Getting There Together: A Message from the Director

As the blustery winter weather comes to an end over much of the country, we’re shifting gears into warmer temperatures and to the celebration of the third annual National Bike to School Day on May 7th!

In our 2013 Bike to School Day report we celebrated the sizzling success of the second annual cycling event. There was remarkable participation from all 50 states with a total of 1705 registered events, an 80 percent increase since the inaugural event in 2012. We continue to see that registering an event and being counted as a part of the Bike to School Day excitement helps inspire others in your communities to participate. Studies show that one-time events like BTSD can encourage more students to walk or bicycle to school weeks after the event day [1].  Please continue to encourage others to register their school’s events and be part of the celebration. And finally, be on the lookout for an exciting Bike to School Day giveaway partner we'll be announcing soon!

National Bike to School Day events help raise awareness for safer routes for bicycling and walking to school. U. S. Department of Transportation Secretary Foxx emphasized the importance of safety during the recent 2014 Bike Summit and noted that in President Obama’s proposal for $302 billion for American Transportation, he made sure the plan would increase resources for bike and pedestrian programs. 

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation legislation has been in place since July 2012 and as we review the spending trends across the country, we’re seeing the closeout of SAFETEA-LU funds and the shift to MAP-21 funding for SRTS.  We’re also now seeing the effect of MAP-21’s Transportation Alternatives Program emphasis on Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Regional Planning Organizations (MPOs and RPOs), with more designated lead organizations being regional ones. In fact, the amount has nearly doubled since 2012. Lead organizations are agencies that directly receive federal SRTS funding to implement programs at participating schools in the region. Lead organizations typically include cities and towns, school districts, counties, municipal departments, and of course, regional organizations such as MPOs, RPOs, and county health departments. 

In December we released the Advancing Transportation and Health Report describing how communities and jurisdictions are finding innovative ways to embrace the health and safety concepts behind SRTS. Many states continue to establish partnerships between their departments of transportation and public health, and SRTS proves to be a wonderful opportunity for this.   In fact, New Mexico’s recent report marking a decrease in obesity among its third graders proposed that the milestone was due in part to Safe Routes to School.

As SRTS continues to evolve, states are finding new ways to implement and sustain support for walking and bicycling to school.  Safe Routes continues to play a vital role in building communities and improving the health and well-being of children across the country. We are excited for yet another inspiring Bike to School Day on May 7, and can’t wait to see how many communities and families come together for this year’s event.

 



1  Buckley, A., Lowry, M., Brown, H., Barton, B. (2013). Evaluating safe routes to school events that designate days for walking and bicycling. Transport Policy, 30, 294-300.