Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #67: July 2011
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 500 organizations, government agencies, schools and professional groups. Our mission is to advocate for 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 June, the National Prevention Council released the National Prevention Strategy: America’s Plan for Better Health and Wellness. The National Prevention Strategy was authorized by the Affordable Care Act to help transform our health care system from a focus on sickness and disease to one that is focused on prevention and wellness.
We are pleased to report that the National Prevention Strategy specifically highlights Safe Routes to School on page 39. It also highlights the concepts of school siting, joint use and Complete Streets and their impact on physical activity levels.
A recently released report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, called F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011, highlights the urgency for a National Prevention Strategy given our country’s obesity rates. It reminds everyone that we need to make healthy choices the easy choices, and specifically discusses how a lack of safe places for children to walk, bicycle or play makes it difficult to encourage them to be active.
2. Safe Routes Partnership’s Federal Update
Advocates must weigh in on unfavorable House transportation draft and Sen. Inhofe comments
Last week, Chairman Mica (R-FL) of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee released a 20 page summary of his transportation bill at a press conference. He did not give a timeframe for when the legislative language would be released. While the summary is broad, between the summary and Chairman Mica’s remarks at the press conference, it is clear that it is not favorable to Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking. According to the summary:
- The overall six-year funding level for the bill would be $230 billion, which is approximately a 20 percent cut from SAFETEA-LU and a 34 percent cut from current funding levels.
- There would no longer be dedicated funding for bicycling and walking. These projects would be eligible if states chose to fund them, but the outline indicates that this “flexibility will not be unchecked” by holding states accountable to performance measures. This will likely further discourage states from spending money on bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs.
- The outline repeatedly highlights its focus on the highway system and projects of regional or national significance and indicates that approximately 70 surface transportation programs that are “duplicative or do not serve a federal purpose” would be eliminated or consolidated.
All in all, the overall effect is that dedicated federal funding for Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails is eliminated in the House outline. We hope that Safe Routes to School retains specific eligibility, but it is possible that more general bicycling and walking activities will be what retain specific eligibility. Given the shrinking size of the overall funding and the lack of any funding requirements for Safe Routes to School, the likely result of the House outline is that state DOTs would spend very little (if anything) on bicycling and walking.
To offset the House proposal, it is critical that any Senate transportation draft maintain Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails. Unfortunately, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the lead Republican negotiator on the transportation bill, declared that one of his TOP THREE priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate “frivolous spending for bike trails”. This is in direct conflict with Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) commitment to maintain dedicated funding for bicycling and walking. However, because the Senate is working towards a bi-partisan solution, Senator Inhofe’s comments mean funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs is at risk of total elimination.
While all of this news is challenging, it is important to remember that many steps in the legislative process remain, which gives us opportunities to influence the language. That is why we launched a full-fledged advocacy alert—please take a few minutes to contact your Members of Congress, and then ask your friends and colleagues to do the same. With your help, we can make sure that funding for Safe Routes to School and bicycling and walking is preserved. And, thank you to the tens of thousands of advocates and hundreds of partners who have already contacted Congress and passed the message along to their constituents!
The 3rd Safe Routes to School National Conference, taking place August 16-18 in Minneapolis, MN will be here before you know it. Register today for only $350!
Two important cut-off dates to keep in mind:
Also, we’re excited to announce two keynote speakers who will be joining us in Minneapolis:
- Victor Mendez, Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration
- Paul Osborne, School Travel Director for Sustrans in the United Kingdom
When you register for the conference, please also sign up for the Safe Routes Partnership’s free Annual Meeting, which will be held Monday, August 15 from 1-5pm in conjunction with the conference. The Annual Meeting will give Safe Routes advocates time to join together to discuss successes and challenges, and how we can grow Safe Routes to School exponentially. You won’t want to miss an exciting agenda complete with the always popular topic-specific breakout groups, a World Café on “Building the Movement,” a federal legislative update and more.
We are also hosting a Safe Routes Social on Monday, August 15 from 5-6:30pm, directly after our Annual Meeting. This will be a great opportunity to network with other Safe Routes to School enthusiasts from across the country. So stick around to say “Hello!” We hope you will plan on spending the afternoon with us.
4. CLIF BAR’s 2 Mile Challenge RED TEAM Has Logged More Than 6,000 Trips!
Help the Safe Routes Partnership whenever you avoid a car trip through October
The Safe Routes Partnership is pleased to be a part of the CLIF 2 Mile Challenge as the 2011 RED TEAM. The 2 Mile Challenge highlights CLIF BAR’s commitment to bike advocacy and the fight against climate change, inspiring thousands to avoid 100,000 car trips. Sign up today under the RED TEAM, log your trips and you’ll earn valuable points that will help the Safe Routes Partnership win as much as $35,000! The Challenge runs until October 31.
Even more importantly, we need RED TEAM members to log trips regularly and start challenges – points are based on your trips and challenges you create or join, NOT on miles logged. Help us surge ahead in the points and make every trip count by following these easy tips:
- Start or join a challenge by visiting the Challenge area in the top menu bar. You can join a featured Challenge or search for a challenge by your zip code or keyword. When logged in, you can create as many as 6 challenges at a time, simply by selecting “start a challenge.”
- Check out the map located at the bottom of your profile page. This map shows how many folks are active in your state. Use this information to create challenges and competition among your friends in other states.
- Our friends at CLIF BAR have created a mobile-enhanced version of the site for when you want to keep tabs on your challenges or update your trips when you’re on the go. Simply point your mobile browser to http://m.2milechallenge.com/.
We encourage our partner affiliates, local and state Safe Routes to School coordinators and community volunteers to spread the word and encourage everyone you know to join the RED TEAM on the CLIF 2 Mile Challenge. If you have questions or would like to participate as a promotional partner of the Safe Routes Partnership, please contact Beth Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Safe Routes Partnership recently released the Safe Routes to School Local Policy Guide, compiled to help local communities and schools create, enact and implement policies which will support active and healthy community environments. The highlighted policies encourage safe walking and bicycling and physical activity by children through a “Health in All Policies” approach.
The Local Policy Guide highlights strategies to advance policy change and covers more than 20 policy change examples including: regional transportation plans, Complete Streets, fine-based mechanisms, school bonds, crossing guards, health impact assessments, joint-use agreements, speed limits and more. The Local Policy Guide was compiled through the help of more than a dozen leaders throughout the country who provided success stories and examples of local policy wins; we thank everyone who assisted for their help and contributions. The guide was made possible due to funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Public Health Association.
The Safe Routes Partnership plans to continue to catalog and publicize policy wins that promote Safe Routes to School. If you have an example, please email the details to Dave Cowan, program manager, at email@example.com.
We have been hearing about the state network project’s successes since 2007. As the new state network manager and a nine-year veteran of Safe Routes to School, based in Washington State, I am in awe. A lot of hard, smart work continues to pay off. State network successes range from getting language regarding Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets and other related policies into planning documents, guidelines and codes, to getting state Safe Routes to School funds awarded to applicants and then ‘obligated’, or ready to build. None of these are small tasks; here is a small sampling of recent successes from my network states:
- The Kentucky network participated in a meeting of the Governor’s Executive Committee on Highway Safety to talk about updating the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, which has previously not addressed bicyclist and pedestrian concerns. After a targeted organizing effort, language was inserted specifying the need to consider the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.
- The Missouri network helped increase the number of Complete Streets policies in cities around the state from four to 16 in just the past twelve months.
- The Louisiana network participated in a legislatively-mandated workgroup resulting in the DOT adopting a statewide Complete Streets policy.
- The Michigan network helped increase the number of Complete Streets policies from one in January 2010 to 39 by May of 2011. How exciting to see the state that spent the last century focused on all things automotive, planning streets that safely accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians as the new norm!
- The Pennsylvania network secured more support for Safe Routes to School through the work of network partners, who educated legislative leaders about the status of Safe Routes to School and the local needs for Safe Routes to School infrastructure and programs.
- The Illinois network worked with their state DOT to successfully increase from 50 percent to 80 percent the share the state pays for sidewalk improvements.
For more information about the network project, go to: www.saferoutespartnership.org/state/network.
The Safe Routes Partnership is pleased to share our 2010 Annual Report. The Annual Report details our growth and progress on four main strategies:
- Federal advocacy and lobbying
- State and regional policy change
- Local technical assistance
- Sharing best practices
Specifically, we grew our budget by 119 percent, the number of partner affiliates from 436 to 534, the state network project from 10 to 20 states, and staff from five to 11. We thank all our partners and supporters for their help in accomplishing these achievements.
The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has been very busy and productive. After five funding cycles, UDOT has awarded all of its $9.9 million of Safe Routes to School funding, with no additional funding cycles currently scheduled. A total of 33 infrastructure projects have been completed, with five more projects recently awarded and underway. UDOT has 25 non-infrastructure programs in place. These projects range in scale from individual schools and their communities to citywide, countywide and school district-wide.
One noteworthy non-infrastructure project is the Alpine Elementary Safe Routes to School program, which was awarded the 2010 Oberstar Award for its creative strategies to encourage families to shift habits to a less car-focused commute. In less than two years, this local program was able to increase the percentage of children who regularly walked and bicycled to school from 35 to 50 percent.
Utah is unique in the way it administers the non-infrastructure component of its Safe Routes to School program. Utah law requires every elementary, middle and junior high school to develop and implement a Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP) plan, which details the safest walking and bicycling routes within a one-mile radius of the school and distributes maps to parents. Additionally, the “SNAP, Walk ’n Roll” assembly provides a free, 35-minute assembly that encourages students to safely walk and bicycle to school.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) has committed $4 million in funding for infrastructure projects across the state and is in the process of designing and constructing those projects. Some examples of infrastructure projects include crosswalks, bike racks and sidewalks to improve student safety on the walk/ride to school.
VTrans recently hired Toole Design Group to create a Resource Center to support every school and community in Vermont interested in Safe Routes to School programs. The Center is a one-stop shop for schools to find out about Safe Routes to School, get practical advice and information on training and funding opportunities, and learn about available resources in their region to help make walking and bicycling popular choices for kids traveling to and from school. The Center has dedicated staff, including a full-time outreach manager, who provides tailored assistance to Safe Routes to School teams.
The Center offers a tiered partnership program that allows schools to adopt activities that make the most sense for their unique circumstances, on a timeframe that suits them. The services provided by the Center and the outreach manager’s interactions with schools will be aimed toward building each school’s capacity to sustain Safe Routes to School and institutionalize the Safe Routes to School culture.
The Center will reinforce the connection between Safe Routes to School and ongoing initiatives in Vermont, such as Safe Streets or Fit and Healthy Kids, to increase physical activity, reduce emissions and make walking and bicycling a safe and convenient travel option. The Center will work with programs in other agencies like the Department of Education and the Department of Health, as well as the Regional Planning Commissions and initiatives to connect schools with complementary programs.
Safe Routes to School news around the country keeps growing! Updated regularly, see our new Safe Routes to School in the News media center for the latest in local, state, and national SRTS news.
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 500 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: