View sign on letter urging the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to continue prioritizing Safe Routes to School

Our coalition working to preserve walking, biking and Safe Routes to School submitted a letter, signed on to by 11 organizations, urging the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to continue prioritizing Safe Routes to School.

The letter outlines five recommendations that we believe are critical to continue to advance the success of the very popular transportation and safety program, Safe Routes to School.

Safe Routes to School is a community-based program which provides funding for infrastructure projects as well as public engagement, planning and educational activities – all of which promote safety. Caltrans was the first Department of Transportation in the nation to launch Safe Routes to School, due to state legislation passed in 1999. The program was expanded in 2005 thanks to federal legislation. With the flexibility in MAP-21, Caltrans has a unique opportunity to continue the Safe Routes to School program, and make it even better.

The five key recommendations and guiding principles for California’s Safe Routes to School programs outlined in the letter include:

1) Keep Level Funding: The State of California should maintain level funding for both the federal SRTS program, and the state SR2S program. The programs support important statewide goals related to improving safety, achieving health in all policies, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

2) Maintain Program Structure through Funding Source: The federal SRTS program should retain a structure where 70 percent of the funds are used for infrastructure improvements and 30 percent for non-infrastructure activities. The funding source determined should permit activities that were eligible in the past, and should ensure that the program continues to be administered by the state.

3) Continue Current Program Objectives: Since its inception SRTS has had program objectives related to both reducing injuries and fatalities and increasing mode share for walking and bicycling. These goals are accomplished through infrastructure improvements and community based planning and outreach activities. These two programmatic objectives should continue for the federally-funded Safe Routes to School program out of HSIP.

4) Maintain the Statewide Administration of the Program: Safe Routes to School should remain as a statewide program, administered by Caltrans headquarters, with project selection by Caltrans Districts.

5) Prioritize Equity: Through a June 2010 report to the Governor on equity within the Safe Routes to School program, there was a recommendation to increase funding through Safe Routes to School for lower-income communities by five percent for future funding cycles of SRTS and SR2S. This is important because lower-income schools and regions have a greater proportion of traffic safety dangers and fewer resources to resolve those problems.

View the full letter here.

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