Archive for February, 2008

Feb 13 2008

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Safe Routes to School E-News: February 2008

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Issue #26: February 2008
   

Safe Routes to School E-News    

“Changing the habits of an entire generation”

Safe Routes to School E-News is a monthly email newsletter published by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a growing network of more than 300 organizations working to advance the Safe Routes to School National movement. Please forward it to anyone you think might be interested by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.

Please forward Safe Routes to School E-News to others who may be interested!

In this issue:

 


1. Update on New SRTS State Coordinators Throughout the Country

3 states release application guidelines tooMore states have advanced their Safe Routes to School programs by hiring full-time Department of Transportation (DOT) SRTS Coordinators, a requirement of the program stated in section 1404 of SAFETEA-LU. Just last month, Washington, DC announced the hiring of their DOT SRTS Coordinator, Jennifer Hefferan. In December 2007, Virginia filled their DOT SRTS Coordinator position with Sarah Weisiger, and in October 2007, Angela Olson was named the DOT SRTS Coordinator in South Dakota.

The following state’s full-time SRTS Coordinators recently moved on to pursue other endeavors, and interim SRTS Coordinators (listed in parenthesis) are currently in place as the state DOTs search for someone to fill the position on a full-time basis: Georgia (Amy Goodwin), Kentucky (Shane Tucker), Kansas (Greg Wyatt), Maine (Dan Stewart), Michigan (Bryan Armstrong), South Dakota (Angela Olson) and Vermont (Not yet named). The SRTSNP will continue to work with advocates and DOTs to help get these Coordinators hired.

Additionally, 3 states have released application guidelines since the Safe Routes to School: 2007 State of the States Report was released in October 2007 – New York, North Carolina and Oklahoma. The remaining states that have not yet released application guidelines are Alabama, Alaska, Washington, DC, Georgia and North Dakota. However, the RFP for Washington, DC will go out in February 2008, and the Georgia non-infrastructure statewide contract RFP will come out in April 2008. To date, 46 states have already released calls for applications, indicating a strong and quick start for the new federal SRTS program.

 


2. Federal Advisory Committee Releases Transportation Tomorrow Report

On the Future of Federal Transportation Spending in AmericaAs part of the $286.5 billion SAFETEA-LU federal transportation bill, Congress asked for the formation of a National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission to develop recommendations for the reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU. The 12-person Committee was charged with analyzing current and future needs for transportation; evaluating short term and long terms funding sources for the Highway Trust Fund; and framing policy recommendations for 15, 30 and 50 years.

The Commission included 12 individuals from throughout the Country, met for two years, and released its Transportation Tomorrow report in January 2008. Unfortunately, Safe Routes to School was not mentioned once, and walking and bicycling were generally left out of the 258 page document.

Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership says, “With nearly 10 percent of trips in the United States already being on foot or by bicycle, it’s alarming that non-motorized modes were completely ignored in the Transportation Tomorrow report. We’re going to have to make our case directly to Congress and show how Safe Routes to School improves public health, decreases traffic congestion, increases safety, and is an important part of the national transportation agenda. Any discussion about ‘Transportation Tomorrow’ should absolutely include a focus on today’s children and how they travel to and from school. Many studies have shown how the built environment affects public health, physical activity and obesity, so its surprising that this report failed to make that important connection.”

The report called for a “new authorization” of the next transportation bill, urging Congress to do away with the current structure and to collapse 108 current programs (including Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, Recreational Trails, CMAQ, etc) into 10 broad categories. It also called for performance-based decision making for investments, raising the gas tax by 25-40 cents/gallon, and for consideration of additional funding techniques such as measurement of VMT, congestion pricing, and public-private partnerships.

 


3. National Safe Routes to School Task Force Holds Fifth Meeting

Draft Report to Congress will be Finalized in March 2008On January 23 and 24, the National Safe Routes to School Task Force, which was appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, met in Phoenix, Arizona to continue work on a report which will make recommendations for a national strategy for advancing SRTS in the US.

The 17-member Task Force includes representatives from throughout the nation who are involved in various aspects of SRTS programs. Deb Hubsmith represents the SRTS National Partnership on the Task Force and states, “At our next meeting in March, we’re expected to finalize the text for the SRTS national strategy report. We hope to present a final document to FHWA by this summer, but we’re told that it could take three to six months after our work is completed before the report will be officially released.”

At the meeting in Phoenix, several important policy issues were discussed including: continuing the policy of 100% funding by federal grants, but permitting additional contributions; a recommendation that school siting issues be further addressed by requesting that the U.S. DOT collaborate with other federal agencies, including but not limited to the EPA, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and other appropriate stakeholders, to address this issue; permitting SRTS funds for creating safe routes to bus stops in rural areas; and including a recommendation that all transportation projects should include the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians in their planning, design, construction and maintenance, as many of these projects affect school transportation. The report further recommends an increase in funding for Safe Routes to School, detailing that only six percent of schools in the U.S. will be served by the SAFETEA-LU SRTS funds, and the funds available for those schools will not be enough to complete most of their needed SRTS projects and programs. The report will also include a recommendation that FHWA submit periodic reports to Congress on strategies for and the implementation of SRTS in the future; the report will not recommend retaining or creating a new SRTS Task Force “to study and develop a strategy for advancing safe routes to schools programs nationwide” as was provided in the SAFETEA-LU legislation. The current National SRTS Task Force will sunset after this report is submitted to the Secretary of the US DOT.

 


4. 40 Organizations Seek Revisions in CA School Siting

The Ad-Hoc Coalition for Healthy School Siting sends letter to CA Department of EducationIn August of 2007 the SRTS California State Network formed The Ad-Hoc Coalition for Healthy School Siting, made up of a group of organizations – including Center for Cities & Schools; Cities Counties Schools Partnership; Local Government Commission; Prevention Institute; the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and Strategic Alliance. Over the past several months, this group spearheaded an effort to research and write a letter to the California Department of Education, urging them to revise current regulatory requirements with respect to school siting while they are undergoing their current document revisions. More than forty California-based organizations signed on in support of the letter, which outlines the effects of school siting on students’ learning environments, community design, sprawl and the preservation of agricultural lands, and the ability for children to walk and bicycle to schools. Click here to view a copy of this letter and see the signers which include the American Academy of Pediatrics (California Chapter 1), California Conference of Local Health Officers, California Medical Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and more.

The next step in this process is to set up a meeting with the person at the California Department of Education who is leading the revisions of the regulatory requirements to discuss the Ad-Hoc Coalition’s suggestions for change.

This issue of poor school siting is prevalent all over the country, not just in California. The location of a school has a tremendous impact on students, teachers, families, neighborhoods, and the learning environment, yet new schools are often sited where they do not fully support healthy children and communities. Research has shown that the average distance between where children live and where they attend school has increased, which has contributed to the drastic decline seen in walking and bicycling to school. Nationally, only about 35 percent of students live within two miles of a school – down from 50 percent in 1970. Studies show that, in some areas, up to 25 percent of morning rush hour traffic is from parents driving children to schools.

The CA SRTS State Network hopes not only that they will be able to affect change in California in school siting, but that the process they have initiated can be replicated in other states to bring about a change for healthy school siting across the country.

If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Brooke Driesse.

 


5. New Federal Energy Law Includes Provisions on School Siting & Transportation

Healthy High-Performance Schools is a goalPresident Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 on Wednesday, December 19, 2007, which includes a Subtitle E-Healthy High-Performance Schools. In the law, the U.S. EPA is directed within 18 months to “…issue voluntary school site selection guidelines that account for-

   

  1. the special vulnerability of children to hazardous substances or pollution exposures in any case in which the potential for contamination at a potential school site exists;
  2. modes of transportation available to students and staff;
  3. the efficient use of energy; and
  4. the potential use of a school at the site as an emergency shelter.”

 

  

  Clearly the mandate to address “modes of transportation available” is of direct interest to the SRTS movement. There is no designated lead office at EPA for the legislation at this time, and any work is likely to be a collaborative effort among several EPA offices. It should be noted that the new provisions do not come with appropriated funds or staff to carry out any of the work authorized or required. This means that for EPA to complete the work would require shifting resources from other work during a time when its overall budget is shrinking.

  It is too early to answer the many questions about if, where and how these provisions might be addressed within EPA, but the new law represents a great opportunity for more and better information regarding how the siting of schools influences whether children (and school staff) have the choice to walk or bicycle.

 


6. Walking and Bicycling to School and the Heavy Backpack

SRTSNP compiles a list of possible solutionsMany students are finding that even if they want to walk or bicycle to school, it is a difficult undertaking with the weight of their backpacks. This is especially relevant for students at the middle school and high school levels, who tend to bring home a greater number of heavy books, musical instruments or projects each day. Visit the Partnership’s website to read some suggested solutions.

 


7. SRTS National Partnership’s State Network Project Update

Network Project completes first year, Texas gets new Network OrganizerThe SRTS State Network Project is completing its first year in 10 states, and we now have more than 170 partner agencies and organizations, representing public health, transportation, smart growth, education, environment, and elected officials and individuals. Networks have adopted State Action Plans and have established Action Teams that are working on specific policy issues such as working with DOTs to get application guidelines released, working with Departments of Education on School Siting, and working with DOTs on Complete Streets. The State Networks are now beginning direct SRTS program work with one low-income school in each state by building local leadership and providing technical assistance and resources, including developing a sustainability plan for the school’s SRTS program.

A new SRTS Network Project Organizer is on board in Texas. The Texas Transportation Institute, a project of Texas A&M University, will be ramping up quickly, and will work to recruit partners from various groups throughout the state. The Texas Active Living Network and Texas Action for Healthy Kids Alliance are interested in collaborating with the Network Project. TTI will spend the first two months convening Network meetings and developing a Texas SRTS State Action Plan.

For more information about the SRTS State Network Project, and to learn about SRTS program activities in your state, go your state’s page at saferoutespartnership.org.

 


8. Ohio Department of Transportation Awards SRTS Funds

More than $4 million in funding was awarded to 107 communitiesThe Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has awarded more than $4 million in funding to 107 Ohio communities interested in creating and encouraging Safe Routes to School in their communities. Applications came from municipalities, school districts, hospitals and health departments around the state.

$2.6 million was awarded to 15 communities for infrastructure projects. These projects will increase safety by improving pedestrian crossing signals, completing sidewalks, building small pedestrian bridges and improving signage.

ODOT also awarded $1.2 million to 87 communities for School Travel Plan (STP) development, and $167,000 to five communities for non-infrastructure projects. These projects will improve the safety around schools by developing educational materials, providing encouragement programs, and helping municipalities with enforcement programs.

ODOT has learned many lessons from this first funding round and wants to continue to develop a fair, accessible program. They plan to use the suggestions they received from applicants and their steering committee members to update the program policies and procedures over the next few months. When this process is complete, the next round of funding applications will be released. For more program information, please visit the Ohio SRTS website or contact Julie Walcoff, the Department’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator.

 


9. Florida’s DOT Awards $17.6 Million in SRTS Funds

177 projects were selected with 163 of those as infrastructure projectsThe Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) recently awarded $17.6 million for Safe Routes to School projects throughout its seven Districts. The first call for applications included all anticipated funding through 2009, to meet the requirements of Florida’s Five-Year Work Program.

Of the 177 projects selected, 163 were for infrastructure, including many sidewalk and traffic engineering projects. One District purchased traffic-engineering equipment to be installed before the school year’s end. Florida opened up its second Call for Applications in November, for 2010 infrastructure projects. Although this is beyond the end of SAFETEA-LU, FDOT will continue to issue calls for applications so projects from the Five-Year Work Program can be implemented quickly when federal funding is renewed.

To expedite approval and implementation of non-infrastructure programs, Florida has simplified the process. Applicants send completed Non-Infrastructure Information Forms to the Districts. They consult with the State SRTS Coordinator, and work with candidates to develop viable programs. Some awarded programs include Train the Trainer courses for the Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program and in-school education programs. Statewide SRTS funds were used to update the Florida School Crossing Guard curriculum and website. For more program information, please visit the Florida SRTS website or contact Pat Pieratte, the Department’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator.

 


10. SRTS News Throughout the Country

Local and state SRTS program news linksSafe Routes to School news around the country keeps growing! Updated regularly, see our new SRTS in the News media center for the latest in local, state, and national SRTS news.

Also, on February 10, 2008 the New York Times published an article titled “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You,” featuring how people in suburbs are working to reduce their carbon footprint. Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership was cited regarding walking and bicycling to schools. Read the article here.


Help Grow the Partnership!

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Help Grow the Partnership!Joining the Partnership is free. Please encourage other organizations, schools, businesses, and government agencies to join the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a network of more than 300 organizations and agencies.

Funding for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has been generously provided by the Bikes Belong Coalition, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Harvest Foundation, and partner affiliates.

 

Please Contact:    

Deb Hubsmith, Director
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
phone: (415) 454-7430

 

 

 

 

Safe Routes to School National Partnership
P.O. Box 663 · Fairfax, CA · 94978
 Help Grow the Partnership!

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Feb 11 2008

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Yukon BMX Parents and Riders Association—Track and Trail Enhancements

Filed under Archives

Yukon BMX Parents and Riders AssociationTrack and Trail Enhancements
A $5,000 grant will support the Yukon BMX Parents and Riders Association, in Yukon, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, as they work to resurface their track and build a mountain bike trail surrounding the BMX facility. These two improvements will help Yukon BMX support a growing number of young riders during peak times, and the singletrack trail will give kids who are interested in bicycling, but not necessarily in BMX, the chance to ride with their friends in a safe, off-road setting. This timely grant comes on the heels of Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett’s challenge to his constituents to collectively lose one million pounds through healthy eating and active living. More about Yukon BMX. . . http://www.yukonbmx.com/

___________

Robert Ping
State Network Manager
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
___________

503.289.0441
robert@saferoutespartnership.org
http://www.saferoutespartnership.org
8102 N Dwight Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97203

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