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Littleton Rolling Bike TrainWelcome to Safe Routes to School (SRTS)

A movement to encourage and enable elementary and middle school children to safely walk and ride bicycles to school is catching on in the Granite State, and the NH Department of Transportation (NHDOT) encourages more communities to get involved. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) helps communities by reimbursing them 100 percent of eligible and approved costs of bringing new balance to our transportation system. more...

Students shown in the photo above are crossing a bridge over the Ammonoosuc River as they bicycle to the Mildred C. Lakeway Elementary School in Littleton. The school is one of many that have been awarded startup grants, as well as a general grant in Round 5. Communities can apply for startup and travel plan grants whenever they are ready to move ahead.

John W. Corrigan, Coordinator
Safe Routes to School

News and Events:

NHDOT Awards Balance of SRTS Funding to Round 6 Applicants

Nashua mascot greets kids

Students at the Dr. Norman
W. Crisp School in Nashua were
greeted by the school mascot
on October 8 during an event
marking International
Walk-to-School Month.

NHDOT has determined that the best use of remaining Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funds is to make awards to all of the Round 6 applicants.

A total of more than $1,930,000 will be used to reimburse programs in 11 communities: Bristol, Claremont, Colebrook, Henniker, Hopkinton, Keene, Lebanon, Nashua, Pembroke, Plaistow, and Portsmouth.

Sponsors will use these general grant funds for a mix of infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects.

Infrastructure projects involve the physical changes needed to make bicycle and pedestrian routes safer for elementary school children, including those with disabilities. Most infrastructure projects involve sidewalks or bicycle lanes, along with signage, pavement markings, and other traffic calming measures.

Non-infrastructure activities
include the educational, encouragement, and enforcement programs to foster increased walking and bicycling and to promote safe behavior.

Most comprehensive SRTS programs in New Hampshire focus on pedestrians, but two Round 6 communities will focus on bicycling.

Allenstown sidewalk construction

New sidewalks on Main
and Ferry streets in Allenstown
has been under construciton
this fall. They serve the
elementary school.

Portsmouth plans bicycle lanes on a main thoroughfare that passes close to multiple elementary schools.  Keene will experiment the use of bicycle infrastructure for traffic calming. Roads in a suburban area near the Jonathan Daniels School will get new bicycle lanes and signage. The school is named in memory of a Keene native who was killed in 1965 during his participation in the civil rights movement. In an interesting coincidence, the award was recommended by the Statewide Advisory Committee on the anniversary of his death.

Geography dictates that obvious choices for SRTS programs are schools located close to downtown areas with nearby residential neighborhoods.  Many such communities in New Hampshire have deteriorated sidewalks or gaps in their sidewalk networks. These include Bristol, Claremont, Colebrook, Henniker, and Pembroke. Other communities will develop infrastructure for longer walks and to deal with increases in traffic around their schools. These include Hopkinton, Lebanon, Nashua, and Plaistow.

With the awarding of the state’s balance, NHDOT begins the transition away from SRTS as a stand-alone program.  Most Safe Routes projects eligible under SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users) remain eligible the new Transportation Alternative Program (TAP). However, NHDOT plans to limit awards to infrastructure projects. TAP is authorized under the federal transportation act known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).  Overall funding has been reduced, and the reimbursement rate will drop from 100 percent to 80 percent.

Startup, Planning Grant Applications Accepted at Any Time

Walker displaying charms

Charms awarded for
walking or bicycling to
school have been a
popular incentive item
in Littleton. They are
eligible under both
startup and general
grants.

NHDOT has expedited the planning process that can lead to comprehensive community programs.

The department and Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) continue to accept applications for startup and comprehensive travel plan grants. Awards will be based on funding availability as the department monitors past grants that will not be implemented. Sponsors may apply for either type of grant or for both types. The idea is to make the program as flexible as possible for New Hampshire communities.

Here is the process for reviewing applications and making awards:

Applications will continue to be filed with both the NHDOT and the RPCs for an assessment of the quality of applications and eligibility of budget items.

  1. Individual RPCs review and evaluate the applications following their own internal procedures.
  2. Applications will then be examined by Statewide Advisory Committee (SAC) members, taking into consideration any recommendations and concerns from NHDOT staff and the RPCs.
  3. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis as long as funding is available.

    Startup grant application form
    Startup scoring criteria
    Travel plan application form
    Travel plan scoring criteria
    Travel plan format

    (Note that the travel plan and startup grant application forms were updated on August 23, 2013. Applications are now preferred in MS Word format.)

    List of travel plan awards (rolling application period)
    List of startup awards (rolling application period)

In summary, SRTS in New Hampshire currently offers two types of reimbursement funding:

  1. Startup grants of less than $5,000 for preliminary planning and related activities
  2. Comprehensive travel plan funding of up to $15,000 per school, which can include up to $5,000 for engineering consulting services per school.

Administration of Non-Infrastructure Spending Streamlined

NHDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are trying to simplify the administration of budgeting and purchasing under SRTS reimbursemnet grants. Please see a new guidance memo for details. The memo has been sent to all sponsors of projects that include non-infrastructure funding. The memo will also be helpful for new applicants for startup and travel plan awards.
Registration Open for Bike-to-School Day on May 7, 2014

Dover ridges on bridge

Students and their adult
escorts ride to the Woodman Park
School in Dover on May 8, 2013.

SRTS is most successful where it is embraced by a local community. Indeed, the program cannot work without support from school, municipal and community leaders.

International Walk-to-School Day and Month in October and Bike-to-School Month in May are when the movement takes on its nationwide and even international identity. Enabling elementary school children to walk and ride bicycles to school in places where they can do it safely is a universal value.

Bike-to-School day this year has been schedueld for Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Visit the National Center for Safe Routes to School Web site to register your event.

“Every child should have the opportunity to walk to school safely,” said  U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari. “Walk to School Day encourages children to experience walk-friendly environments and affirms the importance of walking and biking for a new generation of Americans.”

Visible bike- or walk-to-school events are an excellent way for communities to promote the value of these activities for energy-efficient, short-distance commuting. With gasoline priced at more than $3 a gallon, it makes little sense for children to be sitting in congested traffic around our elementary and middle schools. SRTS promotes the idea for children who live within approximately two miles of school, including those with disabilities. Some communities are also exploring the “remote drop-off” idea, identifying locations where youngsters who live farther away can join kids who live within the two miles.

Crumbling sidewalk

A new section of sidewalk
will soon replace this
crumbling walkway used by
students in Littleton. The
community successfully competed
for an award in Round 5.

Is it safe? Can children get to school under their own power without being hit by motor vehicles or being subjected to violence from adults or bullies? When communities organize to offer kids have a safe place to pedal or walk and accompany them on the walk or ride, the answer is an emphatic “Yes!”

SRTS has long recommended “escort programs.”

“Walking school buses” are made up of children who meet at a safe location and walk to school together with parents, teachers or dedicated volunteers. “Rolling bike trains” apply the same concept to young bicyclists. Both approaches provide safety in numbers and adult supervision.

A Bike-to-School event should not be viewed as an end in itself. It is an opportunity to introduce kids to bicycle commuting and build community support for the idea. As the idea catches on, organized groups can expand to once- or twice-a-week rides and eventually offer daily bicycle trips to school.

Bicycle Safety Letter to the Editor: Bicyclists of all ages are using New Hampshire's streets and roads for both recreation and short-distance commuting. Sandi Van Scoyoc, president of the HNHfoundation, was reminded of the importance of motorists paying attention to cyclists when she witnessed a car collide with a bicycle recently. Here is her letter to the editor of the Concord Monitor describing the incident, used here with her permission: Didn't You See My Signal?
NHDOT Publishes LPA Manual to Guide Local Sponsors; Mandatory Training in Spring 2014
NHDOT's Bureau of Planning and Community Assistance has published a document formally titled "Local Public Agency Manual for the Development of Projects," commonly referred to the the LPA Manual. It includes everything local sponsors and consultants need to know in order to administer their programs. Documented compliance with state and federal regulations ensures eligibility for reimbusement.

All local sponsors are required to identify a full-time employee with decision-making authority designated as the "person in responsible charge" (PRC). Consulting firms are also required to have a certified person on staff. Individuals will be awarded certification good for three years after completion of a two-day course. Because individiuals (not their employers) hold certification, sponsors should consider sending more than one employee for training.

The next training dates will be in the spring of 2014. For details about the most recent training, download the LPA training flyer.

It is recommended that anyone who is currently working on a local program, or thinking about getting involved, download and review the manual. Funds will not be authorized for sponsors that do not have a certified person on staff.

The manual will be revised as needed. Local sponsors and members of the public are invited to submit comments to the NHDOT Bureau of Planning and Community Assistance, NHDOT, 7 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03302-0483. Comments may be e-mailed to: Bureau46@dot.state.nh.us

For the Latest SRTS News, read our Electronic Newsletters

 

Updated April 10, 2014

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New Hampshire Department of Transportation
PO Box 483 | 7 Hazen Drive | Concord, NH | 03302-0483
Tel: 603.271-3734 | Fax: 603.271.3914

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