FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 1, 2007
Contact: Deb Hubsmith, Director
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Washington, DC – The Safe Routes to School National Partnership marked the first day of International Walk to School Month by releasing a national report titled, Safe Routes to School: 2007 State of the States.
The report tracks states’ progress on the implementation of the $612 million federal SRTS program that Congress included in the 2005 federal transportation bill SAFETEA-LU. SRTS provides funding to all 50 states and the District of Columbia to help communities improve infrastructure, such as sidewalks and bike paths, and to support education, encouragement and enforcement programs that make it safer and easier for children to walk and bicycle to schools.
“Creating safe routes to school could help to improve the health habits of an entire generation of schoolchildren. And that’s not the only benefit,” said Congressman Jim Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “Not only will our children get more fresh air and exercise, but it’s also a smart approach to reducing fuel consumption, air pollution, traffic congestion, and injuries to pedestrians and cyclists.”
Tomorrow, the House of Representatives Highways and Transit Sub-Committee will hold its first hearing on the federal SRTS program, where this report will be discussed in further detail.
The SRTS National Partnership report includes an executive summary, program needs, early success stories of action at the local level, observations and resources. A particularly valuable element of the report is a one-page "State of the States" matrix, featuring an overview of how all states are doing in achieving the following milestones: hiring a full-time state SRTS coordinator, developing an advisory committee, releasing application guidelines, and selecting and awarding projects that have submitted proposals for SRTS funds.
“The 2007 State of the States report shows that the Safe Routes to School program is popular and making strong headway in states across the nation,” said Deb Hubsmith, director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
The SRTS program is an important initiative from a health and an environmental vantage point. The percentage of U.S. students who walk and/or bicycle to school has declined from approximately 50 percent in 1969 to only 15 percent today. At the same time, obesity rates have skyrocketed among kids and teens. Today, more than 33 percent of children and adolescents in the U.S.—approximately 25 million—are overweight or obese. In addition to increasing opportunities for children to be physically active, the SRTS program can also help relieve the substantial traffic congestion caused by parents driving their children to school.
The Safe Routes to School: 2007 State of the States report was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report was written by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and can be found on-line at www.saferoutespartnership.org.