Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #72: December 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:
With time dwindling before the holiday break and a bundle of legislative disputes on funding, unemployment benefits and tax provisions still to resolve, further action on the transportation bill in the House and Senate will have to wait until next year.
In the Senate, since our last update, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held their mark-up to consider the Senate transportation bill, called MAP-21: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century. As we have previously alerted you, MAP-21 included provisions that are detrimental to Safe Routes to School and bicycling and walking—less funding, competition against environmental and road priorities and incentives for states to sit on the funding. During mark-up of the bill, Senators Cardin (D-MD) and Merkley (D-OR) offered amendments to increase funding for bicycling and walking and to mitigate some of the most detrimental provisions in the bill. Unfortunately, those amendments were opposed by Ranking Member Inhofe (R-OK) and so were not approved at Committee. Chairman Boxer (D-CA) also made changes to the underlying bill to remove some, but not all, of the road uses that would be competing for bicycle/pedestrian funding.
There is much room for improvement in the Senate bill. We are in conversations with Sen. Boxer’s office to see what modifications can be made. But, we are preparing for a battle on the Senate floor. It is likely that we will need to pursue an amendment or amendments to fix the flaws in the Senate approach, and we will need 60 votes for amendments to pass—meaning a significant number of Republicans will have to support the effort.
In the House, up until last week it looked like they would move forward with a five-year surface transportation bill, paid for by revenues from expanded drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. However, late last week, Chairman Mica (R-FL) announced that there was not enough time left before the holidays to move forward, and that the bill was being pushed back to January or February.
While we still do not know the specifics on the House bill, we are preparing for Safe Routes to School and bicycling and walking funding to simply be eligible for federal transportation dollars, without any dedicated funding. We are meeting with all members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to familiarize them with the Senate provisions and determine their support for restoring funding for Safe Routes to School and bicycling and walking funding. It is likely we will also need to pursue an amendment strategy in the House as well.
As you can tell from this summary, early next year will be a critical time for transportation and the future of Safe Routes to School funding. We will call on you at that time to contact Congress to ask for their votes. In the meantime, please continue to have meetings and events with your Members of Congress to show them the benefits of Safe Routes to School.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s state network project brings together state leaders to remove barriers to walking and bicycling to and from school. We write to share with you the National Partnership’s 2010-2011 report, entitled: Safe Routes to School State Network Project Final Report, 2010-2011: Phase II - Successes and Lessons Learned, which includes policy successes, lessons learned and local success stories that were a result of policy changes led by the 20 state network coalitions.
Key policy wins from each of the 19 network states and the District of Columbia included improvements to state Safe Routes to School programs that increased award and obligation rates for local community grant recipients and lower-income communities, policies creating street-scale improvements for walking and bicycling, school siting and joint use agreements, supporting lower-income communities and improving personal safety. State networks influenced the distribution of more than $100 million in Safe Routes to School funds.
This report was written by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a national network of more than 550 organizations. The report was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest health foundation. Originally launched in 2007 in 10 states, the project supported networks during 2010 and 2011 in California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Collectively, the 20 state networks engaged more than 900 partner organizations and agencies as active participants in improving the built environment and increasing physical activity for children, with a focus on serving lower-income communities. The networks each made substantial improvements to transportation policies and funding allocations, safety, land use, the environment and public health. In some states, networks were the first statewide group to address particular policy issues.
Over the past two years a collaborative effort to address policy, systems and environmental changes with regard to tobacco cessation and obesity prevention has flourished between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), awarded Communities Putting Prevention to Work [CPPW] communities and National Technical Assistance providers (including the Safe Routes to School National Partnership [National Partnership]). For the duration of the CPPW project, the National Partnership has worked with approximately 10 communities that identified Safe Routes to School as a strategy to increase physical activity and reduce obesity. These communities have seen great and widely varied policy change success. For example:
Following a visit Deb Hubsmith, director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, made to Kauai in May, the County adopted a Safe Routes to School resolution indicating their commitment to the program and collaboration by agencies including their public works, police and planning departments. Kauai has also launched a countywide Safe Routes to School team, adopted a Complete Streets resolution, is working on Complete Streets implementation policies and is hiring a new transportation planner.
Vanderburgh County, Indiana
As part of their work through CPPW, staff at the Welborn Baptist Foundation were focused on making Safe Routes to School a staple at schools throughout Vanderburgh County. They invited both the National Partnership and Mark Fenton to come support their efforts to proliferate the Safe Routes to School message to key community stakeholders. The resulting workshops helped build momentum for Safe Routes to School and active, healthy environments overall. As a result of this work, beyond the many programmatic efforts on the ground, the Welborn Baptist Foundation was able to use the momentum to collaborate with the School Corporation to implement a Safe Routes to School policy at the district level and collaborate with Tekoppel Elementary to apply for and receive more than $190,000 in federal Safe Routes to School funding for crosswalk, curb and sidewalk improvements.
The work does not end here. This coming winter the National Partnership will be supporting continued efforts in King County, Washington; Santa Clara County, California and ongoing work with already engaged communities. Since the CPPW program will begin phasing out in the Spring of 2012, the National Partnership is working hard to ensure that communities engage in thoughtful planning for ongoing sustainability for Safe Routes to School. By summer of 2012, the National Partnership will make available a CPPW case study report that focuses on the successes and barriers that these communities experienced so that they may be replicated by others in the future.
4. Resources from Six-Part SRAM Bicycling Webinar Series Available Online
Access them at http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/SRAM-Bicycling-Webinars
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership hosted a six-part webinar series in 2011 that focused on bicycling and Safe Routes to School. A special thanks to the SRAM Cycling Fund for making this series possible. Hundreds of people attended each of the webinars.
A complete list of the webinars is below. Click the links below to watch a recording of the webinar and download the webinar’s tip sheet, PowerPoint slides and Q&A sheet.
- Webinar 1: Getting Bike Shops and Advocates to Collaborate on Safe Routes to School
- Webinar 2: Organizing Successful Bike Trains
- Webinar 3: Bicycle Parking, Storage, and Security at Schools
- Webinar 4: Funding, Organizing and Maintaining Bicycle Fleets
- Webinar 5: Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations and Safe Routes to School
- Webinar 6: Strategies for Increasing Bicycling in Low-Income Communities
If you have any questions on the webinar series, please contact Dave Cowan, program manager.
Every Body Walk! is committed to get Americans up and moving. The Every Body Walk! app enables you to personalize your walking plan, connect with walking communities, learn about the latest fitness trends, tips and more.
You can track and save your own walking routes; build your walking history--then share your progress on Facebook; discover walking groups and walking paths near you with an interactive map; read the latest news about walking, health and trends; watch videos that include walking tips, how communities are embracing walking, advice from experts and more.
To download the app, please follow the links to either the iTunes or Android marketplaces:
- iTunes (opens iTunes application) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/every-body-walk/id462444656
- Android Market https://market.android.com/details?id=air.org.everybodywalk.everybodywalk
Two new videos are available for embed:
- An app video tutorial: http://www.everybodywalk.org/films-a-info/inspiration/every-body-walk-app-tutorial
- A PSA with 3 case studies: http://bcove.me/b1ykkbu4
Get connected and get walking!
New Partners for Smart Growth is a national, multi-disciplinary smart growth conference presented by the Local Government Commission February 2-4, 2012 in San Diego. In these tough economic times when communities everywhere are struggling for fiscal survival, this timely conference will identify innovative ways to finance smart growth, explore creative techniques for reducing infrastructure and service costs, and provide concrete ideas for employing smart growth as a tool for community economic vitality.
Appealing to many different disciplines, the conference will draw a national audience of local elected officials, city and county staff, landscape architects, developers and builders, planners, transportation professionals, public health professionals, architects, bankers, realtors, urban designers, parks and recreation professionals, advocates for social and environmental equity, school superintendents, board members and facilities staff, advocates for older adults and youth, bicycle and pedestrian advocates, labor representatives, environmentalists, crime prevention professionals, and all others committed to building safer, healthier, and more livable communities everywhere.
On Saturday, February 4, National Partnership director, Deb Hubsmith, is moderating a session: Community Schools - The Case for Joint Use. This session offers participants an opportunity to discuss various models of community-based schools, and apply joint-use principles toward their own projects.
Plan to join colleagues from across the US next February for the smart growth event of the year! Visit www.NewPartners.org to get more details and to register today.
It is the time of year to contribute to the causes you care about, and we hope that the Safe Routes to School National Partnership is on your list. Thank you to the many individuals and organizations who are already making a difference for our movement by providing donations to our year-end giving campaign. The collective impact of these contributions, no matter the size, help to fund our general operations. In particular, they support our federal advocacy efforts, which are critical as we work toward the reauthorization of the transportation bill which is underway right now.
We are honored to be one of the causes many of you care about this year. Our goal is raise $5,000 by December 31, and we are getting closer each day: contributions are fully tax-deductible and you can find more information about contributing by clicking here.
In July, the Missouri Safe Routes to School program announced funding for 16 infrastructure projects totaling $3.4 million. Missouri’s Safe Routes to School program has been particularly popular and successful in the state’s small, rural communities, and this funding round included funds for improvements like sidewalk construction, ADA upgrades and sign and crosswalk installation.
The recent funding included a $250,000 project to connect sidewalks, add crosswalks and improve ADA accessibility at the new Barack Obama Elementary School. The school is located in the St. Louis metro area in a community with very high poverty rate and a great deal of walking, but where street size and traffic speed makes it difficult and dangerous for children to walk to school. This project is a tangible result of a partnership between MoDOT and the Missouri Safe Routes to School network to encourage Safe Routes to School applications from underserved communities.
With the July project announcements, Missouri has awarded nearly 100 percent of its available funds and has funded 95 infrastructure projects and 82 non-infrastructure projects for a total of 177 Safe Routes to School projects throughout the State of Missouri since 2007. Missouri’s new Safe Routes to School coordinator has now made it a top priority of the program to increase obligation rates and constructively address issues in the Safe Routes to School funding, obligation and project delivery processes to make it even more successful.
In 2009, Missouri had only 15 communities participating in International Walk to School Month. Since the Missouri network was formed in 2010, participation in Walk to School Month events has quadrupled since 2009 and is growing steadily each year. This year the Missouri General Assembly passed a bill adding International Walk to School Day and Month to the official state holiday calendar, which helped focus a statewide spotlight on Walk to School Day in Missouri this year.
For more information on Missouri’s Safe Routes to School program, contact Jeffrey Cremer, Safe Routes to School coordinator. For more information on Missouri’s Safe Routes to School state network, contact Brent Hugh, state network organizer.
New Hampshire is known as the host of the first-in-the-nation primary, the home of the highest mountain peak in the Northeast and as the state with the nation’s shortest coast line. It should be no surprise that the “Live Free or Die” state would have its own unique approaches to Safe Routes to School. A healthy competition for federal funds over five Safe Routes to School funding cycles has generated practical and effective projects for getting kids outside and active; the 5th cycle funding was awarded in September 2011. It’s a strong start, and communities are busy planning for future grant cycles.
For a small New England state, New Hampshire has a remarkable diversity of fiercely independent localities. They include the suburban communities of the southern tier, the small industrial cities of the Merrimack Valley and tight-knit towns scattered across the Granite State.
In the tourist and industrial town at the base of the range that includes Mt. Washington, children in Gorham have proudly joined twice-a-week walking school buses right through the teeth of the North Country winter. Children in nearby Littleton converge on the elementary school from multiple directions, walking in groups or pedaling with rolling bike trains.
A strong bicycling and walking culture is reflected in the walking school buses in the Connecticut Valley city of Lebanon, where a new sidewalk will soon provide a safer route to an elementary school. Along the Massachusetts border, new sidewalks along busy state routes offer a safe journey to quieter residential streets in New Ipswich and Brookline. Construction began this fall for sidewalks, crosswalks and tip-down ramps for the streets near an urban elementary school in Manchester. The programs work because local Safe Routes to School task forces identify the barriers and craft solutions that work at the community level.
P.S. New Hampshire is looking to be another “early state” by becoming one of our next Fire Up Your Feet! states. New Hampshire and Wisconsin are hard at work to join Minnesota this spring as Fire Up Your Feet! markets. If your state or community is interested in this new initiative of the National Partnership, contact Beth Richards.
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.
For more information, contact: