The Safe Routes Partnership (Safe Routes Partnership) has been working with select metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) since 2010 through the Regional Network Project, funded generously by Kaiser Permanente. We have been deepening our understanding of regional processes, building connections and pushing the importance of increasing the regional focus on active transportation projects—a key to sustaining Safe Routes to School.
The attention on MPOs is growing as they have the ability to direct 50 percent of federal transportation funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects through MAP-21’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). As a result, a number of resources are emerging.
The Safe Routes Partnership’s webinar series in December covered the fundamentals of MPOs and the January webinar consisted of MPOs who are successfully changing policy and practice to support walking and bicycling at the regional level. Both webinars are archived here.
Additionally, through support from the American Public Health Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we have produced two documents focused the MPO process.
- 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.
- 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.
Another helpful tool is a survey from 2011 on bicycle and pedestrian planning by MPOs. A presentation by Preston Elliott at the 2011 Annual Conference for Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) summarizes the survey results, and through this survey, we realize opportunities to advocate for Safe Routes to School and active transportation, in general, at MPOs throughout the country. A couple of highlights:
- Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancement funds provide the bulk of funding for regional non-motorized projects
- 65% of MPOs have project selection criteria for funding bicycle/pedestrian projects
- 86% have an inventory of bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure
- 57% collect bicycle/pedestrian use in their region
- 73% monitor crash data
- 26% have established performance measures for bicycle and walking
While it is encouraging to see that the majority of our nation’s MPOs are doing quite a bit for bicycling and walking, it is also easy to see where there is room for growth. Our work at the regional level provides numerous opportunities to enhance Safe Routes to School and grow the walking and bicycling movement, and we will continue to share our successes and resources with you.