This is a guest blog post by Margaux Mennesson for the Every Body Walk! July Monthly Theme “Green Your Commute” for the #Walk4Change quarter. Margaux is communications and marketing manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a national non-profit that works to advance safe walking and bicycling to and from schools, to improve the health and wellbeing of kids of all races, income levels, and abilities, and to foster the creation of healthy communities for everyone.

As schools across the country reopen their doors for back-to-school season, the demand for safe walking and rolling is higher than ever before. More and more, people are walking and rolling to school, work, parks, places of faith, and other community destinations because active travel provides benefits for the community, the economy, and the environment. It makes sense to invest in safe ways for people to walk, roll, and take transit – both because more community members are choosing to travel this way, and because many people do not have another choice. Everyone deserves the right to travel safely where they need to go.

If you’re inspired to create a culture of green commute options in your community, now is the time to register for the 2019 Safe Routes to School National Conference, taking place in Tampa, FL November 12-14, 2019. Whether you’re an active transportation professional, community advocate, or school champion, the conference offers program sessions and activities for a range of skill levels and focus areas. Topics include Safe Routes to School 101, environmental justice, active transportation planning and policy, safe routes to parks and healthy food, bike share and the future of transportation – just to name a few. You’ll go home with new strategies and techniques to share to continue building the movement.

Here’s a sample of program sessions geared toward environmental sustainability. Browse the full program online and register today!

Accomplishing Active Transportation, Safety, and Air Quality Goals through Regional SRTS Assistance

Safe Routes to School is the common denominator between safety, air quality, and active transportation, which regional governments are charged with improving. Regional governments also have a unique opportunity to offer economies of scale and more flexible funding to incubate new ideas among varied implementation partners. This session will compare four regional approaches to collaboration, program development, and creative funding:

  • The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) in the Greater Cleveland region will share the Safe Routes to School Assistance program development, interdivisional programs support, and how the program integrates environmental and active transportation directives, environmental justice, and socioeconomic data into safety and Safe Routes to School assistance.
  • The San Francisco Bay Area Air Quality Management District will share how Spare the Air Youth incubates new ways of educating and encouraging youth and their families to use transportation alternatives. The program helps Safe Routes to School outreach providers share resources and build partnerships through a collaborative website, new resources, an award-winning high school conference, youth leadership training, professional development for Safe Routes to School partners, and evaluating for cultural competency in transportation demand management.
  • The King County Metro SchoolPool program in the Seattle, Washington region will outline the growth from individual pilot programs to a countywide model of outreach and marketing around school commute efforts, tied to the region’s Commute Trip Reduction goals.
  • The Portland, Oregon region’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator will share how the newly-established Metro Regional Safe Routes to School program supports local Safe Routes to School initiatives with funding for staff positions, technical assistance, and focused support for marketing and coordination. http://azbvtb.attendify.io/#9k0enKOx4sdiIrHJuU

Step Into Our Community Garden

Located a mile and a half north of Hilton Tampa Downtown, this mobile workshop invites you to step into a community garden that is active in promoting healthy public policy changes in Hillsborough County. Garden Steps, recognized by the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge as a Tier 2 runner up, invites you to learn more about the link between transportation decisions and health impacts. This connection is not often explicitly considered even though transportation planning and policy directly impacts the built environment, human economic and social well-being.

The project, based in the city of Tampa, the largest city in Hillsborough County and the third most populous city in Florida, has identified food deserts and walkability as two of the city’s biggest problems. In order to address these concerns, the project has proposed creating community gardens with easy pedestrian and bicycle access in identified food deserts. The goal is to improve health equity and population health by increasing easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables. After a short bus ride, the Garden Steps workshop will share the experience of community relationships and the use of community capacity, street-level, health and community-collected data and planning as a means of determining safe and effective locations for community gardens. More importantly, these gardens are inclusively accessible to children, people with movement related disabilities and people of lower socioeconomic status. http://azbvtb.attendify.io/#9k2aTMVTWulPXYTPuu

For more resources and tips about greening your commute, visit saferoutespartnership.org. You can help drive the conversation online by sharing these messages:

  • Walking and rolling to school is good for kids, good for communities, and good for the environment. Who’s ready to #Walk4Change this back-to-school season? Safe Routes to School 101: http://bit.ly/2QjHj9Z
  • Walk to School Day is October 2! Now is the time to register and start planning an event to drum up enthusiasm for walking to school all year long. #Walk4Change http://bit.ly/33sow2J
  • New case study: Grassroots organizing takes root as community members and advocates in Muscoy, CA worked together to achieve wins for walking, rolling, and environmental justice: http://bit.ly/2T9v1me #Walk4Change #GreenYourCommute
  • Here’s how advocates acheived a win for safer streets on Salem, OR’s first family-friendly neighborhood greenway: http://bit.ly/2NA4QWY #Walk4Change #GreenYourCommute
  • Children walking to school alongside streets heavy with enormous polluting trucks is dangerous and unhealthy. Here’s how economic growth and poor land use planning are contributing to the decline in community health for the Inland Valley, CA: http://bit.ly/2Z1fRRY #GreenYourCommute #Walk4Change
  • If every driver turned half of their shorter car trips into #walking trips, we could save approximately 5 billion miles of vehicle miles traveled #Walk4Change http://bit.ly/2Zgq2FS