Step By Step: How to Start A Walking School Bus At Your School

Step by Step: How to Create a Walking School Bus At Your School is a new toolkit developed by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, with support from the California Department of Public Health, that offers step-by-step guidelines, tips, and tools for planning and implementing a walking school bus program. Learn how to recruit adult volunteers, develop routes, promote the program, and ensure students have fun and stay safe along the way, with downloadable templates and worksheets to give you a fast and easy start.

Job Announcement: Coalitions & Equity Manager

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Join the Safe Routes to School National Partnership – a fun, committed, flexible, and fast-paced nonprofit – and work with smart, passionate colleagues in advocating for active kids; healthy, equitable schools and neighborhoods; and the creation of strong, vibrant communities.

The Coalitions & Equity Manager’s primary responsibilities include leading and advocating around the equity-related components of our work in support of active communities. The Coalitions & Equity Manager plays a key role in a national initiative creating significant policy change at the state and regional level in support of increased physical activity.

In addition, the Coalitions & Equity Manager will provide technical assistance to local communities around the country that are seeking to improve their streets and neighborhood design, and will develop publications and other resources to assist with needs in the field around equity and active communities. The Coalitions & Equity Manager will also help the National Partnership to institutionalize its strong existing commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Other responsibilities will include developing relationships with equity and other partners; managing a national task force; running webinars; providing trainings and presentations; and creating resources.

Applications are due by October 23, 2016. You are encouraged to apply as soon as possible as there will be rolling interviews. See the full announcement and detailed job description here.

Time to the turn the tide of road traffic injuries and fatalities

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is shocked and saddened by the news that, across the nation, road traffic injuries and fatalities have increased significantly this year. In the first half of 2016, 19,100 people were killed by traffic crashes in the United States. This equals

  • Half the population of Manassas, VA; or
  • Every single person living in Hyattsville, MD; or
  • Full capacity of the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.

Bike PDH                                                                                         source: Bike PGH

In the Greater Washington DC region, our hearts are broken as we stand with the families and communities that have recently felt this too close to home, with several pedestrians involved in serious and fatal traffic crashes in the month of August alone.

It is critical that our communities provide all students with safe routes to walk and bike to school. This means creating safe environments and teaching safety skills to people who walk, bicycle, and drive.

The National Partnership, together with our community partners, recommends the following improvements and policy changes to increase safety for students walking and bicycling, both short- and long-term:

  • Sidewalks and bicycle paths that connect homes with schools;
  • Student-friendly opportunities to cross streets – such as the presence of adult crossing guards, raised medians, traffic and pedestrian signals, and/or pathways that are safe, convenient, and accessible for students of all abilities; and
  • Slow vehicle speeds and yielding to pedestrians and bicyclists, accomplished through roadway safety measures (traffic calming), speed limit reductions, and/or police enforcement operations.

Every day, millions of adults and children safely walk and bike to school or other destinations in communities across the country. Walking and biking are important activities that bring countless benefits to individuals and communities as a whole — through increased physical activity, better health, longer lifespans, and stronger economies are achieved. Our work and the work of our community partners brings an urgent and immediate need to address conditions that can put students at risk as they are walking or rolling to school.

We are committed to continuing to work with the governments and Safe Routes to School advocates in the region, through Vision Zero efforts and other important policy, funding, and community-building work, to ensure the safety of people walking and bicycling, everywhere — and especially on the streets known to be dangerous and at high risk for crashes.

New Regional Policy Manager for Mid-Atlantic

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is excited to announce that Marieannette Otero has joined our staff as the new regional policy manager for the Mid-Atlantic Region. With continued support from Kaiser Permanente,  Marieannette will be working throughout the Greater Washington, DC region as well as the City of Baltimore to advance policies that support Safe Routes to School and safe, accessible active transportation for everyone aPic- M.Oterond to leverage funding to support active transportation.

Prior to joining Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Marieannette oversaw the Association for Safe International Road Travel’s Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program activities providing strategic and technical guidance to civil society organizations in Kenya and Turkey advocating for evidenced-based road safety policies in-country. Ms. Otero’s extensive experience in the non-profit program management and program implementation at the international and national level, include work as Director of the Networks Program for Sapientis (Puerto Rico), Logistics Coordinator for ORCID and Program Assistant for Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua at the Inter-American Foundation (Virginia). She has served as education policy and planning consultant for the Flamboyán Foundation (Puerto Rico) and Pizza Hut’s Book It! Program.

Marieannette holds a B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature and Government and Politics from the University of Maryland and attended the University of Puerto Rico School of Law.

You can reach Marieannette at marieannette[at]saferoutespartnership.org.

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!

SRTS VDOT

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.

Regards,

Robert J. Williams

Virginia Safe Routes to School Coordinator