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We’ve reached the mid-way point of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021, which means it is time to take stock of how things are going and that transportation reauthorization conversations are already underway!

We celebrate July as National Recreation and Parks Month by elevating the importance of walkable access to parks for people in communities of all sizes!

Key Takeaways:

  • Of the study participants interviewed, the primary travel mode to school for their children was 55 percent by personal vehicle, 33 percent by walking, and five percent by bus. Of the sample, no children biked as their primary mode of transportation to school.
  • Many parents stated a lack of resources available for other modes as a reason for deciding to walk or take public transit for their daily commute, as these modes are more accessible. This included not being able to afford a bike and instead opting for walking, or not having a personal vehicle and instead opting for public transportation.
  • Parents reported that distance was a factor in choosing not to walk or bike to school. This was especially true if adequate infrastructure was also not available such as sidewalks, bike lanes, or bike racks to safely store bikes at school.
  • Parents expressed concerns about weather such as rain or cold temperatures, the presence of crime within their neighborhoods, or high vehicle speeds as other barriers to walking and biking.
  • Parents were more likely to encourage their children to walk to school if they were walking either with an adult or a group of other children.
  • Parents reported their children not having attended bicycle training education as a barrier to encouraging biking to school for their children. Parents of children that had completed a ‘bikeability’ program felt more comfortable allowing their children to bike to school.
  Research

Key Takeaways:

  • Increased physical activity, socializing with peers, and developing life-long healthy habits were among the positive effects described by parents whose children walk or bike to school.
  • Parents interviewed expressed concerns about safety within their neighborhoods including concerns about criminal activity, and traffic safety, and cited perceived safety as a barrier to allowing their children to walk or bike to school.
  • Residents of the neighborhoods that identified as not being from the area, such as families that recently immigrated to Sweden, or not knowing people within the neighborhood were more likely to express concerns about safety and feel a sense of distrust towards their neighbors discouraging their children from walking or biking to school.
  • Parents cited distance to school, lack of bicycle infrastructure, and lack of confidence when riding a bicycle as reasons why their children may not ride a bike to school.
  • Parents reported that they were more likely to allow their children to walk or bike to school if they traveled with them or if their child had a cell phone or GPS tracking device.
  Research

Key Takeaways:

  • Compared to national averages of travel mode to school, Georgia students (aged 5-17) take more trips to school by school bus (46 percent vs. 33 percent) and fewer trips to school by personal vehicles (48 percent vs. 54 percent). They also are less likely to walk or bike to school (5 percent vs. 10 percent) or take public transit (1 percent vs. 2 percent.)
  • In Georgia, students who live in rural areas and live far from school are twice as likely to be driven in a personal vehicle to school than to take the school bus or use active travel. This is despite policies that require rural students to have access to a school bus.
  • Students who live close to school within an urban area, are older, male, without a driver’s license, and whose parents have a college education are most likely to use the bus to travel to school in Georgia.
  • Black students in Georgia are more likely to take the bus to school than white students. However, this was only applicable to Black and white students, race was not a significant predictor of mode choice to school for children with other racial identities.
  Research

Key Takeaways:

  • Community champions are trusted and engaged members of the community such as teachers or people with previous experience in urban planning, or activism. Involving these individuals in the planning process may bridge a gap between community members and local governments when planning and implementing active transportation projects.
  • Local community champions recruited for Families and Educators for Safe Cycling Project (FESC) were integral to the success of local active transportation projects. In communities where the local governments maintained the relationship with the champions over the entire two-year period of the pilot program, the champions reported an increased sense of trust between the community and the local government.
  • Local community champions facilitated engagement within school communities related to walking and biking and relayed community input to the local government in public meetings, surveys, and focus groups. They bridged a gap among the city staff, the non-profit organization (CultureLink), and local school communities by acting as a mediator – explaining the planning process to community members unfamiliar with it and engaging youth. They would elevate community feedback and concerns to city staff.
  • The most successful champions were community animators and had three core characteristics:  they were passionate about walking and biking; they had relationships with key stakeholders -school communities, the planning department, and community-based organizations; and they encouraged engagement from other community members.
  • Community champions have the opportunity to deepen public engagement activities due to their intimate knowledge of local connections and identify community members who may find it challenging to engage in the traditional planning process but should be included.
  Research

Key Takeaways:

  • The Safe Routes to School program that integrated a “citizen science” approach called Our Voice, increased rates of students walking and biking to/from school compared to the program that did not (24.5 percent vs. 2.6 percent.)
  • The Our Voice program trained parents/caregivers to gather, analyze, and utilize data to inform Safe Routes to School activities experienced.  Participants of the Our Voice program were more likely to initiate actions to address barriers to walking and biking including meetings with stakeholders compared to the Safe Routes to School program that did not utilize the program.
  • The Safe Routes to School program in the elementary school that used Our Voice also had more frequent encouragement activities such as walk/bike events, walking school buses, and walk & roll to school days.
  • The Our Voice program that engaged and trained middle school students as citizen scientists experienced high initial engagement by students who sought to implement actions to address barriers to biking and walking.
  Research

Key Takeaways:

  • The United States has one of the lowest rates of walking as a percentage of all trips (12 percent), compared to the United Kingdom which has the highest (26 percent).
  • While countries like Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands have experienced declines in pedestrian fatality rates, the US is an outlier, as pedestrian fatality rates (pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population) have risen 25 percent from 2010 to 2020.
  • Compared to peer countries, the United States has the most variation among its major cities in rates of walking to work, with some cities walking rates being six times higher than others. For example, 13 percent of Washington D.C. residents walk to work whereas Houston residents only walk to work 2 percent of the time.
  • People are more likely to choose walking as a mode of travel when they are in the innermost city center and when the distance is less than one mile.
  • Walking rates remain roughly stable with increasing age in the US, although at the relatively low rate of 12% of trips percent. In peer countries, walking trips are higher in youth (<16) and older adults (60+), but decline in the middle age group.
  • Western European countries such as the UK, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands have narrower roadways; overall lower speed limits; slower turn speeds as well as turn restrictions; and lower traffic volumes than the US.
  • Traffic calming in residential streets is much more common in European cities than U.S. cities. Some cities in Denmark and Germany have designated some residential streets as home zones with speed limits of only 4.5 mph. In-home zones, drivers must yield to pedestrians, cyclists, and children playing in the street, thus fully sharing the street with them.
  • Schools in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany offer traffic education as a part of their curriculum, and by fourth grade, children have taken practical training in safe walking and bicycling skills.
  • One mile is a reasonable distance to travel. Schools should encourage kids within a mile radius of school to walk to school.
  Research

Key Takeaways:

  • Policies supporting “Convenient Transport Infrastructure’ such as implementing bike lanes, convenient footpaths, walking trails, and pedestrian crossings paths, or increasing the proximity of public transport stops had the greatest positive association with more physical activity than any of the other two policy areas.
  • Statewide programs promoting awareness about active mobility have the greatest impact on increased walking and biking and were most effective in increasing physical activity at the community-level.  
  • Active travel training and events such as bike skills training and campaigns that raise awareness about the benefits of walking, biking, and public transportation are effective in increasing rates of physical activity.
  Research

Key Takeaways:

  • Under-resourced communities experience several barriers to accessing funding for Safe Routes to School. Barriers included the ability to come up with the local match often required for federal funds; the lack of resources and personnel to apply for, write, and administer grants; and simply the lack of knowledge of what is available and how to apply for grants.
  • Of the states surveyed (n=14), 63 percent provide special considerations to disadvantaged communities when they apply for funding for Safe Routes to School and apply additional points when scoring their grant applications. Some respondents also describe their state’s efforts to address barriers to funding by providing training, consultation, and proactive outreach to underserved communities.
  • How states determine the effectiveness of their Safe Routes to School programs vary widely and differ from state to state. Examples of how states evaluate their programs include the number of schools involved in Safe Routes to School programs, the amount of funding that reaches priority populations, the number of people who access resources and training, the mode split of students walking and biking to school, percent of schools or districts with a dedicated Safe Routes to School coordinator, safety improvements, and pre/post program crash data.
  • Only six states that responded have a strategic plan for their Safe Routes to School program. Of those plans, four include equity and a focus on underserved populations.
  • Of the “Six E’s” -Engagement was ranked as the most prioritized by state program coordinators.  States described the importance of engagement to cultivate community and school buy-in, and the importance of local stakeholders (ex. parents, teachers, students, neighbors, etc.) to the success of a program.
  • Of the “Six E’s,” Evaluation was the least prioritized. State coordinators described the barriers to collecting quality data and the lack of staff and resources.
  Research

Key Takeaways:

  • African Americans are more likely to use biking to travel to school. Of the total number of survey respondents, 13 percent of African Americans reported biking to school compared to nine percent of respondents from other racial groups.
  • African American respondents are more likely to use bicycling than other people of color. 
  • African-American households are more likely than white households to use walking and biking to reduce the financial burden of travel.
  • African American survey respondents were more likely than white survey participants to identify bad lighting, heavy traffic, and lack of pedestrian facilities such as paths, parks, or sidewalks as barriers to biking and walking.
  • African Americans take fewer bike trips per week than white Americans and are least likely to utilize bike-share programs.

 

We are pleased to be on the team led by Abt Global selected as a

At the end of April, we had a chance to visit two of the four Colorado communities participating in our 2024 Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program. For the last four months, each community has hosted engagement activities, surveyed residents, and collected data to inform community goals on improving local park access.

  Webinar
*NEW* Webinar

Tuesday, May 21, 2024 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Tune in on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT to learn about creative, flexible, and highly accessible federal funding that can be used to advance Safe Routes to School. Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) funding can be used for not only developing Safe Routes to School plans to supplement comprehensive safety action plans, but it can also be used for engagement, encouragement, and education programs! And - the application is a low lift and all eligible applicants in the past two years have been funded. We will highlight creative and exciting ways to use this fund, how to access the funding without cash match, and provide steps for applying for SS4A funds. You don't want to miss this!

  Webinar

Tuesday, April 30, 2024 – 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Please join the Safe Routes Partnership and California Transportation Commission for a webinar on April 30 about a new change in the ATP Guidelines: additional questions about the non-infrastructure program in Combined Infrastructure/Non-Infrastructure applications.

For a number of years, we have argued that the format and rubrics of Combined applications in the ATP did not allow either applicants to adequately highlight their proposed educational and encouragement programs, nor evaluators to adequately score them.

Thanks to the adoption of the online applications portable Submittable this cycle, applicants proposing Combined Infrastructure/Non-Infrastructure non-application questions will be prompted for additional information specific to their non-infrastructure components, and evaluators will be given guidance on how to evaluate them.
In this webinar, we will give an overview of the new questions, provide suggestions on how best to answer them, and answer any questions you might have.

  Webinar
Walk, Ride, and Roll Webinar Series

Wednesday, May 15, 2024
2pm – 3pm ET

Join us for our final Walk, Ride, and Roll webinar of the school year! This session will explore strategies and best practices for engaging and including students with disabilities in Safe Routes programs. Our expert panelists will share how they lead and participate in inclusive programs, how they partner with local champions, and how other Safe Routes practitioners can make their programs more inclusive and accessible.

  Research

Key Takeaways:

  • Safe Routes to School is one of only fourteen evidence-based interventions included in the CDC’s High-Impact in Five Years Initiative (HI-5). This initiative promotes strategies that show a positive health impact, results within five years, and are cost-effective. Safe Routes to School is the only intervention included related to active transportation.
  • Safe Routes to School programs in the United States led to a reduction in traffic-related injuries around schools and neighborhoods.
  • In New York City over a ten-year period, injuries decreased by 44 percent in census tracts with Safe Routes to School improvements like new crossing signs, speed bumps, speed boards, and high-visibility crosswalks.
  • Texas (state-wide) pedestrian and bicyclist injury rates among school-age children decreased by 14 percent during the program study period (January 2008- June 2013).
  • A study of 18 states found that Safe Routes to School programs reduced pedestrian and bicyclist injury rates in school-age children by 23 percent.
  • In an evaluation of 47 California schools, pedestrian and bicycle collisions among children ages 5 to 18 in Safe Routes to School project areas were reduced by 53 percent.  Evidence shows economic benefits exceed the cost of active travel to school interventions.

 

    Four Practical Tips to Advance Safe Routes to Parks in Your Community

    In fall 2023, four communities in Pennsylvania wrapped up participation in our Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program.

    Managing Directors Marisa and Dave

    Dear Safe Routes Community,

    We want to inform you of a recent change in our leadership. Kimberlyn Clarkson stepped down from her role as Executive Director in February. We wish her well in her future endeavors.

    Communities are planning for and rolling out improvements to slow traffic speeds, improve community mobility, and make it safer for people to travel around their communities. It is essential that these plans consider how young people who rely on walking, bicycling, and transit access essential community destinations, especially schools. SS4A can elevate or re-invigorate your community’s commitment to keeping kids safe as they walk and bike throughout their communities.