The City of Santa Ana Public Works Agency has received a $100,000 Pedestrian and Biking Safety grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to address “education and behavior change” on the roads.
The grant will enable a series of educational workshops, geared toward youth and older adults, that stresses the importance of proper road equipment and improved visibility—such as reflective armbands, bicycle headlights, and taillights.
“This is just another measure to create a culture where everyone feels that traffic safety should be a top priority,” Tim Weisberg, the OTS public information officer, told The Epoch Times.
“At the end of the day, a lot of it’s engineering, creating roadways that are adequate and safe for all types of road users,” he said. But the grant is “also for people to just make good choices on the road.”
The workshops will be followed by community walks to demonstrate pedestrian safety in action.
Bicycle safety courses, along with bicycle helmet inspections, are also planned. The distribution of bicycle helmets to those in need will follow the presentations.
“Many Santa Ana residents don’t have access to a personal vehicle, so this grant will help in our ongoing efforts to create safe corridors for bicycles, pedestrians and public transportation,” said Mayor Miguel A. Pulido in press release on Nov. 5.
Weisberg said the programs will include classroom safety presentations geared toward students, bike and pedestrian safety courses, safety equipment at community events, participation in Safe Routes to Schools meetings, a “walking field trip” with older adults looking at areas to improve safety, outreach events for older adults, and community bike rides.
The programs will follow COVID-19 guidelines and will be held in person “if activities permit.”
“Otherwise, they will be done in a virtual setting,” he said.
The Santa Ana grant is one of over 400 grants from the $93.7 million awarded to various cities in California by the OTS. The grant programs were initiated on Oct. 1, and will run through Sept. 30, 2021.
“We administer funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), so it comes from federal funding that we then provide for in the form of grants for agencies across the state,” Weisberg said.
The grants are part of the OTS Highway Safety Plan (HSP), which addresses traffic safety concerns. As part of the 2020 HSP, the OTS allocated $7.1 million for bicycle and pedestrian safety efforts—a nearly 17 percent increase from 2019.
“Every state has some type of Highway Safety Office, that under legislation is required to administer a highway safety program,” Weisberg said.
Weisberg said the transportation funding comes through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a $305 billion federal grant to individual states signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2015 for the fiscal years of 2016 to 2020. The federal grants are issued to improve roadside transportation and safety.
“We then solicit applications for traffic safety programs from local city, county, and state agencies. And then we award the money accordingly, and those agencies do traffic safety programs—anything from education to enforcement to equipment. A lot of different programs, all in an effort to obviously reduce some injuries on the roads.”
There’s a “giant, big pile of transportation funding,” Weisberg said, adding that “a small part of it goes to just specifically traffic safety, so enforcement and education efforts.”
“It was supposed to expire, but with COVID and everything, it was extended a year,” said Weisberg.
OTS Director Barbara Rooney said in the press release, “Our goal is that education will change poor behaviors and make our roads safer. This funding will help ensure the safety of those out biking or walking.”