Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #87: May 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:
Use them to strengthen your message.
Three new research studies contain findings that support Safe Routes to School goals and programs that aim to improve public health and the built environment through physical activity such as bicycling and walking to school. Use this research and data to strengthen your message and to help you show the proven benefits of your program. The resources section of our website is updated regularly to provide our partners and stakeholders with new studies and research.
- Predictors of Children’s Active Commuting to School: An Observational Evaluation in Five US Communities | Journal of Physical Activity and Health
- The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2012 | Smart Growth America
- The Long-Term Returns of Obesity Prevention Policies | Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Every spring, the President and Congress start the months-long process of setting spending levels for federal agencies and programs. In this month’s federal policy blog, learn more about proposed 2014 spending levels for transportation and health programs that affect Safe Routes to School. There is also a short update on implementation of MAP-21, including two state-level successes in Idaho and Michigan!
Finally, we congratulate Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx for his nomination as the next Secretary of Transportation. We are hopeful his perspective as mayor and on what communities need to be vibrant and economically competitive will be helpful during implementation of MAP-21 and the next transportation bill. The Senate still has to approve the nomination before Foxx will take office, which could take a few months yet, and until then Secretary LaHood remains at the head of the agency.
A new report by travel behavior analyst Nancy McGuckin and the Safe Routes Partnership reveals some impressive trends in how students are traveling to school around the state of California. Theaccompanying policy brief also shows that safety for children traveling on California's streets has steadily improved since 2001. Safe Routes to School is clearly getting kids moving and keeping them safe in California. Thanks to Active Living Research for generously supporting the research which funded the report!
+ Read Travel to School in California: Key Findings from the National Household Travel Survey
The Safe Routes to School National Conference will be held in Sacramento, CA from August 13-15, 2013 and is the premier Safe Routes to School event for everyone seeking to improve walking and bicycling for school aged children. Organizers are creating an action-packed program offering 60 sessions including plenaries, breakouts, implementation workshops, and mind mixers, as well as seven tours of local model projects. Registration will launch on May 8th with “early bird” registration fees available through June 28th. The conference registration deadline is July 23rd. Register atwww.saferoutesconference.org.
The Safe Routes Partnership also encourages you to come to Sacramento a day early to attend our free Annual Meeting which will take place on Monday, August 12 from 1-5 PM, followed by a Safe Routes Social from 5-6 PM. Those of you from California can also sign-up for an Advocacy Day on the afternoon of Thursday, August 15 right after the conference ends. Online registration for the conference, our Annual Meeting and the California Advocacy Day will launch in May.
May is National Bike Month, which means there are lots of reasons for kids and adults to get motivated to add physical activity into their daily lives through bicycling to school and around the community. Here are three important reasons to celebrate National Bike to School Day this year on May 8!
- Promoting Safety: Encouraging walking and bicycling to school can help build support for infrastructure improvements in the broader community. Download a walkability checklist to evaluate how to improve safety at your school.
- Creating Healthier Habits: Walking and bicycling to school helps kids and adults get daily physical activity that improves heath. Find tips on creating a bicycle and pedestrian safety curriculum at your school.
- It’s Fun! Walking school buses and bike trains are fun ways to interact with other families and strengthen community connections. Organize or join a bike train for kids and families at your school.
Our monthly technical assistance webinar series features expert speakers, a chat feature for participants, and archived downloadable post-webinar recordings. Join us for these upcoming webinars:
Maximizing District-Wide Impact of Safe Routes to School: Educating Principals and School Boards
May 16th, 2013 @ 2pm Eastern – Register here
Join us for this hour-long webinar where we’ll explore strategies that principals and school boards are currently employing to encourage more walking and bicycling to school.
Maximizing City Involvement in Safe Routes to School: Educating Municipal Transportation Departments and Practitioners
June 20th, 2013 @ 2pm Eastern – Register here
We’ll discuss how Safe Routes to School advocates can support municipal transportation departments and practitioners in identifying ways to safely get children active commuting to school.
The state network welcomes new advocacy organizers in FL and NJ
Welcome aboard to Heather Murphy (our Florida advocacy organizer, who started April 22nd) and Nora Shepard (our New Jersey advocacy organizer, who will officially join us on May 13th). We are fortunate to have such a robust network of passionate and qualified partners to draw from, enabling a seamless transition in our state advocacy team. We look forward to keeping the momentum going and growing in Florida and New Jersey!
Take a look at our blogs to learn more about Heather (through her blog) and Nora (in Laura Torchio's blog on "Passing the Torch") and visit our state pages to learn more about our full seven state network (CA, FL, MS, NC, NJ, OH, TN).
Growing body of research touts health benefits of active transportation
As we end “Public Health Month” and enter “Bike Month,” we continue to highlight the growing body of research and news that touts the health benefits of active transportation. Marty Martinez, Bay Area policy manager, blogged about a recent studythat looked at how ongoing efforts in the San Francisco Bay Area to reduce reliance on automobiles would produce beneficial side effects for the region’s public health. According to this study, 99 percent of the public health benefits are attributable to increased physical activity levels rather than to decreased air pollution. This type of research is shaping development of regional planning documents, and ultimately leading to improvements in communities across the country.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration and the West Virginia Division of Highways, in January 2013 presented $824,800 in federal funds for seven projects as part of the 2012 Safe Routes to School Grant Program.
Safe Routes to School Projects in West Virginia include upgrading current school crossing systems, improving or creating ADA compliant sidewalks in the area of the schools, or creating safer access to a school's walking path and playground equipment.
Senate Bill 158 passed unanimously in the West Virginia Senate on March 26, 2013. Previous attempts last year at passing a Complete Streets bill had failed to make it this far because some lawmakers feared that the bill would mandate projects. The current version of the bill does not mandate, but suggests and encourages municipalities to adopt an approach to future transportation designs and planning that would take pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation into account. The bill would also create a 16-member Complete Streets Advisory Board that would make recommendations for design guidance and to track Complete Streets implementation for state transportation officials. + Read more.
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