Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #58: October 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.
To receive future issues of E-News, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this issue:
1. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Annual Meeting
Notes from breakout sessions are now available
2. Provide Comments on Our Draft Five Year Strategic Plan
Comments accepted until October 11
4. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
Congress turns focus to elections; transportation waits till later this fall
5. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
Introducing new network organizers and report on complete streets progress
6. Sign on to the Vision Statement for a Walkable America
The Partnership has endorsed the vision and you should too
7. Register Now for the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference
February 3-5, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina
8. Connecticut Awards $2.8 Million in SRTS Funding
Many schools taking advantage of free non-infrastructure program assistance
9. “Concrete” SRTS Improvements in Washington, DC
20 schools receiving infrastructure safety upgrades through ARRA funding
10. SRTS News Throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership held its Annual Meeting in conjunction with the Pro Walk Pro Bike Conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee on September 13, 2010. The Annual Meeting was kicked off with a welcome from the Partnership’s Chair, Risa Wilkerson, and an update on Partnership business from our Director, Deb Hubsmith, which was then followed by a presentation and town hall discussion of the Partnership’s 2011-2015 draft strategic plan. The group also heard a federal legislative update from Margo Pedroso, our Deputy Director.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent in breakout groups, talking about issues related to specific topics affecting SRTS. The following topics were discussed: challenges in rural areas; challenges in urban areas; developing a national media campaign; developing and institutionalizing curriculum; developing school policies including school siting and joint use; engaging youth; evaluation and research; influencing state implementation and policies; social networking ; and working with partners (existing and new). Discussions were productive and full of insight in all the breakout sessions, and thanks to the efforts of volunteer note-takers, we were able to capture much of what was discussed. You can find the notes from the meeting here. Special thanks to Wendi Kallins, our Annual Meeting Committee Chair and Brooke Driesse, our Communications Manager who organized the meeting.
Throughout 2010, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has been working to develop a five-year strategic plan for the years 2011-2015. In April and May, we received input from more than 700 people through surveys, focus groups and interviews. We heard a lot of opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the Safe Routes to School movement and what the Safe Routes to School National Partnership should focus on throughout the coming years.
Using all of that input as a foundation, we have created a draft 2011-2015 Strategic Plan, which was released on Friday, September 10. We would like your feedback to see if we’ve honed in on the most important focus areas to ensure a strong and sustainable Safe Routes to School movement and a world in which children can safely walk and bicycle to school.
A short survey on our Strategic Plan is open until Monday, October 11 at 6 PM eastern. Thereafter, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership will evaluate the comments, and make revisions to the plan. It will be adopted by our Steering Committee in November. Thank you in advance for your time; we look forward to working with our partners to advance the Safe Routes to School movement.
3. Happy Walk and Bike to School Month!
Support our Facebook campaign by suggesting the Partnership to your friends
To celebrate Walk and Bike to School Month, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership is holding a Facebook campaign to double the number of people who “like” the Partnership. Suggest us to your friends by clicking on the “Suggest to Friends” link underneath the logo on our page.
While you are on our Facebook page, post videos, photos and articles of your walk and bike to school events. We love to hear from everyone and nothing builds excitement around Safe Routes to School like seeing the smiling faces of kids walking and bicycling to school! And don’t forget, use the momentum from your events to encourage walking and bicycling to school all year long. Our website has many resources for you to use in your day-to-day programs.
Also, check out the new Kaiser Permanente video promoting Walk to School Day.
Congress came back from the August recess for a short three-week legislative session in Washington, DC. Under pressure from Members who wanted to get back to their home districts to campaign, the House and Senate leadership adjourned a week early, on October 1. Over the next six weeks, Members of Congress will be in campaign mode.
Congress has not moved forward on a long-term transportation bill, and the current transportation extension that is funding Safe Routes to School and other surface transportation programs expires on December 31, 2010. So, Members will need to return after the November elections for a “lame duck” session to either extend the transportation bill or move some transportation policy. The elections will have a big impact on what happens with the extension and also with the longer-term transportation bill.
In other news, Members of Congress have moved quickly to either introduce legislation or move it through the legislative process. A few bills of interest include:
- Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) became the 26th Senator to sign on in support of S. 1156, the Safe Routes to School Program reauthorization bill.
- Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Rep. Anh Cao (R-LA) introduced the Fit for L.I.F.E. Act, focused on providing targeted resources to fight childhood obesity in low-income, rural and Native American communities. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership worked with Rep. Fudge’s office to include language that would provide community policing grants to help address personal safety challenges around schools in low-income communities.
- The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on H.R. 4690, the Livable Communities Act. This is the House version of S. 1619, which we reported on in the August E-news. The Livable Communities Act would create a grant program to support planning and implementation of projects that integrate transportation, housing, land use and economic development concerns. The Senate bill includes language offered by Sen. Merkley that adds school siting as an eligible use of planning funds and also beefs up bicycling and walking language. We are working with our partners to add similar language to the House bill as well.
New State Network Organizers
The State Network Project is facilitated by part-time Network Organizers in 20 states. In this issue, we welcome our new part-time contracted state network organizers:
- Arkansas – Judy Lansky, an attorney, who works for the Bicycle Alliance of Central Arkansas, and is a founding member of that group.
- Mississippi – Abby Gamble, who is currently a doctoral candidate in Health and Kinesiology at the University of Mississippi, and works for BikeWalk Mississippi.
- Pennsylvania – Josh Karns, Executive Director and former board member for Pennsylvania Walk and Bikes, has a lot of experience in smart growth and formerly worked for 1000 Friends Of Pennsylvania.
- Virginia – Robert “Bob” Wall, who works for Prevention Connections, and is a former law enforcement officer. His work with public safety organizations will bring new expertise to our work in personal safety.
More Complete Streets Progress in 2010
California: The 2008 CA law AB1358 (Complete Streets Act) will take effect January 1, 2011, requiring all general plan updates to include a policy on complete streets as part of the circulation element of the general plan. The network has been working with the State Office of Planning and Research for the past year on the draft guidance to cities and counties for implementation, and several members of the network were invited to serve on a state advisory committee to make final recommendations on the complete streets guidance. The network has convened an action team to respond to the guidance for implementation.
Colorado: The Colorado Department of Transportation recently approved a statewide complete streets policy for state owned and maintained roadways, and is in the process of adopting a procedural policy that outlines the details of implementing and maintaining complete streets. There is also proposed legislation to address formal codification of CDOT’s internal policies, solidifying the goals of the agency and offering more protection from changing management/elected officials/ politics. The Colorado network will be working to ensure that these policies are implemented effectively.
Hawaii: Governor Linda Lingle signed S.B. 718 on May 6, a landmark bill that requires the Hawaii DOT and the counties to establish policies to accommodate all users of the road, no matter age, ability or mode of transportation. In addition, Act 054, the Complete Streets law, calls for the creation of a statewide task force to review existing state and county highway design standards and guidelines and propose changes to procedures and design manuals. Two members of the Hawaii network sit on the 20-member task force and three others are "Friends" of the task force, keeping the network involved and up to date. The task force is now working on specific design standards and guidelines as part of the task force work plan.
Tennessee: The Tennessee network has a very active action team that leveraged its strong transportation presence to develop a ready-made presentation on the connections between Safe Routes to School and complete streets. The network has recently launched a number of these “Lunch and Learn” one-hour workshop sessions statewide. The network is using this method to educate decision-makers and leaders throughout the state on the benefits of a complete streets policy at local, regional and state levels to facilitate policy change, and is looking into using this model for educating decision-makers on other topic areas.
America Walks, a national non-profit organization, is working for safe and attractive streets, neighborhoods and public places that encourage walking. They have just released a Vision Statement for a Walkable America, and as a partner organization, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership is proud to have endorsed it. To expand the network of people and groups that support a more walkable, active and healthy America, we encourage you to sign on too.
The Vision Statement for a Walkable America
By 2020, walking in everyday life is embraced across America. Streets and neighborhoods are safe and attractive public places that encourage people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, and incomes to walk for exercise, recreation, and transportation. Walkable community policies promote public health, economic vitality, environmental sustainability, and social equity.
By signing onto the Vision, you will be an early adopter to a rapidly growing group of people and organizations the support improvements for walking nationwide and locally. Please read and sign on to the vision here.
Conference registration is now open for the 10th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, which will be held on February 3-5, 2011 in Charlotte, NC. The reservation deadline to receive the group room rate of $95 at the Westin Charlotte Hotel is January 10, 2011. Make your reservations soon as they expect the hotel to sell out.
The multi-disciplinary program will include over 100 sessions and feature cutting-edge policies and programs, projects, as well as strategies and implementation tools that address the challenges of implementing smart growth development. Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership will be presenting on a Safe Routes to School panel on Friday, February 4.
The 2011 conference will include an underlying theme of building capacity and financing smart growth. Conference sessions will focus on issues such as: financing smart growth and capacity-building; improving local economies and job creation; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; improving transportation systems and land use patterns; improving water quality; improving public health and safety; conserving energy and other natural resources; promoting equitable development and environmental justice; providing affordable housing choices; and creating safer and healthier communities for all. Several sessions will be approved for AICP continuing education credits.
The conference agenda also includes special events, including a Daylong pre-conference workshop on February 2, 2011 entitled " Achieving Equitable Development: Strategies to Empower Community Organizations."
Visit www.NewPartners.org for detailed information on the conference program, tours of model projects, special events, invited speakers, hotel and transportation information and to register now!
Nearly $2.8 million in funds were awarded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program in May 2010 to construct bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements in the vicinity of various schools around the state. Bicycling and walking at schools in five communities will be supported through the construction of infrastructure projects. Safety improvement projects include sidewalks, raised crosswalks, speed tables, multi-use paths and a pedestrian bridge. In addition, ten schools and communities took advantage of Connecticut’s free SRTS non-infrastructure program assistance, which began in October 2009. Many schools have benefitted from school site engineering assessments and bike rodeos. Free non-infrastructure assistance program will continue this upcoming school year.
The DC Safe Routes to School program assists schools with the creation of Safe Routes to School action plans on a first-come, first-served basis. As of fall of 2010, fifteen schools completed the program, and twelve additional schools are in the process of enrolling. Each participating school creates an action plan including recommendations for all five “E’s.” The DC Safe Routes to School program offers support to assist schools in the implementation of each “E.” For example, many schools are participating in the popular District Department of Transportation, “Walk & Roll Club,” a frequent walker/bicyclist reward program. The DC Safe Routes to School program provides all the necessary supplies for the program.
The DC Safe Routes to School program secured roughly $2 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to construct safety improvements near schools, thanks in part to advocacy by the DC state network. The project includes the construction of missing sidewalks, signs, high visibility crosswalk markings and other enhancements aimed to improve the safety of walking and bicycling to school. After a busy summer of construction, improvements at nearly 20 schools have already been completed, with more on the way. At least one school has established a new walking school bus to take advantage of the recently constructed sidewalks.
As this school year begins, personal safety is on everyone’s minds; particularly those parents who live in high-crime areas and want to allow their children to walk to school. In response, the DC Safe Routes to School state network has promoted the idea of expanding the District of Columbia’s current Safe Passage program with the Chicago model. The Chicago Police Department’s Safe Passage program includes elements of extensive community canvassing in order to recruit volunteers to be "Eyes on the Street", "Corner Captains" and other more traditional in-school volunteers. Through the networks efforts, the Metropolitan Police Department has agreed to work with them to expand their Safe Passages program, and a pilot school for this project will be sought for this school year.
For more information on Washington, DC’s SRTS program, visit their website or contact Jennifer Hefferan, DC’s SRTS Coordinator, at email@example.com or (202) 671-2227. For more information on Washington, DC’s SRTS state network project, please contact Gina Arlotto, DC Network Organizer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: