Sensible solution to major Illinois budget cut

Encourage walking and biking to school instead of investing in busing.

Today Gov. Pat Quinn submitted his proposed state budget for fiscal year 2012. The Active Transportation Alliance recognizes that Illinois faces many fiscal problems and that cuts were expected. One major cut stands out because a sensible solution is available.

In fiscal year 2010, the Illinois State Board of Education distributed more than $335 million to local school districts to reimburse them for school busing costs. For fiscal year 2012, Gov. Quinn is proposing $175 million in reimbursements.

In many cases, there is an alternative to busing kids to school. Safe Routes to School programs are flourishing in Illinois. With help from Active Transportation Alliance, schools across the state are teaching bike and pedestrian safety, launching “walking school buses” and “bike trains,” and using a variety of other strategies to help kids discover the health, environmental and social benefits of active transportation.

Active Trans encourages school districts to use this opportunity to re-focus their transportation programs on helping children walk, bike and use transit safely to commute to and from school. In 2009, the Illinois General Assembly enacted a law re-allocating $50 from each speeding infraction in a school zone to fund Safe Routes to School programs.

School officials can contact Active Transportation Alliance at 312.427.3325 or education@activetrans.org for assistance.