Since 2006 the Washington Area Bicyclist Association has educated over 26,000 children in the District of Columbia in safe bicycling and pedestrian habits. In the Washington DC region, we are nearing our 100,000th student reached via our mobile bike rodeo trailers, in-service training sessions for teachers, hands on bike lessons, in class pedestrian and bicycle safety lessons, helmet giveaways, and more.
All of this has been made possible through the federal Safe Routes to School program, which Rep. John Mica’s transportation plan eviscerates–along with other key funding mechanisms for bike-friendly projects. Contact your federal representative(s) today asking them to stand up for bike and pedestrian funding.
In the last transportation bill the federal government made it a priority to encourage children to get active every day by walking or bicycling to school. They set up the Safe Routes to School program to provide encouragement, education and infrastructure improvements to eliminate many concerns parents have about walking to school. In addition to the education component exemplified by WABA’s efforts, this money pays for in-depth traffic studies around schools, the repair or installation of sidewalks, flashing traffic beacons, traffic calming around schools, raised crosswalks, pedestrian safety signs as well as hundreds of other measures all geared at making it safer and easier for children to walk or bicycle to school, like they used to decades ago.
Unfortunately, a new draft of the federal transportation bill released Thursday by Representative John Mica, Chair of the House Transportation Committee, cuts funding by 30% for all our nation’s transportation needs, and it lands a knock-out punch on the Safe Routes to School program by eliminating it entirely. All bike and pedestrian projects are essentially shut down thanks to this draft’s focus on auto-centric road projects and a mere suggestion, not a minimum baseline, that transportation dollars be spent on bike and pedestrian projects as set in the previous transportation bill.
So now, in one fell swoop, Safe Routes to School, a successful, popular program, is out and car-centric policies are back.
If you care about safe biking and walking, call or email your representatives in Congress today. And if you live in Maryland or Virginia, call an extra time on behalf of the many District-based WABA members and cyclists who have no voting representative to call.