2013 Is Off to a Great Start in Tennessee

Christy SmithThe Tennessee Network has some exciting plans for 2013 and some amazing members to help get the job done.  Here’s the short list of what we are working on.

Award and Obligation:  Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Safe Routes to School Coordinator Diana Benedict just accepted the first round of 24 applications for 2013. TN Network members Dare Bible, Tennessee Department of Health, and Bob Richards, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, both sit on the review team.  They expect to make announcements of grant awards in March. You can contact Diana at Diana. Benedict[at]tn[dot]gov for questions regarding grants.

Complete Streets: The Complete Streets Action Team has merged with the Built Environment team of the Tennessee Obesity Task Force.  Network members met to set goals for the coming year, representing Knox County Health Department, Knoxville TPO, Bike Walk Knoxville, TDOT Long Range Planning, TN Dept. of Health, Nashville MPO, and TDOT Safe Routes to School. They plan to create a guide for communities on what they can do to make Complete Street-type policy changes. Examples include: what can be done when budgets are tight, links to resources for built environment improvements and success stories featuring Tennessee communities.

Shared Use: Tennessee Department of Parks and Recreation received a grant to create an online shared use locator. A shared/joint use agreement is a written agreement between a school district and a public or non-profit entity setting forth the terms to safely and efficiently share use of school facilities. The group already has an excellent map of parks across the state www.trpa.net.  The information from the park finder and the shared use locator will be shared with TN Network to be included as a data set in the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Childhood Obesity GIS tool and on the Community Commons- an interactive mapping, networking, and learning utility for the broad-based healthy, sustainable, and livable communities’ movement.

Success Stories: Network Partners at Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Obesity Task Force created a survey to go out to Safe Routes grantees across the state to gather success stories and best practices.  Go here to view the survey and here to read the letter of introduction for this project.  If you know a story that should be included email dontessa.a.dean[at]Vanderbilt[dot]Edu.

Other projects: Tennessee Network member Jessica Wilson of TDOT traveled to Tennessee Tech University with me to discuss updates to the Tennessee Traffic Safety website.  The site now includes up-to- date data including maps of bicycle and pedestrian crashes for 2007-2011. You can also find all of Tennessee’s bicycle and pedestrian laws and coming soon are links to safety education for bicycles and pedestrians. You can visit the updated site at: www.tntrafficsafety.org and find that latest information under the Data and Statistics section.

All this and January isn’t even over with yet!  If you’d like to join the Tennessee Network please contact me at Christy[at]saferoutespartnership[dot]org.