As part of the Federal Safe Routes to School Program, the National Center for Safe Routes to School was established in May 2006 through a competitive bid process. The National Center serves as the program’s clearinghouse and provides technical assistance, training, resources, evaluation and nationwide promotion of Safe Routes to School. The National Center’s work supports the three basic objectives of the federal Safe Routes to School program:
- Enable and encourage children to walk and bicycle to school;
- Improve the safety of children walking and bicycling to school; and
- Facilitate projects and activities that will reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution near schools.
Although SAFETEA-LU, which established the program, officially expired in 2009, the Federal SRTS Program has been continued through legislative extensions and the National Center’s contract has been extended through January of 2013.
In addition to providing its core functions, in the past year the National Center has focused on carrying out three major projects identified for the contract extension period:
- Launch of a new national event - National Bike to School Day on May 9, 2012;
- Creation of a web-based walking and bicycling route mapping tool; and
- Development of a State SRTS Peer to Peer program.
The aim behind these projects has been to build promotional resources to support local and state-level efforts to increase safe walking and bicycling to school, advance the body of knowledge of best practices in SRTS and continue to support the work of State SRTS Programs.
National Bike to School Day was embraced locally and at the state and national levels. Approximately 950 schools signed up to hold events. Select events drew participation of state-level officials and NHTSA Administrator Strickland attended the national media event in Washington, D.C. To complement the new national event as well as improve support for walk and bike to school events throughout the year, the National Center completed a reorganization of the website, walktoschool.org, including shifting to a more inclusive URL: www.walkbiketoschool.org. The renewed website includes Map-a-Route, a map-making tool that enables users to make and share walking and bicycling routes and add useful icons such as crossing aids and walking school bus meeting times. State Coordinators expressed appreciation for being able to leverage the new event and resources to advance their own programs at the state level.
To further support State Coordinators, the National Center launched a Peer to Peer program. This included a review of existing FHWA Peer programs to identify the most appropriate formats and processes that would fit the SRTS program. The National Center hosted its first Peer Exchange with State Coordinators interested in better outreach to tribal nations in their States.
Demand for the SRTS program remained solid, as evidenced by the number of funding applications received by states and the dollar amount requested by those applicants. During this reporting period, all states and the District of Columbia announced funding for local or statewide SRTS activities and the schools benefiting from the funding increased from approximately 11,371 schools to 13,347. Through June 30, 2012, states had received 11,972 program applications with 47 percent of those being selected for funding. Collectively, states were able to provide approximately 36 percent of the $2.1 billion in requested funds for local and statewide SRTS activities.
This report provides a summary of work conducted by the National Center, with assistance from its partners, from July 2011 through June 2012. The National Center’s partners are America Walks, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and Toole Design Group.
The work of the National Center encompasses the following functions:
- The National Center strengthens local and state capacity by communicating current information, research findings and best practices for audiences ranging from the general public to State SRTS Coordinators. This is accomplished through online technical assistance, a toll-free phone line, and on-going support for State SRTS Coordinators.
- The training function works concurrently with technical assistance. The National Center has developed courses and an instructor training to address the various educational needs of the states and communities. The National Center has dedicated funds to provide two free trainings per state and to increase access to training opportunities by expanding web-based options.
- The National Center builds demand for SRTS programs by developing strategic partnerships to strengthen cross-discipline support for SRTS. Promotional work includes marketing designed to reach parents, students, schools, communities and state governments. Key promotion avenues include the National Center website, International Walk to School Day, the Safe Routes to School Award, mini-grants, the National Review Group, and participation in various conferences relating to active school travel.
- The National Center tracks and reports the number of schools funded and amount of funding awarded by each state, and maintains a database of project descriptions.
- The National Center supports local programs in collecting student travel and parent perception data and maintains this data set.
- The evaluation and research function includes work to advance the assessment and understanding of the effect of SRTS implementation at the local, state and national levels.
About the National Center for Safe Routes to School
Established in May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School assists states and communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. The National Center serves as the information clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School program. The organization also provides technical support and resources and coordinates online registration efforts for U.S. Walk to School Day and facilitates worldwide promotion and participation.
The National Center is part of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. For more information, visit www.saferoutesinfo.org.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School works in collaboration with a network of national organizations and experts from across the country. Partners in this effort include:
- American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
- America Walks
- Governors Highway Safety Association
- Institute of Transportation Engineers
- Toole Design Group
The National Center for Safe Routes to School
UNC Highway Safety Research Center
730 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Suite 300/Campus Box 3430
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3430
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