Moments ago I finished facilitating a webinar on regional approaches to Safe Routes to School through Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOS). The jargon involved even when clearly presenting on this topic would send even the most hardened Safe Routes to School practitioner running in the other direction. Yet, this is the point. As Safe Routes to School advocates – some of us principals, nonprofits, school nurses, parents and more – we must work to understand the entities and process that control access to funding. We must feel empowered to step forward and engage decision-makers. But first it is beneficial to understand the language, the process and the priorities.
Our recent webinar series covers the fundamentals of MPOs and a second webinar of more detailed case studies of MPOs who are successfully changing policy and practice to support walking and bicycling at the regional level. The webinars are both archived here and may be of interest to you. Additionally, with funding from the American Public Health Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we were able to create two documents that support your participation in the MPO process.
The first, Safe Routes to School: A Regional Government Primer for Practitioners is intended to get Safe Routes to School practitioners up to speed on the basics of MPO language, process and priorities. The second, Safe Routes to School: A Primer for Regional Governments, provides important talking points, case studies and proven strategies for MPO staff and boards to review as they consider the possibility of furthering Safe Routes to School projects and programs at the regional level.
This is possible. We at the Safe Routes Partnership believe that with continued education and relentless persistence, an army of informed walking and bicycling practitioners can actively participate in regional government processes, ultimately inspiring MPO staff and boards to adopt policies and allocate funding for well connected bicycle and pedestrian facilities that ensure destinations near and far are accessible, healthy and safe for everyone.
Local Practice and Policy, a blog written by Dave Cowan, covers many of the multifaceted aspects of his work here at the Safe Routes Partnership. Focusing on best practices, voices from the field and reflections on the Safe Routes to School movement as a whole, this blog shares a sliver of the good vibes, happy stories, and great people Dave has the pleasure of working with to further Safe Routes to School on a daily basis.