WSDOT’s Safe Routes to Schools grant program aims to protect children from traffic deaths and injuries, and promotes a healthy lifestyle through biking and walking. It also provides sensible transportation by reducing the number of car trips to and from schools.
More than 60 proposals were received during a three-week call for projects. A common component in all eleven selected projects is community involvement in the development of safety, education, enforcement and/or traffic improvement programs to get more kids walking and biking to school safely. Most of the selected projects include improved sidewalk connections or new pathways, and safety education for students and parents.
“WSDOT is eager to support bicycling in its many forms — fitness, touring and commuting,” said Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald. “There is nothing more important, however, than supporting the Safe Routes to Schools bicycle and walking program, which provides a host of benefits for kids, health, communities and the environment. All of the project proposals are worthy — and if we had more money, we’d fund more of them.”
The program is a coordinated effort between the Washington State Departments of Health and Transportation, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.
“The connection between health and physical activity is clear. Safe Routes to School and this round of funding are an important ingredient in creating walkable neighborhoods in Washington where walking and biking are appealing and safe. It is exciting to see transportation and health partnered in this way,” said Liz McNett Crowl, President of the Washington Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity.
“I applaud Washington State's leadership in striving to improve the safety and health of children through their Safe Routes to Schools Program,” stated Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn), the top Democrat on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a leading Congressional proponent of the program.
“In some communities, walking or biking to school has not been the safest option for children. With these grants, schools and communities can partner on projects that will allow parents and children the choice to get to school in a safe, fun and healthy way,” stated Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Terry Bergeson.