Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Releases Regional School Travel Data

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) released regional school travel data last week, after a request from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership was fielded for an analysis of the 2008-2009 Household Travel Survey.

The Household Travel Survey, conducted by the Transportation Planning Board of the Metropolitan Washington council of Governments collects information about daily trips from residents of the Washington region in order to assess regional travel demands, such as typical weekday travel behavior within the region. The 2008-2009 school travel data provided by MWCOG provides an excellent benchmark for measuring the success of the Safe Routes to School movement in the region, as it corresponds closely with the creation of the national Safe Routes to School program as well as a number of local advocacy movements.

A couple of quick highlights from MWCOG’s data:

Reported Usual Mode to Elementary School by Jurisdiction

Private Auto Transit Taxi/Limo Walk Bike School Bus
Alexandria 62.4% 6.1% 0.0% 21.6% 0.0% 9.9%
Arlington County 45.9% 0.0% 0.0% 19.7% 2.0% 32.5%
Charles County 31.2% 0.0% 0.0% 3.7% 0.0% 65.1%
District of Columbia 52.3% 6.2% 0.0% 27.6% 5.2% 8.6%
Fairfax County/Cities 33.2% 0.7% 0.0% 15.7% 0.7% 49.7%
Frederick County 43.5% 0.0% 0.0% 10.7% 0.0% 45.8%
Loudoun County 37.7% 0.0% 0.0% 8.5% 0.0% 53.9%
Montgomery County 50.4% 3.0% 0.0% 20.1% 0.0% 26.5%
Prince George’s County 46.3% 1.7% 0.0% 16.1% 0.0% 35.9%
Prince William County/Cities 30.4% 0.0% 0.0% 14.1% 0.0% 55.5%
Total 42.0% 1.7% 0.0% 16.5% 0.6% 39.2%

Reported Usual Mode to Middle School by Jurisdiction

Private Auto Transit Taxi/Limo Walk Bike School Bus
Alexandria 16.3% 8.1% 0.0% 37.1% 0.0% 38.5%
Arlington County 29.9% 4.4% 0.0% 24.3% 0.0% 41.4%
Charles County 30.4% 3.5% 0.0% 9.3% 0.0% 56.9%
District of Columbia 39.5% 13.5% 0.0% 22.0% 3.5% 21.6%
Fairfax County/Cities 16.4% 2.4% 0.0% 15.5% 1.0% 64.6%
Frederick County 28.1% 3.3% 0.0% 3.7% 2.3% 62.7%
Loudoun County 13.8% 0.0% 0.0% 12.1% 0.0% 74.1%
Montgomery County 23.8% 3.3% 0.0% 6.0% 0.7% 66.2%
Prince George’s County 35.6% 2.4% 0.0% 16.5% 0.0% 45.5%
Prince William County/Cities 12.2% 0.0% 0.0% 22.2% 0.0% 65.6%
Total 25.0% 3.7% 0.0% 14.3% 0.8% 56.1%

According to the data, more than 80 percent of elementary school children and nearly 85 percent of middle school children were transported by vehicle in 2008-2009. Specifically noted in MWCOG’s analysis, is that middle school students are more than 15 percent more likely to be transported by bus than elementary school students, likely due to school placement for older students.

While only 1.2 percent of all elementary and middle school students report bicycling to and from school, it is worth repeating that this data represents numbers just after the creation of the national Safe Routes to School program and predates many local advocacy efforts. The true test of the program’s success will come when we measure the increase in walking and bicycling in the most recent Household Travel Survey.

Where do we go from here with this information? As previously noted, it provides us with a strong benchmark for measuring regional success moving forward. In the near term, we can use this information to prioritize our efforts regionally, as we now have a clearer picture of where opportunities for change exist. Furthermore, the degree to which children are driven or bussed to school in the region lends strong evidence to the argument that school travel is a major contributor to rush hour traffic and air quality impacts. We will work with MWCOG to further measure those impacts, providing us with a strong new tool in the region to advocate for increased walking and bicycling among elementary and middle school children.

We are grateful for the hard work staff at MWCOG invested into compiling and analyzing this data.

StreetsCamp Recap

StreetscampSafe Routes to School National Partnership staff Matthew Colvin and Keith Benjamin presented this week on regional success and equity in the Safe Routes to School Movement at Washington D.C.’s StreetsCamp, hosted by the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

The one day event, which focused on giving citizens the tools they need to become stronger advocates for safer streets, walking and bicycling infrastructure, and greater access to transit, was a great success, drawing about 100 attendees to Georgetown School of Continuing Studies in Washington, DC.

Greater Washington D.C. Policy Manager, Matthew Colvin, spoke with attendees about the Safe Routes to School movement and models for creating successful Safe Routes to School campaigns in the region, and Street Scale Campaign Manager Keith Benjamin shared stories from Baltimore, Missouri, Texas, and the Washington D.C. Region demonstrating how change is too-often needed and can be achieved through an intentional focus on equitable transportation infrastructure and programming.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership was proud to be a partner in this new conference, and we thank the Coalition for Smarter Growth and all of their other partners for bringing together this exciting new tool for the Washington D.C. region.

New Call for Virginia TAP Applications and Other Regional Announcements

In case you missed it, the Virginia Department of Transportation has announced a new round of TAP funding for FY2017 allocations. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2015. A number of workshops have been announced throughout Virginia. Unfortunately, the closest workshop to the Northern Virginia region will be in Culpeper. If you would be interested in attending a webinar hosted by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership on Virginia’s TAP program and how to apply for funding, please contact Matthew Colvin.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership will be presenting at both the Virginia and Maryland PTA Conferences. Dates for both are as follows:

Virginia PTA Conference – July 16th-18th, Richmond, VA
Maryland PTA Conference – July 17th-19th, Rockville, MD

And finally, we are very excited to share that the Safe Routes to School National Partnership recently held a meeting with a number of regionally focused organizations, including the Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA), the Institute for Public Health Innovation, Kaiser Permanente, Prince George’s Advocates for Community-based Transit, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, and a member of the College Park City Council to forge a new partnership for advocacy in the region. We are grateful for the time and effort of these organizations and look forward to catalyzing exciting change for the region with them in the future!

Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe Joins Walk-to-School Event During Weight of the State Conference

We had a great time last week at the 2015 Weight of the State Conference in Richmond, Virginia. Hundreds of attendees came together to focus on battling childhood obesity through changes in nutrition and physical activity, including a panel on Fire up your Feet, which featured panelists from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Let’s Move! Active Schools.

Fire up your Feet Event in Henrico CountyBut the highlight of the conference for us was joining Virginia’s First Lady, Dorothy McAuliffe along with hundreds of parents and students for a Walk-to-School event at Ridge Elementary School and Tuckahoe Middle School in Henrico County. Mrs. McAuliffe has made childhood nutrition her key focus as the First Lady of the Commonwealth, and her attendance highlighted the important role physical activity plays in childhood health.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, along with our partners on the Fire up your Feet panel, led a number of conference attendees to see the incredible momentum behind this event. Often times, the catalyst for change in our own communities comes from seeing first-hand the positive effects these movements are having on our neighboring communities. We hope our friends at the conference will take home the excitement of this event and push for healthier, active kids back home.

For more on the Walk-to-School event, check out this great video taken by WTVR.

Greater Washington Network Leads USDOT ‘Mayors Challenge’ Letter to Prince George’s County Executive Baker

Today, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership Greater Washington Regional Network led a letter to Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, encouraging him to sign up for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Safer People, Safer Streets challenge. The challenge is aimed at mayors and local elected leaders across the nation, and encourages jurisdictions to spend one year undertaking activities that will improve safety for all road users.

The letter was joined by the Washington Area Bicycle Association, the Institute for Public Health Innovation, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Prince George’s Advocates for Community-based Transit, and CASA de Maryland. Each of these groups work to advance health and safety in Prince George’s County. Check out the USDOT website to learn more about the Safer People, Safer Streets challenge.

VDOT Safe Routes to School APP Application Online. Deadline for Applications March 31st.

For our Northern Virginia partners,

You can now create or update your Activities and Program Plans (APPs) online if you are applying for the current round of non-infrastructure Safe Routes to School funding.  We know a number of jurisdictions are applying, but if we haven’t heard from you, please reach out so we can keep track of applicants from Northern Virginia. And good luck to all of those who are submitting applications!


Dear SRTS Partners,

I just wanted to send out a quick message to those of you who are creating or updating your APPs, to let you know how you can access the application.

As in years past, we are using an online grant application system, which you will use to submit your APP and create and submit your application. You can find the application here, and you can also download and review the application questions here.

As promised, you can access the system as of March 1st. The deadline for submitting your application is March 31st.  Please also remember that the first step in the process is the submission of you APP which, if it has not already been reviewed by VDOT, may take up to two weeks for approval before you can access the rest of the application.  To ensure you have plenty of time to complete the application, we recommend you submit your APP as soon as possible, but no later than March 13th.

If you have any questions about the application process, take a look at the information on our website, contact your Local Technical Assistance Coordinator (LTAC) or call the Program Hotline at 1-855-601-7787 for support.


Robert J. Williams

Virginia Safe Routes to School Coordinator

VDOT Announces New Funding for Safe Routes to School Non-Infrastructure Grants!

For our Northern Virginia partners,

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has announced new funding for Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure grants, which includes funding for staff coordinator positions (see page 7 of the guidelines). Details are below. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is available to provide advice and help with your applications if you decide to apply. We also would like to keep track of applicants from Northern Virginia so please let us know if your jurisdiction plans to apply.


Dear SRTS Partners,

If you read our December newsletter, you might have seen the teaser about our upcoming grant announcement.  Well, it is official, VDOT is kicking off the 2015 round of Non-Infrastructure Grants!

As in years past, the first step is the creation of an Activities and Program Plan (APP) to document your intentions for enabling and encouraging students to engage in active transportation as they travel to and from school.  You can find the guidelines for the creation of an APP, as well as a template and FAQ sheet, on the School Travel Plans and Grants page.  Previously submitted APPs must be updated to reflect your most recent activities.

We will once again make ourselves available to review your draft or final APP if you submit it to your LTAC via email by February 28th. The APPs will be reviewed as they are received, but a response will be provided within two weeks of the request.  Those received by February 28th will be guaranteed a response by March 11th, and those submitted well in advance of the deadline will likely have a quicker turnaround time.

Once your APP is complete, you will submit it through our online grant application system as the first step of your application.  Please note – we will open the application page for submissions on March 1stAll applications must be substantially complete and submitted by March 31st.

Important Dates:

  • February 28th: Deadline for optional review of APP
  • March 1st: Non-Infrastructure Grant application system opens for submissions
  • March 31st: Non-Infrastructure Grant application due

For more information about purpose of the grant, funding limits, eligible activities and other pertinent information, please consult the Virginia SRTS Program Guidelines.
For help getting started, or if you have any questions, please contact us at 1-855-601-7787 or email the LTAC for your region.

I look forward to working with you over the next few months to get your schools access to this great resource.


Rob Williams

Virginia Safe Routes to School Coordinator

An Update on our Regional Network Efforts in Greater Washington, DC

Dear Partners in the Greater Washington DC Region:

Happy New Year! We wanted to share an update regarding our staff working in the Greater Washington DC Region. We are excited to announce that Bill Sadler, our regional policy manager in the Greater Washington, DC region, will be transitioning back to Southern California to fill our vacant regional policy manager position there. We hired Bill in September 2014, and while he readily jumped in to the work in the DC region with both feet, part of him desired to work in Southern California. Given Bill’s strong skill set and transportation knowledge base, we have made the decision to transition him back to Southern California, effective February 2.

Meanwhile, this transition opened up an opportunity in the Greater Washington DC region and as circumstances would have it, our federal policy manager, Matt Colvin, was facing the end of funding for his current position. We felt that his strong policy experience would serve him well as regional policy manager and so he will take on the regional work, effective January 20.
Matt’s full bio can be viewed here.

We are very enthusiastic about the restructured regional policy team, and we are anticipating a busy but effective year in 2015!

Questions? Contact Stephanie Weber, Regional Network Manager, at or (757) 871-8639

Bill Sadler, or 847-732-4007
Matthew Colvin, or (202) 847-0240

Update to the Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan Released!

Screenshot 2014-11-20 11.32.37The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has updated its Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan for the National Capital Region. The plan is updated every four years with input from member jurisdictions in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and includes both funded and unfunded projects. Martin De Caro of WAMU crunched the numbers and found that the updated plan includes more than 500 new bicycle and pedestrian projects totaling over 2,000 new miles of bike lanes, 2,000 miles of shared use paths and hundreds of new bicycle routes through the year 2040.

The plan goes to the Transportation Planning Board for approval in December. Read the full regional plan here.

This comes on the heels of several local jurisdictions updating their pedestrian and bicycle plans, and rates of walking and bicycling up in most jurisdictions in the Greater Washington, D.C. region. In October, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a Countywide Bicycle Master Plan and the District of Columbia released the final version of the Move DC plan. The City of Alexandria is also in the midst of updating its Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. It remains to be seen if funding will become available to implement many of these improvements, but it is clear that there is a vision and momentum to make the Greater Washington, D.C. region a safer place to walk and bike!

Read the full regional plan here.