December 2012

Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #83: December 2012

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:

1. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American Heart Association Join Forces to Reverse Childhood Obesity Epidemic

2. Implementing MAP-21 – The New Transportation Law

3. Shared Values

4. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report

5. Register for Two Free Webinars: Building Safe Routes to School at the Regional Level

6. 2013 Saris Poster Contest Seeks State Leads

7. State Network Project News

8. Regional Network Project News

9. Highlighted Blogs

10. Featured States

1. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American Heart Association Join Forces to Reverse Childhood Obesity Epidemic
Advocacy initiative will focus on expansion of proven public policies

The Safe Routes Partnership applauds the new collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Heart Association (AHA), which recently announced an ambitious collaboration to reverse the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. Building upon AHA’s extensive advocacy capacity and experience, RWJF will provide the Association with $8 million in initial funding to create and manage an advocacy initiative focused on changing local, state and federal policies to help children and adolescents eat healthier foods and be more active. +Read more

2. Implementing MAP-21 – the New Transportation Law
What’s next at the federal level?

While interim guidance was issued by the US Department of Transportation in October—leading many states to move forward with decisions on Safe Routes to School—there are still many implementation tasks remaining on MAP-21. Final guidance will be issued, likely in January or February, as well as rules, regulations and best practices for grant applications.  All of these will affect how your state implements Safe Routes to School.  In addition, USDOT will also be setting performance measures that, if done with attention to all modes of transportation, will facilitate Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking projects competing in all transportation funding pots, instead of just Transportation Alternatives.  Learn more about implementation in our latest blog post.

3. Shared Values
Thank you for your continued support of Safe Routes to School

In this month’s blog, Deb Hubsmith reflects on all that we value: the simple act of walking and bicycling to school, to a store or to work. We hope you will take a moment to support the valuable work of the Safe Routes Partnership during the year-end giving season. Your tax deductible gift, whatever the amount, is very meaningful to us in that these donations support our federal advocacy and marketing efforts. Thank you for your continued support to grow the Safe Routes to School movement and for all of the valuable work you do every day to support walking and bicycling.

4. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report
Key findings on strategies for increasing physical activity among youth include Safe Routes to School

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report focuses on science-based strategies to increase physical activity among children, looking at 12 categories of physical activity interventions for young people.  This draft report is meant to provide additional guidance on how to help children reach their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day. We’re pleased to report that three of the strategies for increasing physical activity in youth that were evaluated and found to be supported by the evidence were directly related to Safe Routes to School, specifically:

  • In schools, sufficient evidence supported multi-component school-based physical activity programs.  One of the potential components of this strategy was active transport to school, along with additional PE, activity breaks in class, and more.
  • In schools, suggestive evidence supported active transportation to and from schools.
  • In communities, researchers found there was suggestive evidence for making the built environment conducive to more active transportation – including mixed land use, population density, traffic calming and walking/bicycling infrastructure.

 In addition, on page 40 the report calls out the “triple benefits” possible from active transportation to school (increasing the cardiometabolic health of children, improving air quality and environmental sustainability).  The public can comment on the mid-course report until December 10, 2012. The federal government will review comments, consider changes and publish a final version in 2013. The Safe Routes Partnership provided comments that you can view here.

5. Register for Two Free Webinars: Building Safe Routes to School at the Regional Level
December 6 and January 10 at 2pm eastern

We are pleased to be holding two free webinars on December 6 and January 10 at 2pm eastern on “New Funding, New Players, New Game: Why Build Safe Routes to School into Regional Governments”. The December 6 webinar at 2pm eastern is part one in the series showing how a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) operates. The January 10 webinar at 2pm eastern is a follow up showing how advocates and MPOs have been innovating to build Safe Routes to School into their regional game plans. These webinars are part of an ongoing series. Click here to view upcoming 2013 webinars and to check out audio-visual recordings, Q&As and PowerPoints from the previous webinars that were held in 2012.

6. 2013 Saris Poster Contest Seeks State Leads
For more info on how to get involved, contact Heather Fortune

Now is a great time to get fifth grade students thinking about the important role bicycles play in our environment, our community and our world. The objective of the Saris Poster Contest is to ask fifth grade students to create a poster that reveals his or her understanding of the significant purpose bicycling can play in their community. Saris has is now looking for state leads in every state to coordinate school participation.

State leads help to spread the word about the Saris Poster Contest, generating excitement in your state. The responsibilities will include collecting the winning posters, determining the top three posters and sending in the state winner for National Award consideration. The marketing will be primarily through email and social media. For more information about becoming a State Coordinator please contact Heather Fortune or 608.729.6147. Deadline to become a State Coordinator is Dec. 21, 2012.

There are many great prizes for the student winners: each state will have three winners (1st, 2nd and 3rd) with the first place winner receiving a bicycle, light and helmet. Plus, there will be one national winner who will also receive a three day all-expense paid trip (for two) to Washington, DC for the 2014 National Bike Summit.

7. State Network Project News
Our state network project is thriving!

Coming into the end of our first year with full-time state advocacy organizers in seven states – CA, FL, MS, NC, NJ, OH and TN –  the Safe Routes Partnership, through  generous funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has made great strides in developing advocacy partnerships and advancing policy change. Our overarching goal is to continue improving the built environment and advancing associated policy change, with an emphasis on serving lower-income communities to help reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. A sampling of our recent success includes:

  • CA – Working with partners and key decision makers to ensure that opportunities for implementation of climate change legislation are addressed for bicycle and pedestrian projects within underserved communities around the state – read more at our CA Blog .
  • MS – Working with a vast network of unified partners by advancing shared use agreements to fight obesity through a generational mind-set shift and lasting community participation – read more at our MS Blog.
  • NC – Working with the NCDOT as they make incredible advances in funding and policy support to sustain and grow the Safe Routes to School Programs – read more at our NC Blog.
  • TN – Working with the TDOT and state partners to maintain momentum for Safe Routes to School programs and looking forward to promising future with TDOT now accepting applications for the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) with all $18 million received for TAP activities from the Federal Highway Administration remaining for funding of bicycle and pedestrian projects – read more at our TN Blog.

Stay tuned for continued success in 2013!

8. Regional Network Project News
Realizing successes in 2012 in all our regions

As we come to the end of 2012, the regional network project has realized many successes throughout the year. And as metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) assume a greater role in managing federal funds for active transportation through the MAP-21 Transportation Alternative Program, the opportunities for change at the regional level grows. The Safe Routes Partnership shares our experiences as guides to working with MPOs across the country. In fact, in December and January we have two free webinars you can attend – “New Funding, New Players, New Game:  Why Build Safe Routes to School into Regional Governments”.  The December 6 webinar at 2pm eastern is part one in the series, with the January 10 webinar at 2pm eastern providing a more in-depth look into the subject as part two of the series.

9. Highlighted Blogs
Check out some recent blogs from Safe Routes Partnership staff

Exercise Your Right to…Exercise
Students Steal the Show

10. Featured States
Highlighting Florida and Georgia

Florida has had great success with Safe Routes to School under SAFETEA-LU, with more than 235 applications ($68.8 million) being funded. The average Safe Routes to School project funded was $292,766. There has been a call for infrastructure applications each fall through spring. Spring 2012 ended the sixth call for projects. These projects will be in the 2017 work program. The average return on these projects was an increase of 22 percent of children walking to and from school. The program works! It works well because of the dedicated and out of the box thinking of district coordinators. Click here to read more about an innovative non-infrastructure “encouragement” idea from one of Florida’s district coordinators.

To date, Georgia Safe Routes to School has awarded 48 projects (totaling approximately $18.5 million). Some examples of the various types of infrastructure projects are installation of sidewalks, multi-use paths, crosswalks, raised crosswalks, LED crossing signs, ADA ramps, bike lanes and bike racks. Georgia created a Safe Routes to School Resource Center to manage all of the non-infrastructure components. +Read more

Safe Routes to School News throughout the Country
Mountain Brook, AL: Work on Safe Routes to School Projects to Begin As Early As January
Kaua’i, HI: King Kaumuali‘i School Joins Walking School Bus
Wausau, WI: Students Brave Cold and Keep Momentum Going After Successful Walk and Bike to School Day in October

Help Grow the Safe Routes Partnership!

Joining the Safe Routes Partnership is free. Please encourage other organizations, schools, businesses, and government agencies to join the Safe Routes Partnership, a network of more than 600 organizations and agencies.

Funding for the Safe Routes 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:

Brooke Driesse, Communications Manager
Safe Routes Partnership