Governor Corbett announced Wednesday that 11 Pennsylvania schools will receive $58,000 to improve walking and biking safety through the federal Safe Routes to School Program. PennDOT will distribute $40,000 of that funding to seven Philadelphia schools:
- Benjamin Franklin Elementary School
- Gen. George G. Meade School
- William Meredith Elementary School
- Southwark School
- Stephen Girard Elementary School
- E.M. Stanton Public School
- Frances E. Willard Elementary School
Benjamin Franklin, George Meade and William Meredith will each receive $10,000 for their walking and biking safety programs. At George Meade a portion of that funding will go towards holding a bicycle rodeo, after school programs and an earn-a-bike program, bicycle maintenance and give away initiative. William Meredith has plans to put some of the funds to its bicycle ambassador program, which trains students as pedestrian and bicycle safety leaders.
Southwark, Stephen Girard, E.M. Stanton and Frances E. Willard elementary schools will receive a combined $10,000 grant to implement walking school bus programs at each school and to purchase supporting materials and safety equipment. The hope is to train parents and community volunteers to act as “bus drivers” who guide students walking to and from school.
Through its Safe Routes Philly program, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia will help the schools use this funding for the bicycle and walking programs. The coalition was directly involved in securing $30,000 worth of the funding and signed a letter of support for Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, which sought the additional $10,000 on its own.
Safe Routes Philly has served more than 50,000 students at more than 132 schools in the city. In the past couple of years, the program has been focused on getting the walking and biking curriculum taught in the schools, said Megan Rosenbach, Safe Routes Philly community liaison. Now that teachers are more familiar with the curriculum, Safe Routes Philly has more time to direct toward seeking grants and implementing additional programs.
Rosenbach said walking school bus programs might become increasingly important as school closures force more students to walk further to school.
In a press release announcing the funding, Governor Corbett said, “We must teach children how to take advantage of these transportation options safely. These investments will lay the foundation for safe walking and biking habits through their entire lives.”
PennDOT has plans to distribute another $60,000 worth of Safe Routes to School funding in $2,000 mini-grants. The Bicycle Coalition is working with schools to apply for that funding as well.