Ohio Highlights: Wrapping Up 2012 and Stepping Up in 2013!

Kate MoeningSafe Routes to School in Ohio has much to be proud of in 2012 – here are a few highlights: $16 million dollars awarded to communities for Safe Routes to School infrastructure and non-infrastructure project; Chagrin Falls, winner of the Safe Routes to School Oberstar Award, the nation’s highest Safe Routes to School honor; and Cincinnati Public Schools, for the first Large District-wide School Travel Plan, created with the support of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Could we ask for more this holiday season?

Due to changes in the new federal transportation bill, MAP-21, Safe Routes to School programs no longer have dedicated funding. It is now part of Transportation Alternatives (TA) funding, which includes Recreational Trails and Transportation Alternatives (formerly Transportation Enhancements) program funding. In addition, USDOT guidance states that federal funds awarded for TA projects be funded at the 80 percent fund/20 percent match rate. Prior to MAP-21, Safe Routes to School awards were 100 percent fully funded, providing accessibility to underserved communities and those struggling with budget constraints. 

A gift to Ohio, from Ohio

Ohio has not only committed to use all TA funds to support Recreational Trails, Safe Routes to School and Transportation Alternative programs, the Ohio Department of Transportation is committed to the Safe Routes to School program and has offered to help communities by allocating state funds for qualifying Safe Routes to School projects to meet that 20 percent match required by MAP-21. Ohio is one of the first states in the nation to announce this type of support. 

This is amazing commitment and support by the Ohio Department of Transportation to our communities to improve safety, education and health for students and families across the state. Their recognition of the importance of this and other bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs is to be applauded, and I encourage you to let Jerry Wray, the Director of ODOT know you appreciate their support – complete the ODOT Feedback Form, write a letter or call to thank them!

The next round for Ohio Safe Routes to School applications will be accepted from January 1 to March 1, 2013 – visit the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes To School webpage for information and guidelines to apply, or to learn more about the program.

For more about walking and bicycling projects, programs and resources in Ohio, “like” the Ohio Safe Routes network page on Facebook. To become a part of policy change, advocacy and community development in Ohio, join the Ohio Safe Routes network by emailing Kate Moening, Ohio advocacy organizer at kate@saferoutespartnership.org

Happy Holidays!