Safe Routes to Schools Has Exciting Activities This Fall
Won’t you join the thousands of families dedicated to healthy and happy active commutes to school?
HEALTH was the primary factor motivating families to walk and roll to school more, according to a spring survey conducted by Safe Routes among a group of 1,200 Marin County parents. Studies show that creating healthy active habits during your child’s impressionable years will add length to their life, aiding in their circulatory and respiratory systems, cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, diet, body fat, stress-reduction, and self esteem.
Other studies show added benefits: children who walk and roll to school have higher academic achievement, better reading fluency, and improved cognitive performance. Stanford researchers found that walking outdoors also helps generate new, creative ideas. A different US study revealed that those who commute by foot or bike are happier than those who drive.*
If you live within one to two miles from school, walking and biking are strongly encouraged. Our recommendation is that you ask your kids to set their alarms 10 minutes earlier to get up and go to school by foot or two wheels. You’ll beat the morning traffic, too.
If you live too far away or have toddlers in tow, please consider parking ¼ mile from your child’s school and walking (Park and Walk) the short distance to school. This will reduce traffic congestion and give safer access for ALL students walking and rolling to school.
*Resources on academic performance and attendance; National Safe Routes Partnership
Safe Routes to Schools will roll out a new contest called BUDDY UP! between the end of September and beginning of October to encourage students and their families to walk,Park and Walk, bike, carpool or ride the bus together. The purpose is to have regular walkers and rollers introduce this healthy habit to other students and their families who aren’t yet using active transportation.
Participating is easy. Parents can sign up their group of two or more students by filling out this Google Buddy Up Entry Form.
BUDDY UP! offers several benefits: First, by having families walk or roll together, the recently formed habit will have a better chance of enduring the test of time. Second, there is safety in numbers and groups are more easily seen by drivers. And last but not least, friendships, fun and memories are formed during the morning active commute to school.
“Walking or biking to school with a friend is a great way to get some extra time with your buddy, and to help each other to be on time. Friends that go to school together look out for each other!” said Joey Shepp, a parent from Manor Elementary School.
At the end of October, Safe Routes will conduct a county-wide raffle of five $50 gift cards and the winners will be selected based upon their commitment and story of success.
Parents spoke and we listened! According to a recent survey, Walk and Roll Wednesdays is the most popular encouragement event held by Safe Routes to Schools. For that reason, this flagship program is coming back this Fall in full force.
Walk and Roll Wednesdays encourages families to walk,Park and Walk, bike, scoot, or skateboard to school at least ONE day EVERY week. To celebrate successful habits, one Walk and Roll Wednesday will be held each month in elementary schools from September to December. The October 12th event will coincide with International Walk to School Day (iWalk), the biggest celebration of active travel featured by Safe Routes every year.
Teachers will display flyers publicizing the events on their bulletin boards, and will remind their students a day before each event. Also,posters will be displayed on campuses with the dates when welcome tables will be out with parent volunteers greeting kids who used an active mode of transportation, took the bus, or carpooled to school. Volunteers will hand out incentives to participating students and will conduct a raffle at the end of every event.
Traffic Safety Program to Be Rolled Out in October
The Street Smarts traffic safety program is back with a new look! This program is designed to encourage people driving, biking, and walking to use safe behaviors. Keep your eyes open in mid-October, when Street Smarts banners and signs will appear throughout the county reminding people to keep themselves and others safe on the roads.
The program focuses on six key behaviors following a review of countywide collision data and collaboration with a task force consisting of city and school representatives. These highlight key behaviors and encourage safety for all road users:
- Making safe turns
- Avoiding distracted driving
- Using safe speeds
- Looking for pedestrians in crosswalks
- Safe walking
- Bicyclists following the rules of the road
In addition to banners, social media ads and newsletter articles will be distributed by over 100 partner organizations. People are encouraged to get involved by sharing this information with their friends and neighbors. You can also request a lawn sign from your local public works department.
Campaign will last for six weeks and then return in the spring. However, staying safe doesn’t have a time limit. If everyone kept their eyes up and treated others with courtesy, not only would our roads be safer, but traveling on them would be more relaxing and enjoyable.
Safe Routes will be piloting a new challenge called PUMP IT UP! The contest aims to encourage 4th and 6th grade students to practice safety skills learned at their school’s “Bike Rodeo”. Physical Education teachers will have an option to hold the one-week challenge by tallying up the number of students who walk or bike to school. The P.E. class period with the most walkers and bikers will win a Safe Routes-sponsored party and will receive a congratulatory poster.
Safe Routes to Schools wants to thank all the P.E. teachers who schedule our classes and encourage their students to walk or roll to school.
Art used: Ariah Whipkey
Tyler Randazzo is the new Lead Instructor for Safe Routes to Schools Marin starting in August. He comes to the organization after three years developing and teaching high school bike education programs for underserved students in Richmond, Redwood City, and Daly City. “I am very excited to make the switch and teach students about the benefits of walking and rolling to school,” said Randazzo. He added that he loves teaching kids about the joys of riding a bike and its unique ability to create community, increase equity, benefit the environment, and promote health and well-being.
Originally from the Boston area, Randazzo moved out west to study history and education at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, where he spent time exploring the city by bike and wrenching in the on-campus bike shop. In his free time, Tyler likes to explore new mountain bike trails and go for long walks with his partner and their four-year old dog.
E-bikes are rapidly increasing in popularity, especially with teens, as they provide increased independence. E-bikes allow students to travel further and faster, allowing steep hills to be easily summited. Heavy school books and sports equipment are now easy to transport. One less vehicle on the road benefits all.
Yet, are students experienced enough to manage the increased speeds and challenging maneuverability of a heavy e-bike?
Parents are advised to do their own research and assess their children’s cycling abilities before purchasing one. Click here to learn the different types of e-bikes and recommendations to help you make an informed decision about purchasing an e-bike or e-scooter for your student.
The average speed of an adult cyclist is 12 miles per hour (mph), and 9.7 mph for 14 year olds. Yet e-bikes allow their riders to travel up to 20 mph (Type I and II) and 28 mph (Type III). Communities are extremely worried about students e-biking at twice the speed of regular cyclists, many carrying helmet-less passengers, and dodging between and around vehicles, pedestrians and other cyclists.
Safety should never take a back seat to convenience, and manufacturers agree. One popular Type II throttle brand said, “Children under the age of 16 may lack the necessary judgment and skill to safely operate the e-bike.” The company’s website states that children “must be 16 or older” (roughly a junior in high school) to use their throttle bike even though the California law states otherwise for Type I and II. Under California law, Type III e-bikes are illegal for those 16 and under.
Type I, where students have to pedal and work harder to reach 20 mph, might be a more prudent and healthier choice for students than Types II and III. Regardless of which motorized or non-motorized device parents choose for their student, parents are urged to do their own homework, ensuring proper bike fit (size and weight) and their student’s reliability to lawfully ride on roads and pathways.
When is a bike not a bike? If HEALTH is the number one reason parents want their children biking to school, it begs the question – do Type II and III e-bikes provide a justifiable health benefit when students do not have to pedal them? Even more concerning, it puts youth at increased risk of crash and severe injury due to two to three times the speed of regular bikes. For questions regarding education, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Nevada Street, the frontage of the Sausalito Campus of MLK Schools, will receive much-needed improvements.
Pavement rehabilitation and re-striping will help reduce vehicle speed on Nevada Street and will improve sight distance for pedestrians. The project will also include a striped buffer between existing parallel parking and the travel lane between Bridgeway and Tomales Street
Work consists of:
- Asphalt pavement rehabilitation
- Pavement restoration along Nevada St. from Bridgeway to the Lincoln Dr./Marin Ave. intersection
- New curb ramps at the Nevada St./ Tomales St. intersection
- Refreshed and extended no parking zones to improve sight distances near pedestrian crossings on Nevada St. uphill of Buchanan Dr. and west of Bridgeway
- New striping along Nevada St. to narrow the vehicle lanes and provide a buffer between parked cars and moving vehicles
- New pavement striping and markings
- Updated signage
- Refreshed existing crosswalks at the intersection of Bridgeway and Nevada St.
The Nevada Street project, along with other improvements on Coloma Street, .were funded through the Transportation Authority of Marin(TAM).
The Butterfield Safety Committee, a subcommittee of Butterfield Corridor Safe Streets, has been hard at work identifying the community’s concerns and coming up with improvements. This collaborative group, facilitated by Supervisor Katie Rice’s aide Nancy Vernon, includes representatives from the Sleepy Hollow Homes Association, the San Anselmo and County of Marin Departments of Public Works, schools, Safe Routes, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and interested residents. Improvements are planned for both the San Anselmo portion as well as the unincorporated portion of Butterfield Road.
The Town of San Anselmo (in partnership with the Safety Committee) has been working on a comprehensive safety campaign on the southern side of Butterfield, including pavement patching in the bike lane, a slurry seal over the whole stretch of Butterfield Road from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the County Limit, wider bike lanes, additional speed limits signs, and targeted green bike lane markings at intersections. The Town will also install a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) at the crosswalk at Woodside Drive, and a radar speed feedback sign near the fire station. These improvements should help reduce vehicle speeds and increase awareness of bicyclists and pedestrians throughout this busy corridor. Funding for these improvements comes from Local Sales Tax Measure D.
The County of Marin (in partnership with the Safety Committee) has been working on concepts for a crosswalk across Butterfield Road at the intersection of Irving Drive (at the community center) and an extension of the bike lane on Butterfield Road from where it currently ends at the San Anselmo town limit to the intersection with Sleepy Hollow Drive. At this time, the bike lanes will not be extended to the end of Butterfield Road because of concerns about parking during large public events at the Sleepy Hollow Clubhouse and pool. Both proposed improvements were approved by the Marin County Board of Supervisors on August 23.
The Butterfield Safety Committee conducted public outreach to gain community feedback to inform these improvements. An online poll was conducted between January 17, 2022, and February 7, 2022, and an online public meeting was held on April 21. Both the survey and community meeting indicated strong support from residents. This shows the positive results when a community decides to collaborate to create improvements in its neighborhood.
To learn more, visit the Butterfield Safe Streets webpage at www.shha.org (under Safety tab).
On May 26, after 44 years of service, Carmel Morini was recognized as Crossing Guard of the Year. Ms. Morini has been faithfully helping kids get to school in Novato since 1978. When she became a crossing guard, the program was managed by the Novato Police Department with funding from a variety of sources including cities, towns, and school districts. The passage of Marin’s ½-cent Transportation Sales Tax in 2004 (renewed in 2018) and the Vehicle Registration Fee in 2010, created a reliable source of funding for crossing guards. The program now funds approximately 100 crossing guards throughout Marin County. Safe Routes congratulates Carmel on a job well done.