Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #51: March 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. Do You Want to Serve on Our Steering Committee?
The Partnership is now accepting Steering Committee Nominations
2. US DOT Listening Session and California Obesity Summit
Safe Routes to School highlighted
3. Safe Routes to School National Partnership Federal Update
Long-term transportation extension on tap
4. Safe Routes to School State Network Update
States conducting policy research, new funding fact sheet
5. Active Community Transportation Act Introduced
Call your Congressional Representative on Thursday, March 11
6. Bicycle and Pedestrian Research Highlighted by IssueLab
Includes a number of Partnership reports
7. SRTS $1,000 Mini-grant Call for Applications
Applications are due Wednesday, April 7, 2010
8. Arkansas' Safe Routes to School Program Continues to Grow
Successful grant awards increase infrastructure projects and awareness of SRTS
9. In Montana, Robust Safe Routes to School Efforts Are Underway
The Treasure State looks ahead to a fabulous year
10. Safe Routes to School News Throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership (the Partnership) is now accepting nominations for several Steering Committee positions. Our Steering Committee, a diverse group of up to 21 members, functions as the Partnership’s Board of Directors and holds decision-making responsibility for the Partnership. The estimated time commitment for Steering Committee members is eight hours a month. Each organization that holds a seat on the Steering Committee must appoint an individual representative and an alternate to serve on behalf of his or her organization. The deadline to submit applications is Monday, May 10, 2010. Open seats and their terms are:
- National Group representing bicyclists (2010-2013)
- National Group representing bicyclists and/or pedestrians (2010-2013)
- National Group representing transportation professionals (2010-2013)
- National Group – at large representation (2010-2013)
- State or local bicycle and/or pedestrian group (2010-2013)
- State or local health group (2010-2013)
- State or local at large seat (2010-2013)
- Local school or school district (2010-2011)
After only five years of existence, the Partnership has grown to more than 450 partner affiliates and is positively affecting federal, state and local policies. Safe Routes to School is taking hold across America and the Partnership is playing a critical role in making sure that this program will continue to grow and thrive. For more information on the call for nominations and to view and download the call for application and instructions, click here.
In February, Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership had an opportunity to attend two high-level events where Safe Routes to School was prominently featured.
On February 19, 2010, the US DOT sponsored a listening session for the reauthorization of the federal transportation bill in Los Angeles California. During the plenary session, many questions were raised about the role of Safe Routes to School, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and health in US DOT and Congressional priorities. Secretary Ray LaHood emphasized the DOT’s focus on livability and told the crowd, “we get it!” In response to these questions Senator Boxer stated, “this is real, we’re working to create healthy sustainable communities.” Later in the day, Deb Hubsmith spoke on a panel focused on transportation safety. You can read her remarks here.
On February 24, 2010, Deb Hubsmith attended California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2010 Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity: Actions for Healthy Living, which included a moderated discussion with President Bill Clinton. At the event, Governor Schwarzenegger announced eight specific actions he will pursue to support healthy living in California, including actions to make it easier for low income communities to have access to Safe Routes to School funds. You can read the letter that the Governor sent to the Director of Caltrans, and review the entire initiative at this link. The California SRTS State Network is currently working with Caltrans and the California Department of Public Health on revisions to the application guidelines. The Partnership also looks forward to working more with the Governor’s office on his call to action for increasing federal funding for Safe Routes to School.
A great deal of back-and-forth has been happening on the transportation and jobs bills since our last update. During the last week of February, the Senate moved forward on its jobs bill, a much smaller and more focused bill. It includes a long-term extension for the transportation bill SAFETEA-LU until December 31, 2010 but does not include any new stimulus funding for surface transportation.
Due to procedural hurdles, the House and Senate were not able to agree on the final jobs bill (including the transportation extension) before the end of February, so SAFETEA-LU actually expired for two days. Congress has since passed another short-term extension allowing SAFETEA-LU to continue through March. The House has also just passed a slightly tweaked version of the Senate jobs bill. At this point, the Senate must vote one final time on the jobs bill before it can be signed into law. Once that happens, SAFETEA-LU will be operating under the long-term extension. The federal Safe Routes to School program (and all other SAFETEA-LU programs) will then be funded throughout the remainder of FY2010 and the first quarter of FY2011 at FY2009 funding levels (which is $183 million/year for Safe Routes to School).
It is also expected that within a few weeks, Congress will pass language that will allow Safe Routes to School and several other transportation programs to receive an allocation of additional “bonus formula funds” which could increase funding for Safe Routes to School by another seven to 10 percent for FY2010. Finally, the Senate will likely move forward on other larger jobs bills in the coming weeks and months, and there is still talk that one of these bills will include additional funding for transportation, similar to last year’s stimulus funding.
In other news, Senators Kerry (D-MA), Lieberman (I-CT), and Graham (R-SC) have been working behind the scenes to develop a bipartisan compromise on a climate and energy security bill. Majority Leader Reid has asked the Senators to release their compromise within the next few weeks in hopes that the Senate could consider climate legislation yet this year. It remains to be seen what will be included in the compromise bill specific to transportation, although it seems likely that there will be some kind of carbon tax on fuels that could be used for green transportation projects or supplementing the highway trust fund.
The twenty states involved in the State Network Project have been conducting research on the status of eleven policies in their states:
- State SRTS Program
- Complete Streets
- School Siting
- Large-scale Bike/Ped Safety Education/Curriculum
- Serving Low-Income Communities
- Personal Safety
- Fine-Based Mechanisms
- Wellness Policies
- School Bus Cuts/Expenses
- Strategic Highway Safety Plans
- Implementing SRTS-related Legislation
The next steps will be for each Network to prioritize and rank the primary policies that the state will focus on in 2010. All states will focus on implementing the federal funding, serving low income communities, and violence prevention.
The Partnership also recently created a new fact sheet – Five Steps to Federal Funding – which describes how the state process works for Safe Routes to School federal funding. If your city or school is considering or are already applying for SRTS funds, this document will help explain how the process works.
If you would like to participate in the State Network project, please contact the organizer in your state.
On March 2, Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced H.R. 4722, the Active Community Transportation Act (the ACT Act). The legislation would create a $2 billion competitive grant program to help communities build networks of bicycling and walking infrastructure. Current funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure supports one project at a time. H.R. 4722 would allow communities to access multi-year, large grants to build complete bicycle and pedestrian facilities that connect homes to jobs, schools, recreation, and shops. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has endorsed the ACT Act, which is supported by America Bikes, as it presents an exciting opportunity to make bicycling and walking to schools, work and other destinations safer and more viable.
We encourage all Safe Routes to School supporters to join a “virtual lobby day” on Thursday March 11. That day, hundreds of participants in the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit will be visiting their Representatives to ask them to co-sponsor the ACT Act and other bicycling priorities (including Safe Routes to School bills S. 1156 and H.R. 4021). To maximize the impact, thousands of supporters around the country will be calling their Representatives the same day to ask them to cosponsor H.R. 4722, the ACT Act.
Please mark your calendar to join the virtual lobby day for the ACT Act on Thursday, March 11, and go to the Rails-to-Trails action alert page to take action!
IssueLab is a nonprofit focused on creating a portal for research and reports issued by the nonprofit sector. They host an archive of social policy research and advocate for sharing information among nonprofits, researchers and foundations.
In February and March, IssueLab created a special “CloseUp collection” on bicycle and pedestrian research. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership contributed several of our most recent research reports and case studies. Please visit the CloseUp collection to see the different research studies and best practices that have been collected. If you are a nonprofit, consider joining IssueLab and adding your reports to the repository.
For the latest in scholarly research from the academic world, please visit the research section of our website, which we update monthly with the latest scholarly research on Safe Routes to School, the built environment, physical activity, and the environment.
On February 26, 2010, the National Center for Safe Routes to School announced its call for applications for its second award cycle of a $1,000 mini-grants. Applications are now being accepted from organizations and groups with creative ideas that support safe walking and/or bicycling to school and are youth-focused. Successful applications will address efforts to increase safe walking and/or bicycling to school and eligible activities must occur at elementary or middle schools. Programs that demonstrate a high level of age-appropriate student engagement are encouraged. The application deadline is April 7, 2010, and grant recipients will be announced by May 26. For a list of mini-grant eligible activities and to view and download the call for applications and instructions, click here.
Since the inception of the federal Safe Routes to School program, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has experienced great success in advancing the program’s mission. The Department has funded over $300,000 dollars in engineering design fees and $466,000 in non-infrastructure projects. Five non-infrastructure projects have been completed and four are under contract. Additionally, the state has awarded 28 infrastructure projects during its first two application cycles. Two projects have been completed and thirteen have been let to contract.
One grantee, the Forest Park Elementary PTA in Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded both infrastructure and education grants totaling over $327,000. This historic urban school received sidewalks and other infrastructure improvements around the school. In recognition of their efforts, the PTA received both a Little Rock PTA Council Award and an Arkansas PTA Council Safety Award. Adding to the overall success of the Little Rock PTA’s efforts, residents adjacent to the school raised additional private funds to improve a section of street not covered by the grant.
Arkansas Children’s Hospital also received a grant award to increase awareness of SRTS through marketing and by offering a series of 16 technical workshops statewide. They have been successful, as grant application submissions tripled in the third application cycle.
A third application cycle concluded in October 2009, and over $7 million in funding was requested from 39 applicants across all commission districts. In March 2010, the Arkansas SRTS Advisory Committee will meet to develop recommendations for funding.
In December 2009, Arkansas was selected as one of 20 states to participate in the Safe Routes to School State Network Project. State network organizer Julie Hendrix is helping to recruit partners and build a network further the Safe Routes mission, including serving lower-income populations, and reducing crime.
In 2009, Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) partnered with the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University to administer the SRTS program in Montana. In November, Taylor Lonsdale, PE, took over as the State Coordinator. Mr. Lonsdale will work extensively with rural and urban communities across Montana to develop a strong non-infrastructure program focusing on increasing educational opportunities and improving statewide evaluation efforts.
Mr. Lonsdale’s initial task as coordinator involved encouraging and assisting communities in submitting funding applications that were due December 31st. The Montana Safe Routes to School Program received 27 applications for funding from all corners of the state, totaling $3.3 million. This is the highest level of funding requests thus far in Montana. In addition to great outreach by MDT, the Department has also made significant administrative changes. In previous years, Montana’s infrastructure projects had a funding cap of $50,000, but as of this year, that limit has been increased to $250,000. Consequently, the state experienced a significant increase in requests for infrastructure projects that will have a larger impact than in previous years. Funding will be available in July 1, 2010.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership also recently selected Montana to participate in the 2010 and 2011 phases of the State Network Project. The state network is hosted by Eat Right Montana Coalition. Kathy Aragon, community health advocate and physical therapist, is thrilled to be the state network organizer and looks forward to working with Mr. Lonsdale and the Montana Department of Transportation to increase opportunities for students to walk and bicycle to school.
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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