New century transportation |

New century transportation

Did you walk or bike to school when you were a child?

Thirty years ago, more than 66 percent of all children walked to school. Now only 10 to 13 percent of American children walk or bike to school.

Recent research indicates that 25 to 30 percent of morning traffic is due to parents driving their children to school. As a result, traffic congestion has increased around schools, prompting even more parents to drive their children to school. The health consequences to our children and to the well-being of the community are extensive.

In June of 2004 the Colorado legislature passed the Safe Routes to School law mandating CDOT to develop and implement a program with federal funds, but no federal funds were authorized.

In August 2005, Congress passed SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act ” A Legacy for Users) authorizing funding for local programs. Each state is to receive at least $1 million for 5 years. Funds are expected to increase to 2.7 million by year five for Colorado. Distribution of funds is a statewide competitive process and in proportion to the geographic distribution of the student population Kindergarten through eighth grades. Applicants must be a political subdivision of the state.

Also in August, a Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee was appointed by the CDOT executive director. This committee is comprised of nine people representing: educators, parents, bicyclists, pedestrians, law enforcement, two MPOs (Municipal Planning Organizations) and two TPRs (Transportation Planning Regions).

The Federal/State/local Safe Routes to School program’s purpose is to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; to make walking and bicycling to school safe and more appealing; and to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects that will improve safety, and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.

Ten to 30 percent of state Safe Routes to School funds must be apportioned for noninfrastructure-related activities of public awareness campaigns and outreach to press and community leaders, traffic education and enforcement in the vicinity of schools, student sessions on bicycle and pedestrian safety, health, and environment, and training, volunteers, and managers of safe routes to school programs.

Infrastructure related projects eligible activities are the planning, design and construction of projects that will substantially improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle to school. These include sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction improvements, pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements, on-street bicycle facilities, off-street cycle and pedestrian facilities, and traffic diversion improvements in the vicinity of schools (within approximately 2 miles). Such projects may be carried out on any public road or any bicycle or pedestrian pathway or trail in the vicinity of schools.

In the Roaring Fork Valley an effort is underway to start a Regional Safe Routes to School program that will be a multi-year, multi-stage approach encouraging the use of alternative transportation among school populations. Representatives from the City of Glenwood Springs, Town of Carbondale, City of Aspen, Roaring Fork and Aspen School districts and New Century Transportation Foundation have started to partner their efforts for this program.

Additional information regarding a Regional Safe Routes to School program will be made available as efforts progress over the next several months.

Cathy Tuttle is with the New Century Transportation Foundation. For more information and to RSVP please contact the New Century Transportation Foundation at 704-9200 or e-mail

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