July 2010

Safe Routes to School E-News

Issue #55: July 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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To receive future issues of E-News, email info@saferoutespartnership.org.

In this issue:

1. Local Host Sought for 3rd Safe Routes to School National Conference
Applications are due July 14th

2. Update on the Partnership’s 2011-2015 Strategic Plan
Hundreds provide input; discuss the draft plan at our Annual Meeting

3. Attend the Partnership’s Annual Meeting and ProWalk/ProBike
Click here to register for this free event

4. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
SRTS making progress in the Senate; facing attacks in the House

5. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
New library resource list now available on the Partnership’s website

6. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter
Help spread the word to your friends and colleagues too

7. Six State DOTs Collaborate on Study
Recommends best practices to support state-level SRTS program management

8. South Carolina Moving Safe Routes to School Projects Forward
Collaborating with Eat Smart Move More to combat obesity epidemic

9. Texas Awards More Than $54 Million in SRTS Funding
200 new projects awarded funding

10. SRTS News Throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links


1. Local Host Sought for 3rd Safe Routes to School National Conference
Applications are due July 14th

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the National Center for Safe Routes to School are now seeking proposals from potential host agencies to organize the 3rd Safe Routes to School National Conference, which would take place in August 2011. The deadline for proposal submissions is July 14, 2010. To download the complete request, please visit www.saferoutesinfo.org/conference/RFP.cfm. Hosting the 3rd Safe Routes to School conference is a great opportunity to bring attention and enthusiasm to your state’s Safe Routes to School efforts and economic and tourism benefits to your community.

The intent of the request for proposals (RFP) is to identify and select an experienced organization that will be responsible for conference and event support, planning, coordination, fundraising and implementation of all aspects related to running a three-day national meeting of 400-600 program representatives, state DOT officials, planners, elected officials and community members. The National Conference provides an opportunity for individuals, agencies and organizations involved with Safe Routes to School to network, engage in educational opportunities and form partnerships to enhance their Safe Routes to School work.

The 2nd Safe Routes to School National Conference, held in Portland, Oregon in August 2009, had more than 500 participants in attendance and is considered to have been a resounding success. For more information on the second conference, please visit www.saferoutespartnership.org/.


2. Update on the Partnership’s 2011-2015 Strategic Plan
Hundreds provide input; discuss the draft plan at our Annual Meeting

In May, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership sought input into our 2011-2015 Strategic Plan, a document that will guide our work for the next five years. A total of 628 individuals and organizations responded to an online, multiple-choice survey. Respondents provided input on strengths and weaknesses, mission and vision, the Partnership’s current and future activities and stakeholders we should engage. Slightly modified surveys were used for five groups: individuals, partner affiliates, state organizers, state SRTS coordinators and partners of the state networks.

In addition, Partnership staff and Steering Committee members also conducted a total of 44 interviews and six focus groups (including another 45 people). Interviewees represented a variety of organizations in numerous sectors, including communications, education, elected officials, environment, equity, health, safety and transportation. Organizations at the national, state and local levels were represented, as were children and parents.

Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Partnership says, “Thank you to everyone who responded to our request for input on the Strategic Plan. Your input is helping us to develop a plan that will take the Safe Routes to School movement to the next level.”

All of the data and recommendations suggested during the information-gathering phase are currently being analyzed. A first draft of the 2011-2015 Strategic Plan will be released via email to Network Partners on Monday, September 13, with a three week comment period. The Strategic Plan will also be discussed during our Annual Meeting — read the next article for additional details.


3. Attend the Partnership’s Annual Meeting and ProWalk/ProBike
Click here to register for this free event

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is holding its Annual Meeting at the Pro Walk/Pro Bike® Conference on Monday, September 13, 2010 from 1-5pm in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is a great opportunity to meet and network with Safe Routes to School advocates from around the country plus Partnership staff and Steering Committee members. In addition, we will be presenting our draft 2011-2015 Strategic Plan. Come learn about our efforts to adopt a Plan that will coincide with new federal transportation legislation and how we intend to strengthen and expand the federal Safe Routes to School program and movement over the next five years. There will be plenty of time for you to share your thoughts about what’s needed for the future of Safe Routes to School! This event is free, but advance registration is required as seating is limited. Click here to register.

The annual meeting is a good way to start out the Pro Walk / Pro Bike® conference. This year’s theme, "Bringing Livable Communities and Regions to Scale," is aimed at highlighting many examples of what can be done in small and mid-size cities and rural regions to develop and sustain livable communities. The conference, hosted by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking, will also showcase bike/ped projects that were built with stimulus money and projects that make it possible for people of all ages and abilities to walk and bicycle everywhere all the time. The closing plenary will be on Thursday, September 16, from 12-2pm with special interest meetings later in the day and on Friday, September 17. Register now for the conference!


4. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
SRTS making progress in the Senate; facing attacks in the House

The past month has been eventful for Safe Routes to School. On the positive side, Senators Bennet (D-CO) and Specter (D-PA) have joined as cosponsors for S. 1156, the Safe Routes to School Program Reauthorization bill. We now have a total of 24 Senators publicly supporting strengthening and expanding the federal Safe Routes to School program. Having so many Senators supporting the legislation makes a strong statement to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is currently working on a draft transportation bill, about the value of Safe Routes to School.

On the negative side, the federal Safe Routes to School program has been the subject of efforts to cut it—twice in the past two weeks. House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) asks people to vote online each week for the federal program they would like to see eliminated through an initiative called “YouCut.” Then, Republicans hold a floor vote in the House of Representatives to try and eliminate the program that receives the most votes.

During the week of June 14, Rep. Cantor included Safe Routes to School as one of the options for YouCut, calling it duplicative and a local, not federal, responsibility. Advocates responded in force to our call to action, with more than 1500 phone calls or emails to Members of Congress in 36 hours asking for support of Safe Routes to School. Because Safe Routes to School did not receive the most votes, it was not subject to a floor vote to cut it.

Even so, the week of June 28, Rep. Cantor again included Safe Routes to School on his YouCut website. For the second time, Safe Routes to School did not receive the most votes. It is possible that Safe Routes to School could be targeted again in the future. We will be working with House supporters on both sides of the aisle to demonstrate bipartisan support for Safe Routes to School. Our job is made much easier thanks to all the individuals who took the time to contact their Members of Congress to ask for support of Safe Routes to School. Thank you very much!

In news from the Administration, the US Department of Health and Human Services has announced the FY2010 allocation of funds from the Prevention and Public Health Investment Fund, created by the health reform bill. Approximately $74 million will be used to support federal, state and community initiatives to address obesity prevention, nutrition, physical activity, HIV prevention and tobacco control. Another $16 million will be used specifically on obesity prevention and fitness as part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative. While additional details have not yet been announced, it is clear that public health will continue to be an important partner in increasing physical activity through changes to the built environment and programs and policies like Safe Routes to School.

Finally, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that they will be collaborating for the next round of grants for DOT’s TIGER grants and HUD’s Sustainable Community Challenge grants. This is an exciting opportunity for local communities to apply for a total of $75 million in funds to support planning that encompasses transportation, land use and housing.


5. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
Sharing successes plus a new Library of Resources on SRTS policies and programs

The twenty states involved in the State Network Project have been working closely with their network partners and focusing on state level policy change in a number of policy arenas. Here are some recent success stories:

Mississippi
The Mississippi Network complete streets action team has developed a complete streets fact sheet to support their work with Tupelo and Hernando communities, which recently passed the state’s first two complete streets policies.

Illinois
Illinois Network members are collaborating to address crime and personal safety policies in low-income communities with the intent of holding two focus groups on these issues this year. One will focus on the City of Chicago, with the other slated to focus on suburban and rural challenges with crime and personal safety.

Oklahoma
Bicycle education and curriculum development efforts aimed at grades 3 to 4 have been supported by the Oklahoma Network team’s use of the Texas SuperCyclist curriculum. This curriculum was adapted specifically for Oklahoma, and will be made available to Oklahoma schools beginning in the fall of 2010 with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Florida
The Florida Network’s complete streets action team is reviewing the state policy framework to determine best practices and impediments to local implementation, and sharing information with local planners and community leaders throughout the state. In addition, the team is working towards ensuring that key individuals know of opportunities to receive training on the Florida Greenbook (a plans preparation manual that sets forth geometric and other design criteria, as well as procedures, for Florida Department of Transportation projects), so that they are familiar with the design criteria for roads around schools. This will help to ensure complete streets around schools.

Finally, the Partnership recently created a new Library of Resources that brings together resources on Safe Routes to School policies and program initiatives. Resources are listed according to their policy or program implementation relevance and include a variety of information formats: articles, Partnership publications and full-text materials that can be accessed from www.saferoutespartnership.org or on the internet. While the resource library is intended to support the efforts of our state network organizers in their policy advocacy and advancement work, it also provides useful information for others in the Safe Routes to School movement.


6. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter
Help spread the word to your friends and colleagues too

Connect to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership - and our more than 1,500 friends and followers - through our Facebook and Twitter pages! Please also spread the word to your friends and colleagues. Once you “like” us on Facebook, please invite your friends to “like” us as well by clicking the "Share" box in the lower left hand corner of our page.

We use our Facebook and Twitter pages to share daily quick updates and links to additional information on:

  • Calls to action
  • The latest in Safe Routes to School news from around the country
  • Links to the great work of our partners in the active transportation movement
  • Helpful resources, publications, research and much more

You can also share your experiences, successes and challenges through Facebook and Twitter. We hope you’ll join us and invite your friends and colleagues to connect to us as well!


7. Six State DOTs Collaborate on Study
Recommends best practices to support state-level SRTS program management

Six state DOTs — Washington, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Alaska — are using evaluation to develop best practices for state DOTs on selecting successful projects and measuring success. Through the “Statewide Mobility Assessment” Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF) Project, Washington, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Alaska are working together to address the three study objectives: (1) establish methods and benchmarks for children walking and bicycling to school, (2) provide recommendations for future allocation of Safe Routes to School funds at the local level and (3) identify methods and tools to continue to evaluate the effectiveness of Safe Routes to School investments.

The project is being carried out in two phases. The phase one report provides a baseline on rates of walking and bicycling to school, social and environmental characteristics associated with walking and bicycling to school and information on previous Safe Routes to School evaluations. The researchers found that efforts to measure the rates of children walking or bicycling to school have been limited and the results vary widely. Results indicate that the best tool available at this time for establishing benchmarks for children walking and bicycling is the National Center for Safe Routes to School (NCSRTS) Student Travel Tally. The study partners recommend that state departments of transportation use the NCSRTS student in-class travel tally and parent survey as a part of the application process and post-project evaluations. The study also identified four major barriers to walking and bicycling to school: (1) long distances between children’s homes and schools, (2) higher income families having access to individual cars and time to drive children to school, (3) parental fear of traffic and crime and (4) parental schedules and values that conflict with children walking or bicycling to school.

Phase two will assess how collecting information about these barriers could be used to help identify projects at the local level with the greatest likelihood of success. It will also assess the different methods and tools that have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of Safe Routes to School investments with the intent of providing recommendations to enhance state-level Safe Routes to School program management. The final results of this study are scheduled for completion at the end of 2011.


8. South Carolina Moving Safe Routes to School Projects Forward
Collaborating with Eat Smart Move More to combat obesity epidemic

South Carolina’s Safe Routes to School program is busy helping to move their non-infrastructure and infrastructure projects forward. Two motivations for South Carolina’s efforts are childhood obesity and air quality.

On the health front, South Carolina DOT is collaborating with Eat Smart Move More Coalition of South Carolina. This coalition helps advance healthy eating and physical activity in school and community settings where South Carolinians live, learn, work and play. This partnership brings health professionals into the Safe Routes to School movement, and helps embed Safe Routes to School within broader student health initiatives.

With regard to air quality, one local program has attained national recognition for its efforts — serving as an example not just for South Carolina but for the nation. Greenville County was designated as a non-attainment area, meaning that its air quality did not meet federal standards. To cut down on air pollution, Greenville County set a goal of implementing Safe Routes to School in 100 schools. Building off a project called B², Breathe Better at School, Greenville County staff worked with the Bureau of Air Quality of the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to implement the program in a large countywide school district. The first step was to implement the program at a pilot school, Fountain Inn Elementary School. More than 500 vehicles idled around the school during arrival and dismissal, so they decided to start by reducing idling in an effort to cut down on air pollution. Some of the ways the school did this was by enacting anti-idling policies; collecting data on the number of idling vehicles on campus; and creating an Air Quality Patrol made up of fourth- and fifth-graders. The school team was pleased to learn through their data collection that the number of idling vehicles had been reduced due to their efforts.

Additionally, the school has turned to Safe Routes to School as a key tool in reducing air pollution surrounding the school. They even received a grant from SCDOT to improve the infrastructure surrounding the school so that more children can walk and bicycle to school. The number of children walking and bicycling to school has already started to increase, even before the multi-use path and new sidewalks were completed (expected in 2010), helping to fulfill the vision of a safe, walkable, bicycle-friendly and clean air community.

Fountain Inn Elementary School has led the way in these efforts, and is a testimonial to the county’s successful Air Quality Public Awareness campaign. For all of these efforts, the county won the U.S. EPA 2007 Clean Air Excellence Award, 2008 Spare the Air Award from the SCDHEC and the National Association of Counties Achievement Award in 2009. To learn more about B², Breathe Better at School, including the results in reducing idling both at Fountain Inn Elementary School and the other schools implementing it in South Carolina, please visit http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/baq/b2/whatisb2.asp.

For more information on South Carolina’s Safe Routes to School program, please contact Rodney Oldham, SRTS Coordinator at (803) 737-4073 or OldhamR@scdot.org.


9. Texas Awards More Than $54 Million in SRTS Funding
200 new projects awarded funding

On May 27, 2010, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announced $54 million in local Safe Routes to School awards approved by the Texas Transportation Commission for 200 new federal Safe Routes to School projects. Funding will be used by local communities for educational programs and infrastructure improvements that make it safer for Texas children to walk or bicycle to school in more than 73 communities.

TxDOT originally received more than 280 project applications in their 2009 Safe Routes to School call for applications, a total of $78.7 million in funding requests from communities around the state. 119 of the 198 infrastructure proposals submitted were awarded. 77 of the 82 non-infrastructure proposals submitted were awarded. All four of the applicants for statewide services proposals were also selected for funding. Applications were reviewed by both TxDOT staff and the department’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. Examples of the three types of projects follow.

The City of Austin received funding to carry out non-infrastructure activities at 16 schools. The City of Austin Public Works Department’s Child Safety Program will teach bicycle and pedestrian safety to children in school, through after-school programs and at summer camps. Teachers will also receive training on bicycle safety curricula, conducting bicycle skills courses and how to include messages about pedestrian or bicycle safety in regular curriculum. The Austin Safe Routes to School Coalition will promote Safe Routes to School in the community, gain community support and feedback about initiatives at selected schools and serve as a liaison between schools, the community and the Safe Routes to School project staff.

The City of Socorro was awarded funding to construct, replace and repair sidewalks with accessible curb ramps on four neighborhood streets leading to Escontrias Elementary School. Students walking to school now have to walk in the streets or along the dirt shoulders of these busy roads. The project also includes widening of a bridge to provide safer pedestrian crossing. School flashers and signs will be installed to slow traffic down and to keep cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alert to the presence of students walking and bicycling to school along these routes. The City projects a 50% increase in the number of students walking and bicycling to school once these safety improvements are made.

The BikeTexas Education Fund will be able to carry out a statewide initiative to help reduce the number of motor vehicle-related pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities among children. It will pursue this goal by building on and incorporating key components of its previous SuperCyclist and SuperCollege Projects with the implementation of the Safe Routes to School Statewide Teacher Certification Program and distribution of 15-unit SRTS Bike/Walk Safety Curriculum. The proposed SRTS teacher certification program includes continued training and certification of elementary physical education teachers and public safety professionals in the Bike/Walk Safety curriculum, distribution of the 15-unit Bike/Walk Safety curriculum and related printed, DVD and other supporting materials to certified teachers, encouragement and support to certified teachers and timely revisions and distribution of the curriculum and related materials.

For more information about the Texas Safe Routes to School program, visit their website or contact Carol Campa at (512) 416-3279 or ccampa@dot.state.tx.us.


10. Safe Routes to School News throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links

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:

Brooke Driesse, Communications Manager
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
brooke@saferoutespartnership.org
www.saferoutespartnership.org