Summary of Comprehensive Safe Routes to School Program in Johnson County

Johnson County

Contact Information

Organization: Johnson County
Contact person: Megan Foreman
Title: Chronic Disease Prevention Program Manager
Phone: 913-477-8119
Organization address: 11875 S. Sunset Dr, #300
  Olathe, KS    66207

General Information

G8.1 Project title: Comprehensive Safe Routes to School Program in Johnson County
G8.2 Project description: The Comprehensive Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (DHE) will include bicycle and pedestrian safety education and encouragement efforts. In partnership with a contractor who can deliver the technical aspects of bike programming, DHE will focus on communities most in need of safe active transportation options and physical activity. The contractor’s technical expertise in programming and DHE’s focus on population health and equity will empower youth to bike and walk to school and improve their neighborhoods. Components include: bicycle and pedestrian safety education; walking school bus activation; SRTS technical assistance; arrival/dismissal evaluations; programs to teach middle and high school students to be ambassadors for bike-friendly communities; and public engagement. Built environment assessments will weave into much of this programming and inform where classes are held and how they are implemented.
G8.3 Project contact: Megan Foreman m
(913) 477-8119
G1. Project Type: Non-Motorized Transportation - SRTS Non-Infrastructure
G2. Funding Stream: TAP
G3. TIP Number:
G4. State: Kansas
G5. Project county: 1. Johnson
G6. Project municipality: 1. Multi-City
G7. Multiple agencies / jurisdictions? No
G8.4 Purpose and need: Children’s Mercy Hospital reports that 1 in 4 of the metro’s children age 6-19 are obese. Obesity in childhood compounds the likelihood that people will be obese adults and suffer chronic diseases. The purpose of SRTS in Johnson County is to instill a desire for active living through biking and walking as forms of transportation. This project will address several barriers by addressing the Es, including education, evaluation, encouragement and equity. DHE and the contractor will work together and use data to recruit 10-12 schools per semester whose students and communities suffer higher rates of health and economic disparities. The students will benefit from bike/pedestrian safety education. The specific programming needs will be determined through public education, evaluation of the area’s built environment and arrival/dismissal assessments.
G9. Origin and ending
  Length (Miles):

G10. Functional Classification: Not Applicable
G11. In Transportation Outlook 2040? No   Decade:   --Select--
G12. Muli-Agency Plan? No
G13. Included in a CIP? No
G14. Planning stage: Final Plan
G15. Reviewed by state DOT? Yes
G16. Right-of-Way acquisition: All acquired or none needed
G17. ROW by local public agency process manual? No
G18. Other unique local goals and objectives? Yes

Although the Comprehensive SRTS program is not specifically mentioned in TO 2040, the project supports the following TO 2040 Goals:
Economic vitality: Support an innovative, competitive 21st-century economy.
Equity: Ensure all people have the opportunity to thrive.
Transportation choices: Expand affordable, accessible, multimodal transportation options in order to better connect residents and visitors to jobs and services.
Safety and security: Improve safety and security for all transportation users.
Public health: Facilitate healthy, active living.
Environment: Protect and restore our regions natural resources (land, water and air) through proactive environmental stewardship.
Climate change and energy use: Decrease the use of fossil fuels through reduced travel demand, technology advancements and a transition to renewable energy sources.
G19. Transportation Disadvantaged Population: This project will positively impact the target audience and should be neutral to all others. Activities will focus on providing education and resources to students in low-income schools and neighborhoods. While underserved communities will not be the only audience, equity will be the guiding criteria for the selection of participating schools. Many of the schools to be served are in communities with disproportionate numbers of minority families, some of whom speak languages other than English, zero-car households and high rates of chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Serving communities with profound transportation disparities will be central to this project. Programming that has occurred already in Johnson County has followed the patterns described above.
G20. Relevant Public Engagement: The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment is embedded in the community in a variety of ways and has worked alongside transportation advocates, community groups, school districts and various municipalities within the County to determine a need for student safety education and engagement around transportation options.

As a component of Public Health Accreditation, the Department of Health and Environment is required to conduct a community health assessment every three years. Most recently, in 2015, key informant interviews that were part of this process highlighted the fact that transportation, including multimodal, is a major need of underserved residents in the County. DHE also collected primary data through resident surveys. The top needed improvement in the County, identified by 34 percent of respondents, was transportation. People need options beyond getting in a car and driving to their destinations.

School districts and other child-serving organizations also note the need for safe student transport; biking and walking are optimal, according to the schools, as children arrive more mentally ready to learn, happier and healthier if they’ve engaged in physical activity before their days begin. Finally, active transportation advocates in the region have also identified a critical need for active transportation programming and education for students through years of public engagement.
G21. Planned Public Engagement: DHE and the contractor will engage in a dialogue with all schools and communities who request this programming. It will also be advertised and discussed in citizen satisfaction surveys and other forms of citizen engagement, such as social media and Next Door. As a requirement of their contract, a contractor will also be required to measure outcomes from programs delivered. Public engagement efforts will also include direct engagement through earned media, and total number of impressions will be tracked.

The County and the contractor will include a culturally sensitive and appropriate engagement strategy for target populations, as we do with all programs. Translation services will be available to accommodate Spanish-speaking residents who participate. DHE will strategically target programs and services to communities of highest need, identified through data and partnerships with other service organizations in the area. The project will continue to engender a community of care through one-on-one outreach, strategic partnerships with community organizations, and consistent, reliable service.
G22. Sustainable Places Criteria: Access to Healthy Foods---Active Transportation/Living----------- ---------------- ---------------- Mixed-Density Neighborhoods---Natural Resources Protection----------- Renewable Energy--------------- -----Unique Community Characteristics
G22.1. Describe CSP relationship: While this is a non-infrastructure project, it will result in more children walking and biking to school. More importantly it will increase the public’s understanding of the relationship between public health, transportation, active living, land use, community design, and the environment. Education, equity, and encouragement are critical components in a 6-Es approach to sustainability and public health. Safe Routes to School is a foundation that underlies most of the PSP and CSP work being done in the region.
G23. Implements Sustainable Places Initiatives? No
G24. Serves Regional Activity Center? Yes
Highest-Intensity and Most-Walkable Centers This is a county-wide project, but more programming and those activities that are more intense will be offered in the areas of highest density and with high demand for walkability/bikeability. In Johnson County, the highest-density areas are often those with the lowest income residents and the most environmental barriers to safe active transportation options. This is where the greatest opportunity exists for major improvements. By using County/health department data and the local knowledge of the contractor to identify the highest-density areas, we will ensure that the areas where biking and walking to school are most practical and needed are receiving the greatest programmatic intervention. There are numerous potential locations in the urban core, first-ring suburbs, and suburban activity centers.
G25. Environmental justice tracts? Yes
Air quality, sidewalk conditions, crime, vacant buildings, perceived safety and quality of street life all contribute to the health of student who walk or bike school, and are important determinants in whether of students walk or bike at all. Safe Routes to School improves the quality of life in Environmental Justice areas by reducing congestion, improving air quality, increasing perceptions of safety, and improving the built environment.

Schools in environmental justice tracts and areas of highest need will be prioritized sites for SRTS programming. This includes schools in low-income and under-resourced neighborhoods with low rates of car-ownership, high rates of transit use, high rates of free/reduced lunch, and high rates of preventable diseases.
G26. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions? Yes
We have already seen measured increases in walking and biking to school following the implementation of Safe Routes to School education and encouragement programs in Johnson County. For example, based on arrival/dismissal observations and student travel tallies conducted at school sites in the Olathe and Shawnee Mission school districts, students are observed biking and walking to school more frequently post-program. This in turn is decreasing the reliance on cars for parent drop-off/pick-up. It’s not just about VMT reduction -- idling engines are a significant problem around schools -- getting more kids walking and biking to school could have an even bigger impact on emissions than changing adult commuting habits. And these children will become adults who are used to active transportation and will perhaps be more willing to engage in these practices as adults.
G27. Natural Resource information: While this project does not directly impact natural resources, it does drive wider community interest in things like trail development, open space preservation, and more sustainable land use planning. We have seen an increase in trail construction and improved access to parks since the inception of SRTS programs in Johnson County a few years ago. This provides an interesting opportunity to engage students in the built environment and around natural spaces.
G28. Community Links at Watershaed Scale: In the long run, reducing the number of kids driven to school in buses or private automobiles reduces demand on the motorized transportation system. Communities can ultimately build fewer roads and smaller parking lots, reducing stormwater runoff and air pollution.
G29. Explain local land use or comprehensive plans: Safe Routes to School concepts and the overall goal of increasing bike/ped mode share is a central element of many plans across the region, including Overland Park’s Bike Master Plan, Leawood’s Active Transportation Master Plan, Olathe’s Comprehensive Plan, Vision Metcalf, and many others. MARC plans include the Regional Bikeway Plan and MetroGreen.

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment’s Community Health Improvement Plan was developed by DHE and over 20 partnering organizations based on the data gathered in the 2015 community health assessment. Chronic disease prevention, including promoting physical activity, is a major component of the plan and is the focus of much collaborative work. This goal has been a part of the Community Health Improvement Plan since 1996, and will likely continue to be into the future.
G30.1 Complies with MARC’s CSP? Yes
G30.2 Exception to the MARC CSP? No
Traveler Type (All Ages & Abilities)
Mobility Aids:       
Transit Riders:       
Green Streets:       

Project Financial Information

TAP Federal amount: 356.232  (Thousands of $)
TAP Match amount: 71.246  (Thousands of $)
TAP Year requested: 2021
Source of Local Match: DHE, through fundraising
Explain: Match will come from future grant funding. Plans to apply for additional local funding in partnership with municipalities and school districts.
Scope Change: The budget corresponds to the number of schools involved in the project. If the project is phased, the scope will reduce in the number of schools served. Ideally, half the funds would be spent in 2021 and the other half in 2022.
Cost Breakdown:
Highway:   %
Transit:   %
Bike: 60  %
Pedestrian: 40  %
Other:   %

Supporting Documents

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Submitted comments

Mike Chamberlain said...

Horizon Academy recently participated in the BLAST Program through BikeWalkKC. To say it was a success is an understatement! Through this program, many students learned balance and bike handling skills and gained self-confidence. Some even learned how to ride a bike for the first time! As their PE teacher, it was inspiring to watch students continue to get up and keep going even if they didn’t succeed the first time. The safety skills that were taught will help our students become better lifelong riders. We were also impressed with the instructors who were very knowledgeable on bicycle safety and patient with our non-riders. One student was so excited after she learned how to ride, that she was jumping for joy down the hallway to tell the principal of her accomplishment. Her parents went out to buy her a bike that weekend. This was one of the major highlights of our year in PE, and we strongly encourage every school to get involved with BikeWalkKC. A few quotes from students: “For the first time in my life, I feel like I accomplished something.” –7th Grade Student “That was super fun. Can we do it for longer than a week next year?” –6th Grade Student

4/27/2018 11:34:44 AM

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