Since it is now past October 1 and the MAP-21 transportation law is officially in effect, I was hoping to blog this month about the guidance from US Department of Transportation. Guidance provides additional information to the states about how to implement Transportation Alternatives. But as of this writing, the Transportation Alternatives guidance has not yet been issued by the US Department of Transportation. Stay tuned for more on the guidance just as soon as it is out.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share encouraging news from many states about the fate of Safe Routes to School. All of these stories are a testament to the tenacity and commitment of advocates, who are speaking up loud and clear about the importance of Transportation Alternatives funding.
- In California, 130 groups signed a letter to the DOT asking for level funding for Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancements by supplementing Transportation Alternatives funds from the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and the Surface Transportation Program (STP). Our director, Deb Hubsmith, and Laura Cohen from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy were invited to serve on a DOT MAP-21 implementation working group.
- Advocates in a number of other states, including Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, have generated impressive turnouts for similar sign-on letters in support of Transportation Alternatives.
- After hearing from advocates, the Florida DOT issued a statement indicating they would “fully fund” Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails to ensure safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.
- In Washington, hundreds of advocates signed a petition to ask Gov. Gregoire to retain the state Safe Routes to School program and to supplement available funding from HSIP. Last week, that campaign was successful, and the state will dedicate $3.6 million annually to Safe Routes to School.
- Similarly, Colorado will allocate $1.5 million annually to Safe Routes to School and retain their state coordinator.
- New York advocates have gone to the media to put pressure on the state DOT and Governor to ask them to preserve funding for bicycling and walking.
- Undaunted by the changes in Transportation Alternatives, Missouri and New York have announced new Safe Routes to School funding competitions for this fall.
As you can see, decisions are being made already coast to coast that are affecting the future availability of Safe Routes to School funding. But – many states have not made their decisions yet and need to hear from you. And, unfortunately, many states aren’t in as good a shape as those highlighted above and funding for Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking is definitely threatened.
If you care about Safe Routes to School, please contact your state campaign lead and offer your help with sign-on letters, meetings with the DOT and Governor, media outreach and more. Every advocate's voice matters as we take this fight to each and every state!