West County Receives $500,000 Grant for Safe Routes to School Program
November 14, 2008
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West County children are one step closer to a safe walk to school thanks to a four-year, $500,000 grant that will help implement the West Contra Costa Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. The program, which aims to increase walking or bicycling to school, is the first in the county to receive non-infrastructure grant funds from the Federal SRTS program, which is administered by Caltrans. Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) staff will use the funds to address both actual and perceived barriers to walking to school at seven middle schools and two elementary schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. West Contra Costa SRTS efforts will take place in El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo and El Sobrante.
"Many West County communities have high rates of childhood pedestrian injuries and childhood obesity," said Nancy Baer, manager of Injury Prevention and Physical Activity Promotion Projects at Contra Costa Health Services." Creating safer walking and bicycling environments, and encouraging students to walk and bike to school can help with both of these health issues."
The West Contra Costa SRTS program will evaluate environmental obstacles around schools - such as the lack of a curb ramp, crosswalk or stop sign - and establish routes that are safer for walking and bicycling. West Contra Costa Unified School District Associate Superintendent Wendell Greer added, "This exciting effort will allow our students to create safety messages and be rewarded for walking and biking to school. Even staff and parents will get to participate in this opportunity to improve safety conditions for our children."
Other agencies involved include the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee and Cycles of Change, which provides bicycle safety education. A West Contra Costa SRTS Coalition will be formed as a forum for planning and information sharing, Baer said.
"We're hoping not only to increase the number of children who walk or bike to school, but encourage lifelong active living." Baer said.
For more information about CCHS, visit www.cchealth.org
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- Nancy Baer, CCHS
- Wendell Greer