JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Foundation for Bicycling and Walking recently secured a grant to create a Missouri Safe Routes to School Network. The network will bring together organizations, agencies and officials across Missouri to increase physical activity among students by removing barriers to walking and bicycling to school. The network will complement Safe Routes to School grants administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation.
"The Safe Routes to School program makes bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative," said John Schaefer, MoDOT Safe Routes to School Coordinator. "By encouraging more students to walk, wheel or bike to school, we encourage a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age."
Safe Routes to School projects include sidewalk improvements, traffic calming, pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements, bicycle parking facilities and traffic diversion. A recent project includes implementation of walking school bus programs statewide. The walking school bus, which started in Columbia, is a group of students that walk to school together under adult supervision.
The Missouri network will work to ensure that federal SRTS funds are spent on quality projects and leverage additional state resources for SRTS initiatives. However, policy change enabling and encouraging more students to walk and bicycle to school safely will be the focus of the state network. Policies the network will look at include placement of new school locations and state bus transportation reimbursement.
Funding for the grant was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia also received grants for state network projects.
Visit http://www.modot.org/ to learn more about the Safe Routes to School program.
Editor's note: Downloadable audio clips featuring John Schaefer, MoDOT Safe Routes to School Coordinator, are available at ftp://ftp.modot.org/CRmedia/News%20Stories/Safe_Route_to_school/ .To view this FTP site in Windows Explorer, click Page, and then click Open FTP Site in Windows Explorer. Then you can grab the files and drag them onto your desktop.