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Tag Archive: safe routes to school

10 reasons Congress must save bike/ped funding

The following came from a press release issued by the League of American Bicyclists…entitled “Top 10 Reasons Congress Must Preserve Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs”:

“For the past 20 years, local elected officials have had access to state transportation funds through a handful of federal programs for bicycling and walking initiatives: Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails. They account for just 1.5 percent of the overall federal transportation bill and have all been heavily over-subscribed since their creation.

Despite the overwhelming success and popularity of these programs, House Republican leadership and a handful of influential Senators have waged an unexplained and inexplicable vendetta against these programs — not to save the government any money, just to prevent state or local governments spending their money on these specific programs and activities, removing any vestige of local control over transportation investments.

Here are our top ten reasons why members of Congress must reject these small-minded and vindictive attacks.

:

To read the list (including a couple of “surprises”…the U.S. Military supports Safe Routes to School? Wow!), please visit the LAB blog by clicking here.

BIKE TRAIN…. What is it and what is it good for???

A few months ago I was reading an issue of  Bicycle Paper, a Pacific NW regional cycling publication covering all aspects of cycling in Washington & Oregon. I found an article about a gentleman by the name of Kiel Johnson. Kiel is a local advocate of cycling. When I say advocate, I MEAN ADVOCATE! He is involved!

This particular article was centered around a movement aimed at our cycling future. KIDS! (and their supportive parents)

Imagine… instead of big, yellow, diesel smoke spewing school buses there were ‘trains’ of bicycle riders following a set route to school. Picking up riders along the way, growing in numbers along the way to school! This is what Kiel has started here in Portland.

I conducted an ’email interview’ with Kiel, shown below:

BC: Kiel, tell our readers about Bike Trains, What are they and what is this about?

KJ: Bike trains are about creating communities of people who bike to school. They are a group of parents and students that bike together to school on a prearranged route. The bike trains in Portland run one morning every week.

There are lots of other positive things that have resulted from helping organize this community. The streets around schools are safer for all users. There is a study that found that 20% of all morning commute traffic comes from parents driving to drop their kid off at school. We should be doing things around schools that make them safe places to be. Kids are our most valuable investment and when we design a school so that everyone uses a car you are creating a dangerous situation. Last year two students in Portland were sadly struck in a hit and run crash while crossing the street to their school. (http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/01/two_students_hurt_in_hit-and-r.html)

We need to understand these tragedies and make sure that we are contributing to a system that prevents them from happening to anyone else. Bike trains are part of finding a solution to this problem. They create a visible, fun, and comfortable alternative. They also draw in a lot of people who are more cautious about biking to school and wouldn’t do it on their own. It is about making biking to school an event, something that people can talk about and feel a part of.

BC:  How many trains exist in Portland today?

KJ: There are seven schools in Portland that have a bike train. A few of them have stopped running during the winter but there is still a lot of participation. I had one parent tell me that last year, before there was a bike train, she would be the only one locking up in the winter. Now there are about ten bikes parked everyday in all weather conditions.

Many schools have several trains that come in from different directions. For instance Beach, which started last year now has four routes.

There is also a bike train that started in Vermont.

BC: How many kids are participating?

KJ: So far there have been 1184 student and parent riders on a bike train this year. That is just counting the official bike train day at each school.

BC: How many adult volunteers does it take to make a successful Bike Train?

KJ: All it takes is one very enthusiastic parent willing to go for it.

BC: How is this type of program funded?

KJ: We just got a $5,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation. The goal with the grant is to disperse it to the different schools. Let each bike train leader spend it in ways that will improve their school.

BC: How would others go about securing funding for a Bike Train in their communities?

KJ: I wouldn’t worry about funding. I’d just go out and start it.

BC: Do you think business sponsorship might work for a program like this?

KJ: There is a lot of potential for local businesses to sponsor a bike train. There was a bike train in Portland a couple years ago that was sponsored by REI. On a couple occasions the bike train stopped by the REI and staff handed out energy bars and let the riders climb on the climbing rock. REI wins because they look like they are participating in the community and are helping establish future customers. The bike train wins because it makes the riders feel like they are a part of something.

BC: What are your expectations for 2011, in regards to the Bike Train program here in Portland?

KJ: I think April is going to see an explosion of families biking together to school. Everyone feels like we are at a tipping point. Biking to school is becoming “the thing to do”. It is exciting to be a part of this movement.

Kiel has put in tons of work to make biking to school a viable form of transportation for many kids here in Portland. I have done it for my own kids since moving here, now it’s time to move onto a much bigger stage. I have been talking with the PTA president at my kids’ school and Kiel. We are planning on starting our own Bike Train here in NE Portland. I will keep you posted!

If any reader(s) would like to contact Kiel to pursue a Bike Train in their area, the best ways to contact him are shown below:

Email: biketrainpdx@gmail.com

Check out the progress of the Portland area bike trains at http://www.biketrainpdx.org/

“Safe Routes to School” Under Attack

From a press release sent by the League of American Bicyclists:

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) has targeted the federal Safe Routes to School program established under the 2005 Federal Surface Transportation Bill (SAFETEA-LU) as wasteful government spending in his weekly “YouCut program”.

Each week representative Cantor asks people to vote for which of five options they would cut from the federal budget. Republicans then hold a floor vote in the House of Representatives to try to eliminate the program that gets the most votes.

This week, the federal Safe Routes to School program is one of Rep. Cantor’s targets. He argues that SRTS duplicates other bicycling and walking programs, and that bicycling and walking infrastructure is a local government responsibility. We need your help making sure that Members of Congress understand the value of Safe Routes to School and support it.

Please take a few minutes to send a message to your Member of Congress to ask them to vote against any effort to cut Safe Routes to School.

Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter.

For more information and some defensive talking points associated with this proposal, please click here.

And, for a tool to let you easily contact your elected representatives on this matter, please click here.

Not Allowed to Ride to School?

Many of us around here are big fans of encouraging school-age children (and their parents) to ride bicycles to school…it gives kids much-needed exercise and helps teach them that it IS possible to live car-lite. Besides, riding a bike to avoid gridlock around the school is a fantastic way to start and end the day.

And, with the incidences of diabetes and childhood obesity running rampant through the U.S. population, finding a way to use muscles instead of gasoline makes a lot of sense from a health perspective. So, it’s always troubling to hear when kids are thwarted in their attempts to do something positive for themselves and their environment…when school officials don’t allow children to ride bikes to school, we’re ALL in trouble. Here’s an example from last month, an incident in Saratoga, New York:

School officials in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., reprimanded a mother and her 12-year-old son for riding their bicycles to school on national Bike to Work day and confiscated the boy’s bike, according to a story in The Saratogian.

Janette Kaddo Marino and her son, Adam, 12, pedaled the seven miles from their home to Maple Avenue Middle School.

“After they arrived, mother and son were approached first by school security and then school administrators, who informed Marino that students are not permitted to ride their bikes to school,” the story said. “School officials took her son’s bike and stored it in the boiler room. They told her she would have to return with a car to retrieve the bike later in the day.”

Read the full story at Seattle PI by clicking here.

And, strangely enough, this isn’t a U.S.-only phenomenon. In fact, a very similar incident occured in Portsmouth, UK a week later:

A Portsmouth youngster has lost his year-long campaign to be allowed to cycle to school. Sam O’Shea, 11, has been told that the road outside St Paul’s Catholic Primary School is not safe enough to use.

Authorities are sticking by their October 2008 decision – despite the fact that Sam and his family persuaded the city council to bring forward a planned redesign of the road layout. They also arranged for a professional risk assessment, which found that the street was safe for children to cycle on.

The full article can be found on Bike Radar by clicking here.

Troubling times, indeed. A tip of the foam hat to our friend Shek for bringing these two articles to our attention.

If any of you have had similar run-ins, please let us know about them in the comments.

School’s In Session — Listen Up!

If you have a child in school and you live within a couple miles of their school —

map
(this example is a 2.5 mile radius)

And you want to avoid this:

gridlock
(a parking lot full of idling, stationary vehicles and a backed-up city street adjoining school property)

Then try this:

bikes

Or this:

walkin'

Or even this:

xtra

For more information, check out:
National Center for Safe Routes to School
Walk To School