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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government


August 8, 2000

NHTSA 33-00
Tuesday, August 8, 2000
Contact: NHTSA, Elly Martin, (202) 366-9550

To encourage safe bicycle and pedestrian travel for American school children, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grant of $50,000 in cooperative funding for a pilot project to be led by a community-based group in northern California.

The "Safe Routes to School" demonstration project, sponsored by the Marin County (Calif.) Bicycle Coalition, is designed to increase the number of children walking and bicycling to school.

U.S. Rep. James Oberstar (Minn.), ranking minority Member on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, advanced the concept for the National Safe Routes to School Program in March.

"Support for this promising pilot program illustrates our commitment to protecting the environment, in this case by increasing the number of bicycle and walking trips Americans make," said Secretary Slater. "It also promotes community-based solutions to transportation challenges."

Based in Fairfax, Calif., the two-year-old Marin County Bicycle Coalition, which represents 10 groups of cycling enthusiasts, created the Safe Routes to Schools Program to help alleviate traffic congestion in the county, where parents now drive most youngsters to school. The program will also encourage safe walking and cycling through educational programs.

"We applaud the Safe Routes to Schools initiative, which will encourage more youngsters to choose healthy and environmentally friendly travel modes without the safety risks they now face," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Rosalyn G. Millman.

The Marin County program will focus on two public schools, the Mill Valley Middle School and the Park Elementary School, both located in Mill Valley. The pilot program will identify a "safe route" for all those attending the two schools who live within a one-mile radius of school.

In addition, the program will:

  • Document current school-related transportation patterns;
  • Teach students skills for safe walking and bicycling;
  • Create events and incentives that promote greater use of cycling and walking for transportation to and from schools;
  • Develop and present engineering proposals to local government agencies to calm traffic and create safer conditions for children; and
  • Establish a community task force to develop local "ownership" of the program, ensuring that it will be ongoing and involve broad neighborhood participation.

    As part of the cooperative funding agreement with NHTSA, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition will contribute $25,000 for support of the pilot program.


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