Bike education in physical education in Fairfax County Public Schools

Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) met physical education teacher Christina Saindon who is teaching bicycle education in her 9th grade class. Currently, there are four sections of 35 students and the goal is to double that number next year!  Check out her insights and how she does it on the FABB blog.


Safe Routes to School Grants Manager Position in Maryland

The Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Research Center – STAR (National Study Center) is seeking a Highway Safety Program Specialist.  The work location for this position will be at Maryland State Highway Administration, 7491 Connelley Drive, Hanover, MD 21076.  The selected candidate will be responsible for the financial management, coordination, implementation and monitoring of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.

For more information, go to the link below and then scroll down to requisition number and enter 7438.  When the next screen comes up, put a check in the box and click on View Selected Jobs.

Applications are due by June 29.

UPDATE Yes they can! Can Vienna Elementary record 100 bicyclists on a single day?

It is official, Vienna Elementary School had 128 bikes in the racks on the last day of Walking Wednesdays and Wolftrap Elementary School had 82 bikes in the racks on the last day of Wolfie’s Bike Train.

Congrats to both schools and their leaders, Sean McCall and Jeff Anderson, for a phenomenal year of walking and bicycling to school! The momentum in Vienna is infectious and we are hearing about parents and school leaders at other Fairfax County schools interested in starting their own Safe Routes to School program. I also hear plans are already in the works for next year, I am excited to learn how these schools top their successes from this year!

Post from June 11, 2012

This is the kind of news I like to wake up to!  Vienna Elementary School (VES) is trying to set an all-Vienna school record with 100 kids bicycling on the last Walking Wednesday of the year, which is this Wednesday. They came close last Friday with 92 kids bicycling to school and filling up bike racks. Sean McCall, Safe Routes to School Coordinator for the school is convinced they can do it!

VES and the other Vienna elementary schools have shown what happens when a few parents engage in Safe Routes to School. They energize their principals, the students and other parents. They have figured out how to change the culture in their schools with a manageable amount of effort. The spirit is infectious, VES has Walking Wednesdays and Wolftrap Elementary School has Wolfie’s Bike Train. Once these schools were successful, other schools in the community took notice. Truly believing in Safe Routes to School, the parents who have done it talked with the parents at new schools. Wolfie’s Bike train leader Jeff Anderson even rode with a new bike train at Marshall Road Elementary to help parents there feel more comfortable.

All the excitement culminated in the Bike/Walk Challenge with over 1,400 kids at five Vienna elementary schools walking or bicycling in a single day!! Even though VES took two awards in the Challenge, the momentum could not be stopped and now they want the single day record for number of kids bicycling to school.

VES has also pulled in community partners,  Caffe Amouri provides free coffee for parents who walk or bicycle with their children to school. Wolfie’s Bike Train has had local professional cyclists, their principal and the Fairfax County Bike Coordinator ride. The Vienna Patch has been hugely supportive and served as the officiant of the Bike/Walk Challenge this year, publishing results each day.

Safe Routes to School is a community effort and the community benefits from kids walking and bicycling to school. Kids are healthier and arrive at school ready to learn, parents have the chance to talk with each other and there are less cars on the road in morning traffic.

Health equity in transportation decisions

Today, the American Public Health Association (APHA) held a webinar on public transportation and health. There were several statistics cited by APHA that we have probably heard many of these before but it is important to be reminded.

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among persons 1-24 years old.
  • Children experience an increase in asthma and bronchitis symptoms when attending schools near freeways or major roads.
  • People living near heavily trafficked roadways have double the risk of death from heart or lung disease.
  • Public transit users get about 19 minutes of physical activity a day.
  • Transit riders are shown to have lower levels of stress than automobile drivers.
  • One-third of people living in this country cannot access or afford to access basic needs.
  • The poorest 5th of US families pay 42% of their income to own and drive a car.

Most of these statistics point out that equity is important in transportation work. The numbers show that transportation mode is not a choice for everyone. In addition to not being able to reach a necessary location, there are real health consequences of school and housing location. Location determines mode choice and therefore can contribute to physical activity. But it determines other health factors too. Schools and homes located near freeways or major roads increase health symptoms and risks. The majority of the people feeling those health consequences are low-income communities and communities of color.

Transportation decisions are multifaceted. A priority in decision making should be to consider the impacts of those decisions on health and who in the population is bearing the burden of those impacts. Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is one tool that considers health in decision making. Previously, no one thought about transportation as a health issue,  the location of a school or the proximity of a school to a highway. Research is now showing we should-both for access and for health.

This webinar was the first in a series of APHA webinars on health and transportation. For the slides of today’s presentation and more information see the APHA website.

Montgomery County sees increase in pedestrian safety

I am a little late finding this news but a press release from Montgomery County highlighting measurable reductions in pedestrian collisions is fantastic! Thanks to Jeff Dunckel, pedestrian safety coordinator for the County for calling my attention to this work.

Montgomery County’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative put in place by County Executive Isiah Leggett has seven strategies:

Strategy 1: Target pedestrian safety improvements in High Incidence Areas
Strategy 2: Assess and improve pedestrian network and connectivity needs
Strategy 3: Increase emphasis on pedestrians and bicyclists in the planning process
Strategy 4: Identify and implement corridor and intersection modifications and traffic calming treatments
Strategy 5: Upgrade pedestrian signals
Strategy 6: Assess and enhance street lighting
Strategy 7: Modify pedestrian and driver behavior through enhanced enforcement and educational efforts

At a recent CountyStat review results from the Pedestrian Safety Initiative were presented.

  • Pedestrian collisions around schools with the highest number of collisions were reduced from 1.45 to .4 incidences per year. The Safe Routes to School program focused engineering improvements at 129 schools.  Education and encouragement activities supported the engineering improvements to achieve the reduction in collisions.
  • Pedestrian collisions per 100,000 residents decreased from 46.7 to 40.5 between 2005 and 2011.
  • Pedestrian collisions in High Incidence Areas have decreased from 10 percent to 7 percent (2008-2011).
  • Speeds were decreased up to 11 miles per hour due to traffic calming such as bump-outs, pedestrian refuge islands and enhanced signage.

This is a great example of recognizing an issue, deciding priorities and targeting resources. The High Incidence Areas (HIA) for example, are areas with a density of collisions. A safety audit helps to identify needed improvements and resources are targeted to the HIAs. Schools in the Safe Routes to School program have also been audited and prioritized.

Numbers are really important. They help us show the work we do matters. And numbers help to show the need for more resources for pedestrians and bicyclists. With about 30% of traffic fatalities in the Greater Washington region, we have the numbers that show a problem. It is vital to also have the numbers to show improvements work.

The most important part is students and community members are safer.