Safe Routes Newsletter

SPRING 2020

Bike, Hike, Twist and Twirl - Staying Active and Safe

Safe Routes to Schools sincerely hopes that you and your family are staying healthy and safe.

COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and caused uncertainty. It is particularly challenging for schools and parents as they work diligently to provide a sense of normalcy through stay-at-home, enriching activities for children.

Safe Routes to Schools, a program of the Transportation Authority of Marin, is fully committed to support our school communities with distant learning activities to promote the physical and emotional well-being of our precious students.  We are in this together – committed to helping our valued teachers and parents by providing resources to engage active minds and bodies while looking toward a happier future with children back at school and roaming freely with their friends.

In April, Safe Routes to Schools is providing a Walk and Roll – Art and Poetry contest letting kids’ imaginations run wild while staying at home. In May, a Walk and Roll Recess Challenge will be rolled out promoting physical activity within homes and local neighborhoods.  Meanwhile, Safe Routes to Schools is recording Webinars of our pedestrian and bicycle safety classes to continue this instruction as part of the Physical Education curriculum taught in schools. For parents using this time to practice biking with their child(ren), we have instructions on how to safely teach your child to ride in your neighborhood. 

As we wish our community health and safety, we also hope families will use this time to reflect on how we together, can create a sustainably healthy world for our children going forward. 

As tragic as this time is, it truly shows us that our individual and collective actions matter. 

 

Task Forces Continue Online

Marin Safe Routes to Schools will continue to conduct task forces meetings and walk audits on line during the Stay at Home order. Just recently Safe Routes conducted a walk audit of Terra Linda High School. We used Google Earth to look at the conditions on the ground. Then the Safe Routes design team showed some new design ideas that had been developed in coordination with the San Rafael School District and San Rafael City staff. This allowed the participants to respond so that the project can continue to move forward. The Task Force meetings will all be held online. 


Public Funds Keep Nutrition
Going in Marin

Lynwood Elementary School's Principal Melissa Diaz has been driving 100 meals a day from Hamilton School to Leafwood Drive, where many of her students live

Food security has turned into a major struggle for thousands of Marin families due to the Coronavirus. With school closures, there was the loss of school meals, the only nutrition that some children received daily. But now, students whose parents just lost their jobs plus the ones that already subscribed to the free and reduced lunch program will continue receiving most meals during the closure from different public sources.

One such source is school districts like Sausalito, San Rafael, Tam, Novato and Lagunitas. They are currently distributing free lunches and breakfast for children from Monday through Friday. Some distribution points are: Sausalito at Bayside MLK; San Rafael at Bahia Vista; Larkspur at Redwood High school; Lagunitas at its elementary school; Novato at Hamilton School and Hill Education Center. To find lists of school meal locations in your community, visit your school district or health department’s website.

“Both my husband and I lost our jobs recently, so this assistance is essential to be able to put food on the table,” says Maribel Calderón, a Safe Routes to Schools volunteer at Bahia Vista. She has been collecting daily lunches for immediate consumption and breakfasts for the next day for her daughter. Calderón also benefits from food offered by the Food Bank, which hosts a weekly “Food Pantry” at Bahia Vista.

The Food Pantry is the second source of free food at 11 Marin schools, which holds weekly distributions just for its families. However, there are 25 other locations in Marin County (foodlocator.sfmfoodbank.org ) where edibles are distributed on the first come-first serve basis. Patricia Madrigal with the Food Bank explained, “We can't set up farmer market style anymore. Instead, we package the groceries in one bag per family, trying to balance it nutritionally.”

A final option is Calfresh. Alexandra Danino, a Senior Program Manager with the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, invites parents to call the hotline (415) 767-5220 to see if they are eligible to apply.

 



The Air is Clean and
the Skies are Blue

Stinson Beach

As challenging as these times are, we are being given a snapshot of what the world would be like if most people walked, biked, used transit and/or worked from home.  With fewer cars on streets and highways and more industries scaling back as part of restrictions related to the spread of the coronavirus, the Bay Area has seen extraordinarily good levels of air quality across its entire region, officials said. 

The reports are especially welcome at a time when everyone is concerned about respiratory health, said Kristine Roselius, a spokesperson for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Those with underlying health problems, such as lung disease, are at high risk for the respiratory virus, which can lodge itself deep into the lungs to cause pneumonia.

NASA scientists have reported drops of up to 30% in smog-forming pollutants over central and eastern China in January and February, compared to the same months in recent years, based on satellite measurements. They attribute some of that drop to strict limits on driving and other activity during the outbreak.

The canals in Venice are clearer than they have been for a long time, due to lockdown measures taken in the face of coronavirus.   There is less need for transportation of any kind to be running, and the canals with less boats are coming up clean, clear and beautiful.  “The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom,” a spokesperson for the Venice mayoral office told CNN.  He continued: “It’s because there is less boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water’s surface.”  Its clarity seems to be to be attracting more creatures than usual. Swans and fish have even been spotted paddling and swimming around.

Marshall Burke, an assistant professor of earth system science at Stanford University, noted that it’s likely that many more lives will be saved from the temporary clean air in China than will be lost to COVID-19. That doesn’t mean coronavirus is beneficial, he stressed.  “This is not a silver lining. The pandemic is incredibly destructive,” Burke said. “The calculation is perhaps a useful reminder of the often-hidden health consequences of the status quo, i.e. the substantial costs that our current way of doing things exacts on our health and livelihoods.

This information was excerpted from articles in The SF Chronicle, Mercury New and Classicfm.com


 

Bay Area Bike Mobile
Came to Marin

Did you know there is a Bike Fix-it Van that goes all around the Bay Area fixing bikes for FREE?  TAM’s Safe Routes program has been inviting them to the middle schools in Marin county to repair/replace parts and tune-up bikes. This school year so far, the Bay Area BikeMobile (bayareabikemobile.org) has fixed 70 bikes! Students at Sinaloa and Hall Middle School lined up to have their brakes tightened, gears adjusted, and flats fixed.

The Alameda County program started in 2012 and the Bay Area program started in 2014. Each program serves about 3,000 people per year, amounting to reaching over 40,000 people. In addition, they had recently started an apprentice program.  So far, they've had 3 youth apprentices and one woman who speaks English as a 2nd language complete their job training program. They've also been given away over 500 bikes to students.

The Bay Area BikeMobile is funded by Spare the Air Youth, a part of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)’s Climate Initiatives Program.  They have been grounded for the time being so, like many non-profits need your support.   https://www.bayareabikemobile.org/

Some helpful tips for maintaining bikes:

Parents, please check your student’s bike for safety often. Do the simple A-B-C bike check with them. Test the AIR in tires, make sure the BRAKES work, and do a general CHECK over the bike.   Click here for a video on how to change a flat courtesy of Portland Safe Routes to Schools.


Never too Young to Teach
a Good Lesson

MLK students Jazmin Lopez (left) and Lupita Gonzalez hosting SR2S's welcome table

A shout out to two young students, 11-year old Jazmin Lopez and seven-year old Lupita Gonzalez, who ran Safe Routes to Schools’ contests at Bayside Martin Luther King for the last year prior to school closures. With their enthusiasm and leadership, Jazmin and Lupita have been instrumental in making sure The Search for the Hidden Treasure was conducted smoothly at their school. For every event, they arrived earlier than normal to help set up the welcome table, helped all kids who arrived by foot to fill out their raffle tickets, and handed out incentives. At the end of every contest, the two of them came to the stage for the contest's raffle.

Second grader, Lupita Gonzalez, was responsible for the success of the events and said she loves helping because it makes her “happy to hand out the little prizes to the kids.”  Jazmin Lopez, who is in sixth grade, also had a good time giving away incentives to her fellow students, but points out that it is very important to “teach others about walking to school.”

Both Jazmin and Lupita have pledged to continue helping with Safe Routes to Schools' contests for a long time.


San Rafael Canal to See
Sidewalk Improvements

The City of San Rafael applied for and received a $300,0000 grant from the Transportation Authority of Marin to prioritize pedestrian improvements in the Canal neighborhood at several locations. This grant was specifically targeted to benefit disadvantaged communities. This application was submitted before San Rafael’s crosswalk study was completed, so locations were based on observations, including pedestrian use, vehicle volumes, and in some places, lack of curb ramps. The San Rafael City Manager recently signed the agreement to design the improvements at these locations. Omar Carrera, Chief Executive Officer of the Canal Community Alliance was excited to hear about the project.   He created flyers about how to use the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) both as a driver and as a pedestrian and distributed them throughout the community   Students from Bahia Vista Elementary School, Davidson Middle School and San Rafael High School will greatly benefit from the improved crossings along with all residents of the Canal.