Revised: VDOT Safe Routes to School and Federal Funding 101

The Virginia-specific call has been pushed back one week to allow Greater Washington region Safe Routes to School network members to attend the Federal Funding 101 call on May 3, 2012. Details for both calls are below.

Federal Funding 101

Learn more about the complex and complicated funding process that the federal and state level including successful techniques to apply for Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and other funding available from your state department of transportation.

Date: May 3, 2012

Time: 2p ET

Registration and more information.

Virgina Safe Routes to School Call

The Greater Washington region Safe Routes to School Network will be hosting a Virginia-specific call with VDOT Safe Routes to School Coordinator Rob Williams. On the call, we will discuss the new Strategic Plan and the pending application cycle. Virginia network members will also have an opportunity to ask question and share information about Virginia-specific projects. Please plan to join us!

Date: May 10, 2012

Time: 2p

Phone number (toll free): 866-394-4146

Passcode: 111948544

Today is Wednesday-are you walking to school?

Max is a dedicated student bicyclist!

Vienna Elementary School students sure are! Each Wednesday is Walking Wednesdays for the school.  One sunny, warm Wednesday in March, 194 students walked or biked! This number accounts for half the school! Only 21 percent of the students are designated by the school as walkers. Last year during the now annual Walk/Bike Challenge with other Vienna elementary schools, the highest number of student walkers/bicyclists was 122. Check out the great pictures of kids walking and parents chatting over donated coffee from local coffee shop Caffe Amouri. One especially impressive kid-wore his backpack and attached his instrument to his bike!

How to do Walking Wednesdays

It takes three parents, a supportive principal and one janitor to pull it off.  One parent at the school started participating in International Walk to School Day in October 2011. He received a few small community grants to be able to purchase

One student has earned a lot of "feet!"

colored feet, reflectors and small chains for the kids’ backpacks. Each Wednesday, kids receive a foot or on special days such as St. Patrick’s Day or Valentine’s Day, they receive a themed reflector such as a shamrock or a heart. The kids love the incentives and since they are attached to their backpacks, everyone at school can see them encouraging other kids to walk.
Two parents split the Wednesday morning logistical duties.  One gets the coffee that comes with cups, the other heads straight to the school with coffee cream in hand. The feet, coffee sugar and other small supplies are stored in a box inside the school. The school janitor sets up a table outside at the designated spot. The program is year round and a note is usually put in kids’ folders at school to remind them it is Walking Wednesday.

Kids stream in for about 15-20 minutes. The two parents ask the kids if they walked or rode and then help them attach their feet or reflectors to backpacks. Many parents accompany the students and then enjoy coffee and chat. It takes less than an hour of time for the parents who organize.


The 2010-2011 School Travel Plan shows 82 children are designated walkers. A survey showed about 54 kids regularly walk or bike. The highest

Kids streaming into school on foot!

count during the Walk/Bike Challenge Week was 122. On a random day in March 2012, a count was taken and 194 students walked which is 59 percent more than the best day last year.

If you would like to learn more about the Vienna Elementary School Walking Wednesday, please contact Christine Green to be put in touch with the parent leaders.  Thanks to Jeff Anderson, parent at Wolftrap Elementary School for taking the photos. Check out more pictures on the Greater Washington Safe Routes to School Facebook page.

To learn more about how to implement a Safe Routes to School program, check out the archived presentations from the April 11th webinar,Local Safe Routes to School Programs: Creating a Ground Swell for Safe Routes Policy.

Resources for your Safe Routes to School program

There are a lot of resources available for your Safe Routes to School program right now. Here is a list, if you  know of any more, please send them in!

Leaving No Stone Unturned: Tips and Tricks for Funding Your SRTS Program

Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 1-2 p.m. EDT

This is a webinar, registration is required.

VDOT Safe Routes to School Call

Due to Federal Funding 101 webinar, this call is being rescheduled.

Date: TBA

Time: TBA

This call will allow Greater Washington Virginia members to talk with VDOT Safe Routes to School Coordinator Rob Williams about the new strategic plan and upcoming grant applications. More details.

Takoma Park Safe Routes to School 5K Challenge

Sunday, May 6, 2012 8am
Takoma Park Community Center, 7500 Maple Avenue Takoma Park, Md 20912

The 5K Challenge supports pedestrian safety programs in the Takoma Park Elementary Schools. Registration is open now!

First National Bike to School Day

May 9, 2012 at YOUR School!

Please plan to participate and register! By registering, you show the Greater Washington region is participating and our kids are arriving at school ready to learn by bicycling to school!

Safe Routes to School National Course in Maryland

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 (registration by May 11th)
9:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Hurlock Community Center (The Old Train Station)
107 Gay St. Hurlock, MD 21643

Register by May 11, 2012 to:

Joe Pelaia, Maryland SRTS Coordinator or 410.787.7620

This training is designed to give you the knowledge to start a successful Safe Routes to School program in your community!

Health is important to transportation decisions

A few weeks ago the Inaugural Health Impact Assessment Meeting was held in D.C. and the presentations from this meeting were just posted online. For those unfamiliar with health impact assessment (HIA), it is a method to incorporate health into decision making. HIA recognizes that health is more than healthcare and that the environment that we live in and policies at all levels of government impact our health.

The goal of an HIA is to inform decision making. Persons affected by the decision should be involved and the results taken into account by the decision makers. HIAs have been completed on living wage ordinances, neighborhood redevelopment, light rail lines, zoning codes and the federal farm bill.

A great walking and bicycling HIA example is the Clark County Public Health HIA on the Clark County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (CCBPMP). Bicycle and pedestrian master plans or the bicycle and pedestrian chapter in the transportation master plan guide the infrastructure, networks, connections and policy for walking and bicycling in the community. The plans often have robust community input and are used to prioritize projects to be built. The Clark County HIA prioritized projects, policies and programs in the CCMPBP to maximize health benefits for all county residents.

The HIA was successful in including transportation for health as a goal of the plan. The goal specifically reads “Active Transportation Planning and Bicycle-and-Pedestrian-Supportive Land Uses.” As a result of the HIA, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will now review projects in the planning stage. A huge success of the HIA was the change in project selection criteria. The criteria now includes health and equity. Twenty points of the 100 points available are awarded based on socioeconomic status, walkability potential, street connectivity and low-stress facilities such as off-street trails.

The HIA resulted in important policy steps. Project review by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the new project selection criteria are now incorporated into routine business. It is clear when diverse partners are at the table, outcomes are better. Community residents most in need of bicycle and pedestrian improvements are prioritized. The entire community will have access to better networks resulting in the ability to safely choose active transportation.

At least two health departments in the Greater Washington region are tackling built environment issues as well. Check back for more to come! For more information on health impact assessment, please see the Health Impact Project website.

Safe Routes to School National Course in Maryland

The Maryland Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration’s will be hosting the Safe Routes to School National Course on May 22, 2012. This is a great opportunity to learn all “Five E’s” (education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement and evaluation) of a successful Safe Routes to School program. This is an opportunity to build the expertise in the Greater Washington region. Please register by May 11th.

Overview of the course agenda:

  • Why safe routes to school matters: Safety, health and transportation issues
  • Field exercises of school campus and surrounding area
  • Perspectives from local stakeholders
  • Engineering strategies
  • Pick-up and drop-off area strategies
  • Identification of problems and solutions
  • Encouragement strategies
  • An action plan for your community

The course is free and includes lunch and snacks. Course size is limited and registration is required. Please contact Joe Pelaia, Maryland SRTS Coordinator to register.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012
9:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Hurlock Community Center (The Old Train Station)
107 Gay St. Hurlock, MD 21643

Registration:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Joe Pelaia, Maryland SRTS Coordinator or 410.787.7620

Wolfie’s bike train is rolling

Wolfie's Bike Train. Photo by Jeff Anderson.

Wolftrap Elementary School kids are bicycling to school today on Wolfie’s Bike Train. Headed up by Jeff Anderson, a parent of three kids at the school, the bike train has left the neighborhood once a month since 2011. The bike train goes on in all types of weather, four kids even braved 19 degree temperatures last year. Kids riding to school may have a surprise in store for them. The Wolftrap Elementary School principal has joined the bike train three times!

During Bike/Walk Challenge week, Wolfie’s Bike Train rolls everyday. The elementary schools in Vienna participate in Bike/Walk Challenge, an annual friendly competition that coincided with Bike to Work week last year. The schools compete to see who has the most kids walking and bicycling to school during the challenge week. This year will be the fourth year. Last year Wolftrap, Vienna and Cunningham Park elementary schools all participated. The record number of kids bicycling to school at Wolftrap is 75! Wolftrap also reported a reduction of 50-70% of cars in the kiss-and-ride during challenge week. Kids get so excited that there were even some dedicated walkers last year that ventured out in the rain!

Keep us posted on the results from this year! If you would like more information on Wolfie’s Bike Train or the Bike/Walk Challenge please contact Christine Green to be connected to the organizers. Hopefully Wolfie’s Bike Train will inspire you to register for Bike to School Day!

Braving the rain to walk to school! Photo by Jeff Anderson.

Wolfie's bike train fills the bike racks. Photo by Jeff Anderson

Greater Washington Promotes Walking and Bicycling

While we need to keep moving forward, the Greater Washington region is already making moves toward walking and bicycling.

Wolftrap Elementary School in Fairfax County, VA. Photo by Jeff Anderson.

Learn more about proposed legislation in Prince George’s County that would require developers to provide bicycle and pedestrian access within one-half mile of their development. We do it for cars, now Prince George’s wants to do it for everyone! There is also an established Green Fund which will fund green and complete streets. The fund currently has a $17 million dollar commitment from the County Executive.

And that is not all. Communities in Maryland and D.C. are committing their own funds to Safe Routes to School programs. Communities in Virginia are taking extra steps to ensure kids are safe and able to walk or bicycle to school. For example, Fairfax County Public School Board adopted a policy stating that is the parents’ choice to allow children to walk or bicycle to school.  For more details, check out the blog on the Safe Routes to School National Partnership website.

Webinar Recap: Implementing Safe Routes to School Programs

Miss the webinar yesterday? Well you are in luck; the presentations are now available online. Check out all the great ideas from bike rodeos to school assessments, learn how to implement a successful program from those that do it everyday in the Greater Washington region!

Thanks to our speakers for sharing their expertise and making their presentations available on our website.

City of Alexandria Public Schools
Julie Childers, Executive Director, Trails for Youth
Dennis Burstein, Curriculum Facilitator
Implementing Non-infrastructure Safe Routes to School Program

District Department of Transportation
Jennifer, Hefferan, Safe Routes to School Coordinator
Safe Routes to School in Washington, D.C.

Montgomery County Department of Transportation
Nadji Kirby, Safe Routes to School Coordinator
Montgomery County Safe Routes to School Program

Takoma Park Students Walk in the Middle of the Crosswalk

Students at Takoma Park Elementary School in Montgomery County, Maryland had a special surprise a few weeks ago. Their gym was turned into a street with a crosswalk and first graders became pedestrians, stop signs, cars and pedestrian crosswalk signs. As Lucy Neher, City of Takoma Park Safe Routes to School coordinator so elegantly sang, the kids learned to “walk in the middle of the crosswalk” (clap, clap).

Takoma Park Elementary School is in the middle of the neighborhood, the ideal location for kids to walk and bicycle to school. As we know, when kids walk or bicycle to school, they arrive at school ready to learn and focus and gain physical activity important for health. Plus, with the reduced car traffic, air quality is better around schools and stress is alleviated for all by avoiding congested drop-off and pick-up lines.

This is why it is so important that Lucy spent a week with students teaching them to safely and properly cross the street. Not only is Takoma Park Elementary School ideally situated for walking and bicycling but the community is as well. With parks, a commercial district, Metro station and sidewalks, the crosswalk exercise is a life lesson for kids. Kids are now better and safer members of their community because they know the rules of the road. They can educate their families and as they grow up, can confidently navigate their neighborhood and adopt an active living lifestyle.

Who knew so much could come from a crosswalk exercise? The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Lucy first brought them together as a class to talk about the basics. When approaching a crosswalk, stop at the curb. Look left, then right and left again. Listen to crossing guards. Do not chase your ball out into the street, get an adult. And then the all-important jingle, that stuck in everyone’s head (including mine) “walk in the middle of the crosswalk” followed by two claps.

Kids then simulated the real world experience by picking up cars and street signs to become the street. Kids practiced approaching the street, looking left, right, and left again and crossing in the middle of the crosswalk. The kids were thrilled as pedestrians to careful follow all of their instructions. Cars raced around the street but halted as soon as they saw the pedestrians. I look forward to seeing the kids around Takoma Park safely navigate their neighborhood. In the meantime, I will continue to sing “walk in the middle of the crosswalk” (clap, clap) when I cross the street.

To support the Takoma Park Safe Routes to School program, enter the community 5K run!

First Greater Washington Network Webinar

Our first network webinar is scheduled for April 11th. This is the first in a series of four regionally-focused webinars in 2012. The purpose of these webinars is to share information and best practices about how communities in our region are changing the built environment for better walking and biking. While the focus is policy, we need a cultural shift—and people to support policy change.  As I have met with communities, for those that do not have a SRTS program, the big question is-how are other people doing it?

Well, that question will be answered on our first webinar.

Local Safe Routes to School Examples: Creating a Ground Swell for Safe Routes Policy

Date: April 11, 2012

Time: 2p ET

Webinar Link:

Phone number for audio (toll free): 866-394-4146

Passcode for audio: 111948544

Thanks to our esteemed panel of speakers who will be sharing their knowledge with us!

Julie Childers, Trails for Youth and Dennis Burstein, Curriculum Facilitator, Alexandria City Public Schools

Jennifer Hefferan, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, District Department of Transportation

Nadji T. Kirby, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Montgomery County Department of Transportation