encourages states to review their policies that affect school siting and ensure they are supportive of healthy and safe schools. We are currently working on more detailed comments that support the smart growth and safe routes to school aspects of the draft guidelines and make additional recommendations and suggestions. We will make these comments available to Safe Routes to School supporters in January; at that time, we will encourage you to submit comments of your own.
During November and December, Congressional leaders have been working to finish remaining business for this year and to lock in the leaders for next year’s session. It looks likely that before adjourning, Congress will take up a six-month extension to the surface transportation bill, which would allow Congress time to work on a new authorization bill.
While final decisions have not yet been made on Committee leaders, it is expected that Rep. Mica (R-FL) and Rep. Rahall (D-WV) will be tapped as the Chair and Ranking member, respectively, for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. A lead transportation staffer for likely Chair Rep. Mica has already started floating initial ideas for the next transportation bill and has indicated that gas tax increases are off the table, which will require significant cuts in highway and transit programs. Approximately $7-8 billion would need to be cut from highway spending—and according to the staffer, programs that require states to fund bicycle and pedestrian improvements could be on the chopping block. Remember that whatever votes take place, efforts to cut programs would need to get through both the Senate and the Administration.
Meanwhile, we are continuing to meet with Congressional supporters to gather information, discuss strategies and solidify champions to protect and strengthen Safe Routes to School. Advocates should be prepared to help defend programs like Safe Routes to School in the next Congress. We will be alerting you as to when and how your help is needed.
Over the past year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has initiated funding for local health departments with federal stimulus dollars through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program. Funding 52 communities to further their policy work in the areas of Tobacco and Obesity, the CDC intends to create successful models of groundbreaking, systemic impacts through innovative policy, systems and environmental changes.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership (the National Partnership) has been contracted to provide technical assistance to the CPPW communities that identified Safe Routes to School as a policy priority over the next 18 months. Communities that utilize the National Partnership’s help will be provided with customized technical assistance such as group training events, individualized consultation, peer learning opportunities and access to nationwide best practices that are developed for their unique situation. Learn more at www.saferoutespartnership.org/media/file/SRTS-TA-CPPW.pdf.
“The CPPW project is the perfect opportunity for local policy makers in the selected communities to institutionalize Safe Routes to School through effective policy and systems changes. We look forward to supporting these communities to make the most of this opportunity,” said Deb Hubsmith, director of the National Partnership.
Walking and bicycling education through policy change
Bicycle and pedestrian safety and skills training classes and programs can bring Safe Routes to School into physical education classes and other school and community activities, inspiring daily physical activity and improving traffic safety. State networks research curricula and funding opportunities, and advise state Departments of Transportation and Education on opportunities for quality statewide implementation.
The Colorado state network has been invited by State Representative John Kefalas to work on implementing new legislation, HB1147, which he authored, requiring bicycle and pedestrian education to be taught in schools across the state. The Colorado state network has begun collaborating with the Colorado Departments of Transportation and Education to ensure that a strong curriculum is created, provided to and used by schools. According to Bicycle Colorado, the goal of the bill is to reduce injuries to children and reduce costs to families, the state and our health care system. The state will also benefit by increasing physical activity which reduces obesity-related diseases. In today’s economic climate, more Colorado adults and their children are turning to walking and bicycling as low-cost, healthy ways to get around.
The Oklahoma state network researched established curricula around the country and adopted the SafeCyclist curriculum for 4-5th grades, and the WalkSmart/BikeSmart curriculum for grades K-2. In partnership with the Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition, the Oklahoma Department of Education, Oklahoma State University and the Texas Bicycle Coalition, the state network worked to have the curricula adopted as part of physical education programs in the state’s elementary schools. Leveraging funding from the Centers for Disease Control through the Oklahoma Department of Health, the state network worked with the Departments of Transportation and Education to ensure that up to 200 physical education teachers will receive “Train-the-Trainer” instruction, and the Department of Transportation incorporated the curricula into the state Safe Routes to School program, provided a mini-grant to help low-income schools and promoted the curricula statewide. This effort is bolstered by 2008 State Senate Bill 1186 that doubles PE time in grades K-5, in order to provide more physical activity and lower obesity rates in Oklahoma.
For more information about the Safe Routes to School State Network Project, visit http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/network.
PolicyLink and Transportation for America have joined together to launch a new Equity Caucus. The purpose of the caucus is to call attention to the millions of low-income people that live in communities where quality transportation options are unaffordable, unreliable or nonexistent. The Equity Caucus is dedicated to advancing transportation policy that provides economic and social equity.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership joined the Equity Caucus because we share their commitment to the following principles:
- Create affordable transportation options for all people.
- Ensure fair access to quality jobs, workforce development and contracting opportunities in the transportation industry.
- Promote healthy, safe and inclusive communities.
- Invest equitably and focus on results.
We are working with the dozens of national organizations that have also joined the Equity Caucus to advance these principles in the next transportation bill.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School (the National Center) has launched a new feature which gives local Safe Routes to School programs the ability to collect parent survey responses online in both English and Spanish. The online parent survey option is a free service that streamlines the data collection and submission processes, and saves local programs administrative time and money. The new feature enters parent survey responses directly into the National Center’s online data system which eliminates the need for additional fee-based survey software. Previously, organizers had to subscribe to Survey Monkey in order to collect responses and then go through additional steps to submit their local data to the National Center. This online parent survey option is offered in addition to the National Center’s free service of processing hard copies of the English and Spanish Parent Surveys.
To see if online surveying is appropriate for your school and for information on how to start using this new feature, visit www.saferoutesinfo.org/resources/evaluation_parent-survey-instructions.cfm.
Parent survey results can help local programs determine how to improve opportunities for children to walk and bicycle to school, and measure parental attitude changes as local Safe Routes to School programs occur. For more information on collecting local Safe Routes to School data, visit www.saferoutesinfo.org/data.
The Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program together with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation announced the 2010 Safe Routes to School grant award recipients at a public ceremony held in celebration of International Walk to School Day. The Safe Routes to School program granted more than $2 million to encourage and enable more of Rhode Island’s children to safely walk and bicycle to 16 elementary and middle schools in 10 municipalities.
Selected from 24 proposals requesting more than $4.5 million, proposals funded include bike racks, crosswalks, signage, sidewalks, walkways, bike path bridge construction and various education and encouragement activities.
Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis added, “Safer routes to school should not just be a slogan but a way of life. Having healthier students and a better pathway to get them to school is what these grants are all about.”
For more information on Rhode Island’s Safe Routes to School program, please contact Ronnie Sirota, SRTS Coordinator at email@example.com.
In 2010, South Dakota funded six new Safe Routes to School projects for a total amount of $754,191. Safe Routes to School provided funding for a wide array of projects including: curriculum development and implementation, bike rodeos, connective shared use paths, ADA crossing improvements and bullying and neighborhood aggression training and materials.
One of the applicants for Safe Routes to School funding was so excited that a husband and wife rode their bicycles from Rapid City to Pierre for their presentation to the selection committee; 177 miles one way!
South Dakota is changing the way they handle the Safe Routes to School process in 2011, and has received positive community feedback on proposed changes. Many of the applicants are rural communities, and it is extremely difficult for them or the school districts to fund projects upfront. In the next round of Safe Routes to School funding, the South Dakota Department of Transportation will pay the engineering firms and contractors directly.
South Dakota’s Safe Routes to School program is in the process of accepting applications for fiscal year 2011. All applications for Round Four must be postmarked by March 24, 2011. The selection committee will meet in May 2011 to review applications and listen as applicants present their proposals. Successful applicants will be notified and their projects will be added to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which will become effective October 1, 2011.
For more information on South Dakota’s Safe Routes to School program, please contact Marilyn Patterson, Interim SRTS Coordinator at Marilyn.Patterson@state.sd.us.
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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