DOT to Spend $1.8 Million to Encourage Kids to Walk, Bike to School

July 2, 2013 - 12:47 PM

NYC Bike Sharing

Tourists sit on bikes that are available as part of a bike share program Monday, May 27, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

(CNSNews.com) – The Transportation Department’s Federal Highway Administration is planning to spend $1.8 million to encourage students to bike and walk to school through the establishment and operation of a National Safe Routes to School Clearinghouse.

“Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school,” according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

“The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is accepting applications for a cooperative agreement to establish and operate a National Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Clearinghouse. This agreement will replace the existing national SRTS clearinghouse known as the National Center for SRTS (www.saferoutesinfo.org),” the grant said.

In 2005, Congress created the Safe Routes to School program. It was a new program that was administered by the federal government and administered by the states. It was extended through September 2012.

States have already received over $1 billion from Safe Routes to School to make it safer and easier for students from kindergarten through 8th grade to walk or bike to school, the grant said.

“Overall, the SRTS program provided over $1 billion to the State departments of transportation to conduct infrastructure and noninfrastructure projects that make it safer and more convenient for children in kindergarten through eighth grade to walk or bike to school,” the grant said.

“Legislative authority to establish the Safe Routes to School Clearinghouse can be found in Section 1404, Safe Routes to School Program, section (g), of Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, Public Law 109-59 (SAFETEA-LU),” the grant announcement said.

According to SAFETEA-LU, “The Secretary shall make grants to a national nonprofit organization engaged in promoting safe routes to schools to — (A) operate a national safe routes to school clearinghouse; (B) develop information and educational programs on safe routes to school; and (C) provide technical assistance and disseminate techniques and strategies used for successful safe routes to school programs.”

“The Secretary shall carry out this subsection using amounts set aside for administrative expenses under subsection (c)(3),” the act said.

In addition to operating a clearinghouse, the grant recipient is expected to develop information and educational programs on the Safe Routes to School, provide technical assistance and disseminate techniques and strategies used for successful SRTS programs, conduct other coordination, planning, and tracking activities, provide centralized data entry for STRS data, and evaluate the effectiveness of program strategies.

Specifically, the recipient is expected to promote and coordinate U.S. and international “Walk to School” programs, U.S. Bike to School Day, and coordinate with the National Pedestrian and Bicyclist clearinghouse (i.e., the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Information Center) and the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse where appropriate.

The grant was posted on May 16 and will close on July 17.

“The Government anticipates the effective date of this agreement shall be on or before September 20, 2013,” the grant noted. The period of performance will be three years beginning from the effective date of the agreement.

CNSNews.com made repeated attempts to obtain comment from the Department of Transportation and was referred to Donna Hannah, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation. CNSNews.com emailed questions to Hannah on June 21, but received no response.