Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #41: May 2009
Safe Routes to School E-News is a monthly email newsletter published by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a growing national network of more than 400 non-profit organizations, government agencies, and professional groups that are working to set goals, share best practices, secure funding, and provide detailed policy input to implementing agencies for advancing the Safe Routes to School national movement.
May is National Bike Month! View events in your state and community.
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In this issue:
1. 2nd National SRTS Conference is August 19-21 in Portland, Oregon
Register today at www.saferoutesconference.org - May 15 is early registration deadline
2. Breakout Group Ideas for the SRTS National Partnership Annual Meeting
Please respond by Tuesday, May 26 with your ideas
3. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
Transportation bill coming soon; new National section of our website
4. Register for 2009 Walk to School Day
Registration is now open for Walk to School Day - October 7, 2009
5. SRTS Supporters Host Sen. Bond and Rep. Johnson for Site Visits
You can do the same to build support for SRTS; use our Toolkit!
6. Partnership Releases Report on SRTS Implementation Challenges
Working group examines impact of Title 23 regulations and proposes solutions
7. See How Your State Is Progressing in Awarding/Obligating SRTS Funds
Partnership issues April 2009 State of the States
8. 5th Childhood Obesity Conference: Creating Healthy Places for Children
June 9-12 in Los Angeles at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel
10. Safe Routes to School News Throughout the Country
Local and State SRTS program news links
1. 2nd National SRTS Conference is August 19-21 in Portland, Oregon
Register today at www.saferoutesconference.org - May 15 is early registration deadline
Sign up now for the 2nd Safe Routes to School National Conference August 19-21, 2009 in beautiful, bicycle-friendly Portland, Oregon! Register today to take advantage of the early registration rate of $300, which is available through May 15. There will also be a Kaiser Permanente sponsored pre-conference health training on August 18.
Whether you are an engineer, a local level practitioner, transportation planner, academic, advocate, parent, health agency employee, school nurse, non-profit partner, or with law enforcement, this conference will provide valuable information for propelling Safe Routes to School work onto the next level.
The National SRTS Conference will offer standard 90-minute workshops, plenary speakers, mobile tours, 180-minute interactive training opportunities that allow for more in-depth discussion, hands-on events, discussion panels, and fun evening events including a dance party. To effectively meet the diverse needs of participants, attendees will also have the option to participate in sessions focused on specific age groups - K-5, middle school, or high school - and on specific geographic locations - urban, suburban, or rural.
For more information on the conference, including the draft program schedule please visit - www.saferoutesconference.org
A big thanks to the conference sponsors: lead donor, Kaiser Permanente, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, City of Portland, Oregon Department of Transportation, Metro, Alta Planning + Design, and Cycle Oregon.
We want your feedback! The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is holding its free Annual Meeting on Wednesday, August 19 from 9am-1pm in conjunction with the SRTS National Conference in Portland, Oregon. Register at the same time you are registering for the conference.
To help us prepare for breakout sessions at the Annual Meeting, we are asking for your ideas. Please send a short paragraph summarizing each idea you have for a breakout group topic and why you think it is important. Please send your comments and thoughts to Brooke Driesse by Tuesday, May 26!
We encourage you to sign-up for the Annual Meeting and the SRTS National Conference, and to spread the word to others.
It is a very busy time on Capitol Hill, and the next few weeks are likely to be important ones for the transportation bill and the climate bill. Because this is such a critical time in the legislative process, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has revamped the “National” section of our website to make it easier for you to access the most recent legislative updates, news about the implementation of SRTS at the federal and state levels, and background on SRTS legislation. We hope you will visit often to monitor and take action on key legislative priorities. Below you will find updates in several of our major legislative priority areas:
- Transportation bill: Rep. Oberstar (D-MN), Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, has indicated he will be releasing his version of the transportation bill in early June. Recently, Congressman Oberstar has said in the media that the overall bill will likely total somewhere around $400-$450 billion, which would be a significant increase over the last transportation bill of $286 billion—but that the financing mechanism will be determined yet this summer.
- Safe Routes to School: We are working closely with Chairman Oberstar’s staff to ensure that Safe Routes to School is included in the transportation bill draft to be released next month. We are also partnering with America Bikes on a support letter that members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee can sign to show support for Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets, bicycle/pedestrian funding, and a “fair share for safety.” On the Senate side, we expect Senator Harkin (D-IA) to introduce a Safe Routes to School reauthorization bill, based on the Partnership’s platform, in the coming weeks. As soon as the House support letter and Senate bill are available, we will alert SRTS supporters and ask you to take action.
- Climate change: Rep. Waxman, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a draft climate bill in late March that would establish a system for capping greenhouse gas emissions and auctioning off emissions allowances. The draft includes a transportation section that would require states and large metropolitan areas to submit goals and plans to reduce their transportation greenhouse gas emissions—including through bike/ped infrastructure. Funding would be provided to implement the plans, although funding levels are not specified in the draft. We are working with Transportation for America and the Smart Growth and Climate Change coalitions to support adequate funding for the transportation section.
- Education: Last week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed a new Green Schools bill that would provide $6.4 billion for school construction projects to modernize schools and make them more energy-efficient, including through improving bike/ped access to schools. The bill must yet be passed by the full House and considered by the Senate. In other related news, the Partnership has endorsed the FIT Kids Act, which would require school districts and states to report on the level and quality of PE they provide to children, and would add physical activity and wellness as eligible uses of funding for a variety of education programs. The FIT Kids campaign is led by the American Heart Association, and it is hoped that Congress will consider these changes as part of a future education reauthorization bill.
Registration is open for 2009 Walk to School Day, an international event where communities from more than 40 countries join together to walk and bicycle to school. Walk to School Day is Wednesday, October 7, 2009. By registering, Walk to School organizers gain access to a variety of downloadable materials, including certificates, templates for printing stickers, and a frequent walker punch card. Registrants can also subscribe to a weekly Walk to School e-newsletter with tips and resources on holding a Walk to School event. Registration is free and available to individuals or organizations holding an event in the U.S. Registered schools will be displayed on an interactive map on the U.S. Walk to School website, where neighboring communities, media, and other organizations will be able to view participating schools.
Walk to School events are a way for schools and communities to build enthusiasm for walking to school, promote the benefits of walking and bicycling, and bring visibility to any safety concerns. More than one-half (55 percent) of events are part of ongoing efforts to promote walking and bicycling throughout the year.
For more information on Walk to School activities in the U.S., please visit www.walktoschool.org. To see photos from past events, please visit www.iwalktoschool.org/photos. Both the U.S. and the International Walk to School websites are hosted by the National Center for Safe Routes to School.
For more information, contact Raquel Rivas at (919) 962-5835 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local SRTS supporters have an important role to play in building support for the program and ensuring that Congress will strengthen and expand funding for the program as part of the upcoming transportation bill. The easiest way to do this is to ask your Senator or House Member to come to an upcoming SRTS event to see the positive impact these federal dollars are having on children and families in your community. Here’s a summary of two recent events:
- In April, the PedNet Coalition of Columbia, Missouri invited Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) to walk to school as part of their Walking School Bus program. The Senator had a chance to interact with local kids and get some exercise. Afterwards, he addressed the children, encouraging them to develop healthy habits through the Walking School Bus. Local media covered the event, resulting in positive articles in local papers, including one headlined “Senator Bond Gets on the Health Bus.”
- Also in April, the Champaign-Urbana SRTS Project hosted an event with Mark Fenton that included a walking audit and Safe Routes to School planning workshop. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL) walked with the group during the audit, shared his own stories of walking and biking around the Urbana area as a child, and saw the new school zone signs that were installed with SRTS grant funds. Rep. Johnson told the group of his support for increasing funding for SRTS in the next transportation bill.
These two events are examples of how you can connect Members of Congress with the impact of SRTS—through events you may already be planning for your families, communities and schools. All it takes is a little planning—and we have a Toolkit for Building Congressional Champions with step-by-step instructions, templates and tools to help you plan and carry out your event. Please also don’t hesitate to contact Margo Pedroso, Policy Manager for the Partnership, if you need any help during the process or would like to share your site visit story.
Last fall, the Partnership released its reauthorization platform for the federal SRTS program. One recommendation was to reduce overhead and delays in the implementation of SRTS projects. Since that time, the Partnership has convened a Working Group on Implementation to examine the impact of the Title 23 regulations that govern SRTS on project delivery and costs and develop more specific recommendations. Together, Working Group participants convened monthly to discuss the current regulatory guidelines, state processes, feedback from local SRTS recipients, and potential best practices and legislative remedies.
As a result of this work, the Partnership’s Working Group on Implementation has just released the product of those discussions, a report entitled “Implementation Challenges with the Federal SRTS Program: An Examination of Title 23 Regulations, the Impact on Project Costs and Timing, and Opportunities for More Efficient Project Delivery” . The report provides background on the existing regulatory processes, identifies best practices that many state DOTs are already undertaking, and proposes legislative and administrative solutions that could make SRTS projects more efficient and cost-effective, without undermining important environmental and labor provisions.
We have already begun to share the report with key Congressional offices and the Federal Highway Administration, and hope that state SRTS Coordinators will find it useful in their own implementation. We would like to thank the members of the Working Group, who are identified in the report’s appendix, and of the local SRTS recipients who completed the implementation survey last December.
Each quarter, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership issues a “State of the States” to track the movement of each state Department of Transportation (DOT) in awarding and obligating federal Safe Routes to School funds. The April 2009 State of the States chart reveals that over the last quarter (January to March 2009), DOTs have awarded an additional $23 million in Safe Routes to School awards and have obligated $11 million to allow already-awarded projects to move forward. Overall, now that DOTs have the FY2009 funds available to them, approximately 60% of the overall funds have been awarded and 25% obligated. While many states have moved forward expeditiously to ensure that SRTS funds are benefiting local communities, a total of 21 states have more than half of their funds to award out.
The 5th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference – hosted by California Department of Public Health, California Department of Education, and University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health - will provide an overview of the most pressing childhood obesity issues, including structural issues that impact food access, nutrition, physical activity, and the physical environment. It will showcase presentations on topics of national interest including research and evaluation; community and family perspectives; pre-school, schools and after-school programs; nutrition and physical education; policy and environmental change strategies; and clinical management and resources. Register today and take advantage of an early registration fee of $350 that is available until May 22.
This year’s conference promises more workshops, mini plenaries and networking opportunities than ever before! Over the course of three days, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from more than 100 leading experts from around the country including the dynamic keynote speaker, Van Jones, recently named an “environmental hero” by Time Magazine and designated one of the most influential, inspiring African Americans of 2008 by Essence Magazine.
9. SRTSNP Director Deb Hubsmith Riding A Handcycle Due to Knee Injury
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Director Deb Hubsmith hasn’t owned a car for more than 13 years, so you could imagine how upset she was to learn that she can’t ride a bike for six months due to a serious knee injury sustained while skiing. In an effort to stay mobile and car-free, Deb came up with a creative solution – she bought a used handcycle, which she describes as a cross between a wheelchair and a bike, but she uses her hands to pedal. While it can only be used in the flats and for local travel, the handcycle enables her to retain some independence and keep cycling around her community for errands and to get physical activity.
Deb’s left knee injury took place on April 17 in Lake Tahoe. The MRI shows that she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament, partially tore the lateral collateral ligament, bruised the femur and tibia, and tore off a piece of bone from the tibia. Ouch. The doctor wants the bones and lateral collateral to heal before doing reconstructive surgery in July for the ACL. She says, “Fortunately, the knee injury hasn’t hampered my ability to type or talk on the phone, so I’m still able to work on our long term goals of advancing Safe Routes to School to change the habits of an entire generation.”
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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