Missouri Safe Routes to School Network moves forward

Today the Missouri Safe Routes to School Network released its first progress report (PDF file).

MO SRTS Network logo
MO SRTS Network logo

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) State Networks in nineteen states and the District of Columbia are working to encourage more children to bicycle and walk to school more often, increase physical activity, ensure that federal SRTS funds are spent on quality projects, work to leverage additional state resources for SRTS initiatives, and advocate to remove barriers to walking and bicycling to schools through policy initiatives

Here are just some of the things the Missouri SRTS Network has accomplished in the past six months:

  • Building the Missouri SRTS Network: Missouri has built a strong Network with over 75 organizations, agencies, and elected officials represented.  We have 12 active Action Teams, holding monthly meetings to move forward their Action Items.  Thanks to generous matching grants from the Missouri Foundation for Health, the Incarnate Word Foundation, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Region VII Office of Minority Health together with a highly qualified volunteer staff members, we have been able to bring out three more staff members, each working about ¼ time, which allows us to more than double the amount of staff time dedicated to the Network.  Starting this summer, three MoDOT SRTS grants will allow the Network to dedicate even more staff time to promoting SRTS statewide and helping communities get ready to apply for SRTS funding.

  • Bicycle/Pedestrian Curriculum & Large Scale Instruction: Applied for and received a MoDOT SRTS grant to create a pilot program to take an intensive three-hour bicycle skills education class and program to encourage more students to bicycle to school, to thousands of Missouri students.

  • School Bus Funding/Transportation Funding Formulas: Requested and received a detailed analysis of Missouri Transportation Funding Formulas from Sarah Zimmerman of NPLAN. The analysis gives four specific policy changes the Missouri Network can work to implement, which will fundamentally change the culture of school transportation to encourage and favor more bicycling and walking, rather than disincentivizing bicycling and walking, as current policies do.  The Network plans to create materials and introduce these ideas into the state's public policy discussion about school transportation funding in Missouri and work with a few key school districts to create pilot projects to showcase the policy changes in the real world.
  • SRTS Communications: The Network has worked to create lively monthly meetings with special guests sharing their expertise on topics of interest. The Network has created a Facebook page, Twitter account, monthly email newsletter list, and has its own Safe Routes to School web site with regular news and updates at MoBikeFed.org/saferoutes.

  • MoDOT improves process: John Schaefer of MoDOT, who has been a full SRTS Network partner, revised and greatly improved the SRTS grant application in the recent round of SRTS Non-infrastructure grants.  MoDOT is working internally to improve its process and help communities that receive grants be able to complete them successfully.

  • MoDOT working with Network to create strategic plan and framework for SRTS Noninfrastructure funding: A Network Action Team headed by MoDOT SRTS Coordinator John Schaefer is creating guidelines for more efficient and effective use of Missouri's SRTS funding.  The first tangible result will be a framework for efficiently creating and funding SRTS programs to cover the entire state or large regions. This will allow Missouri to more easily continue and expand some of its most successful SRTS programs like Walking School Bus Training Seminars and SRTS Minigrants. It will allow regional programs that will reach underserved students in both rural small towns and underserved areas in the large metropolitan areas.

  • Media Coverage: Creation of the Missouri SRTS Network was covered in Kansas City infoZine, StLouisMo.com, the Kansas City MetroGreen newsletter, PedNet's newsletter, TrailNet Health, Active & Vibrant Communities blog, MoBikeFed News, the St Joseph News-Press, MoDOT's Express Lane newsletter, the MoDOT Minute video news report, and MoDOT's social media sites.

  • Complete Streets Resolution in Missouri House: The creation of the Missouri Safe Routes to School Network is included in Complete Streets Resolution, HCR 67, sponsored by Rep. Mike Sutherland of Warrenton and co-sponsored by 21 other representatives, as one of the supporting reasons for including Complete Streets policies at the municipal, metropolitan, statewide, and national levels. HCR 67 passed the Missouri House on the final day of the legislation session.

See also a summary of the progress the Network has made in each of its twelve Action Areas.

If you would like to join the Missouri Safe Routes to School Network or one of its twelve Action Teams, find out more on the Network's web page or contact missouri@saferoutespartnership.org.

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