Safe Routes Newsletter

SUMMER 2020

Safe Routes to Schools During Covid-19

Art detail: Aileen Marrufo

For the past three months, Safe Routes to Schools has continued to support safe and healthy access on roads and pathways for our communities.  When shelter-in-place orders resulted in school closures, the program took immediate action to develop on-line resources and activities to keep children active and safe, supporting the physical and mental health of students throughout Marin.

In April Safe Routes to School recorded our pedestrian and bicycle safety classes typically taught in class to 1st through 8th grade students. Principals and teachers throughout Marin downloaded or forwarded links to students as part of their physical education curriculum, and included our Tips for Social Distancing while walking or rolling.  In April, students were invited to “Let their Imaginations Run Wild” with an Art and Poetry Contest.  In May, elementary school students were invited to “get their Ya-Ya’s out” with a Walk and Roll Recess Challenge.  Meanwhile, over 500 middle school students participated in a Bike Week Challenge geared to educate and encourage safe riding behavior while having fun.  High school students were encouraged to enter the Bay Area Tell Your Climate Story - giving teens a chance to voice their compelling stories about the impact of climate change and pollution on local communities.  Additionally, Task Force meetings and “walk audits” took place remotely via Zoom and Google maps, allowing for the continuance of safe road and pathway projects.

Shifting gears once again, Safe Routes to Schools is now planning for the eventual re-opening of schools in partnership with the County Office of Education, school districts, and local city representatives.  In these challenging times Safe Routes continues to prioritize children being able to safely and equitably walk and roll to school, meeting the needs of diverse communities.

How are Cities Taking Action to Encourage Safe Walking and Rolling Using Pop-Ups

In Marin County and around the world the COVID-19 pandemic is necessitating changes in how we get around.  Even though summer is just kicking off, Safe Routes to School staff have already been thinking about the fall when students may return to the classroom. Over the summer months, Safe Routes will develop a toolkit of best practices to guide cities and schools to prioritize healthy, active mobility to school while maintaining appropriate social distancing.

The pressures of social distancing and potential for a sharp decrease in walking, biking and rolling to and from schools upon their re-opening means that it is imperative that the program is well-prepared to meet the new challenges that will be presented at the start of the new school year.

To that end, Safe Routes to schools is researching approaches and programs from around the country such as Seattle’s “Stay Healthy Streets,” in which walking and biking is prioritized to encourage active transportation while maintaining social distancing.  These efforts recognize that streets must be configured so that people are able to safely move around their communities, even as we transition from crisis to recovery. 

As part of this effort, Safe Routes is prioritizing ‘pop-up’ or quick-build programs that focus on inexpensive and temporary infrastructure that prioritizes safe walking and rolling on streets near schools.  Depending on the context of the neighborhoods that the schools are located in, this may take the form of pop-up bike lanes and sidewalk extensions that are installed using traffic cones, to residential streets that promote shared use by closing them to through traffic using signs.

This toolkit will be provided to the school districts and the public works departments in their jurisdictions.  Those entities will make the final decisions on which tools to use with support from Safe Routes to Schools. 



Pumping the Brain & Tires During Home Recess Time

Hundreds of children participated in getting their “wiggles out” during our Walk & Roll Recess Challenge last month. From hula hooping to bicycling, students proudly tracked various forms of physical activity. The goal of the recess challenge was to build a sense of a school spirit by rallying students to track their daily physical movement and earn points for a school prize.

“My 7-year-old son (Rowen) and I cycled our neighborhood streets every day during our home recess break,” said parent Tara Markus. “Fewer cars on the road prompted us to ride more frequently and reap the joys of springtime weather, flowers and outdoor magic. The Walk & Roll Recess Challenge nudged us to learn our neighborhood route to school. Most of all, daily riding was a “head-clearing” form of super fun exercise that helped us to both stay focused while learning at home.”



Art & Poetry Contest for SR2S

 

Students throughout Marin let their imaginations run wild by entering the Walk and Roll – Art and Poetry Contest in April. Seventy seven students from 19 schools submitted art and poetry showing their joy for walking and rolling.  Thanks to everyone who took part. Congratulations!

Visit the gallery at www.saferoutestoschools.org

More fun:

Art Projects from Community Arts Kitchen by Barbara Libby 

How to sketch a bicycle

Bas-Relief sculpture bicycle



520 Middle School Students Celebrate Bike Week

This year we couldn’t gather together to celebrate Bike to School Day in May, so a contest was designed for Middle School students to do with their families at home.

Marin’s wonderful principals and Physical Education teachers shared the Bike Week Challenge with their middle school students, and boy did they! Five hundred and twenty middle school Students spent 5 days doing bike related activities during the month of May. They checked their bikes and helmets for safety, watched videos to learn about the rules of the road, and best of all, they got on their bikes to practice their routes to school. A quick quiz at the end allowed us to gather their names, schools, and e-mail addresses.

Students were asked how they felt about the contest. Eighty-six percent said that biking helped them stay physically and mentally healthy. Most of those said they loved every minute! Three happy raffle winners from Sinaloa, Miller Creek and Davidson won a $50 gift card to Sports Basement, Proof Lab or Patagonia.

Because students enjoyed BIKE WEEK so much, Safe Routes created a summertime Celebrate BIKE WEEK for elementary school families and a new one for middle schoolers. The five days of activities, including a scavenger hunt, can be done any five days this summer. To have fun and enter for a chance to win an ice cream gift card in the educational BIKE WEEK contests, go to Family Bike Week - elementary students or Bike Week - middle school students.