Update: Shared-use agreements and transportation

The official case study is now available on Prince George’s County’s shared-use agreement between the public schools and park department. This is a very successful and long-term relationship in which Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation have been able to maximize their programming and reach more community residents through using school buildings and facilities in the evenings and on weekends. Additionally, their school/park model co-locates schools and community centers so that sharing resources saves money and creates a community hub.

Schools are often already the center of neighborhoods and locating more community focused activities at these locations allows activities to be reach by walking, bicycling or public transit. This increases the number of people out and about in the neighborhood and increases physical activity. Please check out the new case study on our Best Practices page for more details!

Original post:

Thanks to our speakers yesterday for their very informative presentations on shared-use. Marty Martinez, Bay Area Policy Manager kicked us off with an overview of shared-use agreements. Shared-use agreements are agreements between a school and outside organization to use school property after normal school hours. Marty was first introduced to shared-use agreements through his work in public health. Public health professionals realize schools are great assets to communities-they are often located in neighborhoods and have facilities for physical activity such as fields, playgrounds and gymnasiums. When schools can be used in the evenings and weekends for programming or open gyms, the entire community benefits with an increase in physical activity opportunities. This is especially important in neighborhoods that do not have access to open space or other safe places to play.

Bill Sheehan, Assistant Chief, Sports, Health and Wellness Division for Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation gave an example from right here in the Greater Washington region. The work in Prince George’s is phenomenal. A policy between Parks and Recreation and Prince George’s County Public Schools has been in place since 1982. The turn-key programs gives Parks and Recreation full access to schools after hours for summer playground, open gyms, sport leagues and classes such as calligraphy. The County also operates several park/schools in which Park and Recreation community centers and schools are co-located and share facilities on the same site. The co-location create a synergy and good working relationship with the school.

One key to success that Bill shared is that for their turn-key programs, in which after school hours, Parks and Recreation actually have the keys to the school, it is helpful to hire a person from the school’s facilities staff. The facilities staff know the building very well and are able to help troubleshoot any issues. From the school perspective, one of their staff persons is there in case something is broken and to ensure the rules are being followed. It is a simple solution that creates a harmonious relationship.

Finally, I wrapped up the webinar by talking about why transportation is important. Shared-use agreements increase activity at schools in the evening and on weekends in addition to the daily use. It is important that schools are located in neighborhoods and accessible by walking and bicycling. This benefits students and adults taking classes or joining sports leagues. Not only will they be physically active on their trip to the school but having a parent pick them up or having a car is not a barrier to participation.  Complete Streets policies are another way to ensure the entire community is developing or redeveloping into a walkable and bikeable community. Complete Streets policies ensure that when a streets is designed it is designed for all users of all abilities; making it possible for everyone to get to the school without using a car.

The presenters have generously made their presentations available. Please check them out and contact me with further questions or to be connected with the presenters.

Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Marty Martinez, Bay Area Policy Manager
Shared Use of School Facilities

Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation
Bill Sheehan, Assistant Chief
Shared Use between Parks and Recreation and Public Schools in Prince George’s County

Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Christine Green, Greater Washington Region Policy Manager
Shared-use Agreements and Transportation

So many opportunities-DC Safe Routes to School

Wow! Did you see the DC Safe Routes to School newsletter last week? It was packed with how you can participate in the Safe Routes to School program. Here are a few of the options. There are several different ways to be involved, please pick at least one!!

DC Neighborhood Pace Car Program

The DC Neighborhood Pace Car Program is a national best practice. Parents sign a pledge to drive safely and display a sticker in their vehicle’s rear windshield. Pledges will be tallied and the classroom with the most returned pledges at each school will win a prize. Schools that sign up will receive everything they need to participate in the program. If you would like to participate or if you would like more information, e-mail safetyed@waba.org and copy jennifer.hefferan@dc.gov . There is also more info on the Washington Area Bicycle Association website.

 National Bike to School Day

The second annual National Bike to School Day will be held on May 8, 2013. Please help DC top the number of registered events from last year. Register your school’s event at www.walkbiketoschool.org. DC Schools that register events by May 6th will receive stickers to distribute to participants. [Note: registration is important for ALL schools in the Greater Washington region. We want to have a strong showing nationally for Bike to School Day!]

Second Annual Golden Bicycle Contest

This is a great idea! Will your school be the winner?

The DC Safe Routes to School program will hold the second annual Golden Bicycle Contest. Count the number of student bikes parked at your school on May 8th and report that number to the DC Safe Routes to School Coordinator (Jennifer’s contact info). The school with the highest percentage of participation will receive the Golden Bicycle to proudly display at the school. Key Elementary School won the Golden Bicycle last year, which school will win it in 2013?

Bike Poster Contest

The DC Safe Routes to School Program is providing an opportunity to participate in a National Poster Contest Poster Contest Bike Posterv1aimed at 5th graders. One lucky Washington, DC 5th grader will win a bike, bike light, and helmet! Deadline for entry is April 1, 2013. Please help spread the word! Contact Jennifer Hefferan, jennifer.hefferan@dc.gov if you have any questions.

ABC’s of Family Biking

I am so excited to see this event back for year 2! Congrats on a successful first event, looks like this may become annual!

The DC Safe Routes to School Program will partner with Kidical Mass DC and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association for the “ABC’s of Family Biking,” a one-day event where families can learn everything they need to know about biking with kids. This year’s event promises to be even better than last years. Stay tuned for more details about this event which is tentatively scheduled for April 27th.

Funding Opportunity from the DC Department of Health: Community Transformation Grants

The Government of the District of Columbia, Department of Health Community Health Administration seeks to implement systems, environmental, and programmatic changes aimed at increasing physical activity and proper nutrition, reducing weight, reducing tobacco use, and improving chronic disease outcomes. Safe Routes to School-related activities are one of the eligible areas for this funding source.

Application Submission Deadline: February 28, 2013. Visit their website to learn more.

I told you there were LOTS of opportunities to be involved! Happy walking and bicycling!!

Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan Update

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) is updating the 2002 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. This plan looks ahead 20 years and focuses on how to support cycling and walking in Maryland.

The first step is broad citizen input through a Bicycle and Pedestrian Needs Survey. This survey is crucial as it will help to frame how the plan moves forward. Maryland residents should complete this survey and let their voices be included in this conversation. The survey and website are the main forms of participation right now. Public meeting announcements are forthcoming. An advisory team has also been created. I am a member of the advisory team and would be happy to speak with anyone who wants to provide more information about walking and bicycling in Maryland. You can find my contact info on our contact page.

moveDC: Multimodal Initiative Launched

weMoveDC_Mayor Gray

Mayor Vincent Gray addressing moveDC Ideas Exchange

Imagine a DC where 75 percent of trips were made by walking, bicycling or transit! This would include streets that accommodate all modes of traffic, better pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure for safety and of course, kids enjoying their safe walk or bike to school!

This past Saturday, moveDC launched with an idea exchange at the MLK library in downtown. Mayor Vincent Gray opened up the day noting the goal of 75 percent of trips using non-motorized forms. This stat is from the Sustainable DC initiative, which will be releasing its plan later this month. Several speakers referred to the recently released report rating the Washington DC region as having the worst congestion in the nation and stating that we cannot solve the problem with cars.

Councilmember Mary Cheh specifically pointed out the personal health and air quality benefits of more walking and bicycling and that young people do not want to own cars. DDOT Director Terry Bellamy noted that all trips, no matter the mode, begin and end with walking. Finally, Councilmember Tommy Wells concluded talking about how land use is the most profound way to change the way we move. If destinations places, and the places we live, work and play, are in proximity to safe walking, bicycling and transit, then people will use it.

A panel discussion continued and noted the constraints of working at a regional level. As Chris Leinberger discussed, at a regional level, communities often compete against each other but in reality, they are on the same baseball team. This issue of older adults and transportation was also a popular topic. As one older adult noted, walking is the only option for older adults that does not put them at the will of a bureaucracy or someone else to provide transportation.

It is clear that creating a multimodal plan for the District of Columbia will encompass many and all important topics. We need to be engaged as pedestrians, bicyclists and advocates for Safe Routes to School. Please sign up for the moveDC mailing list and check out their website now!