Questions about new transportation bill answered!

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has created a MAP-21 Resource Center to ensure you have the best information on the new federal transportation bill.

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) is the new federal transportation bill which changes Safe Routes to School and pedestrian and bicycle funding as we know it. Under this new funding, Safe Routes to School is no longer a separate program with its own grant process. Transportation Enhancements, which builds many of the bike lanes and sidewalks in our communities is also no longer a separate program.

There is a new program called Transportation Alternatives (TA). Under TA, there may be competitive grant process at the state level or states can use the money for any road use. There is also a new competitive grant process at the Metropolitan Planning Board (MPO) level. For the Greater Washington Region, the MPO is the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) which is staffed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). We do not have final details on how this would work in Greater Washington at the TPB but if a competitive grant process is held, we want to see Safe Routes to School and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure prioritized.
Check out the MAP-21 Resource Center for more information on how to make walking and bicycling as a priority under the new funding streams.

City of Frederick will improve pedestrian and bicycle connections!

Great news from the City of Frederick! They have received a grant from the Transportation Planning Board Transportation/Land-Use Connections program. The grant will be used to design a multi-use trail and path, bringing a transportation and recreation facility to nearby residential areas and new mixed-use and commercial developments. Ultimately this project will connect key transportation facilities to residential areas, employment and education corridors, as well as the largest commercial development in The City of Frederick.
The Transportation/Land-Use Connections program is provides technical assistance for projects that better coordinate transportation and land-use planning in metropolitan Washington. The City of Frederick received a new type of grant from the program that funds the design phase of projects. The purpose of the Design Pilot Project is to move projects from planning to implementation.

The other Transportation/Land-Use Connect projects in the District of Columbia (1), Maryland, (5) and Virginia (2) are on the Transportation Planning Board website.

New policies for bicycling and walking webinar presenations

In case you missed, our Prince George’s County speakers have made their webinar presentation available.
Prince George’s Council Member Eric Olson and Trails Coordinator Fred Shaffer shared with us how they are addressing the need for pedestrians and bicyclist to access new development. The new policy, that is within the subdivision code, allows the Planning Board to require developers to build bicycle and pedestrian facilities in existing right-of-way within a half-mile of their development. As Mr. Olson noted, we have public facilities requirements for cars and now bicyclists and pedestrians are treated in the same manner. The policy does have a provision to cap expenses for the developer which makes the costs predictable. The policy was adopted unanimously.

During our Safe Routes to School program updates, Jeff Anderson who is a parent from Wolftrap Elementary School discussed the Vienna Bike/Walk Challenge. Details of the challenge were reported in the Vienna Patch. I think it is great to see a local paper covering the event! Jaime Fearer, community planner with the City of Greenbelt also gave us an update on Springhill Elementary School. The school will have a new crosswalk, bump-outs and medians funded by state Safe Routes to School funds. Look for those improvements soon!

Please see my previous post for the information presented on the changes to the federal Safe Routes to School funding program.

Thanks to all that attended the webinar! If you are not receiving webinar announcements, please contact Christine Green to be added to the list.

Prince George’s County Adequate Pedestrian and Bike Facilities Policy

Webinar highlighting Prince George’s new policy for bike/ped facilities

Please note updated webinar link!

We are pleased to have Prince George’s Councilman Eric Olson and his chief of staff Dannielle Glaros discuss the new legislation for adequate public pedestrian and bikeway facilities within a half mile of new development. Fred Shaffer, Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission Planning Coordinator will then discuss implementation of this policy and how it will work with the county Complete Streets policy and Approved Countywide Master Plan of Transportation.

We will then provide update on the new federal transportation bill and how it affects Safe Routes to School funding. There will be time for brief updates on Safe Routes to School programs in the region. This is the second of four webinars in 2012.

Greater Washington Network July Webinar

Date: July 25, 2012
Time: 2-3 p.m. ET
Webinar Link UPDATED: https://saferoutespartnership.ilinc.com/join/xczyfvr
Phone number for audio (toll free): 866-394-4146
Passcode for audio: 111948544

Topics
New subdivision code promotes walking and bicycling in Prince George’s County
Update on changes to federal funding for Safe Routes to School
Learn from the others in the region with Safe Routes to School program updates

Communities should take advantage of all opportunities to routinely include bicycle and pedestrian facilities. In Prince George’s County, Councilmember Eric Olson championed legislation for adequate public pedestrian and bikeway facilities. The legislation empowers the Planning Board to ensure the adequacy of non-motorized multi-modal transportation facilities. The policy requires the clarification of the Complete Streets principals and policies in the 2009 Approved Countywide Master Plan of Transportation.  Planning Coordinator Fred Shaffer will be leading the process to write implementation guidelines bringing the new legislation, the Complete Streets policy and Countywide Master Plan together.

The new transportation bill changes the federally funded Safe Routes to School program. States will still have current money to spend down, but after those funds are spent, it is the State’s decision to fund Safe Routes to School and other walking and bicycling projects. A new grant program will be created at the MPO level. For the Greater Washington region, this new grant will be through the National Capital Area Transportation Planning Board. The new grant is not dedicated only to Safe Routes to School, walking and bicycling and how the grant process is set up will be important.

Finally, it great to hear stories from other Safe Routes to School programs and learn from our colleagues in the region. We will close the webinar with program updates.

Development processes can promote health

A new resource, Licensing and Zoning Tools for Public Health from ChangeLab Solutions details the licensing and zoning process and how the two processes can promote public health.  The document simply explains licensing and zoning and opportunities for health benefits. For example, form-based code, which regulates the design of buildings and allows for a diversity of uses promotes pedestrian-friendly and mixed-use development. The Philadelphia zoning code is also highlighted which requires a design review focused on pedestrian access for certain projects and density bonuses around transit nodes. Finally, bike parking is an example of a public health goal that can be accomplished through licensing or zoning.

Webinar-Tool assesses health in bicycle and pedestrian work

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a tool to assess the positive and negative health impacts of projects and policies and the populations  that will receive the impacts. The use of HIA is growing as the link between the built environment and health is becoming more recognized. New research is continually showing the link that how we build our communities matters to our health.

The American Public Health Association is hosting a webinar that explains HIA and gives great examples of how HIA is used in bicycle and pedestrian work. I have heard one of the presenters on the Clark County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan in Clark County, Washington. A few highlights from their work in emphasizing health as part of the plan:

  • Health is included as a goal of the plan. The goal specifically reads “Active Transportation Planning and Bicycle-and-Pedestrian-Supportive Land Uses.”
  • The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will now review projects in the planning stage.
  • Two types of project emphasized in the HIA are low-speed roadway designs which make is safe for bicyclist and pedestrian and improving bicycle and pedestrian routes to grocery stores.
  • A huge success of the HIA was the change in project selection criteria. The criteria now include health and equity. Twenty points of the 100 points available are awarded based on socioeconomic status, walkability potential, street connectivity and low-stress facilities such as off-street trails.

For more information and to register for the webinar see this website.

Educating students to be safe pedestrians and bicyclists

We need more consistent curriculum in our schools to teach kids how to be safe pedestrians and cyclists. Successful Safe Routes to School programs emphasize safety and to achieve safety means teaching our kids the rules of the road. This is not just for their journey to school but a life skill they can take with them as they attend college, become members of new communities or stay in the neighborhood where they grew up. Educating students about how to be safe pedestrians and cyclists will make them more aware of all users of the road as drivers.

The Netherlands is the bicycling model. It is not just about infrastructure though, they have bicycle curriculum and testing as part of their education and at age 12 children are expected to be responsible cycling citizens.

Take advantage of the upcoming webinar SRTS Middle School Curriculum: Why it is Important and How to Make an Impact to learn how we can begin to successfully implement curriculum in our communities. Speakers are from the States and have success stories to share.

Date: Monday, July 30, 2012

Time: 1-2p EDT

Registration:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/893093672

For more information on bicycle and pedestrian curriculum, please see the resources at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership website.  If you are interested in working with your school to implement curriculum, please contact Christine Green, Greater Washington region Safe Routes to School network.

New transportation bill and Safe Routes to School

Last week Congress passed a new transportation bill with significant changes to the federal Safe Routes to School program and the Transportation Enhancements program which funds walking and bicycling.  The Safe Routes to School National Partnership (National Partnership) has released a statement with America Bikes.

There is a detailed Q&A on the National Partnership blog. In short, dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School has been eliminated but Safe Routes to School is still eligible for funding in a new program called Transportation Alternatives. Transportation Alternatives combines several other walking and bicycling programs and introduces new projects as well.  This is a decrease in funding for Safe Routes to School and walking and bicycling. Under this new funding method, states will determine if Safe Routes to School state coordinators are funded and if there will be a competitive grant process at the state level. For communities the size of the Greater Washington region, there will be a new competitive grant process at the Metropolitan Planning Organization level in which Safe Routes to School and walking and bicycling projects will be eligible. For Greater Washington, the competitive grant process will be held through the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board. For more details, please see the National Partnership blog.

While the new transportation bill is not ideal, it is impossible to take away the momentum of Safe Routes to School in the Greater Washington region and the nation. It may require us to be more creative or ask our local officials to prioritize infrastructure around schools. It require us network in our region, find out what works and learn from each other. We need to talk about the successes we have so that a competitive grant process at the regional level prioritize Safe Routes to School and states decide to continue funding their programs. The Greater Washington region Safe Routes to School network will assist in this endeavor. I will be coming back to you with my ideas, please let me know yours as well.