Safe Routes to School to High Schools Act expands funding program


From the Safe Routes to School National Partnership

November 13, 2009



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Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has just introduced H.R. 4021, the Safe Routes to High Schools Act, to make high schools eligible for federal Safe Routes to School funding. The current federal Safe Routes to School program created in 2005 through SAFETEA-LU is making it safer for more children to walk and bicycle to school all across the country. But, the current program is limited to elementary and middle schools (grades K-8).

Rep. Blumenauer was joined in introducing H.R. 4021 by a bipartisan group of nine other members of the House: Reps. Bono Mack (R-CA), Capps (D-CA), Cassidy (R-LA), Connolly (D-VA), Filner (D-CA), Holt (D-NJ), Schwartz (D-PA), Welch (D-VT), and Wu (D-OR).

High school students are an important audience for Safe Routes to School for a number of reasons:

* Increasing walking and bicycling to and from school can increase physical activity for adolescents, which is particularly important since adolescents average significantly fewer minutes of physical activity than younger children, and obesity rates for young people ages 12 to 19 have tripled in the past fifteen years.
* Making it safer for more students to walk and bicycle to and from high school helps reinforce healthy and green transportation habits that can extend into college and adulthood.
* Educating high school students about pedestrian and bicycle safety can help them be more alert to these dangers both as they walk and bike, and as they learn to drive.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is also supporting the changes that Chairman Oberstar (D-MN) proposed in June 2009 for Safe Routes to School in the draft Surface Transportation Authorization Act (STAA). Chairman Oberstar's provisions would reduce the regulatory burden of implementing Safe Routes to School grants; strengthen data collection and evaluation; move Safe Routes to School under the authority of the new Office of Livability; and make some technical changes to strengthen the program. Neither the Surface Transportation Authorization Act nor the Blumenauer bill discuss funding levels, only policy and program eligibility.

What you can do:
We encourage Safe Routes to School supporters to e-mail your House members with the following message:

I support the federal Safe Routes to School program because it is making it safer for more kids to walk and bicycle to and from school-improving health and safety.

(Insert a sentence or two about your local Safe Routes to School efforts. If you have a high school that needs Safe Routes to School funding, please add that too.)

I hope you will support the Safe Routes to School program in two ways:

* Let Chairman Oberstar and Ranking Member Mica know that you support the provisions in the Surface Transportation Authorization Act that will strengthen Safe Routes to School;
* And, please consider cosponsoring Rep. Blumenauer's H.R. 4021 to allow high schools to apply for Safe Routes to School funding.

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear back from you on this matter.

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