January 2007

Safe Routes to School E-News

Issue #13: January 2007

Safe Routes to School E-News is a monthly e-mail newsletter published by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a growing network of more than 245 nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and professional groups that are working to set goals, share best practices, secure funding, and provide detailed policy input to agencies that are implementing the Safe Routes to School national movement.

To receive future issues of e-news, e-mail saferoutes@bikesbelong.org.

In this issue:

1. SRTS National Partnership is Hiring
Full-time State Network Manager; Part-time Program Assistant

2. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Bikes Belong Provide Grants
Funding supports new and ongoing activities

3. How is Your State Doing on SRTS?
Twenty-five states have now developed application processes

4. National SRTS Task Force Met January 11
To begin to develop a national strategy for SRTS and a report for Congress

5. Michigan SRTS Handbook Available for Use in Other States
Provides a framework for advancing SRTS and involving stakeholders

6. SRTS Diverse Community Roundtables and New "City-SRTS" Report
Web reports available in late January

7. SRTS Training at New Partners for Smart Growth Conference
February 8–10 in Los Angeles, www.newpartners.org

8. STPP Report Explains Federal Funds and Flexibility for Use
Learn avenues to leverage funds for SRTS locally and statewide

9. SRTS National Partnership Soliciting Donations for 2007 Budget
Donations of any size are gratefully accepted and tax-deductible

10. Join the SRTS National Partnership List-Serve
Post questions, provide answers, and join the conversation


1. SRTS National Partnership is Hiring
Full-time State Network Manager; Part-time Program Assistant

Please help to spread the word about the Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s search for two exciting new job openings—the State Network Manager (full-time), and the Program Assistant (20 hours/week).

The Partnership’s mission is to serve a diverse national community of organizations that advocates for and promotes the practice of safe bicycling and walking to and from schools throughout the United States. Those hired will become employees of the Bikes Belong Foundation, and will report to Deb Hubsmith, Coordinator of the Partnership.

The employees will work from home offices anywhere throughout the United States. These are excellent opportunities for highly motivated, intelligent, and responsible people who want to make a real difference in advancing the Safe Routes to School national movement. Funding for these positions is possible thanks to generous grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Bikes Belong Coalition (see story under #2).

We seek to fill the job openings as soon as possible with highly qualified candidates. The positions will be open until filled. For more information, please see the web links. No telephone inquiries, please.


2. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Bikes Belong Provide Grants
Funding supports new and ongoing activities

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded a three-year grant of more than $600,000 to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership—a diverse, nationwide coalition of more than 245 organizations. This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant will enable the Safe Routes to School National Partnership to create Safe Routes networks in 10 key states that will be selected based on needs, including high rates of obesity. The project will bring together professionals from many different areas, including health, education, youth advocacy, smart growth, and bicycle and pedestrian groups to work with state Departments of Transportation to help ensure the best use of the authorized federal funds. The project also will leverage additional resources to remove barriers to walking and bicycling to schools.

"We all have a role to play in reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and C.E.O. of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We need to work together to make sure every child can walk and bike to and from school safely. It’s one of many ways in which we should strive to increase the amount of safe, fun physical activity our kids get every day."

Bikes Belong Coalition, the national coalition of bicycle supplies and retailers, has awarded an $80,000 grant to continue and expand the work of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership during 2007. Bikes Belong has been instrumental in the growth and sustenance of the Partnership, providing initial support in 2005 and serving as the primary funder in 2006. Bikes Belong also maintains the current website for the SRTS National Partnership, provides staff support, and serves as the "host agency" for the SRTS National Partnership.

Deb Hubsmith, Coordinator of the Partnership states, "We are incredibly grateful for the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Bikes Belong. Great things are on the horizon for Safe Routes to School in 2007."


3. How is Your State Doing on SRTS?
Twenty-five states have now developed application processes

Many people still have questions about how the $612 million in federal SRTS funds is accessed at the local level. Simply put, FHWA provides contract authority for funding to State Departments of Transportation, and every state develops its own process and application guidelines for Safe Routes to School (within the framework of the federal SRTS legislation).

So far about 25 states have released application guidelines for SRTS, and 16 states have awarded some funding for projects. We need to ramp up the effort to get projects on the ground in all 50 states, so we encourage you to learn more about what is happening in your state. Get involved, help put projects on the ground, and show the incredible demand for this important program that is improving mobility and safety while helping to address issues related to obesity, mobility, and physical activity.

The National Center for SRTS is publishing informative "Program Status Reports" with charts and maps showing progress in each state. In addition, links to the 25 state SRTS application guidelines are posted on our website. For tips on how to get involved at the state level see our "States Take Action" resource.


4. National SRTS Task Force Met on January 11
To begin to develop a national strategy for SRTS and a report for Congress

The Federal Highway Administration convened the first National Safe Routes to School Task Force meeting on January 11 in Washington, D.C. Deb Hubsmith, Coordinator of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, is one of 17 people who were selected to serve.

The meeting began with an inspiring speech by Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Chairman Oberstar, who was introduced by FHWA Administrator Richard Capka, provided a history on the creation of the $612 million federal SRTS program, described the magnitude of the nation’s health problems related to physical inactivity, and charged the Task Force with "transforming America." He said, "This will be the most important work that you will ever do. How many people have the opportunity to change the habits of an entire generation of school children?"

The creation of the Task Force, as an advisory body to the U.S. Department of Transportation, was a requirement of section 1404 of SAFETEA-LU, the enabling legislation that created the national SRTS program. The Task Force will study and develop a strategy for advancing Safe Routes to School programs nationwide and will be responsible for submitting to the U.S. DOT Secretary a report for Congress detailing the results of their work. Two additional meetings will take place in 2007. To see the list of members, the Task Force charter, and for more information about the Task Force and future meetings, click here.


5. Michigan SRTS Handbook Available for Use in Other States
Provides a framework for advancing SRTS and involving stakeholders

The Michigan Department of Transportation recently announced that the Michigan SRTS Handbook is now available for other state programs to tailor and adopt as their own, with certain restrictions. The handbook was created to provide a comprehensive but easy-to-use guide for local Safe Routes planning teams. It covers five planning steps: 1) Walk to School Day, 2) building a Safe Routes to School team, 3) assessing local behaviors and attitudes, 4) assessing the environment, and 5) planning for change. The handbook process results in an action plan containing a prioritized list of interventions, across all 5Es, targeted to the unique needs and issues identified by the local team. Contact Candance (Lee) Kokinakis (ckokinakis@michiganfitness.org) for information on this opportunity, and view the handbook online at: www.saferoutesmichigan.org.

Within the State of Michigan, the SRTS Handbook has served as a foundation for the success of their program. Currently, 120 schools are registered to begin Safe Routes to School initiatives, 10 regional trainings have been completed, and over 300 trained school and community members are undertaking the planning process. More than 10 schools are in the final stages of completing SRTS funding applications based on their handbook’s comprehensive planning process and stakeholder involvement.

Other important Michigan news includes the finalization of a contract between the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Fitness Foundation. The nonprofit Fitness Foundation is now the lead agency providing SRTS outreach, technical assistance, training, evaluation, administrative support, non-infrastructure funding oversight, and new program development (i.e., middle school materials and procedures, SRTS for students with disabilities, and SRTS for highly urbanized and diverse communities). To utilize existing state-level networks and institutionalize SRTS in Michigan communities, the Michigan Fitness Foundation is finalizing subcontracts with 10 other state agencies, nonprofits and universities. The Michigan Department of Transportation will administer all infrastructure grants.


6. SRTS Diverse Community Roundtables and new "City-SRTS" Report
Web reports available in late January

On January 23, 24, and 25, the SRTS National Partnership will hold 90-minute roundtable discussions on urban school communities, rural school communities, and students with disabilities. The committee, chaired by Melody Geraci of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, is seeking input from a variety of practitioners, experts, and stakeholders regarding existing resources, needed resources, and examples of successful implementation. Registration for the urban (Jan. 23) and rural (Jan. 25) calls filled within two business days of the announcement. We can still accept about ten more registrants for the 90-minute Students with Disabilities roundtable discussion on Wednesday, January 24 at 1 PM EST. To register for this call, e-mail saferoutes@bikesbelong.org. Detailed meeting notes from all three meetings will be provided on our website by the end of January.

In other news, in 2006 the Active Living Resource Center (ALRC), a program of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking, began work on a SRTS program for diverse populations in heavily urbanized environments where schools are typically located in the middle of cities with row homes, multi-family dwellings, and industrial neighbors. They call the program City-SRTS and will be making a report on it available through the ALRC website on January 19th. Several members of the National SRTS Partnership were consulted in the development of this program.


7. SRTS Training at New Partners for Smart Growth Conference
February 8–10 in Los Angeles, www.newpartners.org

The 6th annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference has grown significantly since it began several years ago—increasing in scope, attendance, and prestige—and is now considered to be the "premier" smart growth conference held each year. The strength of this conference comes from the variety of participants and speakers who cross disciplines to share experiences and insights, and valuable tools and strategies to encourage smart growth implementation and "get it done."

The 2007 program will span three days and feature cutting-edge smart growth issues, the latest research, implementation tools and strategies, successful case studies, interactive learning experiences, new partners, new projects and new policies. The agenda also features a special training session titled Safe Routes to School: The Key to Walkable Communities. This focused, half-day training will feature national experts including Paul Zykofsky (Local Government Commission), Wendi Kallins (Marin County Bicycle Coalition), Deb Hubsmith (SRTS National Partnership), Diane Wigle (NHTSA), and Tim Torma (EPA). Come learn more about the 5 Es (engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement, and evaluation) and find out about the $612 million SAFETEA-LU federal funding program and how you can make the program work in your state.

Plan to join us and others from across the U.S. next February for the smart growth event of the year! Visit www.newpartners.org to register and get more event details.


8. STPP Report Explains Federal Funds and Flexibility for Use
Learn avenues to leverage funds for SRTS locally and statewide

Have you been wanting to learn more about the alphabet soup of transportation funding sources and how federal funds flow to state Departments of Transportation, and then to the local level? If so, the new STPP Guidebook is your best resource! This comprehensive guide explains the multitude of funding sources available, and how flexibility imbedded in the federal guidelines allow for the use of many funding sources for bicycle and pedestrian projects including Safe Routes to School. Download the free guideline book at the Surface Transportation Policy Project’s website.


9. SRTS National Partnership Soliciting Donations for 2007 Budget
Donations of any size are gratefully accepted and tax-deductible

The SRTS National Partnership has ambitious plans for 2007, and we hope that partner affiliates and individuals will help us by providing tax-deductible donations. Congressional hearings will begin next year on the reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU and, as of this writing, only 16 states have actually expended SRTS funds. We must work quickly, cooperatively, and strategically to show measurable results for the SRTS program in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Some of our current projects include:

  • Developing a new website at saferoutespartnership.org with pages and updates for each state, including relevant state and local links, to share best practices.
  • Serving on the Federal Highway Administration’s National SRTS Task Force to develop strategies for the federal program.
  • Publishing a primer for how to create a SRTS State Network to bring together state leaders to advance SRTS policy goals.
  • Analyzing resources (needed and available) for SRTS program implementation in urban and rural areas, and for children with disabilities.
  • Creating and releasing a report evaluating progress on the federal SRTS program with recommendations for future action, and distributing the report to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Congressional members, and the public.

Tax-deductible donations on any size can be sent to Bikes Belong Foundation (our host agency for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership). Be sure to write "Safe Routes to School" or "SRTS" in the memo field on your check. Please mail donations to: Bikes Belong Foundation, P.O. Box 2359, Boulder, CO 80306. Thanks for your consideration.


10. Join the SRTS National Partnership List-Serve
Post questions, provide answers, and join the conversation

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership maintains a list-serve so SRTS practitioners and government agency staff can share information about program implementation, raise questions, share best practices, provide resources, etc.

To sign-up, simply send an e-mail message to saferoutestoschool-subscribe@topica.com, leaving the subject heading blank and the body of the message blank. After you send the message, you will receive a verification e-mail. You must reply to the verification e-mail. Then you will receive a welcome message saying that you have successfully subscribed to the list. Through management of your lists at "My Topica," you can choose to receive each message, a daily "digest," or to review messages through the web. Please spread the word to your contacts.


Help Expand the Partnership!

Membership in the Partnership is free. Please encourage other organizations, schools, businesses, and government agencies to join the Safe Routes to School National Partnership at. It’s easy to join on the Bikes Belong website.

Funding for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has been generously provided by the Bikes Belong Coalition, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and partner affiliates.

For more information, contact:
Deb Hubsmith, Coordinator
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
saferoutes@bikesbelong.org
bikesbelong.org
415/454-7430