About the 4th Safe Routes to School National Conference

Building on Success—Projects, Programs, People

Sacramento, California — August 13-15, 2013

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 fourth 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 2013 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 — Sacramento, California — the capital region of our nation’s largest and most diverse state.

With the adoption of the first state SRTS program in the U.S. in 1999 and the home of some of the earliest programs to increase the number of children walking and bicycling to school, California is a laboratory for strategies and models in a wide range of contests from large urban centers, to automobile-dominated suburbs, to dispersed rural areas. The Sacramento region reflects many of these challenges and has emerged in recent years as a model for a more sustainable, walkable and bicycle-friendly region.

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 2013 event being hosted by the Local Government Commission (LGC) (LGC). The LGC has partnered with several local, regional, and statewide agencies and organizations that reflect the range and diversity of the topic itself. More about the conference sponsors and this impressive partnership.

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 60 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 Sacramento just 20 minutes from the Sacramento International Airport. Downtown Sacramento boasts many intriguing cultural and architectural destinations, and numerous food venues at a variety of price points that are an easy trip on foot or by bicycle. The State Capitol is one block away, providing easy access to state policy makers as well as a worthy tourist stop. Nearby Midtown Sacramento has an abundance of great shops, boutiques, galleries, and a myriad of eateries and restaurants. Other destinations of interest — all pleasant places to walk and bike with wide tree-lined streets, high- visibility crosswalks, and traffic-calmed streets — include Historic Sutter’s Fort, the newly renovated Crocker Art Museum, Old Sacramento, the California Railroad Museum, and the region’s crown jewel, the American River Parkway, an uninterrupted 32 mile multi-use, Class I, linear river parkway bike trail.

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 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 2013 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.