California Policy Complete Streets Education/Webinars Public Health Transportation Funding

Safe Routes to School Conference Highlights Role of Public Health

The Second Annual Sacramento Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Conference held on November 11, 2010 highlighted the role of active transportation in children’s health, while providing resources for local governments and school districts across California.

Public Health Impacts

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s California Policy Manager, Jessica Meaney, led the conference describing how SRTS programs are a way to create environmental, policy and behavioral changes which increase physical activity and prevent childhood obesity. Citing that a third of peak morning vehicle traffic in southern California is a result of school-related trips, the speaker noted the opportunities that exist for SRTS program to promote children’s health while making a significant impact on reducing vehicle trip demand. Sarah Underwood, UC Davis Master of Public Health Candidate, shared statistics demonstrating that the risk of childhood health problems far exceeds more commonly feared parental risks such as abduction. The “stranger danger” concern often expressed as a reason for parents to not allow their children to walk or bike to school was challenged by the following statistical realities of the likelihood that a child would:

  • Become overweight or obese in Sacramento region: 1 in 3
  • Have asthma in Sacramento region: 1 in 6
  • Be struck by lightning next year: 1 in 500,000
  • Be abducted by a stranger next year: 1 in 610,000

More statistics and leading health research on the link between promoting active transportation to schools and childhood health can be found on the National Safe Routes to School Partnership website. Additionally, the California Department of Public Health recently launched the Safe Routes to School Technical Assistance Resource Center within the California Active Communities.

Federal and State Funding Sources

California Active Communities provided extensive information on funding sources for California Safe Routes to School projects and programs, focusing heavily on non-infrastructure grant opportunities. While California SRTS funding is limited to local governments and requires a 10% match for infrastructure projects around schools grades K-12, federal SRTS funding includes Metropolitan Planning Organizations, local governments and school districts (if partners with government agency) – requiring no match for both infrastructure projects and programs for schools grades K-8. Both the federal and state SRTS programs provide grants ranging from $500,000 to $1 million, and will having their next funding cycle in spring 2011. California Active Communities provides a select list of funding for California SRTS projects from the State of California Department of Public Health, Office of Traffic Safety, and Department of Transportation, and Air Resources Board as well as the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Highway Administration, and the National Center for Safe Routes to School:

By Lauren Michele

Lauren Michele – Founder/Owner of Policy in Motion – is a policy consultant/advisor and communications strategist, specializing in progressive and non-partisan politics. She helps candidates and clients build campaigns, coalitions, and communication strategies. Lauren has 15 years of experience working with federal, state, and local government agencies; non-profit organizations; foundations; universities; and political/issue campaigns, including a Presidential Campaign and a California State Bond. Ms. Michele has over a decade of experience working virtually both in team and individual environments, with Policy in Motion offices in California. Policy in Motion’s mission is to promote the environmental, economic, and social well being of communities —fostering a sustainable future for all people and the planet.

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