February 2014

Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #96: February 2014

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 600 organizations, government agencies, schools and professional groups. Our mission is to advance 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.

The National Partnership is on Facebook and Twitter. Join us!

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

In this issue:

1. Active Kids are Doing Better at this Rhode Island School
2. The Latest from Capitol Hill
3. Register for Our Next Free Webinar: Bicycle Safety Education
4. It’s Groundhog Day!
5. CDC Releases Healthy Community Design Toolkit
6. Join the Partnership
7. State and Regional Network Update
8. Highlighted Blogs
9. Featured State


1. Active Kids are Doing Better at this Rhode Island School

Fogarty Elementary School in the low-income community of South Providence, Rhode Island struggled with chronic absenteeism. Then they started a walking school bus - and now kids are getting to school AND getting active every day. Since its start in 2012, the program has expanded to two schools, four routes, and 30 kids who walk to and from school every day. Remarkably, 100% of participating students have improved their attendance at school. Read more about how walking school buses have improved absenteeism rates on our blog.


2. The Latest from Capitol Hill

A new financing bill, spending decisions made and more

It has been a busy January for federal transportation policy. First, Congress passed the 2014 appropriations bill, which provided funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program, TIGER grants and the CDC’s Built Environment Program—but left out the Community Transformation Grants. Then, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held its first two hearings on the transportation reauthorization, signaling they will be moving to reauthorize the MAP-21 transportation law this year. We’ve got more details on these topics, plus on staffing changes at USDOT in our federal policy blog.

Also, join us in supporting H.R. 3978, the New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act, which would let communities access low-cost loans to build networks of sidewalks, bikes lanes and paths now, and repay the loan over many years.  And, 25% of the loan proceeds must be used in low-income communities—so neighborhoods will benefit, as well as downtowns!  More information is available on our blog, or you can go right to our Congressional action center to contact your Representative now.


3. Register for Our Next Free Webinar: Bicycle Safety Education

Our monthly technical assistance webinar series features expert speakers, a chat feature for participants, and archived downloadable post-webinar recordings. Join us for our next webinar: 

Bicycle Safety Education: Implementing the Best Curriculum for your Community 
February 20th, 2014 @ 2pm Eastern - Register here

Sometimes teaching bicycle safety can feel like rocket science. Between balancing the competing needs of scheduling available classroom time, checking off necessary safety skills, training educators and securing a bike fleet and equipment – choosing and implementing the best curriculum for your community can start to feel overwhelming. Join us as we talk about the important components of bicycle safety curricula and help attendees think through what might be best for their programs. Then we’ll chat with Safe Routes to School Education experts as we dive into the various types of bicycle safety that can be taught in the classroom and the tips and tricks for programmatic success. As a bonus, we’ll be fielding any questions about your bicycle safety programming and related issues during the webinar – please feel free to send your questions ahead of time to dave@saferoutespartnership.org.    


4. It’s Groundhog Day!

In honor of the classic Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, each Friday during the month of February we’ll be highlighting a different webinar from our archives on our Facebook page. New to the Safe Routes to School movement? Catch up on concepts like harnessing the power of GIS for Safe Routes to School, educating school boards and principals, and more. Seasoned advocate? Just like Bill Murray in the movie, you’ll be surprised to find how your experiences bring new perspective to familiar lessons. 

We’ll start with our most recent webinar, Liability 201: Addressing Liability Concerns Related to Walking School Buses, Bike Trains, Remote Drop Off and More! As one participant told us, "This was probably the best SRTS webinar I have ever participated in….The presenters were very knowledgeable and the use of 'real world' questions at the end of the presentation was excellent.” You can view the recording and download the panelists’ slideshows here.


5. CDC Releases Healthy Community Design Toolkit

The free online toolkit provides a variety of resources that are easy to read, understand, and use. They include:

  • A checklist of questions for individuals, to help them consider and understand healthy community design elements.
  • A customizable PowerPoint presentation on healthy community design that explains to individuals how the physical makeup of their neighborhood affects their health.
  • A guide to CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network and other online resources to find health data on a community.
  • A resource guide listing other audit tools, websites, checklists and pamphlets that can help residents, planners, public health and local officials create vibrant healthy neighborhoods.

Access the toolkit here.


6. Join the Partnership

Did you know that it’s free to become a partner affiliate of the National Partnership? Partner affiliates with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership play an important role in advancing policy change, implementing Safe Routes to School programs, and spreading the word about critical issues, new research and best practices. They also get involved with our networks across the country to advance policies at the state and regional level. Stand with us for healthy community design, safe walking and bicycling and more access to physical activity – join us today!


7. State and Regional Network Update

Regional Update: Working toward Complete Streets in Los Angeles County

The Los Angeles County Active Transportation Collaborative, which is organized jointly by the National Partnership and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, kicked off 2014 with a successful meeting in January to move toward a Complete Streets policy for Los Angeles County. More than 100 partners from community-based organizations, school districts, councils of government, business groups, public agency staff, elected officials, Metro directors and individual supporters had a robust discussion of Complete Streets, and what a countywide policy can in improving conditions throughout the county. Read more details on our blog. 

State Network Update: Catalyzing Change for Complete Streets in the South

Our team members in the South are catalysts for Complete Streets policies. Chattanooga, Tennessee is steadily moving closer to adopting a Complete Streets policy thanks to the work of Christy Smith, our State Advocacy Organizer. She helped kick start this initiative and is providing technical assistance to the city planning department. In South Haven, Mississippi, the state’s fifth largest city, the planning commission voted unanimously to start developing a Complete Streets policy to present to the city council following an educational presentation by Jay Thompson, Mississippi Advocacy Organizer. Shared use is taking center stage in Ohio with Ohio Advocacy Organizer Kate Moening being named as a funding recipient to host a workshop in the state on the benefits of shared use agreements for promoting physical activity.


8. Highlighted Blogs

Celebrating School-Based Health Awareness Month (Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools)

Why Are New Year’s Resolutions So Hard to Keep? (Jane Ward)


9. Featured State

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) competitive funding round application period will be open from February 3, 2014 until April 3rd. The TAP consolidates the former Transportation Enhancements (TE), Safe Routes to School (SRTS), Scenic Byways (Byways) and the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) into a single new program.

Concurrently a statewide TAP will have $26 million available for all eligible project types listed below. There will be one application and projects may be selected as either regional or statewide priorities. Local governments, regional transportation authorities, transit agencies, natural resource or public land agencies, school districts, local education agencies, or schools, and tribal governments are eligible to apply for the competitive TAP funds.


For more information, contact:

Margaux Mennesson, Communications Manager
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
margaux@saferoutespartnership.org
www.saferoutespartnership.org