Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #50: February 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:
1. First Lady Michelle Obama Focuses on Childhood Obesity
Community leaders are called to work together to get children active and healthy
2. Join Advocates from Across the Country at the National Bike Summit
Safe Routes to School will be well represented
3. Safe Routes to School National Partnership Federal Update
Transportation bill in a holding pattern
4. Safe Routes to School State Network Update
Serving 19 States and DC in 2010 and 2011: Get Involved!
5. Alliance for Biking and Walking Releases 2010 Benchmarking Report
Investing in biking and walking could save lives
6. Conferences Provide Opportunities to Learn More about Safe Routes to School
Partnership staff will be in attendance; submit a session for Pro Walk Pro Bike!
7. On-demand Webinar: School Bicycle & Walking Policies
Addressing policies that hinder and implementing policies that help
8. Fond du Lac Reservation Completes Safe Routes to School Plan
Groundbreaking plans are underway that model collaboration between States and Tribes
9. West Virginia Experiences Great Success
Improving walking and bicycling conditions for over 24,000 students
10. Safe Routes to School News Throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links
First Lady Michelle Obama has selected her signature policy focus, and it will be childhood obesity. In a January 20, 2010 speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mrs. Obama promised to unveil a "major initiative" in February to combat childhood obesity. While details have not yet been released, her speech at the event indicated it would include healthier school lunches, increasing physical activity, and greater access to healthy foods and nutrition education. She called on mayors and community members to work together so that children can get and stay healthy.
The First Lady cited a number of examples from mayors around the country, including Mayor Dr. Robert Cluck of Arlington, TX who issued pedometers to children to encourage them to walk more, and Mayor Darwin Hindman of Columbia, MO for his community’s efforts to build more paths and bike trails connecting homes to schools and businesses. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership applauds the First Lady’s attention to childhood obesity and the need to get more children physically active.
The League of American Bicyclists is hosting their tenth annual National Bike Summit from March 9-11, 2010 in Washington DC. Register today to join the exciting three-day summit consisting of conference sessions, advocacy training, opportunities to educate Congress about bicycling issues, and many chances to network. Registration costs $375 for League members until the early-bird deadline of February 4, 2010.
If you are planning to attend, please say hello at the event. Seven members of the Safe Routes to School Partnership staff will be there, and we would love to talk with you. We will also be participating in a breakout session on March 10 at 2:30 p.m. entitled "Strengthening Safe Routes to School in the Next Transportation Bill." Come and learn more about our reauthorization recommendations, the Congressional environment for the transportation bill, and data and facts you can use to "sell" Safe Routes to School to your Members of Congress. Finally, we have state-specific Safe Routes to School materials you can use in your Hill visits. If you’d like a copy of these materials to take with you on the Summit’s Hill visits, please contact Margo Pedroso at firstname.lastname@example.org. Congressional members love to hear about projects underway in their state and home communities!
If you are planning on attending the National Bike Summit, and are involved with SRTS, please contact Margo Pedroso at email@example.com so that we can help you make the most of your visit to the nation’s capitol.
To register today (and to view descriptions of other Summit workshops), please visit http://www.bikeleague.org/conferences/summit09/index.php
Congressional leaders are regrouping to discuss new strategies for passing bills now that Republican Scott Brown has been elected as the new Senator from Massachusetts and Democrats no longer have a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the Senate. Right now, conventional wisdom indicates that it will be much more difficult to pass bills that are controversial or require the outlay of significant new funding. This would apply to the next transportation bill, the climate bill, and the jobs bill that the House and Senate had started to work on before the holidays.
Senate leaders have started negotiations on their jobs package. The Senate may work on several jobs bills, and it looks like funding for transportation (including Transportation Enhancements) will be included, but at a lower level than the House-passed jobs bill. It is possible that infrastructure funding could be withheld for a future bill. In addition, in his January 27th State of the Union address, President Obama challenged the Senate to move forward quickly on a jobs bill and made the case for how the climate bill would create clean energy jobs.
In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Transportation continues to hold listening sessions around the country to discuss the future of the transportation bill. The first listening session was held in late November 2009 in New Orleans and the second was in Minneapolis in late January 2010. Safe Routes to School state network organizers in Louisiana and Minnesota attended the listening sessions to discuss the importance of the federal Safe Routes to School program for safety and livability.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership also continues to meet with Congressional offices to discuss the federal program and our reauthorization priorities. Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Schumer (D-NY) have joined as co-sponsors of S. 1156, the Safe Routes to School Program Reauthorization Act, and several new House members have joined in support of H.R. 4021, the Safe Routes to High Schools Act.
Finally, the Partnership continues to encourage state Departments of Transportation (DOT) to keep moving forward on awarding any remaining Safe Routes to School funds, and to get the funds obligated as quickly as possible. Our new quarterly update shows that both award and obligation rates slowed in the first quarter of FY2010. The Partnership will continue to work with our state networks and other advocates to emphasize the importance of getting these federal funds spent in local communities.
In January, the SRTS National Partnership expanded the State Network Project to 19 states and the District of Columbia. During 2010 through 2011, the project will support 20 networks in Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The project, which was first launched in 2007, brings together state leaders to increase physical activity among all students, ensure that federal SRTS funds are spent on quality projects, leverage additional state resources for SRTS initiatives, and remove barriers to walking and bicycling to schools through policy initiatives. The 2010-2011 phase of the State Network Project also will focus on serving low-income communities and reducing crime.
Agencies and organizations within the 20 project jurisdictions are encouraged to get involved. Please contact the organizer in your state. For more information about the State Network Project, please visit our website.
A new report released recently by the Alliance for Biking & Walking shows that lack of investment in biking and walking could be contributing to higher traffic fatalities and chronic disease rates in the U.S.
Bicycling and Walking in the United States: The 2010 Benchmarking Report reveals that in almost every state and major U.S. city, bicyclists and pedestrians are at a disproportionate risk of being killed, and receive less than their fair share of transportation dollars. While 10% of trips in the U.S. are by bike or foot, 13% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. Bicycling and walking receive less than 2% of federal transportation dollars.
The report exposes fact that states with the lowest levels of bicycling and walking have, on average, the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In contrast states with the highest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the lowest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Also highlighted are state rankings and the 51 largest U.S. cities in bicycling and walking levels, safety, funding, advocacy, and policies. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funding, staffing, and related policies are included in the report allowing SRTS practitioners to see how their state stacks up.
Bicycling and Walking in the United States was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made possible through additional support from Bikes Belong Coalition and Planet Bike. For more information and to download the report visit http://www.PeoplePoweredMovement.org/benchmarking.
Early spring is a busy time for conferences, and February is no exception. Safe Routes to School National Partnership staff are attending two upcoming conferences on smart growth and active living:
2010 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference: Staff members Deb Hubsmith and Robert Ping will be attending this 9th annual conference from February 4-6, 2010 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, WA. Both are speaking at a panel presentation and discussion titled "Safe Routes to School: Early Outcomes and Future Benefits" on February 4, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Other sessions will focus on neighborhood design, smart growth, walkability, and climate change.
2010 Active Living Research Conference: Staff member Margo Pedroso will be attending this conference from February 9-11, 2010 in San Diego, CA. Many sessions are planned focusing on new research findings on Safe Routes to School, active transportation, and childhood obesity.
In addition, the National Center for Bicycling and Walking is soliciting proposals for presentations at the 2010 Pro Walk Pro Bike conference. The conference will take place in Chattanooga, TN from September 13-17, 2010. Conference organizers are seeking session proposals on the theme of "Bringing Livable Communities and Regions to Scale." To submit your idea, go to http://www.bikewalk.org/2010conference/submissions.php before the deadline of February 26, 2010. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership will be holding our annual meeting on September 13 from 1-5 PM at the 2010 Pro Walk / Pro Bike conference.
As key partners in Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs, schools and school districts can play a big role in establishing a culture of bicycling and walking to school. School policies that encourage and support bicycling and walking can substantially boost a SRTS program, both within individual schools and throughout the community. In contrast, a policy that discourages or prohibits bicycling or walking can stop a SRTS program in its tracks. This webinar, provided by America Walks and the National Center for Safe Routes to School, addresses ways to overcome such barriers and developing policies that promote bicycling and walking. Both organizations have partnered on the development of a series, titled "Safe Routes Coaching Action Network Webinars", which are designed to educate individuals and organizations on topics that assist with successful outreach efforts.
- When: On Demand
- Where/How: To view an on-demand recording of the webinar, go to: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/training/can_webinars.cfm
Want more information? Check out /School Bicycling and Walking Policies: Addressing Policies that Hinder/ and /Implementing Policies that Help at: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/resources/collateral/barrier_policy_tip_sheet.pdf. This resource was jointly developed by the National Center and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and provides additional policy related tips.
In 2009 the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe became the first Indian tribe in Minnesota to have completed a SRTS plan. Tribal members worked with the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, a planning and development agency serving seven counties of northeast Minnesota to facilitate the process.
The project included formation of a committee, site observations, and parent and student surveys. The committee discussed issues, identified goals and a created a timeline for action. The process resulted in a final SRTS plan for the Fond du Lac Reservation, which was adopted and will be incorporated into future strategic planning.
Fond du Lac's efforts are ground breaking planning not only for Tribes in Minnesota, but also for Tribes across the United States. Nationally, only a small percentage of Tribes have completed SRTS plans or have received SRTS funding for projects. Indian tribe reservations commonly face the same bicycle and pedestrian challenges that non-native communities do, including: lack of (or compromised) infrastructure such as sidewalks or bike trails, a decline in student physical activity, and real or perceived concerns for students to safely bicycle or walk to school.
The Fond du Lac Tribe hopes that their SRTS experience can be held up as an example to encourage increased collaboration between States and Tribes for SRTS planning. For more information on the Fond Du Lac Reservation SRTS plan, contact: Jason Hollinday, Planning Director: (218) 878-2625 or JasonHollinday@FDLREZ.com or Bonnie Hundrieser, ARDC (218) 529-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since the conception of the federal Safe Routes to School program, the West Virginia Department of Transportation has experienced great success in advancing the programs mission. Through its nearly $5 million of funding, the state has awarded 47 projects that could help improve the walking and bicycling conditions for over 24,000 students in 67 elementary and middle schools across 23 counties. In 2009 alone, West Virginia awarded over $1.7 million toward 16 projects in 13 counties, impacting 23 elementary and middle schools and approximately 8,500 students.
One such project, which received $147,000, constructed a six-foot wide walkway. Benefits of this new walkway have been observed through the increased number of students walking to school and the increased number of community and neighboring community members using the walkway. As a result of the increased volume of pedestrians traveling through the walkway, this area, which was once challenged with illegal drug activity, has witnessed the disappearance of drug dealing.
Another project, which the Department funded at $74,000, was the construction of a sidewalk and over $8,000 for education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation activities. This project has increased the number of students walking to school and participating in Walking School Buses, and helped launch two walk-to-school events.
In the course of five years, West Virginia has received a total of 116 applications statewide during the past four grant cycles requesting almost triple the amount of funding available. West Virginias fourth application cycle closed on January 15, 2010, and the Department looks forward to continued success of its SRTS Program.
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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