The National Safe Routes Partnership recently released the 2022 state report cards that provide an overview of how each state supports walking, biking, rolling, and physically active children and communities. The Making Strides 2022 report cards evaluate each state on 27 indicators spanning four core topic areas. The four states that made it to the top were California, Massachusetts, Washington and New Jersey. Yes – New Jersey ranked #4!!
The four core topic areas assessed in the state report cards include Complete Streets and Active Transportation Policy and Planning, Federal and State Active Transportation Funding, Safe Routes to School Funding and Supportive Practices, and Active Neighborhoods. Together with the state report cards created in 2016, 2018, and 2020, this assessment enables us to see where each state is performing well, where progress has been achieved, and where there is still potential for growth. In the previous two report cards, New Jersey ranked #7.
In each of the topic areas, states play a significant role—through legislation, financing, and other forms of assistance—in increasing the number of children and adults engaged in walking and bicycling. Figure 1 displays the overall 2022 scores of all the states and Table 1 shows the overall scores of the top four states in the four core areas.
Figure 1. Overall 2022 scores
Source: Safe Routes Partnership
Table 1. 2022 Overall Scores of Top Four States in the Four Core Areas
Complete Streets & Active Transportation Score
|Federal and State Active Transportation Funding Score||Safe Routes to School Funding and Supportive Practices Score||Active Neighborhoods & Schools Score||
Source: Safe Routes Partnership
Complete Streets and Active Transportation
A critical factor in promoting and facilitating safe walking and biking are state policies, plans, and laws that encourage walking and bicycling and create safe and comfortable streets for everyone. To evaluate how well states support Complete Streets and advance active transportation, the report looked at state policies for Complete Streets, state goals related to walking and bicycling, and state active transportation plans.
Federal and State Active Transportation Funding
The core topic area of active transportation funding includes providing sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, trails, and other facilities that create or delineate areas for people to walk and bicycle. In addition to the supportive infrastructure for walking and biking, non-infrastructure, programmatic activities are crucial for encouraging people to walk and bike. All of this infrastructure and activities are expensive. However, as of 2020, just 1.8 percent of the federal government’s yearly surface transportation budget is allocated to assist walking and biking. The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), the main federal funding source for walking, biking, and Safe Routes to School, provides funds to every state for investments in active transportation. Unfortunately, only half (52%) of project applications submitted to TAP are approved nationally, leaving $6.7 billion in unfulfilled projects for the period of 2016 to 2019. As a result, the primary subject in this topic area is how the states are allocating funding for active transportation. Since there are limited federal dollars available for bicycling and walking improvements, it is important that they are used effectively.
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Funding and Supportive Practices
The third core area examines Safe Routes to School, including how states can support local SRTS programming and infrastructure improvements through financial allocations and awards. Since the establishment of the federal program, the SRTS movement has helped build greater collaboration between state and local governments, and school districts to address the safety concerns around educational facilities that influence the proportion of students who walk or bike to school.
One of the indicators for SRTS Supportive Practices is providing SRTS resource centers or technical assistance that supports local programs. All the states that provide this assistance to help communities start and run effective SRTS initiatives received a full score for this indicator. In New Jersey, the NJDOT funds schools and communities to improve walking and bicycling conditions through the Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Grant Program. In addition, NJDOT supports non-infrastructure programs by funding technical assistance provided by the New Jersey Safe Routes Resource Center and local program coordination through the state’s eight Transportation Management Associations (TMAs).
Active Neighborhoods & Schools
The last core area evaluates the policy measures a state adopts to foster the development of communities and schools that promote physical activity. Students can better satisfy daily physical activity recommendations when attending schools that encourage outdoor play, walking and bicycling to school, and regular physical activity opportunities. To evaluate states’ provision for active neighborhoods and schools, the National Safe Routes Partnership looked at state policy support for shared use of school facilities, state encouragement of school facilities that support walking, biking, and physical activity, and state requirements for physical education in schools.
New Jersey’s high scores reflect the NJ Department of Transportation’s continued commitment to and prioritization of active and safe commutes for students of all ages and abilities from all backgrounds and neighborhoods. It’s a great accomplishment that many have worked hard to achieve, including the staff at NJDOT, NJ’s TMAs, the Safe Routes Resource Center at Rutgers, and local champions and advocates across the state. The statewide program has come a long way, but there is still room to grow. Join us in making strides toward vibrant, healthy, resilient, equitable, and thriving communities.
Safe Routes Partnership (2022). NJ Report Card. https://www.saferoutespartnership.org/sites/default/files/srp-report-card-2022/srp-report-card-2022-new-jersey.pdf
Safe Routes Partnership (2022). Making Strides: 2022 State Report Cards on Support for Walking, Bicycling,
and Active Kids and Communities. https://saferoutespartnership.org/sites/default/files/resource_files/060722-srp-making-strides-2022-final.pdf