officials, public works directors, school superintendents and city council
members from 21 Idaho communities hoped to improve their chances at
receiving a 2008 Safe Routes to School award by attending a Jan. 11
training session hosted by the Idaho Transportation Department.
While many projects include infrastructure improvements like sidewalks, the training session focused on education and encouragement strategies that don’t always require funding.
Bonneville School District representative Guy Bliesner told participants about a regular “walking school bus” he helped organize at Falls Valley Elementary School. As a result, the percentage of children walking or bicycling increased from 12 to 30 percent by the end of the 2007 school year.
“The non-infrastructure programs are where you will gain the greatest increase in kids walking and biking,” Bliesner said. “Yes we’re applying for infrastructure improvements this year, but none of it would work without the encouragement component of the program.”
This year, $890,000 will be awarded to schools. ITD Safe Routes to School Coordinator Jo O’Connor said that 2008 funding decisions would be announced on Feb. 29.
“Although we can’t fund every community’s request, our goal is to provide every Idaho community with the tools they need to implement a Safe Routes to School program in their schools,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor invited Sue Newberry, a regional Safe Routes to School advocate, to facilitate the training. Weiser Police Chief Greg Moon shared tips on involving local law enforcement in Safe Routes to School projects.
Information about the Safe Routes to School program is available at www.itd.idaho.gov/sr2s.