Looking to own one less car? Dealing with parking issues at your business or organization? Wondering how to get started (or get your employees started) walking, biking, carpooling, or taking public transit?
Or is your firm interested in collaborating on a bicycle, pedestrian, or transportation demand management project or program?
Owned and operated by Sarah Cushman – a transportation planner, educator, consultant and former ASE Master-Certified auto technician – Cushman Transportation Consulting, LLC serves as a source of solid information and help with planning, promotion, and making transportation choices and changes.
- Exploration of individual and organizational transportation needs and financial impacts
- Training and consultations for using – and planning for and encouraging the use of – alternate transportation (biking, carpooling, taking public transit, walking, telecommuting, etc.)
- Environmentally-responsible and financially savvy car maintenance and driver education
- Bicycle, pedestrian, and Transportation Demand Management project and program assistance
The bad news we all know: fuel costs are rising, an average of 19% of individual income goes to own just one vehicle, heavy financial burdens are being put on businesses and tax-payers for roads and parking, obesity rates are soaring, and 40% of local air pollution and climate-changing carbon emissions comes from transportation sources.
But the good news is that organizations and individuals have practical transportation alternatives – that save money and improve public and environmental health.
A couple of years ago we were visiting our friends the Stoltzfuses, an Amish family living in Lancaster County, and I was delighted to see that the kids were starting to wear high visibility reflective vests when riding their scooters to school and around town.
(In their particular Old Order Amish church district they’re not permitted to ride pedal bikes, so they ride fairly big, efficient push scooters instead. Local Old Order Mennonites can ride bikes.)
It turns out Kay Moyer – a local “English” woman who works for the Pennsylvania State Extension (similar to Maine’s Cooperative Extension program) as a farm safety educator – is especially concerned with getting vests on every Old Order Amish and Mennonite student in the area. (It’s particularly important for the Amish because of the dark clothes they generally wear.)
Initially she helped local Amish and Mennonite families get the materials to make the vests – and now the program is also distributing ready-made versions. Through her puppet and toy presentations, she also ensures that students learn proper road traffic safety skills – in addition to farm equipment safety.
We just made our annual visit a couple weeks ago and I got permission to photograph a few of our Stoltzfus friends riding to school with their vests (first photo above). I was encouraged to see more adults wearing vests on scooters and bikes as well.
And there’s a photo of our daughter Cedar (sans vest because of her bright pink coat) riding off to school with her friend Kathleen on a different morning, too.
Thanks much to Steve Fuller at the Ellsworth American for his great article capturing both the details and spirit of the new Walking School Bus initiative that’s starting there!
Here’s a photo from our Community Workshop in Ellsworth and you can read more here about the two new communities (Ellsworth and Norway) awarded funding and technical assistance through the Maine Walking School Bus Program.
The Scofflaw Biking Survey from the University of Colorado Denver – on the patterns and experiences of bicyclists and motorists on the road – has been making the rounds for a while. And I just finally took it myself (it took 11 minutes).
The survey is part of a larger study intending to better understand our transportation system and what factors might correlate with different behavior patterns. It’s clearly worthy research and helpful for you to take part in, whether or not your are a bicycle rider.
So take a break, make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and dedicate a few minutes of your time to the greater good – thanks! (And if you’ve already taken it – kudos!)
The ACT Patriot Chapter Conference is the leading transportation demand management conference in New England. It attracts informative speakers, industry experts, and emerging professionals to share their stories of success, experiences, and ideas for the future.
The Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) supports mobility management professionals across the country from private companies, metropolitan planning organizations, regional Transit authorities, universities, state & local governments, and transportation management associations in their efforts to promote transportation options, reduce traffic congestion, conserve energy and improve air quality.
The chapter is developing the conference website – so for now you can find the Call for Presentations here. After reviewing it, please contact Patrick Sullivan, President of the ACT Patriot Chapter, with any questions: 781-890-0093 X5 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope New England and other folks come – and please submit presentation ideas from your good work!
3/22/15 Update: Sessions, timing, and conference registration info can be found here. Hope to see you there!
In my capacity as consultant to the Maine Safe Routes to School Program, we had a great meeting today with AAA of Northern New England and their National Office to discuss a possible pilot collaboration between the long-standing and classic AAA School Safety Patrol and our efforts to develop a student walk leader program within our Maine Walking School Bus Program. With upper elementary students showing and seeking leadership roles within the Walking School Bus, and with the on-going need for additional volunteer walk leader help as our daily Walking School Bus routes grow, this could feed two birds with one seed.
I and Maddy Ray, the East End Community School Walking School Bus Coordinator here in Portland, met with AAA of Northern New England’s Pat Moody, Manager of Public Affairs, and Dan Goodman, their new Traffic Safety Specialist (Note: this is the same great Dan Goodman formerly of Go Maine and the Regional Transportation Program (RTP).) The meeting also included Jennifer Huebner Davidson, the Manager of Traffic Safety Advocacy at the AAA National Office (via phone).
We led folks through the ins and outs of our daily school-run Walking School Bus program here in Portland and also what is unfolding across the state. Then Jennifer shared her knowledge and perspective from working with the thousands of schools across the country with active AAA School Safety Patrol programs (currently there are 635,000 student Patrolers!) for how we could utilize the existing AAA program structure to implement a hybrid student walk leader program for our local students.
Within our local program we carry the desire both to do authentic youth engagement and to meet our primary goal to improve safety. So we’ve been living with the question of how to clearly define the role of our future student walk leaders. I.e., what would student leaders be permitted to do and not permitted to do – to keep kids safe on the walk to school? We’ve been seeking input both from the students, adult program management, and consulting with other folks involved with Safe Routes to School around the country – but it was a real boon to hear Jennifer’s broad insight and clear-cut answers. In turn, she was excited about this potential pilot hybridization and offered ongoing guidance as we proceed to explore it. Pat and Dan have been very supportive as well – having brought Jennifer in as a resource after we approached them and also offering local AAA technical assistance, diverse connections, and School Safety Patrol materials as we proceed.
We’ve got work to do to develop the program and implement it (we’re hoping to pilot it in Spring 2015) but we’ve found some more friends to walk with us along the way. It’s an exciting time!
[Article written for Maine Cyclist.]
Thanks to training from Safe Routes to School (SRTS) organizations in the United States and Canada, the Maine SRTS Program has been experimenting with authentic youth engagement and leadership in our walk and bike to school work. Students provide great energy – which is a tremendous boost to interested-but-maxed-out adults in the community – and students also offer their own walk and bike experiences and perspectives. As one trainer in youth engagement expressed, “What could be more important than including the very population we wish to serve (students) in our local efforts and decision making?” Early research has shown that when students are leading the charge, school and community culture shift is easier to make happen and persists longer.
Examples of youth engagement in walk and bike efforts from the past few years include Houlton students who became part of a Student Safety Patrol, York elementary students who created a bicycle safety video, and Freeport middle and high school students who presented walk and bike safety concerns to their town council (which led to great community follow-up). More recently, the Maine SRTS Program assisted with youth engagement in school-wide walk and bike encouragement led by 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at East End and Lyseth Elementary Schools in Portland (see associated article) and walk and bike audits led by 7th and 8th graders at Sanford Junior High.
Spotlight on Sanford
At Sanford Junior High, 12 students from Jessica Marass’ 7th and 8th grade classes were responsible for assessing the walkability and bikeability of the Sanford/Springvale community – as part of a larger educational excursion called “We Built This City!”
Jim Tasse and Sarah Cushman of the Maine Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Education and Safe Routes to School Programs first met with the students to discuss what makes a community feel liveable and trained them in the process of conducting walkability and bikeability audits. The students in Marass’ classes brought great experience to their walk and bike assessment work – as their primary modes of transportation are walking or riding their bikes to school and around town. Many of the students have struggled with social and emotional challenges that make a typical school day difficult to navigate. Right from the start the students made the process their own, creating individualized walk and bike audit forms after review of several national and state road and trail examples.
In addition to walking around Sanford and Springvale, the students capitalized on the school’s Bike Club fleet. Through a partnership with the Nasson Community Bike Center (and with support from a Maine Safe Routes to School Mini-grant this spring) the school uses a handful of bikes for the Bike Club, safety training, and reward rides for students. An instructor with the Maine Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Education Program presented to the students in May and one parent recently reported, “Our son won’t get on his bike without doing the ABC Quick check, and he made us help him adjust his helmet because he informed us he now knew the best way to wear it!”
Marass’ students clearly enjoyed the walk and bike audit process – “We got to be outside, doing something that really means something to me,” shared one student. Another student who loves to bike and skate reported, “My favorite part was helping, because any way I can make the way we get around better, is awesome.” Still another said, “This is something we can really use!”
After gathering all their information, the students created detailed maps and posters to visually demonstrate the level of safety for walking and biking in the areas surrounding the school. Leading up to the community-wide presentations day (held during the day and evening), many of the students were very nervous and felt they might not be able to participate. Marass and Dan Spencer, the classroom’s education technician, helped the students practice and review and assured them that they would only have to share as much as they felt comfortable. For example, the students learned skills for politely letting someone know who else they could ask if one of them felt they were ‘freezing up’.
One student was especially worried – but because he was so passionate about the topic, turned out to be a star. It was clear he inspired the adults he spoke to about the project and in the process he learned that stepping outside his comfort zone could be rewarding and reinforcing. A number of city officials (including the city planner) attended the presentations; and one official invited the students to a scheduled meeting where he will be advocating for precisely one of the improvements the students had suggested! Several of the students then went on to also present their work at a city-wide Mobility Forum the next week.
“Seeing our kids work together, and witness themselves succeed as a group, makes it all worth it! They were incredibly proud of themselves, and for these students, that is priceless. Much better than a high test score or grade! For students often hiding in the shadows, they got to see how much they could really shine.” reported Dan Spencer, the classroom’s education technician.
One student shared sentiments at the end of the project that were expressed by many of the others, “I helped with bikability and walkability because I love to walk. I was happy when I found out I was doing this, because I actually got to put my own input into this project. My favorite part was walking, because it was so nice to get out of the school building and contribute to this community.” We look forward to hearing more about how these great Sanford youth voices build the case for community bicycle and pedestrian improvements!