To advance Safe Routes to School and walking and bicycling in the region and in your community, highlight successes! International Walk to School Day on October 3rd is a great opportunities to invite the media, principals, school district staff and elected officials to show the benefits of walking and bicycling.
The new federal transportation bill, MAP-21 combines funding for Safe Routes to School and walking and bicycling infrastructure into one funding program called Transportation Alternatives. Transportation Alternatives also includes some road uses as eligible projects but decisions will be made as to what types of projects are prioritized for this funding. Transportation Alternatives should prioritize Safe Routes to School, walking and bicycling.
Half of the designated money for Safe Routes to School and walking and bicycling will go to the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO), in the Greater Washington region the MPO is the Transportation Planning Board staffed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The bill states money will be distributed through a competitive grant process. While it is uncertain how this will work in our region, the money will be used. It is important to let the TPB members know that projects for Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking should be prioritized with this funding.
The other half of the designated money for Safe Routes to School and walking and bicycling will go to the state, again for a competitive grant process. However, the state can choose to direct some or all of the money to road uses. It is important to tell your state elected officials and state DOT that the money should be used for Safe Routes to School and walking and bicycling. Specifically:
- Fully fund: All money should go to a competitive grant process with Safe Routes to School, walking and bicycling prioritized in the process.
- Fully staff: State Safe Routes to School Coordinators and bike/pedestrian coordinator positions should be maintained.
- Fully implement: Make Transportation Alternatives money available and award money to projects.
You can take action on Walk to School Day by inviting local and state elected officials and the media. Talk about why Safe Routes to School is important in your community and why it is important under the new federal transportation bill to fully fund, fully staff and fully implement. It is also important to involve school district staff and leadership to gain support for district-wide Safe Routes to School efforts.
Our Director Deb Hubsmith has more ideas on how to take action on her blog.
The Greater Washington region network will update you as the decision to use the new federal money moves forward. But it is important to lay the groundwork and let elected officials know we are thinking about it now. Since states and the District of Columbia still have existing Safe Routes to School money to spend, you will still see grant applications as we have seen in the past for a little longer. Take advantage of these funding opportunities and prepare for the next opportunity!