Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Senator Kevin Cramer (R.-N.D.) today introduced bipartisan legislation to make pedestrian and bicycle safety projects targeting high school students who walk or bike to school eligible for federal support from the Department of Transportation (DOT).
“Our students get huge health benefits from walking or biking to school—but we need to keep them safe,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Too many young Nevadans have been struck by cars on their way to school. My bill expands existing federal safety programs to cover high school students as well as junior high and elementary school kids. I’m proud to lead this effort to protect students in Nevada and throughout the country.”
“The Safe Routes to School program empowers local education systems to make traveling to school safer, but it only applies to elementary and middle schools,” said Senator Cramer. “In the highway bill Congress is considering, we included language amending this program to also provide funding for high schools. As we debate that legislation, our standalone bill raises awareness for this issue and, if passed, would help prevent tragic accidents for all students.”
Senator Cortez Masto crafted this legislation with input from the Washoe County School District and the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County in response to the high number of children who have been injured in traffic accidents in Washoe County this school year.
“We are grateful to Sen. Cortez Masto for leading the way in supporting student safety,” said Washoe County School District Board President Katy Simon Holland. “Washoe County has experienced so much tragedy and heartbreak this year, as more than 20 of our students have been struck by cars on their way to and from school. Passage of this bill would provide us with access to more federal resources to protect our students, which is our highest priority at WCSD.”
“This will be important legislation which will extend resources to high school students through the Safe Routes to Schools Act. During the past year, 12 high school students have been involved in pedestrian crashes in Washoe County. One high school student was killed in October 2019 and another in 2018. We strongly support Senator Cortez Masto’s efforts to provide bipartisan pedestrian safety education across all grade levels including high school,” said Amy Cummings, RTC Interim Executive Director.
The Safe Routes to All Schools Act expands the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program to include high school students as well as younger children. SRTS is a program that promotes walking and bicycling to school through infrastructure improvements, enforcement, tools, safety education, and incentives to encourage walking and bicycling to school. Nationally, 10%–14% of car trips during morning rush hour are for school travel. SRTS initiatives improve safety and levels of physical activity for students. SRTS programs can be implemented by a department of transportation, metropolitan planning organization, local government, school district, or even a school. A national center makes extensive resources available to support bicycling and walking.
Language from the Safe Routes to All Schools Act has been incorporated into the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, which has passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and advanced to the full Senate.