In coordination with the 8th annual NJ Bike and Walk Summit held Saturday, February 25, 2017 at Princeton University, the NJ Safe Routes to School Program held its first Safe Routes Academy.  Our Safe Routes Academy featured a track of hands-on, interactive sessions designed to help communities enable and encourage safe routes to parks, transit, shops, restaurants, employment, schools and recreation in an effort to become more walk and bike friendly for all users of all abilities. Safe Routes Academy sessions included:

Conducting Walkability Audits – This training, a joint effort between the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center and New Jersey prevention Network,  offered a chance for participants to learn about best practices and explore resources, such as the Get Active NJ Walkability Toolkit,  that they can implement in their community to increase walkability. The session culminated in participants completing a real-world walk audit that will help them to identify opportunities and concerns – skills that can be used in their own communities to make them more walkable to shops, schools, restaurants, employment centers and parks!

Using Walk Audits to Develop a Plan for a More Bike and Pedestrian Friendly Community

Now that Academy Walk Auditparticipants have performed a walk audit, this session guided them in taking the next step toward completing a plan to help “map out” how to improve pedestrian and bicycle travel throughout their community and improve safety.  Walk audits can be used in a variety of plans, including School Travel Plans, Bike/Ped master plans, and Senior Walkability Plans, to improve and strengthen the plans.  Using walkability assessments as part of your planning process can help you to create important partnerships among stakeholders within the community, generate ideas and actions to make walking and bicycling safer and more desirable modes of transportation and help to make your grant funding applications more competitive so your goals can become a reality!

Utilizing Common Goals to Strengthen Walking and Bicycling Programs – Partnerships between walking and bicycling advocates and other programs dedicated to making our communities safer, healthier, and more environmental friendlier places can bring more people to the table and lead to expanded programs and increased advancement toward shared goals. The partnership of walking and bicycling advocates and the Sustainable Jersey program is an excellent example of collaboration toward making healthier and more sustainable communities. Participants in this session learned about the Sustainable Jersey and Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification programs and how health is being integrated to actions and how communities throughout New Jersey have built partnerships and promoted common goals to create new and improved active travel experiences and enhance mobility for people all ages and abilities.

Funding Opportunities: Big and Small

thumbnail_IMG_6394There are funding opportunities for communities to implement a variety of improvements and programs to make walking and bicycling a safer, easier and more accessible mode of travel for all.  Attendees learned about the different types of grant funding available – from larger federal and state grants to smaller health and sustainable community grants.  Participants explored ideas on how to leverage community resources, tips and strategies for applications, and how to find the grants that align with walking and bicycling goals.

 

If you are interested in learning more about these sessions, visit our Safe Routes Academy page to view presentation materials.  If you attended the safe Routes Academy, please take a quick survey to give us your thoughts and feedback on the sessions. The safe Routes Academy provides an excellent opportunity to network with advocates, elected officials and leaders, planners, cycling, fitness and health enthusiasts and others interested in making their communities better places to live.  If you are interested in having a Safe Routes Academy near you, please contact us at srts@ejb.rutgers.edu