About the 5th Safe Routes to School National Conference

Intersections: Where Transportation and Health Meet

Columbus, Ohio — April 5-7, 2016

About the Event

Learn how Safe Routes to School programs across the nation are changing the habits of an entire generation of school children while improving the health and environment of numerous communities. This fifth national conference will feature workshop sessions, mobile tours, inspirational presentations, and networking opportunities to help you start or expand your SRTS program.

This event, which takes place every two years, will once again bring together the wide range of practitioners that are working at the local, regional, state and national level to make it safe, convenient, and fun for children to walk and bicycle safely to school. In 2016 the Safe Routes to School National Conference makes its way to a state and region that has many years of experience building successful SRTS programs and infrastructure — Columbus, Ohio – a leader in SRTS.

Ohio has one of the most successful SRTS programs in the country. The Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT’s) data-driven program has awarded $60 million to communities in 75 our of 88 counties. They have sold more than 100 infrastructure projects with another 100 in development. Ohio is committed to keeping SRTS 100% funded for Ohio’s communities.

This bi-annual conference is sponsored by the National Center for Safe Routes to School (NCSRTS) and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership (SRTSNP), with the 2016 event being hosted by the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC). MORPC is a voluntary association of Central Ohio governments and regional organizations which envisions and embraces innovative directions in transportation, energy, housing, land use, the environment, and economic prosperity. The makeup of MORPC is representative of the rural, urban, and suburban communities that comprise our burgeoning region.

Working Together

A significant factor in the success of Safe Routes to School is its appeal to so many different disciplines. The conference will draw a national audience of school leaders and staff; local elected officials and city and county staff; state and federal agency leaders; professionals in planning, transportation, public health, landscape architecture, architecture, public works, and parks and recreation; advocates for equity, environmental justice, walking, and biking; youth, older adults, and environmentalists; and all others committed to improving conditions for children to walk and bike to school and creating safer, healthier and more livable communities.

The Program

The program will span three days with optional pre-and post-conference events. The schedule includes a dynamic mix of plenaries, breakouts, workshops, and many special events. It will also feature mobile workshops and exciting tours of local model programs and projects in and around the greater Sacramento region.

There will be something for everybody, from veteran experts to SRTS novices, with close to 50 sessions, workshops and tours to choose from. Learn from dozens of speakers who share insights, valuable tools and strategies for making Safe Routes to School a success in your community. Among the highlights, the program will be infused with sessions and case studies focusing on increasing SRTS programs and policies in low-income communities, rural areas and on tribal lands; engaging and empowering youth in Safe Routes to School work; and encouraging stronger involvement among the education community in Safe Routes to School efforts.

The Venue

The conference will take place in the heart of downtown Columbus just 15 minutes from the Port Columbus International Airport. Columbus is the state capital and largest city in Ohio and the 15th largest city in the U.S. Columbus is known for its value, top-ranked market access, and talented workforce. Additionally to offering CoGo Bike Share, we believe Columbus has one of the most impressive multi-use trail systems in the country and is an all around world-class city.

The Conference will be held at the Hilton Downtown Columbus. The Hilton Downtown Columbus is the heart of the Short North Arts District and the hotel reflects the creative spirit and energy of Columbus.

Conference History

Since its birth in November 2007, the conference has been co-presented by the National Center for Safe Routes to School (NCSRTS) — the Federal Highway Administration’s Clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School program — and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership (SRTSNP) — the national Safe Routes to School advocacy network.

The inaugural National Conference was held in Dearborn, Michigan, in November 2007 with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) acting as the state agency sponsor and the Michigan Fitness Foundation/Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports (MFF) operating as the private non-profit contractor. MFF was the Michigan host organization for the conference and chaired the conference planning committee that included the agencies already mentioned, as well as several additional Michigan agencies and individuals. More than 400 people from around the country attended the first conference to share knowledge about creating, building and sustaining the momentum of Safe Routes to School programs.

The 2nd National Conference was held in Portland, Oregon in August 2009. The host agency was the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), which was chosen through a competitive RFP process in 2008. Bicycle Transportation Alliance also chaired the conference planning committee that included several Oregon agencies and individuals, including the Oregon Department of Transportation, Travel Portland, Kaiser Permanente and many others. Close to 550 people from around the country attended to learn how Safe Routes to School programs across the country were changing the habits of an entire generation of school children and putting thousands of families two steps ahead of health and environmental concerns.

The 3rd National Conference was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in August 2011. The host agency was Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, chosen through a competitive RFP process in 2010. More than 600 people attended and discussed ideas, resources, projects and best practices to help improve the health, safety and environment of children in their states through policy, partnership and infrastructure. The theme of the conference was Building Connections: Schools + Streets + Communities.

The 4th Nation Conference was held in Sacramento, California in August 2013. The host agency was the Local Government Commission (LGC). The LGC also partnered with several local, regional and state agencies and organizations to develop and produce the event. The theme of the conference was Building on Success – Projects, Programs, People.

The enduring strength of the Safe Routes to School conference comes from the diversity of participants who cross-disciplinary lines to share experiences, insights, inspiration, valuable implementation tools and strategies. The 2016 event will continue this exciting trend and welcomes even more new partners who recognize that creating conditions for children to walk and bike to school will help make healthy, livable communities for all residents.