City Receives $562,000 Safe Routes to School Grant

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City of Davis receives $562,000 from the California Transportation Commission for the Safe Routes to School program.

On August 21, 2014, over $300 million in walking and bicycling grants were awarded to communities across California through the State's new Active Transportation Program (ATP). $562,000 of this funding has been awarded to the City of Davis to develop and launch a Safe Routes to School Program over the next 3 years.

"We are thrilled to be selected as one of the recipients of this new grant. We worked very hard to create a strong application, knowing that the process would be extremely competitive, and it is exciting to think about all of the great things that this money will fund in Davis over the next few years." --Rachel Hartsough, Program Manager, City of Davis Street Smarts Program

Caltrans had to set up a special storage room in the basement of their building in Sacramento to house the mountain of applications that were received – 771 of them in all. The total in ATP funds requested was over $1 billion.

Grant Features
The goal of Safe Routes to School is to increase the number of children bicycling and walking to schools safely every day. Toward this end, the following program elements were created and will be funded through the ATP grant. The City is excited to be rolling out the following projects over the next few years:

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program
A formal SRTS program will support the City in its efforts to increase the numbers of children and their families who use safe and active forms of transportation to get to school and extra-curricular activities. The City of Davis currently operates Street Smarts, a traffic safety education campaign funded through a Safe Routes to School grant that provides funding through 2015.

Suggested Routes to School Maps
With the recent completion of our Walk & Bike Audits, the City now has Suggested Routes to School maps in English and Spanish for each of the elementary and junior high schools in the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD). These maps are designed to assist families in finding the best routes to walk, bike, or drive to get to school, and support parents in feeling more comfortable sending their children to school by bike or on foot. Completed SRTS maps can be viewed or downloaded at:
http://www.djusd.net/saferoutes

School Site Coordinators
Grant funding will provide a stipend for a parent or school staff at each of the public elementary and junior high schools for the duration of the grant. The coordinator will act as a liaison between the City of Davis, the Davis Joint Unified School District, and Davis Bicycles! to support program goals at each school site.

Several aspects of the program will be administered in partnership with Davis Bicycles!, the community's bicycle advocacy organization. The City of Davis and Davis Bicycles! have enjoyed a strong working relationship over the past few years through the Davis Bicycles! Schools Committee activities, which have included bike rodeos, implementation of Active4.me scanning programs, safety events, and Bike month activities.

"Members of this committee have spent a lot of time over the past few years putting their heads together to develop meaningful ways to strengthen school-based involvement in SRTS activities in the Davis community. We are excited to test out this new model, and looking forward to working together to make biking and walking safe and fun for all kids in Davis." --Rachel Hartsough, Program Manager, City of Davis Street Smarts Program
"We at Davis Bicycles! are very grateful to City staff, particularly Rachel Hartsough, for working so hard to make this a strong proposal. We can't wait to get started and look forward to a strong partnership with the City and the District to make active transportation a lifelong habit for families in Davis." --Trish Noble, Davis Bicycles! Board member and Chair of the Schools Committee.

Active4.me scanning program
We will continue the popular scanning and parent notification system. Updated technology and the integration of student leadership will enhance this already successful program, and will enable students to engage more directly in the collection of data, and to take more ownership of the program. We are excited to be launching new schools this year!

Educational Resources
Curriculum-based resource materials will be developed for schools using the Common Core and 21st Century Skills standards to provide easy-to-use tools for teachers to help them integrate lessons supporting SRTS goals into their classroom activities. PTA Toolkits will support the creation of Walking School Bus planners and other SRTS programs.

Creative Community Education and Outreach
Initiatives with the Bicycle Hall of Fame and the Art in Public Places program will support educational programming in new and unique locations in Davis. Painted Intersections and/or Bike Tunnels will provide traffic calming and improved community interaction in targeted areas near schools. Education programs that support field trips and family oriented visitor experiences at the Bicycle Hall of Fame will help to establish this venue as a resource for future educational endeavors that support the SRTS mission and goals.

New Signs & Signals
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons and new signage will provide enhanced traffic calming near schools and at targeted pedestrian/bike crossings,improving student safety in these locations.

Project Background
In 2011 the City of Davis received a grant to conduct an extensive safety audit at 11 local elementary and middle schools. In the Spring of 2013, the City reviewed school-related transportation issues to identify ways to improve walking and biking access to schools for students and their families.

"The results of this process are intended to guide our future strategy as we make programmatic and infrastructural improvements that will support the continued growth of students and families who choose active forms of transportation to get to school." --Rachel Hartsough, Program Manager, City of Davis Street Smarts Program

Drop-off and pick-up at local schools is a cause of great concern for parents and school staff due to the high levels of vehicle congestion in school zones, many of which were originally designed as neighborhood schools, and not designed to accommodate vehicle traffic. Parents noted in the Audit, completed in March 2014, that this situation—along with a number of other safety concerns—impacts their decision to allow children to walk or ride to school.

Background on Safe Routes to School
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is an international movement to create safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to school. In 1969, nearly 50% of students walked or biked to school. Today, that number has dropped to 13%, and while more children in Davis use active forms of transportation than the national average, the rates of childhood obesity and inactivity are overwhelming. Parents consistently site traffic hazards as the largest barrier to biking or walking. These are environmental issues that can be addressed given the right tools. Safe Routes to School programs are built on collaborative partnerships that include educators, parents, students, elected officials, engineers, city planners, business and community leaders, health officials, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates.

Our goal is to provide safe and fun routes to schools that promote walking and biking as primary modes of transportation. We know this is important because:

  • Reducing the number of cars on the road in the morning commute to school makes transportation for children safer and improves air quality.
  • Walking or riding a bike or scooter to school is good exercise, improves fitness, and has been demonstrated to positively impact school performance.
  • Walking or biking to school promotes community, and enables students to become more familiar with navigation and their school neighborhood.
  • Students who are responsible for getting themselves to school have lower rates of tardiness and develop a sense of independence and confidence.
  • The use of fossil fuels is one of the leading contributors to global warming, and an increased use of active forms of transportation helps our planet.

For more information, please contact:
Rachel Hartsough
Program Manager, Street Smarts
(530) 757-5640
rhartsough@cityofdavis.org

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