By Yokota Fritz
More than 4,000 programs across the U.S. have received Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Federal funds to improve sidewalks, crosswalks, signage and other infrastructure in the vicinity of schools, as well as provide education programs to teach children and motorists about safe walking and bicycling, and encouraging walking and bicycling to school once the environment is made safe. States' Departments of Transportation have awarded more than 80 percent of available Safe Routes to School Federal funds after only three years of the start of the Federal initiative.
"This is impressive progress for such a new program," said Lauren Marchetti, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. "This reflects how the Safe Routes to School program touches so many of the things people care about these days — increasing physical activity among children, reducing congestion and improving air quality around schools, improving safety and creating a sense of community."
Safe Routes to School funding was made available through the transportation legislation (SAFETEA-LU), passed in 2005. Funding is distributed to individual states by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration. State DOTs then award the funds to local communities. Each state works within its own guidelines, and within Federal rules, to award funds in a competitive process — with some states receiving hundreds of applications for a limited amount of available funds.
The goals of the Safe Routes to School Federal program are to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; to make the trip to school safer and more appealing; and to facilitate planning, development and implementation of projects that will improve safety, and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.
"The early success of Safe Routes to School clearly shows a demand for transportation choices that go beyond the automobile," said James L. Oberstar, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. "This program will shape the habits of an entire generation by providing transportation options that are safe, environmentally sound, and healthy."
By Yokota Fritz
To better serve families and communities throughout the state, Bicycle Colorado's education team is translating key Safe Routes to School materials into Spanish. More than 70,000 school-age students speak primarily Spanish in Colorado, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Providing our handouts and education materials in both English and Spanish allows us to effectively reach out to more students and families within our communities with bicycle and pedestrian safety messages," said Maggie Thompson, Bicycle Colorado education director.
Bicycle Colorado wants all bicyclists in the state to have access to safety information and the rules of the road. After all, when more people ride bikes more often, everyone benefits.
By Yokota Fritz
Late last week Governor Schwarzenegger signed CA AB57 Safe Routes to School!
Thank you to those who spread the word for reaching out to the Governor in support of this bill, which provides a framework for future funding and protects existing California SR2S funds.
$52 million is currently available for California State Legislated Safe Routes to School (SR2S) Funds. Application Deadline is November 16, 2007
Please spread the word that funds are available for State Legislated Safe Routes to School (SR2S) projects. These funds are not to be confused with Federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funds associated with SAFETEA-LU. Applications must be for capital projects such as sidewalks, pathways, bike lanes, traffic calming, etc. (with up to 10% available for non-infrastructure activities such as education, encouragement and enforcement). Only cities and counties are eligible to compete for these funds; please spread the word to Public Works Officials.
Approximately $52 million is available for two fiscal years worth of projects (06-07 and 07-08). The deadline for applications is Friday, November 16, 2007. Start preparing your grant applications now!
By Yokota Fritz
Thirteen states with active Safe Routes to School (SR2S) programs currently are accepting applications to fund local "Safe Routes" programs. If you're actively involved in bicycling advocacy in California, Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, West Viriginia or Delaware, contact your state Safe Routes to School coordinator and find out how your local cycling advocacy efforts can receive federal funds.
The purpose of the federally funded Safe Routes to School program is to improve walking and bicycling access for children to schools. For those lobbying local governments for improved facilities only to be rebuffed by claims that funding is not available, SR2S may be a source of funding.
Federal law mandates that between 10% and 30% of Safe Routes spending must be for 'non-infrastructure' projects. Possible uses for this funding includes cycling safety education for students and teachers, and "Bike To School" type promotion efforts. I've seen SR2S funds used to pay for teacher in-service training, to purchase incentives for children to ride their bikes to school, and to pay LCIs for their time in teaching school staff and children.
In some states, cycling advocacy groups and private organizations can apply and have received funding. If you have a relationship with a local government, it can be helpful to have them submit your proposal on your behalf.
Even if your state is not actively accepting grant applications, get your thinking caps on to think of innovative and effective programs to get children to walk and bike to school. Let me know if you've been involved in the Safe Routes grant process; I may want to highlight what you've done.
Federal Safe Routes funding 80% distributed
We got some of those funds :-)
Bicycle education material in Spanish
Will it be available on line (like LIB stuff is, on PDF)?
I don't think their English language material is available online, so probably not. It's a good suggestion, though.
...no doubt about it...this is a worthwhile venture from both an educational standpoint & the simple concept of reaching out to the latin community...
(we've had people asking for it and I think it might be in the works here.)
California Safe Routes becomes law
The idea that 90 percent should go to engineering solutions is bass-ackward, and it reflects the desire to segregate bikes, not welcome them. The SR2S program emphasizes the first three Es: education, events, and enforcement, with engineering as a final resort. We have a fine system of public rights-of-way in this country, they've just been tyrranized by automobiles.
Where I live, we have a local push to build a $500,000 bike path, which would force riders off of a perfectly good, low-traffic route so that people who "might ride, if we had a path" can dust off their bikes and hurt their delicate butts. If that half-million dollars were directed toward educating the public about cyclists' right to the road, and enforcing the rules for drivers who won't learn, we'd have a better situation all around, instead of a single bike path.
Still, I'm sure that 10 percent is a big pile of money, and I hope it will go a long way toward educating California's auto-addicted masses. Happy Trails, Ron Georg Moab
Hi Ron, and thanks for the comments.
The SR2S program with the highest participation in the nation is Longmont, Colorado, with 96%(!!!) of students at Columbine Elementary School walking or biking to school on the designated "Safe Routes" days. Longmont's is also the least expensive SR2S program in the state of Colorado. While other locations requested millions for facility improvements, Longmont requested (and received) a few tens of thousands for education and encouragent.
On non "Safe Routes" days, an average of 70% walk/bike now. This is a huge increase from only a handful of students who walked/biked just three years ago when we started the program. Nearly 200 cars lined up around the block and double parked to drop students off -- these days, there are only a handful of cars at that school.
Volunteers now hand out fliers to the holdouts who continue to drive. Parents who formerly drove their kids to school are now rabid supporters of SR2S in their neighborhood. They walk with their children to school, meet their neighbors, make new friends, and connect in ways they didn't imagine possible.
Hey, how about $$ for bike cops to escort kids to skool? Naaaaaaaaaaah.
Submit your Safe Routes grant proposals