Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Board of Supervisors action on Safe Routes to SchoolFABB recently met with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Hudgins to ask her advice on how the county can provide better support for parents who want their kids to be able to safely walk and bike to school. One option for the county is to participate in the Safe Routes to School Program. The program provides funds to schools to help encourage more kids to walk and bike to school and to help build sidewalks, trails, and bike lanes to allow them to do it safely. Of the $13,000,000 that has been available to Virginia schools, Fairfax County, with the largest school system in the state, has received $10,000.
Supervisor Hudgins and Lee District Supervisor McKay have both been supportive in the past. They have discussed the issue at numerous Board meetings and jointly with the School Board. However, to date little has been done by the county to develop a SRTS grant application. The one successful SRTS program in the county is managed by a private organization, Trails for Youth, at Lynbrook Elementary School.
At today's Board meeting Supervisors Hudgins and McKay directed staff to figure out how to do a better job of supporting this effort in the future. The County Executive was directed to "determine which county agency should coordinate the grant application for the Safe Routes to School program." The school system, Department of Transportation, Health Department, and Police all play a role in creating safe, healthy communities. Someone needs to take the lead. FABB's offer to give a presentation on Safe Routes to School to the Board's Transportation Committee was also noted. Gina Arlotto, the DC SRTS Network Organizer, has offered to give the presentation and we hope to schedule it in the near future.
Finally, "a letter should be drafted to our School Board counterparts for a meeting to discuss future collaborative efforts between both boards in regards to transportation and sustainability."
It's time for the county to support the many parents who want their kids to have the option of walking and biking to school. Kids need to know there are other ways of getting around than sitting in a car or bus; that they can get exercise and have fun while getting to school. We hope this is a major step forward.
Update: The above photo is from the Alliance for Biking and Walking photo gallery. A more appropriate photo is below showing kids who rode to Wolftrap Elementary School recently: