Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tell Governor Rendell to Release Safe Routes to School Funds

Remember when we told you that the League of American Bicyclists ranked Pennsylvania as 38th out of 50 states on their Bike Friendly States list? Well that’s not as low as we can go. Another 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. All of our neighboring states have filled their map with Safe Routes to School success stories. Communities in PA are still waiting.

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. This leaves $19 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.

These funds are critical to help schools and communities make it safer for children to walk and bicycle to school—and at least $14 million of those funds are for building sidewalks, crosswalks, and other bike/ped infrastructure near schools.

Thus far, only 11 mini-grants for $5,000 each have been awarded to schools in PA—putting the state next-to-last in the nation for funds awarded to local communities.

Last fall, PennDOT held a grant competition for approximately $12 million in infrastructure grants. Nearly 100 schools applied, requesting $56 million in funding, showing the demand for Safe Routes to School across the state.

The awards still have not been announced, and the last update from PennDOT said grants would be awarded in December 2008.

Please contact Governor Rendell to ask him to release these grants as soon as possible. Schools and communities need these funds to address traffic congestion and air quality, help children lead healthy and active lives, and to create safe infrastructure for children walking and bicycling.

Governor Edward G. Rendell’s Office
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120
Phone: (717) 787-2500

Fax: (717) 772-8284
E-mail the Governor’s Office

Original Post on Bike PGH: