[I emailed this letter on 17 November, 2017, but felt it was worth sharing publicly here. To find out more about how you can advocate for better Safe Routes to School programming in Tacoma, visit Puyallup Watershed Initiative's website. -Matt]
Subject: Please support funding for a full-time Safe Routes to School Coordinator
Dear Mayor Strickland, Tacoma City Council, and City Manager Pauli,
My family and I request that you please fund a full-time Safe Routes to School Coordinator position in 2018 as part of the mid-biennium budget process.
As a parent of three children, I've been walking and biking to our neighborhood schools, Grant Elementary and Jason Lee Middle School, nearly every day for 8 years. We prefer using active transportation for our school commute for many reasons: fun, exercise, fresh air, less pollution, and the chance meet and know the neighbors in our community. However, even as some of the the fortunate few in Tacoma who don't leave our neighborhood, we still struggle daily with traffic dangers around the schools.
As a ride leader for Kidical Mass Tacoma, I have coached kids and their families on bike safety and the Rules of the Road. Our public family bike rides have happened all over Tacoma, including many areas that are underserved by bicycle infrastructure. By using school playgrounds as stopping points on our rides, I've noticed the safety challenges that many Tacoma children face when walking or biking to school. I've also talked to many parents who want to walk and bike to school with their children, but don't feel it's safe. Their concerns are valid: there is a child hit by a car every eight days in the City of Tacoma while walking or biking, with crashes concentrated in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
Over the past two years, the community came together with the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Public Schools, the Puyallup Watershed Initiative Active Transportation COI, and countless partners, to develop the Safe Routes to School Action Plan, outlining what’s needed to address this safety crisis.
The top recommendation in the plan is for the City of Tacoma to fund and hire a full-time Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Coordinator. Without this position, there will be no one to work with the community to identify where safety improvements are needed, develop and distribute maps highlighting safe walking and bicycling routes to schools, support parents and school staff to organize SRTS programs and events, or implement the other action items outlined in the plan.
Again, on behalf of my family and the many pedal parents I have met through Kidical Mass Tacoma, please fund the Safe Routes to School Coordinator position so students and their families can get the resources and support they need and deserve.
With sincere thanks,
Ride Leader/Pedal Parent
Kidical Mass Tacoma
|Bike Rodeo Skills Course sponsored by Grant PTA|
|We should not need to depend on signs like this one.|
|Even middle schoolers can enjoy riding to school!|
|5th graders at Grant can volunteer as crossing guards.|
|SRTS events can boost active transportation involvement and reduce car traffic|
UPDATE: The City of Tacoma did include the funding necessary for the SRTS Coordinator in the proposed adjusted mid-biennium budget. Below is a screen shot of the presentation slide shown at the Nov. 28, 2017, City Council meeting.