Schools can get funds for bike-walk programs

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) as part of its continuing efforts to promote the development of safe bicycle and walking routes will make $200,000 in grants available to qualified schools in 2009.

The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant program benefits children in primary and middle schools. Funding is available for school-related education and encouragement programs, as well as to support local multi-disciplinary Safe Routes teams.

Safe Routes to School is about kids walking and biking to school regularly, routinely, and safely. The federally mandated program provides both funding and technical assistance so schools and communities can work together to solve some of Vermont's pressing transportation, environmental and health challenges. The grants will help schools design safe and healthy ways for students to be more physically active.

"The number of Vermont kids who are routinely driven to school by their parents has been as high as 65 percent," said VTrans Secretary David Dill. "Providing safe bicycle and pedestrian routes so kids can walk and bike to school helps alleviate traffic congestion around schools, improves safety, and increases a community's quality of life,"

The current round of grants will support planning and program efforts such as pedestrian and bicycle safety education, the development of contests and incentives to encourage walking and bicycling, and evaluation of student/parent attitudes and behavior. Money can also be used to asses the existing condition of streets and sidewalks around schools.

Participation in the planning and program development phase of the SRTS Program makes a community eligible for infrastructure funding to improve items like sidewalks, crossings, signals, signs and pavement markings within a two-mile radius of the school.

Applications for planning and program grants are due March 13, 2009.

For more information, or to receive a grant application, contact VTrans Safe Routes to School Coordinator Aimee Pope at 828-5799 or aimee.pope@state.vt.us.

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