May 2011

Safe Routes to School E-News

Issue #65: May 2011

Safe Routes to School E-News is a monthly email newsletter published by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership (National Partnership), a growing network of more than 500 non-profit organizations, government agencies, schools 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. 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. Alta Challenges Other Firms to Support Safe Routes to School
Alta provides $2,500 and asks other professional service organizations to match their contribution

2. Sign Up for the SRTS National Conference before Early Bird Registration Ends May 31
Register today; National Partnership’s Annual Meeting is August 15

3. May Is National Bike Month
Have you signed the Peopleforbikes.org pledge yet?

4. National Partnership’s Call for Steering Committee Nominations
Deadline to apply is May 10; all nominees must be partner affiliates

5. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
Getting state Safe Routes to School funds out the door: applications, awards and obligation

6. Bike Train Webinar Materials Available Online
Check out the recording, PDF of PowerPoint slides and tips sheet

7. Sign up for CLIF BAR’s 2 Mile Challenge and join the RED TEAM
Help the National Partnership win up to $35,000

8. Colorado on the Move
Safe Routes to School program reaching children in more than 500 schools statewide

9. More Safe Routes to Schools in Georgia
Planning to announce awards in June 2011

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


1. Alta Challenges Other Firms to Support Safe Routes to School
Alta provides $2,500 and asks other professional service organizations to match their contribution

Right now, as Congressional members make important decisions about the future of transportation funding, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s legislative know-how and our commitment to Safe Routes to School advocacy is critically important. We are focused on meeting with Congressional representatives and shaping federal transportation spending and programs that will span the next several years. We need to have hundreds of meetings in DC and mobilize local advocates; this effort requires resources. Alta Planning + Design understands the value of Safe Routes to School funding and was the first to step up to help the National Partnership raise $35,000 to fund our advocacy efforts at this critical time.

As Mia Birk, principal of Alta, said in her blog, "Now is the time to put our money where our values are and make sure National Partnership staff can continue meeting with Congressional members and staff." Alta Planning + Design has contributed $2500 and has challenged other professional service firms to join them in this shared commitment to Safe Routes to School; in addition, Mia made a personal donation.

Please make a contribution today; these funds will help our staff and advocates make more than 100 Congressional visits in the next several months. We are so appreciative of Alta’s commitment to our cause, "We know that when communities, and even competitors, come together to provide children better opportunities for healthy and active school travel, amazing things happen. This campaign is another example of that spirit," said Deb Hubsmith, director of the National Partnership.


2. Sign Up for the SRTS National Conference before Early Bird Registration Ends May 31
Register today; National Partnership’s Annual Meeting is August 15

The 3rd Safe Routes to School National Conference, taking place August 16-18 in Minneapolis, MN, is a wonderful opportunity to share your experiences, challenges and successes in implementing Safe Routes to School in your community. Register today to take advantage of early bird registration that is available until May 31 at the rate of $300 for the conference.

Mr. James L. Oberstar, former Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Congressional father of the Safe Routes to School movement, will be recognized at the conference for his leadership and vision for Safe Routes to School, and will be addressing conference attendees - you won’t want to miss his inspiring words!

You also won’t want to miss out on the Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s free Annual Meeting, taking place on 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.


3. May Is National Bike Month
Have you signed the Peopleforbikes.org pledge yet?

As most of you know, May is National Bike Month. In addition to bicycling to and from school with your kids and checking out special events taking place in your area, have you signed onto the Peopleforbikes.org (PFB) pledge?

The campaign, which is managed by Bikes Belong Foundation, gained 220,000 supporters in one year, and aims to show government leaders that Americans everywhere support cost-effective legislation that improves bike paths, lanes, trails and other facilities from coast to coast. This message is especially important as Congress considers the renewal of the federal transportation bill - the largest single source for bicycling funding, which has invested more than $4 billion in bike projects and programs since 2004.

The Peopleforbikes.org campaign has big plans for 2011. The primary goal is to surpass 500,000 pledges by the end of the year. If you’ve already signed on, encourage your friends to sign on too!

One of the most exciting PFB initiatives this year is focused on the wide audience of people shopping for bikes and bike accessories. Starting this month and running through September, 1,500 bicycle retailers nationwide will begin collecting pledges at their store counters. Peopleforbikes.org will attend more than 20 major events where the campaign will have the opportunity to interact with nearly 2 million people.

What better way to celebrate National Bike Month than to sign and share the Peopleforbikes.org pledge today, and enjoy a nice ride to the store, work, school or just around the neighborhood!


4. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
Federal transportation bill coming soon? Plus new health funding for transportation policy

Over the last month, there have been many rumors that House and Senate transportation bill drafts were imminent. It is now looking like it may be June before either Committee releases their transportation drafts. We are very concerned that the House bill in particular will be detrimental to bicycling and walking funding, given remarks made by House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica to a local paper indicating that he may not dedicate funding for bicycling and walking. This makes any Senate transportation bill even more important. We have been working with a number of other transportation groups to ask Californians to encourage Senator Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, to stand strong against any attempts to strip funding for bicycling and walking in transportation bills. Other national transportation policy news includes:

  • We have added Sens. Stabenow (D-MI) and Whitehouse (D-RI) to S.800, the Safe Routes to School bill. That brings us to 14 Senators in support. Please continue to contact your Senators to ask them to sign on!
  • Reps. Matsui (D-CA) and LaTourette (R-OH) introduced the Safe and Complete Streets Act (HR 1780) to require states and regions to adopt Complete Streets policies.
  • The US Conference of Mayors just released a poll of mayors about transportation. Notably, 75% of mayors say they would support an increase in the gas tax if more funding was directed to bicycling and walking.

Implementation of the currently available Safe Routes to School funding also continues:

  • The new State of the States for the first quarter of 2011 shows that states are keeping pace with newly available funding; states awarded another $36 million and obligated $40 million in funding in the last quarter.
  • AASHTO has released a new Safe Routes to School Noteworthy Practices Guide. This guide is intended to be a resource for state DOT Safe Routes to School coordinators looking for models for implementation of their program. While it is not intended as a resource for advocates, it can provide insight into the different ways in which states have set up their SRTS programs.

Finally, while the federal transportation bill may be delayed, the health community is moving forward with a new grant opportunity that will provide local governments with funding to support policy change in several areas, including physical activity. Through the new Community Transformation Grants (CTG), the CDC will award approximately $102 million to 75 communities. These grants are modeled after the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grants, which have helped many communities jumpstart their built environment work. Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets and increasing walking and bicycling are specifically mentioned as "CDC recommended evidence- and practice-based strategies." Additional information is available on the CDC’s CTG website. Letters of intent are due June 6, 2011 and the full application is due July 15, 2011. We encourage communities across the country to take a look at this funding opportunity and consider applying to increase opportunities for physical activity. Some ideas of what your community could consider applying for are included in a document we prepared when the CPPW grants were being considered.


5. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
Getting state Safe Routes to School funds out the door: applications, awards and obligation

Since 2005 the federal Safe Routes to School program has made more than $978 million available to state departments of transportation for sidewalks, street crossings, bike paths and lanes, bicycle and pedestrian safety education, enforcement, and promotional programs that get more kids safely walking and bicycling to and from schools throughout the US. Every state has set up a program, with a coordinator, that gives out the state’s allotment of federal funds. Unfortunately, the federal process for getting the money to local communities is very cumbersome. Some states are notorious for returning bicycle and pedestrian funding, such as Transportation Enhancements, back to Congress during a rescission before it can be used to save lives and increase physical activity. While Safe Routes to School is not eligible for this round of rescissions, it’s still critical that state DOTs spend their Safe Routes funds.

There are three basic steps for getting the money out the door - application, award and obligation. States that request applications from local communities every year have a better chance of spending their money before Congress asks for a rescission from the state department of transportation. States that then award funds to local communities quickly also help to get the money out the door and into neighborhoods. Finally, and most importantly, states and local applicants have to complete various processes in order to get the money actually on the ground, or ’obligated’. States that obligate funds quickly are able to protect their funds from future rescissions.

For more information about the network project, go to: www.saferoutespartnership.org/state/network.

For a document on Five Steps to Federal Funding, go to: www.saferoutespartnership.org/media/file/Five_Steps_to_Federal_Funding.pdf.


6. Bike Train Webinar Materials Available Online
Check out the recording, PDF of PowerPoint slides and tips sheet

The new bicycle specific webinars put on by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and funded by the SRAM Cycling Fund have experienced great success.

The most recent in the series, Organizing Bike Trains, saw registrations top 300 while participants learned from some of the leading national examples of bike trains in action. Attendees heard about how to balance the organization, training and encouragement that are required to form a consistent, sustainable bike train that allows students to safely bicycle to school while parents, teachers and administrators rest easy. Attendees were introduced to the National Partnership’s newest resource: A Tip Sheet for Organizing Biking Trains, which is a comprehensive resource for getting your first bike train off the ground or building upon an existing one.

A recording of the Organizing Bike Trains webinar, a PDF of the PowerPoint slides and the accompanying tips sheet are available on the National Partnership’s website at www.saferoutespartnership.org/SRAM-Bicycling-Webinar2.

Watch for the next webinar in the series coming this July featuring Bike Racks, Storage and Security!

This Safe Routes to School and bicycling webinar series has been generously sponsored by the SRAM Cycling Fund. The mission of the SRAM Cycling Fund is to support committed national advocacy efforts that enhance cycling infrastructure, safety and access.


7. Sign up for CLIF BAR’s 2 Mile Challenge and join the RED TEAM
Help the National Partnership win up to $35,000

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership (National Partnership) is pleased to be a part of the CLIF 2 Mile Challenge as the 2011 RED TEAM. Sign up under the RED TEAM, log your bike trips and you’ll earn valuable points that will help the National Partnership win a share of $100,000!

The 2 Mile Challenge highlights CLIF BAR’s commitment to bike advocacy and the fight against climate change, inspiring thousands to avoid 100,000 car trips and awarding $100,000 total in grants to three national nonprofits - we are joined by the Alliance for Biking and Walking and 350.org - as well as grants to grassroots initiatives across the country. Each team is a winner in reducing car trips and promoting bicycle advocacy, with the winning team collecting $35,000.

US DOT Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, even blogged about the challenge, encouraging people to save gas and get in shape by replacing car trips with trips by bicycles!

The Challenge runs until October 31 and we will provide updates throughout the summer and fall with tips for earning points and spreading the word. Our first two tips:

  • Register soon, and when you do, use the "connect to Facebook link" to earn five extra points
  • Register your children as well as yourself

We encourage our partner affiliates, local and state Safe Routes to School coordinators and community volunteers to forward this message, spread the word through Facebook or Twitter and encourage everyone you know to join the RED TEAM on the CLIF 2 Mile Challenge.


8. Colorado on the Move
Safe Routes to School program reaching children in more than 500 schools statewide

In March, Colorado’s Safe Routes to School program approved approximately $2.5 million in Safe Routes to School projects. These 2011 Safe Routes grants mark the 6th funding cycle for Colorado. Colorado has awarded more than $10 million dollars to Safe Routes to School projects since 2005, reaching children in more than 500 schools across Colorado. Applications for the 2012 Colorado Safe Routes to School grants will be posted to the Colorado Department of Transportation website in August of 2011 and will be due December 2nd, 2011. To view a complete 2011 project list, click here.

The Colorado Safe Routes to School program is embarking on a K-8 bicycle and pedestrian lesson plans and curriculum project and has been working closely with the Colorado state network on this. This project will develop pedestrian and bicycle related lesson plans for the State of Colorado to align specifically with the Colorado State standards for education. Many schools in Colorado rely solely on physical education and extracurricular classes to teach children bicycle and pedestrian skills and lessons. This project aims to expand on these activities by incorporating bike/ped lessons in core K-8 classes (math, science, history, language arts, etc.) with the goal of getting kids thinking about the benefits of walking and bicycling throughout their entire learning. The Colorado Bicycle and Pedestrian Curriculum will be available to educators in the fall of 2011.

The Colorado state network has also been busy utilizing research dollars to better understand the Safe Routes to School funding process and hiring a regional organizer to focus on the Pikes Peak region.

For more information on the Colorado Safe Routes to School program, contact Marissa Robinson, SRTS coordinator, at (303) 437-9522 or Marissa.Robinson@dot.state.co.us. For more information on Colorado’s Safe Routes to School state network project, contact Christine Fischer, state network organizer, at colorado@saferoutespartnership.org.


9. More Safe Routes to Schools in Georgia
Planning to announce awards in June 2011

With more feet walking and twice as many wheels rolling, Georgia’s Safe Routes to School Program continues to expand throughout the state. To date, school outreach coordinators have established 368 school partners and 159 community friends committed to walking and bicycling in their neighborhoods.

While encouraging and educating their children and residents remains a continued goal, they are excited for the pending engineering plans about to be realized. Georgia DOT will officially begin construction on five Safe Routes to School projects before the year’s end. Local communities in Atlanta, Douglasville, Milton, DeKalb and Atkinson will receive the improvements to change their community and resident lifestyles forever. Furthermore, Georgia DOT is currently working on the preliminary engineering of 26 projects requested by local schools and municipalities totaling $11,161,192. Georgia Safe Routes to School selected 58 proposals from its second call for infrastructure projects, and plans to announce the awards in June 2011.

Georgia DOT highlighted Mary Lin Elementary during International Walk to School Day (IWTSD) where about 300 little walkers and parents participated as well as Georgia’s Transportation Commissioner. At least 111 schools in Georgia participated in IWTSD. Georgia celebrates its State Walk to School Day every 1st Wednesday in March. This year’s 2nd annual SWTSD was again a success.

Georgia’s new state network organizer, Doug Joiner, has just completed his first quarter leading state and regional Safe Routes to School efforts. He is helping to promote and educate Georgians on pedestrian, bicycling and transportation matters and on getting funds awarded to improve the built environment and safety. In fact, Georgia SRTS coordinator, Emmanuella Myrthil, and he are working together on a state action plan and a model that clarifies, for the transportation community, the distinctions between their roles and responsibilities. Doug is also leading an Atlanta regional network project.

For more information on Georgia’s Safe Routes to School program, contact Emmanuella Myrthil, Safe Routes to School coordinator at emyrthil@dot.ga.gov. For more information on Georgia’s Safe Routes to School state network or regional network projects, contact Doug Joiner, state network organizer, at georgia@saferoutespartnership.org.


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