The National Center's Web site, www.saferoutesinfo.org, is an efficient and effective tool to facilitate the dissemination of information to the general public, state governments and local stakeholders. The more than 138, 000 visitors to the Web site in the reporting period highlight the growing interest and reach of SRTS. Visitors benefited from a wealth of online resources available at their fingertips, from the popular SRTS Guide to news releases on new products and services, including case studies and available training.
The National Center's Safe Routes Matters e-newsletter is sent every other month to more than 2,500 recipients. The newsletter is an efficient tool to communicate news from the National Center to a growing community of Safe Routes to School leaders and advocates.
Electronic messages are sent to online subscribers on new activities at the National Center for Safe Routes to School. These items include: news briefs, new information available, new online registration for Walk to School, call for proposals to host the National Conference, call for applications to the Oberstar Award, and calls for training needs.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School completed a three-year progress report entitled Many Steps…One Tomorrow — A report on the first three years of the National Safe Routes to School Program. The report includes latest numbers and success stories to illustrate the proliferation of SRTS programs across U.S. The report includes case studies and updates on current state and national initiatives in support of communities building Safe Routes to School programs. At their request, the National Center provided copies of the report to the office of U.S. Rep. James L. Oberstar for distribution to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School actively promotes International Walk to School in October, and maintains Web sites especially designed for the event (www.walktoschool.org for USA and www.iwalktoschool.org for the international community).
In its twelfth year, participation reached a record high with more than 2,800 events from all 50 states and the District of Columbia registered on the Walk to School Web site (www.walktoschool.org) in 2008. Many more communities held events but did not register. Around the globe, International Walk to School Month brought together more than 40 countries in recognition of the common interest in walking to school.
More than one-half (55 percent) of events are part of ongoing efforts to promote walking and bicycling throughout the year. Seventy-five percent of events led to policy or engineering changes, according to Walk to School organizers. This rate has steadily grown since 2005.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School supports Walk to School day in a variety of ways beyond its Web sites. Activities range from sending a newsletter to Walk to School registered event coordinators during seven-week period, with event tips, resources and promotion announcements to leading an International Walk to School conference call with member countries to providing technical assistance to local event organizers.
The Walk to School Web site received 30,000 visits during the reporting period. Thirty-one percent of visitors typed the address directly into their browser; the rest of the traffic came from search engines and from referring Web sites such as saferoutesinfo.org and iwalktoschool.org.
The National Center established the James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award in 2007 to honor the Congressman's dedication to American schoolchildren as the pioneer for the National Safe Routes to School Program. Congressman Oberstar, current Chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, sponsored the Safe Routes to School legislation that strives to create safe settings to enable more parents and children to walk and bicycle to school. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in improving the health and well-being of an entire generation of school children by creating safer environments for walking and biking to school and encouraging children to walk to and from school.
Bear Creek Elementary School in Boulder, Colo., received the 2008 James L. Oberstar Award. The school's Safe Routes to School program involves 70 percent of students in walking and bicycling activities throughout the year. Bear Creek Elementary School, one of the first in the country to have walking school buses throughout the school year, keeps track of students' travel through monthly tallies. Kent Cruger, principal at Bear Creek Elementary, challenges students daily with his own examples of car-free travel. Congressman Oberstar presented the Oberstar Award to a delegation from Bear Creek Elementary in Boulder, Colo., at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. on March 10.
The National Center also released and promoted its call for applications for the 2009 award.
The Safe Routes to School National Conference provides an opportunity for individuals and organizations interested and involved with Safe Routes to School to network, engage in educational opportunities and form partnerships to enhance their Safe Routes to School work.
The city of Portland, Ore., recognized nationally for its walking and bicycling programs, was selected through a competitive application process to host the 2nd Safe Routes to School National Conference in 2009. The site selection process was led by the National Center for Safe Routes to School and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The conference will take place in August 2009. The 1st Safe Routes to School National Conference, held in Dearborn, Michigan, in November 2007, exceeded expectations with more than 400 participants including program representatives, state transportation administrators, engineers, planners, elected officials, parents and community members.
Staff from the National Center for Safe Routes to School participate in conferences as attendees and as presenters to reach groups of stakeholders who can influence the development and success of Safe Routes to School. Presentations were made at conferences including Pro Walk / Pro Bike, Walk 21 International Conference on Walking, National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Annual Conference, American Traffic Safety Services Association Annual Convention and State and Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association Pedestrian Injury Prevention State Workshop. In addition, staff were invited to provide expert input at meetings including Center of Excellence for Training and Research Obesity Prevention in Public Health Course, FHWA Pedestrian Safety Program Strategic Plan Stakeholder Workshop and US Green Building Council Education Webinar.