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STPP California 2003 - 2004 Initiatives
Children's Transportation

If California is to become a place where children can get around on their own more of the time — by walking, bicycling or riding public transit — then we must take bold steps to make streets less hazardous for pedestrians and bikers, and to alter current community and school design patterns that have contributed greatly to the state’s lack of transportation options. The following initiatives, if implemented, will go a long way toward improving the health, safety and independent mobility of California’s youngest residents. 

In 2001, children were involved in more than one-third of all pedestrian-vehicle collisions in California, though they accounted for just over one-quarter of the state’s total population.  As a result, pedestrian collisions now rank among the leading causes of death and hospitalized injury for children. Particularly vulnerable are minority children and children from low-income households, who make a higher percentage of their trips on foot and are more likely than other children to be hurt in pedestrian-vehicle accidents.

STPP suggests that new policies and investments can make California’s cities, towns and suburbs safer and more convenient for walking, bicycling and transit — and these changes would benefit both the health and mobility of children.  In the next few years STPP CA will promote several policy initiatives.  Following are two policy proposals that are part of our Children’s Transportation initiatives:   

I.  Safe Routes to School Reauthorization:  

On October 2, 2001, Governor Davis signed SB 10 (Soto) extending the Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) program for three more years.  The program sunsets on January 1, 2005, unless a later enacted statute deletes or extends that date.  Since the program began in 1999, the state has funded 273 programs throughout the state. 

The program dedicates $20-25 million a year for six categories of projects:  sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction, pedestrian/bicycle crossing improvements, on-street bicycle facilities, and traffic diversion improvements. 

The program is administered by the CALTRANS Local Assistance Program.  This program provides vital funding to local governments to construct projects in the vicinity of schools statewide to make it safer for children to walk and bike. 

The SR2S program has been implemented successfully in many different jurisdictions around the state and in other parts of the country and even overseas.  In CA one of the more successful programs has occurred in Marin County and has lead to increased biking and walking to school by students and reduced traffic at schools due to parent drop offs and pick ups.

To learn more or share this information with others, download the following fact sheet.  Please show your support by signing the letter below and faxing a copy to us at (916) 447-8881.

II.   Free Student Bus Pass Legislation  

Many low-income and fixed income families are unable to send their children to school at the end of each month because of financial constraints.  These students subsequently miss out on much needed educational opportunities, have an increased risk of not performing well in school, and could potentially fall into the criminal justice system.

Schools in California are also penalized financially because of the loss of average daily attendance revenues attributed partly to this monthly drop-off.  Free-bus programs in other areas around the country have demonstrated that student performance has improved considerably for students that are able to attend school on a regular basis. 

This proposed legislation would establish a $100 million 2-4 year pilot program to provide free or reduced passes to children who are currently eligible for free or reduced lunches.  The program would be administered by local and regional transit agencies.

The program was successfully implemented in the San Francisco Bay Area in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties by AC Transit (2002-2003).  Budget cutbacks have forced AC Transit to terminate the program.  This program helped 24,000 East Bay youths get to school.

To learn more or share this information with others, download the following fact sheet.  

For more information, read STPP's report on the declining mobility of California's youth, entitled Can't Get There from Here.

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