More Children Walking and Biking to Schools In Marin County, California

Safe Routes to Schools has just completed its second year with a steady increase in the percentage of students walking and biking to school at participating schools, reaching 5115 students.

By the end of recent school year, thirty-eight percent of the students at the public schools participating in the program were walking and biking to school (only 21% of students were walking and biking at the start of the program in the year 2000, two years ago). The statistics over the two years show:

  • Children walking to school went from 14% to 23%
  • Children biking to school doubled from 7% to 15%
  • Children carpooling increased from 11% to 21%
  • Children arriving alone in a car shrank from 62% to 38%

(see attached chart).

Fourteen public and private schools in San Rafael, Ross Valley, Bolinas, and Mill Valley participated in this year's Safe Routes to Schools program. Parent volunteers organized regular Walk and Bike to School Days, contests like the Frequent Rider Miles contest, and helped to promote the program in the schools. This year's Frequent Rider Miles contest grand prizes were donated by Schwinn and Diggler.

Safe Routes to Schools provided Bicycle Rodeos, Pedestrian Obstacle Courses, and other classroom lessons on traffic safety and the environment. Each school also participates in a community task force to assess the safety of the streets and work with the Safe Routes to School Engineer, the city public works departments and law enforcement agencies to identify and remedy safety hazards. This has resulted in several capital grants, including $343,000 for Mill Valley to improve their multi-use pathway and crossings, and $200,000 for Fairfax to build new sidewalks.

Schools benefit from the Safe Routes to Schools program by reducing traffic on the roads surrounding the school and increasing the health and safety of their students. Neighborhoods also benefit from the program. Nancy Hansen, a resident of Fairfax wrote: "Before Safe Routes to Schools was established, the volume of traffic in the mornings was intense. Now it is quiet and peaceful as if we had returned to an earlier time. I say if your neighborhood doesn't do this, you are missing a great opportunity to improve the quality of your life!"

Safe Routes to Schools will be offering free training for school representatives including parents who wish to start or continue a program in the fall.

  • Introduction to Safe Routes to Schools, How to Organize a Walk to School Day event - Wednesday, August 28, 7 p.m. San Rafael Community Center
  • Continuing programs, How to Recruit and Retain Volunteers - Wednesday, September 11, 7 p.m. San Rafael Community Center
  • For private schools and other interested schools, How to Organize a Carpool program, Tuesday, September 24, 7 p.m., Location to be announced.

To sign up for these classes, contact Wendi Kallins at 488-4101 or
Safe Routes to Schools is a project of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. It is under contract with the City of San Rafael to offer the program countywide. Nelson/Nygaard acts as project manager and David Parisi & Associates provides engineering consultation.

The Marin County Congestion Management Agency estimates that 21% of morning traffic is caused by parents driving their children to schools. For more information or to join the Marin Safe Routes to Schools program (free to participating schools), please call 415-488-4101. Additional info is also available at

An excel version of this chart is available on request

The following public schools participated in the survey: Vallecito, San Rafael; Manor, Fairfax; Hall Middle School, Larkspur; Neil Cummins, Corte Madera, Ross School, Ross; Brookside Upper Campus, San Anselmo; Bacich, Kentfield.

Note: Only Vallecito School offers bus service. Last year there were two schools offering bus service)

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