Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Sheboygan County shapes up for SRTS

Introduction

The Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project (NMTPP) in Sheboygan County, WI, was borne out of federal transportation legislation in 2005. Through this legislation, Sheboygan County, along with three other communities in the United States, was eligible to receive up to $25 million in grants for transportation safety projects through 2009. Sheboygan County receives between five and six million dollars in grant money per year, and officials dedicate the grant money to promoting Safe Routes to School (SRTS) activities, as well as community-wide bicycle and pedestrian safety education and infrastructure improvements.

Activities

Students participate in Walk and Bike to School Day.Although Sheboygan County does not receive formal funding from SRTS, the NMTPP has created SRTS- inspired programs that focus on pedestrian and bicycle safety. Because NMTPP has the support of the county schools, its education and encouragement activities have been welcomed by principals, teachers and students. The county’s first Walk and Bike to School Day occurred in spring 2007, and again in fall 2007 as part of International Walk to School Day. In May 2008, there will be another countywide Walk and Bike to School Day. For these events, The NMTPP sends informational packets to county elementary and middle schools, explaining the importance of pedestrian and bicycle safety and how they can encourage their students to walk and bicycle to school. The NMTPP also creates maps with meeting points for the students and volunteers,
as well as t-shirts and ideas for awards. In fall 2007, about 2,000 students and 400 parents participated in the countywide Walk and Bike to School Day.

Parents and students walk to school.Because of Sheboygan County sidewalk ordinances, most of the county’s incorporated cities and villages must have sidewalks installed whenever a new development is created. The infrastructure problems typically result with the townships, which do not require all new developments to have sidewalks. As a result, new developments and schools are created without the proper infrastructure. The NMTPP has many public outreach programs to educate the county on the importance of creating sidewalks, and the county currently has four sidewalk projects in place, which will serve the dual purpose of creating the necessary infrastructure and eliminating some school busing.

With a portion of the funds, the NMTPP has hired the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin to run a SRTS program, as well as a Bike & Walk to Work Week program. For the SRTS program, the Bicycle Federation plans to visit five middle schools in Sheboygan County and teach one 10 hour course on pedestrian and bicycle safety at each of those schools. After the classroom education, the Bicycle Federation then will take small groups of the students “on- road” for real bicycle experience, which typically does not occur with a Bike Rodeo.

The Bicycle Federation project also creates a safe routes plan for every school in the county identifying areas that need bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements in order for children to walk and bicycle to school.

The project guides and promotes the creation of a SRTS committee to interested parents for each public school in the county as well.

For Bike & Walk to Work Week, scheduled for May 10 through May 16, 2008, the Bicycle Federation visited many of the larger business in Sheboygan County and presented commuter tips to employees during lunch presentations. During the week, commuter stations for employees bicycling or walking to work are set up throughout different county municipalities offering free coffee and pastry. A bike rally and a bike-in movie night also planned as part of the weeks activities.

Milestones

The federal legislation authorizing the grant ends in 2009, but the infrastructure projects likely will not be finished until 2010 or 2011. After all NMTPP projects are completed, the county’s schools will be organized to apply for SRTS grants. The data collected by the safe routes initiatives from the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, as well as the results from the many surveys and counts administered through NMTPP, will guide the county to create a comprehensive SRTS program.

Contact

Mary Ebeling
Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program
Sheboygan County Planning and Resources
508 New York Ave
Sheboygan, WI 53081
Phone: (920) 459-3060
Email: ebelimre@co.sheboygan.wi.us

Aaron Brault
Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program
Sheboygan County Planning and Resources
508 New York Ave
Sheboygan, WI 53081
Phone: (920) 459-3060
Email: braulacb@co.sheboygan.wi.us