March 2014

Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #97: March 2014

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.

The Safe Routes Partnership is on Facebook and Twitter. Join us!

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In this issue:

  1. Bridging the Gap Study Shows Safe Routes to School Participation Increasing
  2. Build your own District Safe Routes to School Policy
  3. Good News on Deb Hubsmith and the Safe Routes Partnership’s Direction
  4. How to Help Your Active School Thrive
  5. MAP-21 Reauthorization Kicks Into High Gear… Maybe
  6. Register for Our Next Free Webinar: Build Your Own District Policy
  7. Safe Routes Partnership Welcomes New Staff
  8. Bicycle Safety Education: Beyond the Bike Rodeo
  9. State and Regional Network Update
  10. Highlighted Blogs

1. Bridging the Gap Study Shows Safe Routes to School Participation Increasing 

Bridging the Gap just released a new research brief that examines U.S. elementary school administrators’ reports of participation in Safe Routes to School initiatives and estimated rates of students’ walking or biking to school. Researchers found that participation in Safe Routes to School programs grew steadily over the past seven years in elementary schools nationwide and that students’ active travel was significantly higher in schools participating in Safe Route to School initiatives.  The brief also highlights that, not surprisingly, the highest prevalence of Safe Routes programs is in western states and the lowest is in southern states. They concluded that increased support for Safe Routes to School through sufficient financial investment, technical assistance programs and strategies, and supportive policies may help to increase rates of active travel at schools where walking and biking is rare as well as at schools already participating in Safe Routes to School. View the research brief here.

Bridging the Gap is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded nationally recognized research program dedicated to improving the understanding of how policies and environmental factors influence diet, physical activity and obesity among youth, as well as youth tobacco use. We are pleased that their research brief is further evidence of Safe Routes to School’s effectiveness. You can find for additional research relevant to our movement here.

2. Build your own District Safe Routes to School Policy 

Last fall, in the rural community of Winton, California, there was lot of excitement building around walking, bicycling and Safe Routes to School. Winton is a small town with two schools less than two miles apart from each other, and parents and community members had been frustrated about the congestion that was created when schools released students at the end of the day. Parents wanted to be able to walk or bicycle to school with their children, but couldn’t because of a lack of sidewalks and infrastructure. The district needed a solution. 

“We needed a way to promote safety in the community and build awareness and support for walking and bicycling to school,” explained Kristi Boesch, an administrator on special assignment working for the Winton school district.

Stephanie Nathan, a supervising health educator working for CA4Health, realized it was a great opportunity to use the build-your-own school district policy tool released by Safe Routes Partnership and ChangeLab Solutions. The tool walks users through a series of policy options to help you build your own customized Safe Routes to School policy. Read more about Winton’s success creating a district policy here.

3. Good News on Deb Hubsmith and the Safe Routes Partnership's Direction

After spending 103 days receiving and recovering from chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at Kaiser Permanente in San Rafael, California, Deb, our founder, is in remission and on her way to Stanford's Cancer Center for a bone marrow transplant which will lead to her being cured. Deb has a new website at with health updates, a personal blog, information about AML and how to give blood and/or stem cells, and details on other ways to help Deb. Deb has amazing gratitude for all of the cards, love, good energy and prayers that have been sent her way since her diagnosis. Keep it coming! Now you can follow her progress regularly and learn more at

During Deb’s medical leave in 2014, she will serve on the board and help chart the course of the Safe Routes Partnership as we commence operations as an independent 501c3 public charity on April 1, 2014. Our special thanks go to PeopleForBikes, which has generously supported the growth and building of the Safe Routes Partnership and worked closely with us in our transition to independence

The year will be busy as our staff focuses on the top priorities for 2014, including:

  • Advancing our federal policy platform to protect and expand Safe Routes to School, walking and bicycling for the reauthorization of MAP-21
  • Winning state and local campaigns to increase access to parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and bike paths
  • Increasing physical activity before, during and after school through Fire Up Your Feet
  • Building the capacity of parents and advocates to work with cities and schools to achieve healthier communities

Current board chair and long-time steering committee chair Risa Wilkerson will take on an additional role as strategic advisor to lead the development of our new board and to pursue new funding opportunities. We look forward to working with all of you, and sharing our collective successes, to accelerate our momentum in creating healthy, active communities.

4. How to Help Your Active School Thrive

Active schools thrive when there is a web of support that connects students, parents, teachers and administrators. Fire Up Your Feet brings the school community together to be active, track physical activity and earn awards that benefit the school.

Spark change. People are more likely to try something new if they see their friends and neighbors doing it. Just a few enthusiastic families or teachers can bring great visibility to the benefits of physical activity before, during, and after school. 

Add value to your ongoing efforts. Schools with existing Safe Routes to School or walking school bus programs are within easy reach of Fire Up Your Feet success. All it takes is tracking activity once a week for a chance to earn awards of up to $1,000 to make your wellness programs even stronger.

The Fire Up Your Feet Spring Challenge kicks off in April and May in select states and regions. Check out our promotional resources to share information about Fire Up Your Feet with schools in your district or community. If your school is not in a Fire Up Your Feet region, you can use our programmatic resources to help you increase physical activity or to do a healthy fundraiser centered around physical activity.

5. The Latest from Capitol Hill

MAP-21 Reauthorization Kicks into High Gear…Maybe 

With the Highway Trust Fund now likely to run out of funding in August, pressure has increased on Congress and the Administration to find a solution quickly.  President Obama and Rep. Dave Camp both announced new plans to use proceeds from corporate tax reform to fund transportation, and the chairs of the House and Senate transportation committees announced a fast-track towards considering the reauthorization of MAP-21 this spring and summer.  Learn more in our federal policy blog about what the next few months hold for federal transportation policy. 

You can help influence that transportation policy by contacting your members of Congress in support of the Safe Streets Act, which would ensure the use of Complete Streets principles and policies in all federally-funded transportation projects.  Finally, welcome to our new Federal Policy Manager, Matthew Colvin, who will be working with Deputy Director Margo Pedroso on Capitol Hill. 

6. Register for Our Next Free Webinar

Our monthly technical assistance webinar series features expert speakers, a chat feature for participants, and archived downloadable post-webinar recordings. Join us for our next webinar: 

Build Your Own School District Policy to Advance Safe Routes to School
March 20th, 2014 at 2pm Eastern - Register here

Join our presenters as we discuss the influence of district policies on walking and bicycling to school. You’ll learn about various policy opportunities at the district level, and be introduced to a new, free online workbook for building and customizing their own policies.

7. Safe Routes Partnership Welcomes New Staff

We are pleased to welcome Carrie Turner as our Southern States Coordinator. Carrie will work with the state advocacy organizers maximize the effectiveness of the state network project in four southern states (Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee), and facilitate opportunities for multi-state collaboration leading to regional policy victories, increasing the profile of the Safe Routes Partnership in southern states and cultivating new funding partners.

We’re also happy to welcome Matthew Colvin as our Federal Policy Manager. Matthew will lead the Safe Routes Partnership’s legislative strategy on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies, conducts grassroots lobbying, policy research and analysis to advance the Safe Routes to School national movement. 

8. Bicycle Safety Education: Beyond the Bike Rodeo

Bicycle safety education has developed into its own field over the past decade with a variety of implementation options depending primarily on the amount of time and resources available. Choosing the right curriculum is not easy, and as educators, we must make informed compromises. Not sure where to start? Here are two integral resources when considering what to teach during valuable class time.

First, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Curricula Guide, released in 2011, catalogs the curricula available throughout the country. This resource is pure gold for the educator who has not yet chosen a curriculum for the classroom and its individual constraints.

Second, and perhaps most relevant, is a new study that was released by National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration entitled “Bicycle Safety Education for Children From a Developmental and Learning Perspective”  that closely analyzes bicycle education content and its actual effect on student behavior. 

Ready for more? Keep reading about tips for choosing the right bicycle safety education program for your community.

9. Regional and State Network Update

State Network Update

In Mississippi the Jackson Public School district is prioritizing the health of their children by adopting a new Shared Use policy for the entire district. Jay Thompson, Mississippi State Advocacy Organizer, has been working with the school district to educate them about the importance of opening up their facilities to community use during non-school hours. Jay encouraged and helped the school district secure a grant from Kaboom! for a $140,000 to improve playgrounds and provide safety measures to make this policy successful. Children from all over Jackson, Mississippi's largest city and school district, will have more access to safe places to play and be physically active. 

Regional Network Update

Later this month, Metro, the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for the greater Portland metro area, will begin to seek comments on its new regional Active Transportation Plan (ATP). Since October 2013, a regional and diverse work group of staff from jurisdictions and agencies and advocates, including the Safe Routes Partnership, has provided input to the ATP. The draft ATP has been refined before being released for greater community stakeholder input. Although other MPOs around the country have long-range plans that include active transportation components, Metro’s regional ATP is the first of its kind in the nation, and may set the stage for other MPOs to prioritize active transportation policies, projects and funding. More details here. 

10. Highlighted Blogs 

Shared Use and the Changing Role of Hospitals: Spotlight on Ohio (Mikaela Randolph)

Exciting Public Private Partnership in Los Angeles County to Support Safe Routes to School Funding (Jessica Meaney)

For more information, contact:

Margaux Mennesson, Communications Manager
Safe Routes Partnership