U.S. House votes overwhelmingly to support strong Safe Routes to School program

The U.S. House of Representatives has just voted 377 to 30 to support Congressman Oberstar's motion in support of Safe Routes to Schools. The vote was a non-binding resolution urging members of the conference committee currently working out a compromise version of the TEA-21 renewal legislation (which authorizes federal transportation policy and funding for the next 6 years) to stick with the House version of the Safe Routes to School language rather than the Senate version.

The House version of Safe Routes to School is better in several ways than the Senate version. According to AmericaBikes:

* The House language outlines a stronger and more flexible program than the Senate’s. It creates a national Clearinghouse for information and apportions funds based on number of students per state. The House version also has a higher funding level.

* Safe Routes to School programs work. Over just two years, the Marin County (CA) comprehensive SRTS program increased the number of children walking to school by 64 percent, and bicycling by children rose 114 percent.

* The Safe Routes to School legislation before Congress helps remove one of the biggest barriers to walking or bicycling to school: safety. SRTS improves safety by slowing traffic and installing sidewalks. SRTS reduces fears of crime by promoting programs that arrange for kids to walk to school together or with a parent.

* A national program will enable more communities make their streets safe for kids. Statewide grant programs in California and Texas were instigated by citizens, and once in place, the demand was overwhelming. In California, requests for funding totaled more than five times the funds available, and Texas received $45 million in requests for a $3 million program.

* The Safe Routes to School federal program will help fight the childhood obesity epidemic by giving kids an easy way to get exercise every day. Routine physical activity, such as walking or biking to school, provides significant health benefits.

* Safe Routes to School give parents the option of getting their kids out of the backseat and onto their feet. Children in the US spend an average of more than one hour in a car every day, and traffic jams form around many schools each morning and afternoon.
In Missouri, McCarthy, Graves, Clay, Akin, Gephardt, Skelton, and Hulshof voted for the Safe Routes to School resolution. Blunt voted against. Emerson was not present.

Contact information for all Missouri congressional representatives can be found here.