People often ask me how I became the director of the Safe Routes Partnership and where the movement is headed now that the program is under attack by some members of Congress.
I started my work to improve children’s health through walking and bicycling in 1996 after I totaled my car and decided to live life without one. This led me to become an advocate, get involved at the local level, lead a federal pilot program for Safe Routes to School and work with Congressman Oberstar to write the federal Safe Routes to School legislation which was enacted in 2005 as part of the federal transportation act SAFETEA-LU. I launched the Safe Routes Partnership on the same day that the President signed the bill, and have been working to build our movement ever since.
It’s exciting that the Safe Routes to School movement has grown so much over the past seven years. But as Congress debates the new transportation bill, most of us are on pins and needles wondering what will happen for the future of Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking in America.
No one knows what the outcome inside the beltway will be, but I can tell you these three things:
- Take Action. We need everyone to stand up loud and strong to defend Safe Routes to School and show our Congressional members why this program is important for kids, safety and our future – please respond to our action alerts and get others to do so too. And keep responding, as there will be many alerts and votes.
- Keep the Faith. No matter what happens, we need to keep the faith and keep trying. Don’t give up.
- Build Support. No matter what the federal government does, and if even our Congressional representatives don’t listen, we must work with our local and state governments and hold them accountable to create a positive and healthy future for our children. We must also lift up local examples that are working so that they can be replicated.
In my blog, you can expect for me to report on how Safe Routes to School will be affected by current political developments, and you will get my perspective on the future for our growing Safe Routes to School movement.
I spent last week in San Diego at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference and my take away is this. No matter what Congress does, we are a real MOVEMENT, and we cannot be stopped. There are inspiring stories of livable streets for children and everyone emerging from New York City, to Oklahoma City to Los Angeles, to places all over America.
Take Action. Keep the Faith. Build Support.