In Response to MAP-21

Friends and Supporters of Safe Routes to School,

As you probably know, Congress recently passed a new transportation bill: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). Unlike the previous legislation, MAP-21 does not provide funding specifically for Safe Routes to School (SRTS). Instead, SRTS activities will be eligible to compete for funding alongside other programs, including the Transportation Enhancements program and Recreational Trails program, as part of a new program called Transportation Alternatives.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is charged with putting the legislation into practice, and it provides information about MAP-21 on its website

State SRTS programs are also in the process of determining how to handle the new legislation, and what they do will vary by state. As soon as we know how each state will proceed with Safe Routes to School, we will post the information on our state SRTS pages.

Many people have asked us about the future of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, the clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School program. Right now, we have funding through October, and FHWA is working to extend our contract through January 2013. The National Center is committed to continuing to provide our core services, including the coordination of Walk to School Day – which we believe will be bigger than ever this year – as well as our travel tally and parent survey processing, support to state and local programs, training, and other resources like our monthly webinars.

We also continue to plan the 2013 SRTS National Conference, to be held next August. The National Center and the SRTS National Partnership are the presenting sponsors for the National Conference, and we agree that the conference is more important than ever. The call for proposals was released with language that made certain that the conference could continue regardless of the status of the federal SRTS program. We have received a number of strong proposals, and we’re reviewing them now.

The National Center is fortunate to be housed within the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, which has been a strong supporter of safe walking and bicycling for more than 40 years. It was the Highway Safety Research Center that founded Walk to School Day in 1997. Regardless of what happens to the clearinghouse, our commitment to safe walking and bicycling for children will not go away.

We take heart in the future of Safe Routes to School. It is obvious that SRTS programs across the country are building momentum, with great energy in promoting walking and bicycling to school and a commitment to safety. Safe Routes to School has become part of the fabric of schools and communities nationwide. The concept of Safe Routes to School is here to stay; we just may need to be creative in figuring out how to support the things we value. We thank you for your continued involvement, and promise to provide as much information as possible, as soon as possible. 

Warmest regards,
Lauren Marchetti
National Center for Safe Routes to School