June 2011

Safe Routes to School E-News

Issue #66: June 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:

1. SRTS Lessons and Inspirations from Japan
National Partnership deputy director visited Tokyo to examine their walk to school practices

2. SRTS National Conference Early Bird Registration Extended to June 17
Register today; National Partnership’s Annual Meeting is August 15

3. APHA’s Free Transportation and Health Toolkit Now Available
Download it at http://apha.org/transportation

4. Department of Education Initiates Award Program for ‘Green’ Schools
Application released later in 2011 with first group of schools announced in 2012

5. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
Signs of progress on the transportation bill, but no draft yet

6. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
A new network manager and success in Hawaii and Mississippi

7. Free Webinar: Bike Parking, Storage and Security at Schools
July 14 at 1pm ET – register today

8. Maryland Marks Progress on State Network Goals
Action teams target walking school buses and school siting

9. Oregon Paves the Way for Safe Routes
Local success stories and examples of partnering for sustainability

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


1. SRTS Lessons and Inspirations from Japan
National Partnership deputy director visited Tokyo to examine walk to school practices

Safe Routes to School National Partnership deputy director, Margo Pedroso, visited Tokyo in May 2011 to examine their walk to school practices.The visit was made possible through the vision of Leonard J. Schoppa, professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a grant from the Japan Foundation. Below are Margo’s observations.

Japan is a world away when it comes to walking to school. Just 1.7% of Japanese children ride the bus to school, and children walk to school in groups, unaccompanied by their parents - even first graders. Japanese law requires that elementary schools be sited so that all children served live within no more than 2.5 miles.

School PTAs produce annual safety maps of the school neighborhood with recommended routes to school, and work with city offices to fix any hazards. The PTAs ask retired adults to come outside and keep an eye on the walk to school, and children can ask for help at dozens of "safe zone" houses. Many schools have "school zones" which are closed to vehicular traffic during school commutes.

Parents we met on our trip said walking to school is a basic principle of Japanese life, and that their roads cannot accommodate the traffic that would result from driving to school. They value their children learning how to navigate their neighborhoods and be independent. Parents also noted that when everyone walks, it is the safest because there is no mixing of cars, bicycles and pedestrians in small spaces.

While Japan and the United States have many differences that affect the trip to school, there are some lessons we can take away from Japan’s system. Click here to finish reading this story.


2. SRTS National Conference Early Bird Registration Extended to June 17
Register today; National Partnership’s Annual Meeting is August 15

The early bird registration for the 3rd Safe Routes to School National Conference, taking place August 16-18 in Minneapolis, MN was extended to June 17. Register today to take advantage of the great rate of $300 for the conference!

Take a sneak peek at the breakout sessions that will be offered at the conference. The goal of the conference is to help us all build connections with others working on Safe Routes to School and understand that when we are connected we can change the way we operate at the local, state and federal levels. Each of the breakout sessions were selected to demonstrate examples and share knowledge from across North America, highlight successful strategies for marketing and the 5 E’s and connect projects to demonstrate how we can sustain Safe Routes to School.

You also won’t want to miss out on the Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s free Annual Meeting, taking place on Monday, August 15 from 1-5pm in conjunction with the conference. The theme is “Building the Movement”. You can register for the Annual Meeting at the same time that you register for the conference. We are also hosting a Safe Routes Social from 5-6:30pm, directly after our Annual Meeting. This will be a great opportunity to network with other Safe Routes to School enthusiasts from across the country.


3. APHA’s Free Transportation and Health Toolkit Now Available
Download it at http://apha.org/transportation

There is growing concern about the impact that the transportation industry and policies have on public health. American Public Health Association (APHA) has developed a health and transportation toolkit that aims to bridge communications between public health and transportation. Largely, the public health community is not being heard by the transportation industry and must find common language to communicate the dire need to build healthier communities.

Download the free toolkit today to access a variety of helpful materials including talking points, letters to the editor, background data for local areas and much more. There is a tremendous opportunity to develop partnership between the public health community and transportation industries. Public health concerns must be heard and transportation industries are willing to listen. More information can be found on the APHA health and transportation website at http://apha.org/transportation.


4. Department of Education Starts Award for ‘Green’ Schools
Application released later in 2011 with first group of schools announced in 2012

In April, the U.S. Department of Education, in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Council for Environmental Quality, announced its intentions to create a Green Ribbon Schools program. Modeled after the Blue Ribbon Schools program which recognizes academic distinction, the Green Ribbon Schools program will be a voluntary award, recognizing schools that are demonstrating excellence – or making notable improvement – toward sustainability. Though still in development, the program will evaluate schools across four categories: environmental education; energy efficiency and resource conservation; healthy operations and maintenance; and community engagement and service learning.

The Green Ribbon Schools program reflects President Obama’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency and preparing today’s students for jobs in fields that provide clean energy solutions. This is a great opportunity for schools to be recognized for healthy school siting and joint use opportunities, facilitating more walking and bicycling to and from school and helping students cut down on their carbon footprint.


5. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
Signs of progress on the transportation bill, but no draft yet

Over the past month, there have been rumblings that a draft House or Senate transportation bill would be released very soon. At this point, it seems that the House bill will not be released until early July. A Senate bill could possibly come within the next week.

While we wait for the draft bills, we have been working hard with our fellow national organizations to influence the Senate draft. In California, we called on people and organizations to ask Sen. Boxer (D-CA) to preserve the Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails programs. As chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), Sen. Boxer is absolutely key to protecting these programs. Californians responded in force — we estimate that Sen. Boxer heard from many thousands of constituents within a few days. Ninety California-based organizations also signed a letter to Senator Boxer supporting bicycling and walking funding.

Shortly after constituents reached out to Senator Boxer in late May, the leadership of EPW released a joint press release announcing core principles for a transportation bill. That same day, Sen. Boxer held a press conference on the transportation bill. In response to a question from the StreetsBlog Capitol Hill reporter, Sen. Boxer indicated there will be dedicated funding for bicycling and walking but that there is not yet an agreement among the EPW leaders on that issue. The lead EPW Republican, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK), later told a local paper that he does not agree that bicycling and walking should be funded in the transportation bill.

Clearly, we must keep the pressure on the Senate to protect Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails. We are working with other national organizations to ensure that other EPW Senators are asked by constituents to support bicycling and walking funding. And, we have just added Sens. Casey (D-PA), Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lautenberg (D-NJ) as new cosponsors to S. 800, the Safe Routes to School bill. Now, all eight of the non-leadership Democrats on EPW are official supporters of Safe Routes to School, which ensures we have advocates for Safe Routes to School during transportation negotiations.

As always, we continue to be your advocate on Capitol Hill for sustaining the federal Safe Routes to School program. Please stay tuned — when a transportation bill is released, we will analyze it for the impact on Safe Routes to School and notify advocates about next steps.


6. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
A new network manager and success in Hawaii and Mississippi

Network Manager Transition
On May 26, Rory Neuner marked her final day with us as state network manager to take a position coordinating the Transportation for Michigan Coalition. Her new role will allow her to be an active and involved member of the Michigan state network, giving us an opportunity to continue working with her in the future. In the meantime, Dave Janis has stepped in to take over the state network manager position. Based in Seattle, Dave worked as the policy director for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington for many years and has served on the Safe Routes to School National Partnership Steering Committee. He worked closely with advocates and legislators, which resulted in the passage of important legislation, and developed the Bicycle Alliance’s Safe Routes to School program while co-creating and co-managing the Center for Safe Routes to School in Washington State. Good luck Rory and welcome Dave!

Hawaii
Our Hawaii Safe Routes to School state network, with written support from Hawaii’s entire Congressional Delegation and the Hawaii Council of Mayors, met with the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) during a meeting on May 12 to address Hawaii’s last place among all 50 states for awarding federal Safe Routes to School funds. At the meeting, HDOT announced that this summer they will award contracts for nine infrastructure projects to improve street-scale safety, hire a full-time state Safe Routes to School coordinator, and they will release a call for applications this year for the remaining $5.6 million in Safe Routes to School funding.

Mississippi
The Mississippi Transportation Commission unanimously passed a resolution that will require the state Department of Transportation to create a policy to "consider the development of multi-purpose trails and/or wide-paved shoulders during the planning phases of all new highways AND the reconstruction of existing highways in or near communities with areas of high demand for recreational facilities." Our Mississippi Safe Routes to School state network applauds this new resolution as a first step towards creating a more integrated bicycling and walking network and more livable communities around the state, which will help to create safer passages for children walking and bicycling to school.

For more information about the network project and links to the 20 states where we are advocating, go to: www.saferoutespartnership.org/state/network.


7. Free Webinar: Bike Parking, Storage and Security at Schools
July 14 at 1pm ET – register today

Providing a safe and protected place for students and teachers to store their bicycles during the school day is important when encouraging bicycling through Safe Routes to School programs. For years, the majority of schools have not provided for bike parking, or have provided racks that sometimes are inefficient, unusable or poorly located on school grounds. Building and installing secure and sensible places for students to store their bicycles during school hours is all it takes to get more students on their bicycles more often.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s latest webinar: Bike Parking, Storage and Security will address common issues that schools face, present information on common solutions and highlight communities that have creatively faced this issue and as a result have more students bicycling to school daily. Click here to register now!

Thanks to the SRAM Cycling Fund, we will be holding six webinars in 2011 on bicycling and Safe Routes to School. You can view our previous webinars here. For more information, please contact Dave Cowan at dave@saferoutespartnership.org.


8. Maryland Marks Progress on State Network Goals
Action teams target walking school buses and school siting

With another round of more than $3.4 million in grants this spring, Maryland’s Safe Routes to School program reaches out to every corner of the state. This Spring 2011 funding is the final round of funding in Maryland until Congress approves a continuing resolution and/or reauthorizes the federal transportation program.

The program’s $897,800 grant to Prince George’s County marked the largest award since the Maryland Highway Safety Office started distributing the funds in 2007. It also highlighted the state network’s effort to encourage the county to apply for Safe Routes to School funding, which had been awarded to Prince George’s municipalities but not to the county itself.

Baltimore received the second largest grant, at $473,400, for crosswalks, pedestrian countdown signals and other infrastructure improvements around participating schools, with all but one serving mostly low-income students. The city also plans to roll out a walking school bus program this fall at up to 17 schools, providing a potential statewide model. Baltimore has joined Frederick County on the Maryland state network’s walking school bus action team. The team’s goal is to promote the concept and share best practices for implementation.

On a broader policy front, the Maryland state network has assembled another action team to focus on the Maryland Department of Transportation’s new Statewide Student Travel Policy Survey. As staff from key state agencies work to develop policy responses to the survey findings, the network is also working with the Maryland Department of Planning to align school site selection and construction funding with the state’s smart growth goals of community revitalization and pedestrian-friendly design.

For more information on the Maryland Safe Routes to School program, contact Joe Pelaia, Safe Routes to School coordinator, at jpelaia@sha.state.md.us. For more information on the Maryland Safe Routes to School state network project, contact Christine Shenot, state network organizer, at maryland@saferoutespartnership.


9. Oregon Paves the Way for Safe Routes
Local success stories and examples of partnering for sustainability

Oregon Safe Routes to School is in their 3rd cycle of infrastructure projects. They received 23 applications, and in April 2011, 16 applications for $6.5 million moved forward for project selection consideration, but the final project selection has not yet been made. They are in their 4th cycle of non-infrastructure programs, with 15 field grants totaling $546,841, and three statewide grants totaling $177,113 in fiscal year 2011.

Safe Routes to School projects throughout Oregon have shown commitment, ingenuity and need in both urban and rural communities. What Oregon is learning from communities engaged in promoting walking and bicycling to and from school is that Safe Routes to School funding is seed money that leads to growing greater projects.

Beaverton School District, the third largest district in Oregon, is a noteworthy example. Three years ago, the district received Safe Routes to School funding for one school. The effort has grown to ten schools in 2011, and is expanding district-wide in 2012. Safe Routes to School education and encouragement efforts at the first school, West Tualatin View Elementary, did not go unnoticed. After watching an increasing number of students walk along street shoulders to school, one resident decided it was time for a neighborhood commitment to a safe route. He contacted Washington County Public Works with a sidewalk infill project in mind. With personal funding, donations and waived county fees, a sidewalk was installed in less than two months, greatly increasing the safety of the walk to school. For more information about the Beaverton School District SRTS projects, contact Kevin Sutherland, public safety director.

For more information on Oregon’s Safe Routes to School program, contact Julie Yip, Safe Routes to School coordinator at julie.a.yip@odot.state.or.us or visit ODOT’s SRTS website.


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 SRTS 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
(619) 272-0097