As the holidays and the end of 2013 are here, my thoughts turn to celebrations. We at the National Center and Safe Routes to School have had several occasions to celebrate in the past few months. In September, we learned that we were selected, through a competitive bid process, to be the Safe Routes to School information clearinghouse for three more years. In October, we celebrated another inspiring and record-breaking Walk to School Day. And last week we celebrated the release of our school travel trends report that showed an increase in walking to school from 2007 to 2012.
We are totally pumped to build on our work of the past seven years in providing data services, promoting and coordinating registration for the National Walk and Bike to School Day events, and evaluating the SRTS program. We’re also excited about the opportunity to continue to serve the State SRTS Coordinators and other transportation professionals and advocates who have worked hard to advance walking and bicycling for students.
I’d like to take a moment to give a shout out to the State Coordinators, advocates and everyone who made Walk to School Day 2013 another incredible success. This year, 27 states surpassed their event registration totals from 2012, and 17 reached all-time registration highs. But I don’t want to scoop all the great Walk to School Day news here, so please read our WTSD wrap-up article for the rest of the story.
Here’s another shout-out to the State Coordinators: they’ve been great over the last seven years about providing information on announced funding for local and statewide SRTS projects, the number of schools that have benefitted from SRTS funding, and the number of applications reviewed and funded. We have compiled that information quarterly and released tracking reports that offer a snapshot of SRTS progress. For instance, the latest report tells us that five states have begun to award TAP funds (as provided by the 2012 MAP-21 legislation), that 84 percent of the $1.147 billion allocated through SAFETEA-LU has been announced, and that 14,800 schools have benefitted from SRTS. With Safe Routes funding now lumped in with the overall Transportation Alternatives Program, we’re not sure what information states will be able to provide moving forward, but we’re working hard and hopeful that we can continue to make this information available.
And now a special recognition to you readers and to everyone involved in the Safe Routes to School movement, because you have begun to turn the tide on active transportation to school. Our analysis of more than half-a-million parent surveys from 2007 to 20012 appear to indicate that your passion, dedication and commitment have helped make walking to school on the rise, increasing from 12.4 percent to 15.7 percent in our sample (read more about the study here). We all need to savor that accomplishment.
Since we’re celebrating your accomplishments, I want to mention two other new reports that reflect your successes: the Bike to School Day 2013 report (that you can find a link to in this issue of Safe Routes Matters) and a report on SRTS, transportation and health that will be released in January.
We are honored to be continuing to provide all of these services to the SRTS community, and we look forward to continuing to work with all of you who are doing so much to make the trip to and from school safe and healthy for the nation’s children. We hope 2014 will be a great year for everyone working to achieve these noble goals
Director, National Center for Safe Routes to School