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Milwaukee receives Vision Zero for Youth Innovation Award, recognition for efforts to support safe walking and biking amid COVID-19 pandemic.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (April 5, 2021) – The National Center for Safe Routes to School has named the Milwaukee Safe Routes to School Program the recipient of the 2021 Vision Zero for Youth Innovation Award. The program, which received leadership and support from the Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) and Wisconsin Bike Fed, was selected because of its creative, community-driven efforts to support safe walking and biking for youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Wisconsin Bike Fed continued its efforts to encourage safe bicycling and get children outside throughout 2020. Its summer bicycle camps were modified to be fully outdoors, Safe Routes to School program elements were retooled into a ‘Safe Routes from Home’ curriculum, and the Champion Training program to train school staff to ride a bike to school continued.

Read the full press release from National Center for Safe Routes to School here.

kids and school staff stand with the mayor outside school holding their walking school bus sign
Mayor Tom Barrett, Principal Ayala, Community School Coordinator Regina Stieber, Safe Routes Instructors; Caitlin Hussey and Victoria McNally and Lincoln Ave kids celebrating the award. Photo Courtesy: City of Milwaukee

The Wisconsin Bike Fed is grateful for this recognition by the National Center for Safe Routes to School.  Our more than 15 year long relationship with Milwaukee Public Schools allowed us to creatively move our Safe Routes efforts forward during the pandemic. In 2021 we continue to support our young people in MPS, virtually and in-person, through after-school bike clubs, summer bike camps, and walking clubs. We are especially excited to collaborate with the Department of Public Works – Multimodal team in the 2021 school year and build upon our work at Lincoln Avenue School to include youth voices in the street design process.

The Bike Fed’s team of Safe Routes Instructors, staff at Milwaukee Public Schools, and Sixteenth St. Community Health Center were amazing partners and supported the kids and their ideas all along the way. When education and engagement starts at the grassroots of the school and family and is used to influence elected officials and city departments, those involved learn a great lesson about how powerful their voices can be in making change. We look forward to Milwaukee DPW and Mayor Barrett enacting systemic changes to the process through which they build our city streets, sidewalks, and paths. Additionally, thanks to Alderman Perez for his support of the students voices and dedication to building a more child friendly Milwaukee

Outreach event in December 2020 during a food and supply distribution day.

“The Milwaukee Safe Routes to School Program provides an exceptional example of how organizations can come together to accomplish big things, even during incredibly challenging times such as those that
communities have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Nancy Pullen-Seufert, Director,
National Center for Safe Routes to School, UNC Highway Safety Research Center
January 2020: Lincoln Ave Students learn about neighborhood traffic calming infrastructure and budget for and suggest improvements to DPW
A community meeting with Milwaukee DPW, Bike Fed, and Lincoln Ave community is held outside and attendees masked up

For some more in depth coverage on the project leading up to Spring 2020 and beyond you can read the visual story here.