Florida A Step Ahead With New Safe Routes To School Coordinator

Carol PulleyThe Florida Safe Routes to School program is lucky to have Sarita Taylor. While she may be new to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Safety Office in Tallahassee, she is not new to Safe Routes to School. She brings an impressive history from FDOT District 1. Starting in 1999, Sarita was bicycle/pedestrian coordinator, Safe Routes to School coordinator and Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator for District 1, all at the same time! 

Sarita established the Safe Routes to School program in District 1, reaching all elementary and middle schools within the district, encouraging them to participate with some form of bicycle and pedestrian education. She coordinated volunteers and materials with the FDOT District 1 Safety Department to attend 75 back to school orientations throughout the district. The team received an award from the state for implementing ways to make services more efficient and economical for a project providing fitted bicycle helmets and safety materials to more than 15,000 students within six weeks. Sarita also received the same award for providing bicycle rodeo trailers, through a Safe Routes to School grant, for all 12 counties, and securing Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education (FTBSE) training for all users of the trailers and PE coaches. There were more than 20 FTBPSE trainings in the district. There were 11 helmet trainings with 173 attendees.

Sarita was instrumental in bringing pedestrian safety trainings to the district. Two Designing for Pedestrian Safety workshops were held and a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan developed.

Since 2005 District 1 has programmed 51 Safe Routes to School infrastructure projects totaling more than $11 million, programmed through 2016. District-wide they have included traffic control equipment and bicycle racks.

Since 2005, there have been nine Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure projects totaling $850,000. A district-wide project purchased supplies for walking school buses, bike rodeo trailers, mileage clubs and incentives for the children. There was bicycle skills training in four counties and walking school bus coordinators in three counties with bicycling and pedestrian education.

Most recently Sarita worked to establish a Safe Routes for Seniors program to present to communities throughout the district promoting safe bicycling, walking, driving and transit while being sensitive to the needs and fears of seniors.

Sarita was the only Safe Routes to School district coordinator in the state to cover all phases of Safe Routes to School by herself. Every other FDOT district has two or three people covering Safe Routes to School. With all the hats she has worn simultaneously at the district level, moving into the FDOT State Coordinator position might be an easy step for her. 

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is thrilled to see a coordinator with such a wide breadth of experience making bicycling and walking safer for everyone.