Ohio’s Safe Routes to School Network: Improving Ohio’s Health and Connectivity!

Kate MoeningThe first Ohio network meeting was held on Tuesday, June 19 at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Central Office, to kick off the Safe Routes Partnership’s efforts in Ohio.

Representatives from Ohio’s Departments of Health, Education and Transportation, the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), city and county health departments, school districts, engineering firms and community organizations were some of the 45+ attendees present. A HUGE THANK YOU to those that attended, as well as folks that have contacted me since to be included in the Ohio network.  The number of attendees, the discussion and the follow-up has been truly inspiring and motivating!

What impresses me most about this diverse mix of attendees is their commitment to improving pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure, safety, education and awareness to benefit the overall health and connectivity in Ohio’s communities. It is obvious that providing good health and wellness options, safe environments and continued support for community connectivity opportunities for students, families and residents are not compartmentalized.

As Ohio’s new state advocacy organizer, I encourage you to be a part of Ohio’s community health and connectivity movement. Ohio network goals include leveraging funding for pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure, facilitating street-scale improvements and joint-use policies and improving communication and education on these issues. Improving research and communication, encouraging sound policies and infrastructure, building leadership and assuring sustainability are important to positioning Ohio as a leader in the Safe Routes to School movement. To learn more about or become a member of the Ohio network, email me at kate@saferoutespartnership.org.

A big “Thank You!” to SRTS ODOT coordinator Julie Walcoff, for hosting this kickoff meeting and presenting on Ohio’s Safe Routes to School funding award, obligation and application process.

In May 2012 ODOT announced the 2012 Safe Routes to School Program awards, funding 68 projects in 48 communities, totaling more than $16 million dollars. An additional 19 communities have been awarded funds for school travel plan development. This is the highest amount of funding the Ohio program has distributed at one time. For a complete award list, click here.