On May 21, 2009, Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Burr (R-NC) , Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Susan Collins (R-ME) joined together to introduce the Safe Routes to School Program Reauthorization Act (S. 1156). This is an exciting and important step forward as these five diverse Senators have agreed to champion the federal Safe Routes to School program. Three new co-sponsors have joined S. 1156, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to eight. One of the new supporters is Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).
The Safe Routes to Schools Program is a Federal-Aid program of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The SRTS Program is funded at $612 million over five Federal fiscal years (FY 2005-2009) and is to be administered by State Departments of Transportation (DOTs). The Program provides funds to the States to substantially improve the ability of primary and middle school students to walk and bicycle to school safely.
- The purposes of the program are:
to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school;
to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and
to facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity (approximately 2 miles) of primary and middle schools (Grades K-8).
Safe Routes to School programs enable community leaders, schools and parents across the United States to improve safety and encourage more children to safely walk and bicycle to school. In the process, programs are working to reduce traffic congestion and improve health and the environment, making communities more livable for everyone.
You can join the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and get your school or business involved, or just follow the efforts of the programs.
The League of American Bicyclists is looking for further support for bill S.1156, and if you are interested, please take a look at their site to see how you can help.