Help Save Safe Routes to School & Public Transit!

Hi Readers: This just in from the Safe Routes folks! – L.

Double Your Impact—Act Now on Key Senate and House Transportation Votes

Next Tuesday both the US House and Senate may vote on new transportation bills that could destroy transit, bicycling and walking funding, including the popular Safe Routes to School program, which is now getting kids moving safely again at over 12,000 schools around the US! A national coalition of groups including the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and many, many others, are asking you to help to make streets safer  for kids.

This vote will take place early next week, so please take action now!

·         Safety matters. Bicycle and pedestrian deaths make up 14% of all traffic fatalities, but only 1.5% of federal funds go towards making walking and biking safer. These programs provide funding for sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways that make streets safe for all users.

·         Active transportation is a wise investment. Walking and biking infrastructure is low-cost, creates more jobs per dollar than any other kind of highway spending, and is critical to economic development for main street America. A University of Massachusetts study of 11 cities found that bicycling and walking infrastructure projects created over 11 jobs per million dollars spent, whereas road-only projects created less than 8 jobs per million dollars spent. And since bicycling and walking projects are more labor-intensive than road projects, they mostly create jobs right in the local communities where the projects are located, not in other parts of a state, the US or overseas.

The current Senate transportation bill dilutes Safe Routes to School, walking and bicycling programs. It gives your state department of transportation the power to decide whether or not to make any funding available for these critical programs. Local governments deserve a voice in transportation. To improve the bill,  Senators should  vote for the Cardin-Cochran amendment on the floor to guarantee local governments a voice in transportation decisions, allowing them to build sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways that keep people safe.

In the House,  Representatives should oppose the House transportation bill. Despite the fact that walking and bicycling infrastructure is a low-cost investment that creates more jobs per dollar than any other kind of highway spending, the House bill eliminates dedicated funding for walking and bicycling and repeals the Safe Routes to School program.

The House bill also brings to an end 30 years of dedicated transit funding, increasing the unpredictability of transit funding for communities already suffering from a lack of federal commitment to public transportation. The bill also guts Amtrak, High-Speed and Passenger Rail funding. At a time when ridership has steadily increased to its highest point in Amtrak history, the bill will cut Amtrak funding by over $300 million.

The House bill takes us back to the 1950s by eliminating dedicated funding for bicycling and walking AND kicking transit out of the highway trust fund. We need a transportation bill to meet our needs in 2012 and beyond.

Congress needs to know that finding effective, efficient transportation solutions to keep people safe on the streets should be a national priority. Will you contact your Representative and Senators today and ask them to save our streets?  By taking action, you can easily contact both your Senators and Representative in one simple step.

And, if you want to do even more, get your mayor, your school principal, or other community leaders to call their Senators too.

Thank you for all that you do for Safe Routes to School!

UPDATE!! Outrage of the Week: Mom Convicted in Death of Her Son (Who Ran Across the Street)

UPDATE! Readers — Here’s a petition asking Georgia to release the mother from her “vehicular manslaughter” conviction and PUT IN A CROSSWALK! I just signed it! — L. 

Hi Readers — This case is so sickeningly sad, I don’t know where to begin. Fortunately, a blog I’d never heard of before — Transportation for America — does a PERFECT  job of summing up the whole story and why it is such an outrage. Read it right here and kudos to the author, David Goldberg.

In brief: An Atlanta mom and her three kids got off a bus stop that is across a busy highway from her home. She COULD have dragged everyone to the next light,  three tenths of a mile up the road, but it seemed to make sense to try to cross. Not only was her apartment in sight across the way, but the other passengers who disembarked were crossing the highway right there, too.

So she and her kids made it to the median, but then the 4-year-old squirmed away and got killed by a drunk driver. The driver was convicted of a hit and run.  The mom was convicted of vehicular manslaughter. Yep. But as Goldberg says:

What about the highway designers, traffic engineers, transit planners and land use regulators who allowed a bus stop to be placed so far from a signal and made no other provision for a safe crossing; who allowed – even encouraged, with wide, straight lanes – prevailing speeds of 50-plus on a road flanked by houses and apartments; who carved a fifth lane out of a wider median that could have provided more of a safe refuge for pedestrians; who designed the entire landscape to be hostile to people trying to get to work and groceries despite having no access to a car?

They are as innocent as the day is long, according to the solicitor general’s office.

Goldberg also points out that none of the jurors who convicted the mom had ever even taken a public bus in Atlanta. They all had cars. In other words:

They had never taken two buses to go grocery shopping at Wal-Mart with three kids in tow. They had never missed a transfer on the way home that caused them to wait a full hour-and-a-half with tired and hungry kids for the next bus. They had never been let off at a bus stop on a five-lane speedway, with their apartment in sight across the road, and been asked to drag those three little ones an additional half-mile-plus down the road to the nearest traffic signal and back in order to get home at last.

When we prosecute parents who are trying their hardest, who make mistakes, or who misjudge a situation, we are prosecuting them for being what parents have always been: human. Not superheroes with super strength, judgment, fortitude and foresight.

A human parent is what I am and what we all are. Let’s not make that a crime. — Lenore