Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #90: August 2013
Safe Routes to School E-News is a monthly email newsletter published by the Safe Routes Partnership (Safe Routes Partnership), which is leading the national movement for Safe Routes to School by coordinating and energizing more than 600 organizations, government agencies, schools and professional groups. Our mission is to advance 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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In this issue:
In less than a week, the fourth Safe Routes to School National Conference will kick off in Sacramento, California. Since 2007, the biannual National Conference has brought Safe Routes to School champions together to share success stories, learn from one another and chart the course for the future. This is the first time the conference will be in my home state of California, which I can’t help be a little proud of – but I am most excited about being with so many of you from around the country working to grow Safe Routes to School in your communities. Here are some highlights and hints on how to join in, even if you can’t be there in person.
We are pleased to announce that we have our first snapshot of what each state in the US plans to do with their new federal Transportation Alternatives (TAP) funding. While many states still have key decisions to make, we now know that 35 states have committed not to transfer money away from Transportation Alternatives, and 9 states will be adding money to TAP which increases opportunities for pedestrian and bicycle projects. Fifteen states plan to retain Safe Routes to School as a standalone program, 40 states will retain their Safe Routes to School coordinator and five states will pay for the required match for Safe Routes to School projects. See more details, including what your state has decided, in our summary blog and the state-by-state snapshot chart. Also in July we released a new resource to provide Metropolitan Planning Organizations with suggestions for their TAP applications (as 50 percent of the funds are now programmed at the regional level); see the regional article for more details. For an overview of the new Transportation Alternatives guidance, the state-by-state snapshot and the MPO resource, please watch the recording of our July 22 webinar, offered in partnership with Advocacy Advance.
Walking and bicycling to school is an important way for children to get exercise and a valuable tool in the battle against childhood obesity. But fewer schools are walkable than in the past, and strategies for promoting walkable schools cannot be considered without taking into account a stark fact: high levels of neighborhood segregation leave many children from lower-income families in segregated schools, with often dire educational consequences. Are diversity, educational equity, and walkability compatible? This new report, drawn from a national dialogue among leaders in health and public education, with accompanying research, answers the question in the affirmative. It also outlines the factors that determine how and where schools get built for different populations, and proposes action steps for promoting diverse, walkable, high quality schools for all children. The Safe Routes Partnership was very proud to partner with PolicyLink and ChangeLab Solutions on this important report. There will also be a session on this report at the Safe Routes to School National Conference.
The Safe Routes Partnership continues to expand our outreach and work in underserved communities and is now leading the Voices for Healthy Kids: Active Places campaign, which will provide technical assistance for state and local campaigns to increase access to schools, parks, playgrounds, walking paths, bike lanes and other opportunities to be physically active. If you represent an underserved community and are interested in learning how the Safe Routes Partnership can support your campaign at the state or local level, visit us online at http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/activeplaces.
Our monthly technical assistance webinar series features expert speakers, a chat feature for participants, and archived downloadable post-webinar recordings. Join us in September for:
Authentic Middle School Youth Engagement in Safe Routes to School
September 5th, 2013 @ 2pm Eastern - Register here
Successfully engaging middle school youth in Safe Routes to School projects and programs can prove challenging for advocates, facilitators, teachers and after school programs alike. This webinar will provide an overview for working with middle school youth and look at programs and practices that have effectively and authentically engaged youth in active transportation efforts around their schools.
Does your family or school set physical activity or wellness goals at the start of the year? Whether it’s bicycling to school for the first time, growing your school’s Walk to School Day events, or incorporating physical activity into your classroom lessons, Fire Up Your Feet offers encouragement and ideas for making physical activity a part of your kids’ daily life. Plus, schools in sponsored regions have the chance to earn a portion of more than $50,000 in awards to improve wellness at their school. Check out our schedule of free webinars and browse resources to help you engage families, students, and school staff in getting healthy and physically active as you get fired up to head back to school this fall.
In partnership with the Brown School of Public Health at Washington University, the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has completed a rapid Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of a proposed school site within the Hamilton Springs Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in Lebanon, Tenn.
The HIA concludes that if a school were sited within the TOD, all residents would live no more than a half-mile from the facility, thereby eliminating the need for busing and creating the potential for all students to walk or bicycle to school. The report also concludes that if the retail food environment were to receive careful consideration, the TOD might include a full-service grocer, and could limit or prohibit more unhealthy food options, enabling TOD residents to make food choices that would better promote health.
In July, the Safe Routes Partnership partnered with Advocacy Advance to host a webinar reviewing the year since the new transportation act MAP-21 passed in the summer of 2012. Most states have begun their allocation of Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are embarking upon their processes for grant applications. We unveiled a number of new resources, including an interpretation of Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Final Guidance of the Transportation Alternatives Program, an update on states’ progress on TAP, and a publication that provides examples of TAP applications at the MPO level and suggestions for developing the application and guidelines. Read more on our blog.
Increasing Access to Play (Maggie Cooper)
Big P, little p, Policy (Christy Smith)
Colorado has announced a call for 2014 Safe Routes to School applications. FY2014 SRTS grants will be 100% federally funded through SAFETEA-LU funds, no local match required. Applications for both infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects for the FY2014 grant cycle are due December 6, 2013 at 4 pm. Applications can be downloaded here. Colorado has awarded more than $13 million in SAFETEA-LU Safe Routes to School funds since 2005, including $1.517 million in MAP-21 Transportation Alternatives funds in FY2013.
As part of our regional network, the Safe Routes Partnership has been working on developing an advocacy platform for Safe Routes to School through the Denver Metro Area's MPO, the Denver Regional Council of Governemnts (DRCOG). This work aims to identify opportunities to enhance policies and funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects within the DRCOG planning process. Read more Colorado news and updates on our website.
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