Name: Christy Smith
Job/Title: TN Advocacy Organizer, Safe Routes to School National Partnership (National Partnership)
Element of Transportation: Bicycle, Telecommuting
Describe your favorite bike: My favorite bike was the purple Specialized Rock Hopper I used in college to get to and from classes. One year for my birthday, friends bought me panniers for it with a bag so I could carry things on my commute. I loved riding to school because it was faster than going through traffic in a car and I didn’t have to pay for parking. I kept riding that bike for exercise and commuting for about seven years when I got a new bike and gave the purple one to my sister.
Where do you bike/walk? I like to use the Tennessee River Walk as a way to get downtown on bike. I also enjoy using the Walnut Street Bridge to get from downtown to north Chattanooga.
Why do you use GreenTrips? Most of my green trips are via telecommuting, but I bike to meetings whenever I can. Biking to meetings is a way for me to avoid car traffic, enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise as well. I walk into meetings feeling happier if I’ve used my bike to get there.
Even though GreenTrips is for adults I think families can use it to teach kids about the positive impacts of active transportation. There are lessons in health, the environment, math, and children can learn more about their community and how to read a map. The GreenTrips tracker is a great way to demonstrate the impact of a family's transportation decisions. The National Partnership has a program for schools with a physical activity tracker called Fire Up Your Feet. Fire Up Your Feet encourages kids and families to walk, bike, and make physical activity part of daily life. The fireupyourfeet.org website offers a wealth of resources for schools and families to encourage physical activity centered around the school day. Schools and PTAs can also take advantage of the Fire Up Your Feet healthy fundraising option to raise funds for the school through a healthy event like a Walk-a-then or Fun Run.
What is Safe Routes to School? The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is a network of hundreds of organizations, government agencies and professional groups across the country working to set goals, share best practices, leverage infrastructure and program funding and advance policy change to help agencies that implement Safe Route to School programs. Our mission is to advance safe walking and bicycling to and from schools, and in daily life, to improve the health and well-being of America’s children and to foster the creation of livable, sustainable communities.
Why do we want kids to bike/walk to school? There are many benefits for students biking and walking to school. By increasing the number of children walking and bicycling, Safe Routes to School projects:
1. Reduce traffic congestion. In 2009, American families drove 30 billion miles and made 6.5 billion vehicle trips to take their children to and from schools, representing 10-14 percent of traffic on the road during the morning commute.
2. Change the physical environment, like sidewalks and crosswalks; provide student traffic education, and driver enforcement to improve walking conditions for children.
3. Help address the obesity crisis among children by creating an opportunity for physical activity. Walking one mile to and from school each day is two-thirds of the recommended sixty minutes of physical activity a day. Plus, children who walk to school have higher levels of physical activity throughout the day.
4. Increase the number of children walking and bicycling to school, and decreases the number of cars on the roads. As cars emit pollutants for each mile traveled, reducing traffic can improve the quality of air that children breathe in and around their schools. Children exposed to traffic pollution are more likely to have asthma, permanent lung deficits, and a higher risk of heart and lung problems as adults.
What is your role with SRTS? My role as the Tennessee advocacy organizer for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership is to build, strengthen and maintain a state network of diverse organizations, public agencies and partners. My work focuses on leveraging funding for bicycle and pedestrian construction projects (including the award and obligation of federal Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancements funds), promoting Complete Streets and street-scale improvements and advancing joint use/shared use policies – all with an emphasis on lower-income communities.
What has been done locally/recently with SRTS? Thousands of schools around the world celebrated International Walk to School Day on October 9th 2013. This year Safe Routes to School National Partnership was able to offer 125 schools in Tennessee a Clif Kid Walk to School Day Kit to help energize and inspire walking and bicycling to school. Each kit included a promotional banner, products and activities for participants -250 educational sheets and 250 Clif Kid Fruit Ropes. Each school that ordered a kit was asked to take photos of their event to be used on the Safe Routes to School National Partnership's Facebook page and to complete a follow up survey.
Do you see an effect or difference in communities with bike/walk to school opportunities and those without? Communities with Safe Routes to School programs have worked to make connections between parents, community members, area businesses and city officials. When these community members work together to solve student safety issues they become more involved with the school neighborhood overall. Safe Routes to School programs can also build key relationships with local planning authorities, health departments, and law enforcement officials.
Most rewarding part of the job? Favorite memory? I enjoy the opportunity to help people make the connection between Safe Routes to School and safe, liveable communities. Meeting new people across the state, who have a passion for making Tennessee a better place to live, work and play is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.
Most challenging part of the job? I work from my home office, so not being around people every day, like in a traditional office is sometimes a challenge.
For more information about the Safe Routes to School National Partnership visit www.saferoutespartnership.org. To contact Christy about Safe Routes to School in Tennessee email firstname.lastname@example.org or Like our Facebook page
Christy suggests families can explore GreenTrips together. Use our igreentrip tracker to see your impact on environment, your health, and your wallet! Find out more by exploring our incentives program. Our commuter resources can be a great starting place for talking about our alternative transportation options.