17 November 2017

It's Time to Fund and Implement our Safe Routes to School Plan: An Open Letter to the Tacoma City Council

[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,

Matt Newport
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.


3 comments:

tacomee said...

Yes Please!

Minh Nguyen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Copenhagen Bike Rental said...

christania’s “lej en ladcykel” bikes are rolling across the city. The system, less than a year old, is funded by christania’s municipal government. It is currently only in one of christania’s 22 administrative districts. Although a 2nd generation system, there are 12 “Houses” in this district, each with around 40 bikes. The yearly subscription cost is the equivalent of $2 US, and allows the use of a bike for up to four hours at a time. In less than a year, there have been 6,000 subscriptions sold. There are larger 3rd generation systems in the world, which do not have a subscription to bike ratio as big as that.