Safe Routes to Schools Need Funding in Pennsylvania

Today we bring you a call for action from Pennsylvania network member Bike PGH, which is asking Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell to release funds for the state’s Safe Routes to Schools program:

1627979622_0b4f1a5309_m.jpgPhoto by pawpaw67 via Flickr.

[One] measure of bike and pedestrian friendliness is the level to which Safe Routes to Schools are funded. Well, we have bad news… PA ranks 49th in the nation on Safe Routes to School spending.

If you look at the Safe Routes to School programs map below you’ll notice an enormous hole where PA is filled with only a handful of orange dots. This is shameful.

Pennsylvania has received $21 million over five years (FY05 – 09) for the federal Safe Routes to School program. So far it has only released $2 million of that money to date. Of this $2 million only $55,000 has actually made its way into our communities. This leaves an overwhelming majority of that $21 million collecting dust that is earmarked for making our streets safer so kids can walk and ride bikes
to school. We want Governor Rendell to release this money for its intended use—to make our communities safer for kids to walk and bike to school.

Safe Routes to Schools, a national program that "assists communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bike to school" is one of the most promising avenues out there for changing attitudes toward walking and cycling at the generational level. Gov. Rendell is a traditional ally of sustainable transportation advocates, so
— presumably — he’ll be glad to hear from his constituents on this
issue. If you’re one of them, you can reach the governor’s office at (717) 787-2500.

In a related item from the network, The Overhead Wire picks up a New York Times story about a "piedibus," or "foot-bus," in a small Italian town — an organized group of students, led by adults, that walks safely to and from school each day. Kaid Benfield on NRDC Switchboard looks at a recent slideshow on TIME magazine’s website about shuttered big-box stores, and the accompanying article about "recycling suburbia." And The Bus Bench delivers another tough-minded analysis of the way class differences play out on the buses of Los Angeles.

  • According to Jeff Mapes and his recent book, Pedaling Revolution, 2% of US deaths–1 in 50– are directly related to the automobile. That number is beyond scary, but sadly unsurprising as well. Safe Routes to School programs therefore become essential tools in building a better, healthier and safer built environment for this country’s future. Such programs also instill better habits and values for our children. Let’s hope the funding is found in Pennsylvania and that overall the program continues its expansion across the US.

  • Shemp

    Rendell is an amazing politician because he is seen as a “traditional ally of sustainable transportation advocates” without ever having earned it with real action. I give him props for attempting to put tolls on I-80 but why is his state DOT behind the 8-ball with this relatively small amount of safety funding, and what else has he done for us lately other than blaming the feds for the bridges and roads they keep having to close for emergency repairs in PA?

  • Never mind that SEPTA is is the bastard stepchild of Harrisburg and always has to beg for the scraps of state funding it does get.

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