District 2 of the Florida DOT: Existing volunteer network spreads SRTS message

Introduction

District 2 of Florida’s Department of Transportation manages a district-wide Safe Routes to School program that has provided pedestrian and bicycle safety outreach and education to more than 28,500 children in 605 schools since it began in September 2007.

The population of District 2 in northeastern Florida is more than 1.7 million in both urban and rural areas of 18 counties covering nearly 12,000 square miles. Its major cities include Gainesville, Jacksonville, Lake City, Amelia Island, Palatka, Perry, Saint Augustine and Starke.

The District Community Traffic Safety Program Manager, and Safety Engineer joined together to produce a districtwide branded program They worked with the local trauma center, Shands Jacksonville TraumaOne, to develop printed materials for the project. The limited program funds are used as efficiently as possible to provide education and materials and a limited number of bicycle helmets directly in the community by utilizing the existing network of community volunteers. The District FDOT office distributes, stores and ships materials directly to community partners.

Activities

Safe Kids North Central Florida and City of Gainesville partnered to provide bike helmets and safety education to students. Other partners include Shands Jacksonville and 900 volunteers from cities, counties and agencies in North Florida.District 2 has allocated a total of $302,085 to its non-infrastructure program from FY 2006 to the end of FY 2009.

The Community Traffic Safety Program team began 14 years ago and serves as a model for existing communitybased programs using existing resources. The Community Traffic Safety Teams are locally based groups comprised of highway safety advocates who want to solve problems through a comprehensive, multi-jurisdictional, multidisciplinary approach. The District 2 CTST Network includes approximately 900 volunteers from city, county, state and federal agencies, as well as citizens and industry representatives. The large number of existing partners committed to traffic safety enabled the District SRTS project to quickly launch and reach many children with safety messages. The education campaign also reached parents and community members.

Florida DOTs District 2 provides pedestrian and bicycle safety outreach and education to more than 28,500 children in 605 schools from Jacksonville and St. Augustine to Gainesville.“Joining the Safe Routes program with the Community Traffic Safety Team network was a logical fit,” says Andrea Atran, Community Traffic Safety Program Manager. “There are many people in our communities who are already spreading the message of safe walking and biking. They are an incredible resource to promote the Safe Routes to Schools message.”

The Community Traffic Safety Program, teams and members spread the word about SRTS through e-mails, mailings and word of mouth, including a direct mail campaign to the 605 eligible public and private schools in District 2. The efforts resulted in increased safety education in the classrooms and communities.

Bicycle helmets were distributed by many volunteers including: 23 law enforcement agencies, 27 schools, four health departments, six non-profits, the two area trauma centers, five emergency service/fire rescue agencies and four city/county governments. Education materials were distributed by 359 schools, four city/county SRTS Case Study: District 2 of the Florida DOT Existing volunteer network spreads SRTS message Safe Kids North Central Florida and City of Gainesville partnered to provide bike helmets and safety education to students. Other partners include Shands Jacksonville and 900 volunteers from cities, counties and agencies in North Florida. Existing volunteer network spreads SRTS message in Florida’s FDOT District 2 governments, 23 law enforcement agencies, four health departments, two trauma centers, six non-profits and five emergency services agencies.

Atran says that the program is committed to evaluation where possible. A number of the CTST partner agencies also gather data and evaluate their outreach efforts. Evaluation is a central component of the more costly infrastructure program. The nature of this broad-based program makes uniform measurement difficult, but one potential indicator of success is that in the trauma centers, bicycle and pedestrian accidents are not the number one incident reported.

Milestones

In the first eight months of FY 2008 – 2009, the program trained and educated 150 volunteers about proper helmet fitting and how to introduce SRTS to their communities. Program organizers held area presentations, school assemblies, safety fairs and other events. The project distributed 10,696 helmets using CTST volunteers to fit the helmets. In addition, it distributed 28,740 educational activity books and other printed and educational supporting materials.

The District-wide approach has required a significant hands-on time commitment at the District FDOT office since material development, distribution and coordination with volunteer CTST members is handled from the District Office. By taking on these functions, the program funds are used cost effectively to purchase program materials.

“The effort to introduce the Safe Routes program to schools in 18 counties was significant, and coordination with such a large base of volunteers and partners is also challenging,” Atran says. Distribution includes thousands of bike helmets as well as education materials. For Atran, the community-based approach was both logical and crucial.

“We wanted to reach as many K – 8 students as possible,” Atran says. “The lessons we’re teaching about safe walking and bicycling are the same lessons area children use at home all year round.”

Contact

Andrea Atran
M.A., C.P.M. Community Traffic Safety Program Manager
Florida Department of Transportation
andrea.atran@dot.state.fl.us
(904)360-5424 / 1-800-207-8236