SR2S Newsletter Fall 2023

SR2S Newsletter Fall 2023

Join thousands of students who walk, bike, scooter, ride the bus, and carpool to school. 

Traffic reduction is key to calmer, safer streets. This encourages more families to walk and bike to schools, further reducing traffic. You can help! 

Safe Routes to Schools has several fun activities planned throughout the school year to keep momentum going. Consider Buddying Up with friends and come to a welcome table to get a prize when Walk and Roll Wednesdays are celebrated once per month. The first Walk and Roll Wednesday welcome table is September 13. Mood changing pencils will be handed out to thank the walkers and rollers for doing their part to create safer streets and a healthier planet. 

EVERY STEP YOU TAKE helps reduce traffic and invigorates your student for a day of learning, even if it’s only once per week or only a few blocks. Here is a simple way everyone can be part of the solution, even for those who live far away:

Park and Walk a Block for Your Grade (carpoolers encouraged to do so too)
• K-1st graders – Park and Walk 1 block
• 2nd graders – Park and Walk 2 blocks
• 3rd graders – Park and Walk 3 blocks
• 4th and 5th graders – Park and Walk 4 or more blocks

Start small to form habits: Get up and get out to walk and roll at least one day per week to form a consistent routine with your child. Try to Walk and Roll EVERY Wednesday to start. Before long, your student will look forward to walking hand in hand with you, exploring, and forming memories together.

The Safe Routes to Schools BUDDY UP! contest was a great hit last fall and will return again this year. Buddy Up! is a great way to start the year with friendship and fun on the way to school, and kids can also win valuable rewards by participating. If your students have a travel “buddy”, they are more likely to want to get up a little earlier to walk, bike, take the bus, or carpool to school together. Additionally, there is safety in numbers and groups are more easily seen by drivers. Best of all, friendships and memories are formed by walking and rolling with others.

Participation is easy. Starting now, parents can sign up their group of two or more students from neighboring families to travel to or from school. O Sign up using this Buddy Up Entry Form, and don’t forget to tell us how the students met, what they like about traveling together, and any compelling fun story we can share.

The contest runs until October 31. At the end of the contest Safe Routes to Schools will select five winning BUDDY UP! groups to receive $50 gift cards.

Here is one heartwarming quote from Michelle Wilcox, the mother of one of the Bacich students who won last year:

“This group of third graders has been riding to and from school and affectionately been nicknamed “The Peloton” by neighbors who witness their numbers swell as they pick up more and more friends along the way to Bacich. They’re always looking out for each other, on the road and at school. They love being in a large group because it makes it easy to maintain the habit of riding every day, even when one or two people can’t make it. There’s always someone (and more often lots of people) to ride with!”

For the first time, Safe Routes to Schools is rolling out Ruby Bridges Walk and Roll to School Day countywide on November 15. All 42 subscribing elementary schools are encouraged to participate in the event.

Safe Routes will provide its volunteers and school administrators with all publicity and supplies for this special event. Schools can include not only the walkers, but also those students who prefer to roll, take the bus, park and walk, or carpool.

Back in the 1950s, Ruby Bridges was a six-year old African American girl in Louisiana who was assigned to attend an all-white educational institution. She endured verbal abuse from bystanders during her daily walk to class, and most of her white classmates were pulled out of school after she started attending. Ruby and her parents persevered, and over time, the school was successfully desegregated. Now Ruby is a teacher dedicated to inspiring others.

Last year, Bayside Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy in Sausalito celebrated the achievements of Ruby Bridges by walking to campus. “Eight students from our middle school traveled to our elementary school to host the event. Heavy rain occurred on that day so we could not hold the session outdoors, but our students walked from classroom to classroom, promoting Ruby’s story and the Safe Routes mission,” said Phillip Logan, Community School Director with the Sausalito-Marin City School District.

According to AAA, last year 343,000 students from 1,400 schools around the United States took part in Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day.

As Safe Routes to Schools’ new Volunteer Coordinator, Mira is excited to join forces with dedicated parent volunteers at elementary schools all across Marin to make walking and rolling to school a healthy habit.

Mira brings a background in marketing writing and project management to Safe Routes to Schools. She has worked in communications and outreach with a number of nonprofit organizations including the University of San Francisco and the YMCA of the East Bay. She is especially appreciative of the opportunity Safe Routes to Schools provides to build stronger school communities.

A Marin Native and Novato resident, Mira loves to bike and walk around her community, often in company with Russ, her Australian Shepherd. She has two children who attend Novato schools, where she also volunteers. Her most memorable cycling adventure was spending two months touring South Africa with her husband.

Please drop Mira an email and introduce yourself or let her know if you have any questions or concerns: [email protected].

As e-bikes and e-scooters have surged in popularity with students in Marin, so has public outcry over concerns for students’ safety. School administrators, city officials, and local law enforcement have been besieged by complaints about students traveling too fast, many without helmets, while swerving rapidly past cars and pedestrians on sidewalks not wide enough to handle them.

Two Marin communities have taken steps to mitigate unsafe behavior on hefty devices that allow children to travel at twice the speed students normally travel on non-motorized bikes or scooters.

The Ross School partnered with the Ross police department to develop a “Caught Being Kind” incentive program to award kindergarten through eighth grade students for good riding behavior. Ross law enforcement hands out Caught Being Kind cards for wearing helmets, riding slowly, and obeying the laws. The cards can be entered into a raffle drawing for ice cream, pizza, and other sought after gift cards. Ross teacher Ms. Caitlin Santin led her Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) students to create the safety campaign and a video to promote it.

In Mill Valley, where e-bikes are prevalent among the 600 middle and high school students that ride to school daily, Police Department Chief Rick Navarro is taking a different approach. After a year of outreach and education about wearing helmets and riding responsibly, the Mill Valley Police Department changed their local ordinance to give police authority to cite students for a diversion program, mandating that they attend a class taught by Safe Routes to Schools instructors. The teen class is part of Marin County Bicycle Coalitions’ E-Bike Smart Marin program and carries a $150 fee to attend. Twenty students will be attending the first class in Mill Valley on September 9.

Chief Navarro says, “Thank you again, for all that you are doing to allow students to be successful and safe. We in law enforcement truly appreciate the partnership.”

They are basically mini-motorcycles. I got hoodwinked into buying one.” Anonymous parent of a teen about Class II e-bike

Marin Safe Routes to Schools strongly discourages parents from purchasing Class 2 throttle e-bikes for children under the age of 16.

Many popular manufacturers of Class 2 e-bikes also only recommend them for teens 16 and over. Several states have already outlawed Class 2 e-bikes for students under 16, and California legislation is currently debating if our state’s law should be revised as well. Currently California law states that Class I (pedal assist) and Class 2 e-bikes are legal for children of any age, while Class 3 (throttle assist bikes that travel up to 28 mph) have an age restriction of 16 years and above. For parent e-bike safety tips, read here.

Securing the funds for the projects that make it safer to walk and roll to school is key to ensure that these projects are studied, designed, and ultimately built. Recently 11 projects throughout Marin County were awarded almost $20 million in grant funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s highly competitive Active Transportation Program and One Bay Area Grant program. A number of these projects will directly impact students’ abilities to walk and roll to school.
Five projects in San Rafael received funding through the grant programs. Over $8 million will be devoted to two projects in the Canal neighborhood. Some of them include the study of a pedestrian bridge across San Rafael Creek and the funding of walking and rolling improvements throughout the neighborhood, such as filling sidewalk gaps, improving lighting, and calming traffic. Other projects will study active transportation upgrades in North San Rafael and Southeast San Rafael and will make changes at the Second Street/Fourth Street intersection.
Corte Madera also received a $3.5 million funding for two projects. One of them will aim to close gaps in the active transportation network by improving the multi-use pathway on Wornum Drive and adding a cycle track on Nellen Avenue. The second project will focus on making improvements along Paradise Drive.
In Sausalito, half a million dollars will go towards studying bike lanes along Bridgeway from Princess Street to Richardson Street. This would fill a critical gap in the City’s active transportation network.
With all these recent wins, it is clear to see that Marin County is making strides to improve walking and rolling for its students.
Task Force ChangeTask Force Change

The Safe Routes Task Forces will take a fresh approach to engage the whole community in increasing green trips to and from school, thereby decreasing traffic congestion in the community.
At each task force meeting, we’ll use new, data-driven tools to determine the potential of each school to increase walking and rolling trips. These tools include dot maps, which use anonymized student data to show how many students live within walking or biking distance of school. We’ll also consider student survey results that show the different modes students use to get to and from school. These tools will allow the task forces to focus their attention on the best strategies for increasing green trips.

Safe Routes to Schools will also organize separate meetings with district principals to get their input on how best to increase green trips in their schools. Equity priority schools will have the opportunity to have separate meetings if parents are unable to attend task force meetings. Our new partners, Strategic Energy Innovations, will be developing leadership programs in those schools to engage the students.

Please come with your suggestions on how to increase access to walking, biking, and shared transportation choices for school communities. With your support, a culture of active and shared commute to schools can be realized with safer streets for students.

In only one year since their return to the Safe Routes to Schools program, the efforts of parent volunteers from Marin Primary School is paying off. They have seen a significant jump in the levels of participation in their Rock and Roll Wednesdays events. Last year, an average of 55 students walked or rolled to school with a record-setting 100-plus participants on some Wednesdays; this is an exceptionally high number for a private school where commutes are typically long.

“It was fun to see participants from our entire community show up on those mornings,” said Dana Cole, one of the parent volunteers who helped organize the events. “There was so much enthusiasm.”

Cole and her fellow volunteer, Catherine Hedrick, reignited the green travel campaign after the program lapsed at the school. They created enthusiasm for walking and rolling by adding a theme and dressing up. For November’s Walk and Roll, for example, they donned fuzzy hats in the shape of turkeys. After the holiday break, they turned hosting the events over to the students. Once a month, a different class added a spin of their own, creating the theme, prizes, or treats. One class hosted a spring flowers-themed Wednesday. Another used St. Patrick’s Day as their theme.

The incentives were key, acknowledged Cole and Hedrick. The PTA decided to add to the prizes offered by Safe Routes to School. And they had plenty of treats, like doughnut holes. “[They] were the real prize of the morning,” Hedrick said.

“We are hoping for another successful year and clear days ahead,” Cole said.

Bike trains for elementary school walkers and riders are a fun way to encourage healthy green travel. Parents Joey and Stacy Shepp from Manor Elementary have led an enthusiastic, two-mile bike train route for the past few years. Several meet-up locations en route encourage families to join in.

“[It’s] an exciting parade to school where the kids have fun waving to all the onlookers who smile back,” said Joey Shepp. Going above and beyond, the Shepps help their young riders practice responsible riding including observing traffic signs, using hand signals, and following bike lanes and sharrows, all while getting to school early to enjoy prizes from the monthly Walk and Roll Wednesday table.

Twice a year, the bike train becomes a real parade, with a fire truck and police car escort down Sir Francis Drake boulevard. And last year, the bike train added students from Ross Valley Charter.

Safe Routes to Schools has often been described as fostering community building, creating friendships and family connectedness through the simple pleasure of walking and rolling to school together. This sentiment is echoed by the Shepps. “It is a great way to be social with other parents and kids, establishing a face-to-face community that you just don’t get when you drive to school.”

According to the Shepps, more than half of Manor’s students participated in the school’s Walk and Roll Wednesday events last year. Joey Shepp adds, “when we make announcements about the Walk and Roll program at our morning school assemblies, the kids cheer with excitement and purpose. I believe many families have started biking and walking to school because of this program, and continue to make it a habit because their kids love the community and prizes. I consider Walk and Roll to be a core program of our school’s culture and I’m thrilled to be part of it.”

This article was originally published in the 2018/2019 Safe Routes to Schools evaluation report conducted by the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM). TAM conducts the comprehensive evaluation every three years. Here is the 2019/20 – 2021/22 Evaluation Report; the Shepps’ story can be found on page 36. [17 MB file]

SR2S Newsletter Summer 2023

SR2S Newsletter Summer 2023

Clockwise from top: Volunteer Erick Betancourt with students from Ross Valley Charter form a bike train to celebrate National Bike to School Day. | Lynwood student Hanna Jasson, 9, dressed as Yoda for National Bike to School Day and the end of the Return of the J.E..DI. challenge. | Marin student Rosario Mendoza is elated to be declared the winner of a Cleary bike on May 3. | Owen Wentzel at Miller Creek.

On the cold, rainy morning of May 3rd, over 3,000 students from 38 Marin schools walked and rolled to school to celebrate National Bike to School Day. The date also marked the grand finale of the Return of the J.E.D.I. Challenge, a three-month-long contest organized by Safe Routes to Schools.

National Bike to School Day is the second largest celebration of active transportation held by Safe Routes to Schools every year.

.Many schools went big on their celebrations this year: Reed, Bel Aire, Vallecito, Manor and Ross Valley Charter organized bike trains, Lynwood Elementary registered a 74% percent participation, and Loma Verde offered additional prizes for walkers and rollers. They represent just a few examples of the celebratory spirit during Bike to School Day in the County.

“Kids were really excited about the JEDI Challenge. The day before every event, I sent out a text to remind the parents and increase the participation. I think it was very fun,” noted Loma Verde Community Liaison Virginia Menzel.

.To participate in the challenge, students walked, biked, scooted, skated, rode the bus or carpooled to school and visited the Safe Routes’ welcome table, where parent volunteers handed them “J.E.D.I. cards.” These were stamped by the volunteers on every other Wednesday and entered into a drawing. Cleary Bikes, a Richmond-based kids’ bikes dealership, and Marin-based Mike’s Bikes donated one bike and one helmet respectively per school site.

“I am a single mom and it’s been hard for me to provide my daughter with many things,” said Thera Thompson, the mother of 11-year-old Jewel Argueta, a fifth grader from Olive Elementary who won one of the bikes. She notes that her daughter, in fact, did not own a bike. Thompson adds that, “Jewel has walked to school every day on her own for the last two years and it’s far, so I think this bike will help her with her independence.” Jewel will be using the bike to commute to Sinaloa Middle School next year.

Eight-year-old Brandon Rodas, a second grader from Loma Verde, had a gut feeling he was going to win the bike, according to his mom, Hilda Rodas. “He mentioned that in the morning and he called later from the school and told me, ‘I told you I was going to win it!’,” she said. Rodas added that she and her husband had been meaning to buy a new bike for Brandon for a while because the one he is using is way too small, but they also did not have the money to replace it.

“It’s been an inspiration seeing how excited the kids get for the group rides to school, many of them with smiles ear to ear going into their classes. These kids are our future adult commuters that are learning the importance of safe routes and the partnership needed between all road users to make it work. I’m really excited to continue working with parents and MCBC on this great program.”

Volunteer mechanics from the Bike Mobile fixed about 50 bicycles for free on Saturday, May 20th at Pickleweed Park in San Rafael. The event, organized by the Marin Bicycle Coalition and Safe Routes to Schools, demonstrated their commitment to the Canal community.

One of the goals of the event is to help low-income students restore their bikes so they can be enjoyed safely. This meant new tires, fresh brake pads, and chains, among other things. Student mechanic, Nayed Garcia, a two-time Bike Fest volunteer, said, “The event is incredibly empowering and it feels great to renew these bikes and then get to see them pedaled around the neighborhood all summer long.”

In addition, Safe Routes hosted a comprehensive bicycle safety class, attended by 30 enthusiastic young riders. Many of them were Bahia Vista Elementary students, ages five to 10. The class covered essential safety rules, responsible riding behavior, and the correct use of safety gear. The aim was to empower these young riders with the knowledge they need to safely navigate their neighborhood, contributing to a safer, healthier community.

But what’s a Bike Fest without a parade? As an event finale, MCBC and Safe Routes organized a family-friendly bike parade along the scenic Bay Trail, chaperoned by teens from the Cory’s Ride Bicycle Club who are models of safe riding behavior.

The organizers are already planning for next year’s event, which may feature a helmet giveaway. “The safety of our young riders is paramount, and we believe that this initiative will further contribute to their well-being and confidence as they explore their neighborhood on two wheels,” said Safe Routes to Schools Volunteer Coordinator Cooper Miley.

Loma Verde parent volunteer Kelly Smith tends to a welcome table in the Spring.

Bringing the Safe Routes to Schools program to life takes a village. A crew of over 115 parent volunteers (some of them PTA Presidents), community liaisons, teachers, principals, and office managers, joined the seven staff members from Safe Routes to Schools, to make it happen for the children of Marin.

Safe Routes to Schools wants to thank all the people involved in 52 schools. Because of all of them, Safe Routes to Schools managed to host 350 morning welcome tables to greet walkers and rollers and to teach over 10,000 students how to ride and walk safely. Many volunteers and school administrators also attended the Task Force Meetings, where they voiced their concerns about infrastructure surrounding the schools.

Simply put, Safe Routes to Schools would not exist without all of them. Here are the members of our 2022-23 village that brought life skills and joy to thousands of children this year.

A whopping 74% of Lynwood Elementary’s families walked and rolled to school for what turned into an umbrella party by the school entrance on May 3rd. The date marked the celebration of the National Bike to School Day, the second most important celebration of active transportation organized by Safe Routes to Schools every spring. It was also the wrap up of the three-month-long challenge, the Return of the J.E.D.I.

Ten parent volunteers, loud pop music, hundreds of incentives big and small, and ample coverage by the Marin Independent Journal were part of the big celebration. To read the full story published by the Marin Independent Journal, click HERE.

“This has been a great success today,” Interim Principal Rick Van Adelsberg told the Marin IJ. “Folks just stepped up in spite of the rain.” He noted that he saw the least number of cars at drop off since December, when he started working at Lynwood.

The effort was led by parent volunteer Janet Carter, who created a huge publicity buzz in her community. Carter considers that encouraging families who live far from the school to park and walk the rest of the way substantially increased the participation in the contest.

For the occasion, Safe Routes to Schools raffled off a bike donated by Cleary Bikes and a helmet donated by Mike’s Bikes. Carter also approached local businesses for prizes, securing 100 bike bells from Class Cycle and sixty $5 gift cards from Little Monkeys toy store. Both businesses are from Novato.

The noise the students made with the bike bells could be heard all over the Lynwood campus during the extent of the event. At the end of the event, Nathaly Ramos Pérez, a third grader, won the bicycle and helmet.

Other children were just happy to be there for the celebration. “We like walking to school. It’s easier than to get in the car. We like the small prizes we receive on Walk and Roll Days and the idea that somebody we know can win the big prize is exciting,” said 9-year-old Kairi Leyland, who is in fourth grade. She walks to school regularly with her little sister Astrid, 6, a kindergartener.

Marin Safe Routes to Schools is proud to announce the winners of the Bike Hero awards. There were 138 nominations and 24 schools represented in our BIKE HERO 2023 contest! Teachers, parents, neighbors, and fellow students sent in testimonials of students leading their peers, climbing big hills, and helping little brothers – all while obeying the rules of the road on bike. Two students were selected from elementary and two students from middle for the 2023 award. Congratulations to them and to all the students who were nominated!

Here is what friends and family had to say about our BIKE HEROES for 2023:

Ulysses Levitt, Laurel Dell, Kindergarten:
Ulysses deserves to win the Bike Hero award, because from the start of Kindergarten he consistently rode his bike to school. Beyond his consistency, partway through the year, on his way to school one day he fell off his bike and broke his arm. After getting a cast and rehabilitating it, he has gotten back on his bike and has been trying to conquer the spot that he fell off. He has been taking some steps to rebuild his confidence (like putting training wheels back on and walking his bike through the spot he fell off), but he continues to try! It is this dedication and determination in a 6 year old that I think is the definition of a Bike to School Hero.

Maggie Arenas, Hidden Valley Elementary, 4th grade:
Since kindergarten, Maggie has been riding her bike to and from school (two miles each way from Fairfax to Hidden Valley). She rides her bike rain or shine, 90 degrees or 28 degrees wearing double gloves and a puffy coat. We are so grateful that we are able to continue our jobs because she can ride her bike to school. She also encourages others in our neighborhood to ride too. Maggie cares for the environment and hopes to continue to navigate the busy roads (especially Butterfield) by riding her bike through fifth grade next year, and of course when she starts White Hill too. We are so proud of our Bike to School Hero from the moment she started riding as a 6 year old until this very moment as a 10 year old.

August Larsen, San Jose Intermediate, 8th grade:
August is a safe and friendly rider. He has ridden his bike to school daily for three years and now is looking forward to high school riding. He is safe and reads the traffic well. He rides with his brother and encourages him to get up the “big hill” on Sunset. I’ve seen him take care of others while on his bike, offering to help put a chain back on or help change a tire. He is always on his bike!

Aurora DeVilbiss, Kent Middle, 8th grade:
I am Aurora’s neighbor and I frequently see her biking to school much earlier than many students, showing me that she has an early program to get to. As an 8th grader, Aurora is one of the older riders and sets a very good example for the many younger riders taking the same route. She is always in a helmet and focused on her surroundings, which is essential for navigating two very busy intersections along her route, including Wolfe Grade. She also slows and stops when conditions require it, like on narrow and congested side streets.

Over 10,000 students from 59 elementary and middle schools benefited this year from 400 pedestrian bike safety classes taught by Marin Safe Routes to Schools. The purpose of these classes is to teach children how to navigate the streets safely while using an active mode of transportation.

This year, the program added ten new and returning schools to the education program.

The two main components of instruction are Pedestrian Safety for 2nd and 3rd Graders, and Bicycle Skills and Safety for 4th, 5th and 6th Graders.

During the pedestrian safety classes, students shoot their hands up to share what the benefits of walking and riding to school are. Most are well informed of how cars contribute to global warming, and they consistently mention that fewer cars on the road is better for the Earth. Mental and physical health and less traffic are other common answers they offer.

At first, the students are taught a theoretical class on how to cross the street safely. On a follow-up session, the second and third graders are taken out on a brief “field trip, ” where they can practice what was explained to them before. The outing is led by a teacher and at least one Safe Route to Schools staff member.

In the meantime, 4th-6th graders benefit from a “bike rodeo.” There, they learn how to ride a bike, keep their balance, decide what way to turn, scan their surroundings, remove a hand from the handle bar to signal, among many other skills.

For the bike rodeos, Safe Routes provides bikes and helmets to students who do not own one. Scooters are also available for those who prefer them or do not know how to ride a bike.

Classes are scheduled normally during the physical education time. The primary goal is for them to learn the rules of the road and ride safely. But more than anything else, Safe Routes want to help kids envision a world with fewer cars, and help them see the fun and joy that riding bikes can bring to their lives,” said Safe Routes Lead Instructor Tyler Randazzo.

If you want to schedule Safe Routes’ pedestrian and bike safety classes, contact Katy Vanoni, Safe Routes to Schools Education Coordinator, at [email protected]

Each year, the Transportation Authority of Marin honors one of its many crossing guards for outstanding service to their community.

This year’s honoree is Alice Yan who helps students safely cross the intersection of Throckmorton and Old Mill near the front of Old Mill School in Mill Valley. Starting in 2016, Alice has never missed a shift for the last six plus year. Alice came to the United State in 1991 and has been a Mill Valley resident since then.

Alice was honored at the TAM board meeting on May 25th. Both Supervisor Stephanie Moulton Peters and Mill Valley councilmember Urban Carmel had children who attended Old Mill School. Supervisor Moulton Peters presented the award, “Alice, on behalf of the TAM Board, our community, our teachers, staff and our school children I would like to express our deepest appreciation for your profound dedication to keeping our school kids safe!

“Thank you for your dedicated service to the Children of Marin. Your work as a Crossing Guard has made a difference to countless students and families in the community. We appreciate your commitment to safety, your caring manner and your welcoming smile!”

SR2S Newsletter Spring 2023

SR2S Newsletter Spring 2023

May 3 will be a big day for Safe Routes to Schools and its thousands of constituents all over Marin County. This day marks a celebration of biking, with the National Bike to School Day, and the final date for the J.E.D.I. Challenge. The contest has been carried out at 35 elementary schools during the Spring semester.

Safe Routes is expecting a great level of enthusiasm for this day. Participants in the National Bike to School Day will secure a final stamp for the raffle of a brand-new bike donated by Cleary Bikes and an adjustable helmet donated by Mike’s Bikes. Students’ J.E.D.I. cards will be collected on the spot by dozens of volunteers, who will perform the drawing for one bike and helmet per school site. The winners will be able to order a bicycle of their choice, and Mikes Bikes mechanics will then assemble the bikes and adjust them to each student at their facility in early June.

It is not only the bikers who will receive a prize or get their cards stamped on May 3. To make the event all inclusive, students who walk, scoot, park and walk, or ride the bus can come get a prize at the welcome table before school starts. Jambar is once again donating 3,000 bars, which will be given to middle and high school participants.

Mark your calendars – National Bike to School Day will be celebrated at over 50 K-12th grade schools on May 3.

Marin County Teens have great concern for the environment, particularly global warming.

This concern is translating into action: this Spring, 43 percent of middle schoolers opted for a active way to school (61% green trips). That means that they either walked, rode a bike, scooted, skateboarded, took the bus, or carpooled. That number is a stark contrast to the only 15 percent of students nationwide who walk or roll on their way to class, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lou Goodwin, Safe Routes’ Teen Program Coordinator, says that a very effective way to engage the students is through their teachers. In Kent, it is a math teacher, and in Miller Creek it is the science teacher. “I mostly work with schools that have educators who volunteer to recruit students interested in green transportation. They are already biking, walking to school and care about the environment.”

The Teen program tends to the particular needs of every school, so nothing is set in stone. An excellent example of how the program flows in some middle schools happened recently in Ross. Here a group of teens, recruited by the leadership teacher, is running the five events of the JEDI Challenge all on their own. This group feels compelled to teach the younger students about the benefits of green or active travel to school.

At both Kent and Miller Creek schools, over 300 children flooded their respective campuses this Spring to enjoy a morning fruit smoothie pedaled by students on a bike with a blender. These two events, organized by Safe Routes and student helpers, are a sample of the growing interest in fun activities that are good for the planet.

Safe Routes is currently serving nine Marin County public middle schools, where 6,387 students receive the benefits of the Teen Program through encouragement to choose active travel over the family car or receive pedestrian and biking safety classes.

After a year hiatus, Marin Health and Human Services (HHS) is partnering once more with Safe Routes to Schools in 2023 to cover some of the expenses of its bilingual program. A $10,000 grant was awarded to be used between January and September 2023.

The grant is already supporting activities at ten elementary and K-8 schools in Marin County where more than half of the students qualify for free and reduced-price lunches. The purpose of HHS is to help instill healthy and active habits among underserved communities, with active travel to school falling into the category of “active living.” In exchange, Safe Routes is aiding HHS in promoting its campaign Rethink your Drink, which highlights the importance of drinking water among children.

The schools covered by the grant are BaySide MLK Academy, Bahia Vista, Laurel Dell, Coleman, Venetia Valley, West Marin-Inverness, Lynwood, Lu Sutton, and Hamilton.

With the money awarded, Safe Routes is paying for tabling incentives, printed publicity, monthly prizes, and grand prizes that will be raffled off at the end of the current contest, the JEDI Challenge. The funds will also provide a comfortable start for the Fall 2023 semester, when Safe Routes will launch a set of completely new activities to promote active travel to school.

Safe Routes to Schools sends a big thank you to HHS for its generosity.

The Spring semester marked the reintroduction of two schools from West Marin to the Safe Routes program: West Marin-Inverness, a K-8, and Bolinas-Stinson Elementary.

West Marin-Inverness School, located in Point Reyes Station and Inverness, was initially contacted by Safe Routes’ Bilingual Coordinator Monica Leifer to join the encouragement program. Their family advocate, Glenda Mejia, and their Principal, Beth Nolan, jumped quickly at the opportunity to do all five events of “The Return of the JEDI Challenge.” With two campuses to handle, Glenda had to manage her logistics by recruiting parent volunteers, a custodian and even the office secretary from the West Marin campus to host the events. Glenda also stamped the JEDI cards of many excited students who came to the first Safe Routes to Schools’ welcome table in about eight years.

“The contest was announced to the students the Monday before the event during a school assembly. They were very impatient, constantly asking me when they were going to get their JEDI cards. I think it’s something new and exciting to do after all the turmoil caused by the pandemic,” said Glenda. “When Wednesday came, the participants waited in line to receive their cards and incentives.”

At Bolinas Elementary School, the schools’ return came as per Principal Michelle Stephens’ initiative. She showed interest during a task force meeting and immediately contacted Safe Routes’ volunteer coordinator, Cooper Miley, to see how they could join. They hosted their first event on March 22.

Both West Marin-Inverness and Bolinas-Stinson schools are now part of the encouragement program, participate in the SR2S Task Force Meetings, and are receiving their bike and pedestrian safety classes.

Safe Routes’ small but mighty team of seven has been hard at work, teaching 270 pedestrian and bike safety classes to 8,000 students so far this year. The requests for more classes keep coming in, and five new schools (Novato High School, San Marin High School, Venetia Valley School, Hamilton School, and Davidson Middle School) have been added to the list of 40+ schools receiving education classes.

The safety classes, offered for free to schools, are normally taught during the regular day schedule. Very often, it is during PE class when the students congregate to either hear about the rules of the road, learn safety tips, go for a walk around the block, or have a bike rodeo. For the bike classes, Safe Routes provides the necessary bikes and helmets for students who do not have their own.

During this school year, Safe Routes’ instructors incorporated new classes into the existing curriculum. Classes are age appropriate and experiential, focusing on pedestrian, bike, and traffic safety for students in 2nd-6th and 9th grades. All classes meet California state curriculum standards.

A new class, “Share the Road,” has been taught to all 9th grade students at San Marin and Novato High Schools. During the class, students learned the rules of the road and how to prevent crashes from a walking, driving, and biking perspective. Other topics covered included being aware of car doors, cycling hand signals, and the dangers of teen driving. At the end of the presentation, students could also sign up for other Safe Routes activities such as a bike ride to practice the skills learned during the class.

Additionally, Safe Routes implemented a “Learn to Ride” class this Spring, which is offered to elementary school students at school bike rodeos. Though learning to ride a bike is often taught informally during bike rodeos, Safe Routes felt it was important to formalize this class into its curriculum to increase access and equity for children who may not have a bike at home. In the class, students are taught how to balance, pedal, and steer a bike. With the help of our instructors, children are often riding by the end of the session.

“Learn to Ride” is available upon request and is currently in place at schools with larger populations of historically underserved students.

Safe Routes to Schools’ Bike Hero Award is open for nominations now until May 31. This is the fifth year in a row that the contest is offered at all elementary and middle schools in Marin County.

The growth in the contest’s popularity shows easily: from 2021 to 2022, the nominations grew by 234 percent. Put in raw numbers, 64 applications from 11 schools were received in 2021, while last year the number increased to 150 nominations from 19 schools.

“We are eager to promote the Bike Hero contest as an opportunity to advance more riding and good citizenship,” said Gwen Froh, Safe Routes to Schools Program Director.

Anyone can nominate a student for the Bike Hero Award. That means that a teacher, parent, school administrator, grandparent, or caregiver can write a short description about why a child who rides to school very often, while respecting the rules of the road, is a good “ROLL” model to their peers. There will be four winners who each will receive recognition and a $50 gift certificate from the store of their choice.

The 2022 winners shone by their grit, determination, and resiliency to overcome barriers such as inclement weather and long distances to school. Their joy of cycling was palpable. Their kindness to assist others, unmeasurable. All the nominees were superheroes for treating themselves, others, and the planet with respect, kindness and a love for life that is felt by riding a bike.

The 2022 winners are:

Zainy Vargas – TK, Venetia Valley Elementary
Zainy (age 5) bikes to and from school almost every day – she wears her helmet and a smile and always adheres to the rules of the road! She and her brother are shining examples.

Patrick Wagner – Grade 3, Bacich Elementary
Patrick Wagner bikes each day to school and committed to biking with his buds and to being the best younger brother. Patrick is kind to pedestrians, bikes safely, and follows the rules.

Callie Egan – Grade 5, A.E. Kent Middle School
Callie bikes to and from school every day. She often goes with a group of friends.

Nino DeFrenza, grade – 7, Miller Creek Middle
While most 13-year-olds are asleep in bed, Adriano wakes up early to bike to school. He lives a good 10 minutes away from his school by car, across the freeway and along a main road. At his young age, he’s learned to obey the rules of the road, have valuable quick-thinking skills, and build confidence when riding alone.

With forty-six percent of the Ross School students walking or biking to school, Safe Routes to Schools decided to give this school its first route map. For that reason, 15 students from 6th to 8th grade who belong to the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging (DEIB) Club, were recruited to be part of the process.

With large scale maps provided by the Transportation Authority of Marin, the students in the club gave up their lunchtime to discuss with Safe Routes staff their walking and biking routes to school. They pointed out challenging intersections, streets lacking sidewalks, and even hidden hillside trails to use.

The information the teens provide, along with some parent input, will go to the transportation engineers who can discuss whether or not infrastructure changes can be made to increase safety. Sometimes these changes are something small like signage. Other times, they may require a longer process, such as the need for a new sidewalk. At the end of this process Safe Routes will have a working Suggested Routes Map that can be used by Ross students in the years to come.

See if your school has a Suggested Routes Map HERE.

During the volunteer luncheon in January, Carrie Wurlitzer, a parent volunteer from Vallecito Elementary, told the other attendants that, for a while now, she has been getting her school to give away “Golden Eagle Tickets” as a prize for the students that walk and roll to school. This means that the school is contributing incentives that are normally distributed at the Safe Routes welcome table.

The eagle is Vallecito’s mascot, hence the name of the ticket. Carrie explains how it works: “Eagle tickets are filled out by the students, turned into the office and once per month, at an assembly, the principal draws names. Winners get an extra Friday recess with the principal and get to choose a friend to come along. As you can imagine, Eagle tickets are coveted!”

That motivated Carrie to turn Eagle Tickets into a Walk and Roll prize. “By using an already existing process, it is less work on the volunteers and is already a known process for the students. WIN WIN!!”

Venetia Valley parent volunteer Heather Crossen, who was present at the luncheon, thought this would be a great idea for her school as well. They have “Falcon Cards,” which also make reference to the school’s mascot. Here, students from K-8 can use their ticket to purchase a snack from the school store, which are about $1 each. The school donated 290 “Falcon Cards” for the March 15 event and publicized the prize in their weekly breakdown.

“Using the Falcon Cards is quick and easy. When the announcement came out, I think it motivated more kids to participate. It looks to me like it increased participation that morning,” said Heather.

Contributions like these help increase the level of excitement among students and frees some of the non-profit resources to invest in different programs.

Free bike repairs, a bike rodeo to learn rules of the road, and a bike blender to make smoothies are just some of the activities that will be included in the second annual Bridge the Bay event, sponsored by Safe Routes to Schools. The event, a celebration of the joy of biking, will be held at Pickleweed Park in the Canal area of San Rafael on May 20 from 12 – 4 p.m.

Experienced mechanics from the Bay Area Bike Mobile and 10 interns from San Rafael will be on hand to fix bicycles. Last year, over 60 bikes were repaired, giving them a new life and creating more opportunities for children to spend time outdoors.

This free and open-to-the-public event will culminate with a parade along the Bay Trail to the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and back. Parents/caregivers and children of all ages are welcomed to join.

High school students wishing to spend an afternoon outdoors in service to their community are invited to contact Cooper Miley at [email protected] for more information.

SR2S Newsletter Winter 2023

SR2S Newsletter Winter 2023

Safe Routes will announce the deployment of its encouragement program for the second half of the school year during a volunteer luncheon on January 19 at the Transportation Authority of Marin in San Rafael. Dedicated school and parent volunteers will host welcome tables to greet walkers and rollers, run contests, and provide other actions such as all school assemblies to encourage families to choose a green way to school.  New and exciting this year, elementary students will have a chance to win a Cleary Bike for participating in the J.E.D.I Challenge.

Safe Routes to Schools has set the suggested dates for the elementary schools’ encouragement events. Depending on individual school schedules, the dates may vary. Middle and high school events are customized per school site.

Calendar of Upcoming School Events – Spring 2023

Walk and Roll Wednesday (elementary schools) – February 1st

J.E.D.I. Challenge to win a Cleary Bike
(elementary schools):
March 1 & 15, April 5 & 19, May 3

Bike to School Day (all K-12th grades):  May 3rd

Bike Hero Award Nominations
(middle and elementary students):
Month of May

Build Habits

In order to make 2023 your Green Commute Year, build habits now so your kids can join all the fun this spring. Walk, Bike, Bus, Carpool, Park and Walk to participate and make 2023 A GREEN COMMUTE YEAR for you and your community.

Walking and rolling to school, especially in brisk and rainy weather, helps to wake up sleepy-heads and allows kids to get their ya-yas out for a day of better learning. Walking and biking to school allows children to interact with their peers and build relationships, which can have a positive impact on their social development. This can also help children to feel more connected to their school and community, which can improve their overall well-being.

Pro Tips To Get Started

Start small and develop a consistent routine. Pick one day per week and set alarms 15 minutes early to begin. Routine builds healthy habits, but most importantly, you will develop memories to cherish for a lifetime. There’s nothing like the simple joy of splashing in puddles or finding treasures enroute to bring smiles to faces. If the full commute from home is inconvenient or the traffic is hectic, drive partway, then park and walk from a neighborhood with quiet streets and few intersections.

Inviting others to carpool or park and walk solidifies friendships and may even give parents a much needed break from their hectic, daily commutes as they take turns bringing kids to school. Not surprisingly, parents say that kids get out of bed faster when they can look forward to traveling to school with friends.

A Bay Area native, Katy Vanoni is the new Education Coordinator for Safe Routes to Schools. She is from now on, the contact person for all schools interested in scheduling pedestrian and bike safety classes for students throughout Marin. Katy replaces Peggy Clark, who was with Safe Routes for the last 15 years.

Before starting with her new job last September, Katy was an elementary school teacher in Marin County and the East Bay. Katy believes that by learning cycling early, children will have the skills and enthusiasm to ride for the rest of their lives.

Katy will be scheduling Safe Routes’ indoor and outdoor safety education courses provided to 10,000 students from 2nd to 12th grade at 50 Marin schools annually. Her focus will be on fostering connections with teachers to bring the Safe Routes team, bikes, and courses for students to hone their pedestrian and biking skills, while following the rules of the road.

Leading up to teaching in the Bay Area, Katy worked in various roles, including as an Art and Sports volunteer teacher to children in Belize. She loves cycling challenges such as sprint triathlons and the Three Bears ride. She obtained her League Certified Instructor certificate in 2011. She lives in San Rafael with her husband and son.

To schedule classes at schools, contact [email protected].

Safe Routes will miss Peggy Clark, who has been with Safe Routes since its early days. We wish her the best in her new endeavor.


Fourteen elementary school students were the happy winners of the new Buddy Up contest conducted by Safe Routes to Schools this fall.

The multitude of entries told the inspiring stories of many buddies, boys and girls from different backgrounds and from all over Marin, who decided to take on the challenge to find friends to walk, bike, bus or carpool to school together. Here are the winners and their heartwarming stories.

Westin & Jase from Olive Elementary School

Westin and Jase have always loved looking for treasures. They enjoy collecting rocks, sticks, and different leaves, among other things like coins, nails, and “dinosaur bones” on their walks. The items that do not end up going through the washing machine have made it into a collection box that they constantly look through and update. Each day they are excited to walk to and from school together when they continue to build their collection.

Erin & Emerson from Reed Elementary School

After a hard first bus ride for Erin on her second day of Kindergarten, her classmate and new friend Emerson offered to ride with her. The next week, they held hands as they boarded the bus (and for the whole way to school), and they haven’t looked back since. They  became fast friends and now love riding the bus together. During the ride, they share letters and drawings they make for each other at home. Recently, they have been asking someone new to sit with them each day. We are so grateful for the bus and for their friendship.

Scottie & Gianna from San Jose Middle School

Scottie and Gianna love to bike to San Jose Middle School together. Recently, Scottie broke her arm, but that did not stop the pair from “getting their steps in” and walking together to and from school. They are each responsible for setting their own alarms, arriving at their meeting spot on time, and messaging their parents once they are off to school. They practice the same routine on their way home.

Aurora, Delaney, Eoldie, Hannah, Kate, Lila, Mackenzie, and Talia from Bacich Elementary School

This group of third graders has been biking to and from school and affectionately been nicknamed “The Peloton” by neighbors who witness their numbers swell as they pick up more and more friends along the way. They are always looking out for each other, on the road and at school. They love being in a large group because it makes it easy to maintain the habit of riding every day, even when one or two people can not make it. There’s always someone (and more often lots of people) to ride with!

In the spirit of friendship, let’s continue to team up to travel together in the upcoming year, fostering healthy habits, community spirit, and fond memories while reducing chaotic traffic and unhealthy pollution. As our fall Buddy Up contest winners demonstrate, it’s well worth the effort.

Twenty fourth graders from Tam Valley Elementary School and their teacher, Ms. Sanchez, were the proud winners of the Pump It Up! contest sponsored and organized by Safe Routes to Schools. The children were awarded a popsicle party and Ms. Sanchez received an Ortleib backpack.  The class was declared the winner after a bike rodeo conducted in October.

The new Pump It Up! Challenge encourages students to put their skills learned during the bike rodeos to use. For a week following the rodeos, teachers ask students how they get to school each day.  The tallies get reported to Safe Routes to Schools and the class with the most walkers and rollers wins a popsicle party and bragging rights.

Check out the Safe Routes classes and see why students are excited when our trailer and Instructors roll onto campus. 

Pictured here is Mr. Sanchez’s class from Tam Valley Elementary – proud winners!

Looming wet weather and cold temperatures did not stop Martin Luther King students in Sausalito from walking and rolling to school on December 1 to celebrate the Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day.

Ruby Bridges, an African American girl, walked into an all-white school in New Orleans every day amid angry protesters screaming at her and her mother along the way. Ruby’s perseverance was pivotal in the desegregation of classrooms.

In addition to the morning Walk and Roll, six middle school leaders came from the Philip Street campus to the Nevada campus to talk to their elementary school peers about Ruby’s historical contributions. “In tandem with the mission of Safe Routes, we celebrated our students who ride bikes or walk to school and encourage those who don’t to give it a try in the future,” said MLK School’s Community School Director Phillip Logan.

To help celebrate  Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day, Safe Routes held a raffle of ten basketballs among the elementary school students who used their feet to go to school.

The event was co-sponsored by community partners of the Sausalito School District.

Bike Buses are growing in popularity and size. Read about the hundreds of kids who bike together in Barcelona, Spain

And the growing bike bus in Portland

Law offices are looking to promote safety as the Stein Law Offices offers great tips for students walking and biking to school

  • Ross Valley – Friday, Jan 13, 2023 at 10:00 AM
  • Novato – Thursday, Jan 18, 2023 at 5:00 PM
  • Kentfield – Thursday Jan 19, 2023 at 9:00 AM
  • Reed – Thursday, Jan 25, 2023 at 10 AM
  • West Marin – Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023 at 7 pm
  • San Rafael – Thursday, Feb 2, 2023 at 5:00 PM
  • Sausalito-Marin City – Tuesday Feb 7, 2023 at 5:00 PM
  • Larkspur-Corte Madera – Thursday, Feb 9, 2023 at 3:30 PM
  • Ross – Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 10 AM
  • Mill Valley – Thursday Feb 16, 2023 at 9:30 AM

Contact Wendi Kallins if you are interested in joining a task force or if you would like a copy of archived task force meeting notes.

Marin Safe Routes kicked off the fall with two new walk audits after having to suspend them during the pandemic. The engineering team worked with residents of Sun Valley Elementary and Strawberry Point to assess the walking and biking conditions for both schools. Elli Abdoli, Mill Valley School District Trustee, and Geoff Rubendall, Sun Valley co-team leader,  did an excellent job of inviting parents, neighbors, and the school principals to participate and of mapping out the route for our walk.

For each school, the audit started during early drop off time to observe some of the conflicts that occur between students and cars.

Sun Valley’s route runs along 5th Avenue in San Rafael, which does not have enough room for bike lanes and has conflicts at each intersection. Many parents park at Andy’s Market on California Street and walk from there,  but there is limited parking and no sidewalks on California Street.

Strawberry is a hilly neighborhood, with no or limited controls at intersections whose steepness makes visibility challenging. It is an older neighborhood that predates the school that has many streets with incomplete or missing sidewalks. Another issue is that  students cross Strawberry Drive as cars are rapidly turning from Tiburon Boulevard.

The good news is that the group observed a number of walking school buses for both schools. Supervised walking groups help to create more visibility and keep the kids safer.

The Safe Routes engineering team works with the local jurisdiction to come up with suggested solutions to these issues. In these cases, it is the County of Marin in Strawberry and the City of San Rafael for Sun Valley. The Safe Routes team will go back for further studies, to make suggestions to the jurisdictions, and, once approved, to bring back concept plans to the task forces. Most of the past recommendations have resulted in completed projects and safer routes to schools for Marin students.

The City of Larkspur constructed several Safe Pathways and Complete Streets projects in 2022 to make it easier and safer for students to walk and roll to school.

Doherty Drive, Magnolia Boulevard, and Bon Air Road in Larkspur received multimodal infrastructure upgrades in 2022, including pedestrian enhancements, bike lane improvements, and traffic calming.

Buffered bike lanes were installed throughout Doherty Drive, a separated bikeway was completed in front of the Redwood High School, and other improvements were made to the Doherty Drive corridor using TAM’s Measure A and AA Safe Pathways to Schools funding. This helps connect several schools, parks, and residences along Doherty Drive to existing multi-use paths and closes crucial gaps in the bike network.

New bike lanes were also added on Magnolia Boulevard and several uncontrolled pedestrian crossings were enhanced with traffic calming features near Marin Primary & Middle School. Bon Air Road saw the completion of the new multimodal bridge and intersection improvements. These improvements will give more students across the city an opportunity to safely walk and bike to school.

Holiday gifts came early to 42 elementary school students in Novato. On November 9, Safe Routes to Schools along with School Board Trustee Diane Gasson and Eric Lucan of Mike’s Bikes coordinated the delivery of adjustable helmets to children who could not afford them. The student recipients were from Lynwood, Lu Sutton, and Loma Verde Elementary Schools.

“This [gift] is of great help to parents who don’t have enough money to buy helmets. For me, as a mother of a student, it is a great relief to think that my kids don’t have to ride their bikes without a helmet,” said Kelly Lopez, who has two children at Lu Sutton.

Staff members from Lu Sutton  were seeing children riding their bikes and scooters daily without the needed head protection. The office expressed concern to Safe Routes, which relayed the issue to Trustee Diane Gasson. Gasson started a GoFundMe campaign among members of the Novato community to help not only Lu Sutton students, but also those from Lynwood and Loma Verde.

Gasson also asked Lucan, who is both the mayor of Novato and chief marketing officer for Mike’s Bikes, if Mike’s Bikes  could pitch in.

“I coordinated with Eric Lucan and he was able to give me a [low] price for the helmets, with the adjusting dial in the back, in the bright colors that we requested. Between the two of us we could get 42 helmets for the kids,” said Gasson.

The story, covered by the Marin Independent Journal, can be found at

The end of November marked the end of another successful Street Smarts rollout. For six weeks, Marin County drivers, walkers, and cyclists were reminded to keep their ‘Eyes Up’ to improve safety for everyone.

The rollout saw the unveiling of bright new banners and signs as part of the campaign’s data-driven refresh. Marin County residents and visitors could spot the messaging on light poles, buildings, buses, and on lawns throughout the county.

Online, people shared safety-related images and used colorful email signatures to show their support and encourage safe behavior. Keep your eyes up for future rollouts in 2023.

Safe Routes to Schools has implemented two new education programs this year promoting transportation mode shifts and increasing safety for Marin County students.

9th Grade Share the Road: San Marin High School, Novato

In early November, Safe Routes Returned to San Marin High School in Novoto to educate 150 ninth grade students. The primary goal of the Share the Road class  is to identify main causes of injury or fatal crashes on roadways and how students can avoid them as pedestrians, cyclists and emerging drivers.

Students remarked what they learned through the class:

  • “Many collisions/ crashes are preventable. Sharing the road and knowing your roles and rules are very important to stay safe.”
  • “[Appropriate] speed is extremely important, do not ever look at your phone when driving, walking, or biking.”

Students were also invited to join Safe Routes’ instructors to practice traffic safety skills on their bikes, and to participate in a contest by submitting a video about how to increase traffic safety among their peers.

This spring, Safe Routes will bring this class to other Marin high schools with the goal of increasing safety education for older students.


E-Bike Education: White Hill Middle School, Fairfax

Electric Bicycles have become popular with many of our middle and high school students. While Safe Routes to Schools celebrates healthier and greener shifts away from car trips, community members have expressed concern about the safety of young, emerging e-bike cyclists. In addition to the “hands on” instruction already provided to all Marin middle school 6th graders, White Hill Middle School requested Safe Routes teach a dedicated class for students who commute via e-bike. In November, 30 sixth to eighth grade students were taught the legal requirements to ride an e-bike, the rules of the road, and the skills necessary to maneuver a heavy and more challenging device. Students and their parents signed a pledge that they would ride safely, obeying traffic laws. Safe Routes Instructors, along with Marin County Bicycle Coalition’s E-Bike Smart Marin program, will develop additional classes in 2023.

SR2S Newsletter – Fall 2022

SR2S Newsletter – Fall 2022

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

Buddy Up To Travel to School Together

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. 

Fall into a Good Habit: Walk and Roll Wednesdays

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.

Keep Your Eyes Up and
Be Street Smart!

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.  

Bike Rodeo Contest Created for 4th and 6th Graders

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

Safe Routes to Schools Welcomes New Lead Instructor

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 Electrifying the Future! What parents should know…

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 [email protected]



Nevada Street in Sausalito
Will Get a Makeover

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).


Safety Improvements in the Works for the Butterfield Corridor

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 (under Safety tab).

Crossing Guard of the Year 2021-2022: Carmel Morini, Lu Sutton Elementary

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.

SR2S Newsletter – Spring 2022

SR2S Newsletter – Spring 2022

EXCITING NEWS: Our website has undergone a complete remodel so you can easily navigate and find up-to-date events and activities, suggested routes to school maps, on-line ped/bike education, Task Force information and more. Check it out and return often to get the latest information about your Safe Routes to Schools community and activities to keep you in gear.

Some of the new website features include:

  • Reorganized content for ease of use
  • New page highlighting SR2S’s equity work
  • Ability to filter encouragement programs and education classes by grade, topic, etc.
  • Translation widget to translate webpages into Spanish or other languages
  • Streamlined parent and teen volunteer toolkits

You’ll be able to access the new website using the same web address:


Safe Routes to Schools has some out of this world events for walkers and rollers this spring.  Mark your calendars so your student won’t miss out on these special, galactic activities at your school.

For information about activities at Bahia Vista, Venetia Valley, Coleman, Laurel Dell, Loma Verde, Lu Sutton, Olive and Lynwood, contact [email protected]. For all the other schools, contact [email protected].

Art by Claire Cochrane – White Hill

J.E.D.I. Challenge – Wednesdays: April 13, 20, 27, and May 4

[Dates may vary – check with your school volunteer]

Students can become a Planet J.E.D.I. (Joyful, Excited, Devoted, and Imaginative) by walking and rolling to school for Earth Month.  This four-week contest asks students to use their weekly Walk and Roll Super Powers for a chance to win raffle prizes.  Small “Skywalkers” can participate by parking and walking partway to school (1/4 mile or more).  Participating students can come to the morning welcome tables to get a J.E.D.I. card and have it stamped once per week.  On May 4th, the cards will be collected, and winners drawn. 

There will be Walk and Roll Wednesdays on April 13 (dates can vary by school) for those schools that couldn’t join the J.E.D.I challenge.


April 23 – Bridge the Bay Event
for High Schools

On April 23, high school students will come together to help raise climate equity awareness at the first event: Bridge the Bay hosted at Pickleweed Park in San Rafael. A former San Rafael High teacher and professional muralist, Tia Warner, will lead students in creating a street mural to showcase their passion for environmental awareness and justice. Emissions from cars, trucks and airplanes is the primary contributor to climate change in the U.S.  Oil refineries tend to go up in low-income neighborhoods, such as the one in Richmond, negatively impacting the health of our neighbors across the bridge. A bike ride across the Richmond Bridge will be led by Marin County Bicycle Coalition’s Policy Director, Warren Wells.  The Bay Area Bike Mobile will offer free bike repair services for families living in the Canal while the Bike Blender will supply smoothies created by pedal power.  For more information, contact [email protected]

Annual Bike Hero AWARD
– Coming This May

Seeking Bike Heroes – students who are stellar “roll” models by biking to school frequently while following the rules of the road. In May, parents, neighbors, friends, teachers and administrators are encouraged to nominate a Bike Hero from their school worthy of receiving this county-wide award. The award, offered to two elementary and two middle school students each year, is an opportunity to recognize students using safe riding practices (wearing a helmet, riding predictably with traffic on the right and in a straight line (not swerving between parked cars), obeying all traffic signals, riding slowly and in control). Start looking now for a student to nominate when the link on the Safe Routes website becomes active in May.


Cory’s Ride Next Year at Sinaloa

The next participants for the Cory’s Ride program were selected from Sinaloa Middle School.  This program provides the benefits of cycling to students who otherwise might not have the opportunity.  Eighteen kids will be working with Safe Routes over the next year, meeting for safety education classes, maintenance clinics, and monthly group rides.  Five to ten of those students will receive brand new bikes and equipment that they’ll get to keep! The Cory’s Ride program is a program of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition made possible by generous support from the Leonoudakis family and MCBC donors.


Renee Shelton: from Parent Volunteer to Safe Routes’ Instructor

Meet Safe Routes’ Instructor, Renee Shelton, who has been teaching rodeo classes to thousands of students for over ten years.  When asked what inspires her, she cites the meaningful work. “Not only do the students learn the rules of the road so they can be respectful and safe when riding on the streets, but I love seeing the joy on their faces when they do something they don’t think they can – such as riding over the teeter totter.”    

Renee has long been an advocate for green travel to school and the benefits it reaps.  When her two boys, Marcus and Noah were little, Renee parked her car at The Depot in Mill Valley and walked them to Old Mill Elementary School.  Eventually, she formed a Walking School Bus, fostering happy, excited kids and parents walking and talking as they strolled to school.  As her boys grew, Renee stepped into the role of Safe Routes Parent Volunteer to promote Walk and Roll events, promoting the joy of active travel to other families.

Fast forward ten years: her boys are at Tam High School and on the Mountain Bike team where her husband, Matt, coaches and Renee is a Ride Leader.  Both boys went to Nationals for both Cyclocross and Mountain Biking in 2021 and are slated to go again in 2022.  Marcus even went to Worlds for Cyclocross, in Brussels, at the age of 17.  Renee and Matt also race, but with a low-key, “just have fun” attitude. As Matt says, “it’s a skill to go slow” and the entire family loves riding with all skill levels.

Renee is passionate about sharing her love for biking with students of all abilities. “The bike classes are a great opportunity for kids to get introduced to cycling even if their parents don’t bike.  You can see the appreciation for riding a bike on their faces as their confidence builds.”  Renee adds, “and we have a great team at Safe Routes; the Instructors are all encouraging and supportive, and love sharing their knowledge.”

Graphic Art Talent at
White Hill Middle School!

If you’ve wondered where Safe Routes comes up with the graphics for its posters, they come straight from the teens. For the past four years, the wonderful art teachers at White Hill Middle School, Emma Beauchamp and Doretta Ruzzier-Gaul, have incorporated Safe Routes’ graphic needs into their curriculum. They create images of walkers, bikers, or skaters that express the joy and freedom of getting to school through active travel. The students use photographs, tablets, and computer programs to create their inspiring images. Sixty-two students worked on the project this year and loved the Star Wars theme “May the Fourth be With You”. (National Bike to School day is on May 4th). 

So much great artwork was produced that Safe Routes is not only using it for the Elementary and Teen posters, but will be showcasing it on the new website as a rolling slide show. Enjoy the talent!

Art by Sophia Lopez – White Hill


Walking School Bus Resources

Thinking about starting a walking school bus for your neighborhood?  Blue Zones provides instructions and a number of resources in its latest newsletter.   Check out the cool video as well. 

You can check out Marin’s resources here, using this link


Making Butterfield Road Safe for Everyone

Zoom Meeting to be held April 21 at 6 pm 

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 827 2353 7584
Passcode: 572054
One tap mobile +16699006833,,82723537584#,,,,*572054# 

Safe Routes to Schools has been working with Supervisor Rice’s office, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC), and a group of parents, community members and Town/County staff to make Butterfield Road safe for everyone. Click here to read the results of our community survey, where 90% of respondents support bike lanes!

Butterfield Road runs from San Anselmo into the unincorporated Marin County community of Sleepy Hollow. It connects three schools and is the only way in or out (by car) from the valley. It also serves as a bike through-route to Terra Linda via the pass at the top of Fawn Drive.

The Town section of Butterfield has bike lanes but at the County border (Oak Knoll Road), the bike lane appears to continue north, but no parking prohibition is enforced and there are many parked cars forcing riders and walkers into the path of traffic (there are no sidewalks).

Neighbors and frequent users of the road were uncomfortable with their children riding or walking on Butterfield. While Town and County staff asserted that the number of crashes was in fact below the average, many crashes had gone unreported, and there were countless stories of near misses. 

The Survey
To learn more about the problems encountered on Butterfield Road, the committee led by MCBC and the Sleepy Hollow Homeowners Association initiated a community survey.  The survey was a resounding success, with responses from 891 households accounting for over 2,000 individuals, 80% of whom live in San Anselmo. For those who want to dig into the results, you can find the full survey report here, or an abbreviated infographic version here. 

Users and Comfort
Butterfield Road is used in a wide variety of ways. Many use Butterfield for commuting, but high numbers of people use the road for school, to access Terra Linda by bicycle, to walk/stroll, or to visit neighbors. With regard to comfort among people walking or bicycling, a majority of respondents only felt comfortable “sometimes” or “seldom.”

The survey found that a much larger number of crashes had occurred on Butterfield Road than had been reported to police. Over half of the riders involved in crashes were children.

While most of the crashes we learned about were not particularly serious, it’s important to note that almost all of them could have been. Additionally, even minor crashes (especially those involving cars) are enough for a reasonable parent to tell their child, “I’ll just drive you to school from now on.” 

Respondents were asked whether they would support reconfiguring Butterfield Road to provide a complete bike lane, even if it meant removing some on-street parking. The support for this idea was overwhelming: over 85% of respondents answered “Yes, definitely” or “Yes, potentially” to this question.

The Safety Committee will be distributing information about a public meeting, during which the options for moving forward will be discussed, and folks’ questions will be answered. That meeting will be held on Zoom at 6 PM on Thursday, April 21st.

Larkspur’s Doherty Drive to get New Bike Lanes

Doherty Drive in Larkspur, from Magnolia Avenue to Lucky Drive, is getting an upgrade later this year. Almost one mile of buffered Class II bike lanes will be installed throughout the corridor, and a Class IV protected bikeway will be completed in front of the Redwood High School, between Riviera Circle West and Lucky Drive. This will close crucial gaps in the bike network, connecting several schools, parks, and residences along Doherty Drive to multi-use paths on both ends of the road. Other enhancements include a Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacon at the uncontrolled crosswalk at Rose Lane. These improvements will upgrade existing routes and create new routes, opening up the opportunity for more students to safely walk and bike to school. 

Kids and Parents are Learning About
Safe Bicycling

It’s been a busy start to the spring, and Safe Routes is making the most of this beautiful weather with its education program.  Old Mill, Hidden Valley, Sun Valley, Manor, Brookside, Strawberry Park, Pleasant Valley, Lagunitas, Bolinas, and St. Patrick’s all received pedestrian and bicycle safety classes in the six weeks between the mid-February break and Spring Break. 

In early March, Safe Routes hosted a virtual Family Biking Live webinar.  Marin families tuned in to learn bike and helmet fit, how to navigate the road legally and responsibly, and how to build confident, safe cyclists based on age-appropriate development.  Now that spring has sprung, the  Family Biking classes will return to in-person events that include a family mini bike rodeo.  You can learn more and register for future events here.

The first ever Parent Education Night was hosted by the Mill Valley School District and PTA.  Parents were taught all of the things that their students are learning in school with Safe Routes so that they can reinforce behavior, and were able to address community questions and concerns.  E-bikes were one of the main topics of conversation, as the school district has seen quite a few students using them inappropriately.  Safe Routes offered tips and recommendations to help promote safer biking. To learn more about scheduling a Parent Education Night in your district, contact [email protected].


Proud Winner of a New Bike at Lu Sutton

Kindergartener Aiden Collins from Lu Sutton Elementary was the happy winner of a brand new bike and helmet raffled off by Safe Routes to Schools and sponsored by Mike’s Bikes. The giveaway was the idea of Eric Lucan, who is not only the new Mayor of Novato, but also the Chief Marketing Officer at Mike’s Bikes. 

To win the grand prize, Aiden walked to school every day for the Safe Routes’ Walk and Roll Fall Challenge. During October, November and December, students logged the days they walked or rolled to school.

“I liked to walk to school for the challenge. Sometimes we timed ourselves. I like that we got to be outside before school. I LOVE my new bike and want to ride it all the time: on ramps, on trails, and to school!” Aiden says.

PTA President Erin Compton also serves as a parent volunteer for the Safe Routes to Schools events at Lu Sutton. “We knew we had to spread the word and encourage the whole community to participate. When the day came, we had a huge turnout and saw the excitement on the faces of students as they learned they could get in on a chance for a new bike,” she said.

Hot Walk-aLot! a Hit

Sinaloa and Kent middle schools used a little play on words and served up hot chocolate to all walkers and rollers in January and February. Those cold mornings were perfect for a little hot cocoa hand warmer. The posters and broadcast announcements brought out hundreds of walkers, bikers, skateboarders, and scooter riders. We encouraged students who live too far away to PARK 10 minutes away from school and WALK the rest of the way. 

The Vice Principal at Kent was very appreciative. She said, “Thanks for this sweet way to encourage and celebrate our students walking and rolling to school! It’s incredible to know that 300 of our Falcons did so today!”

Special thanks to Peet’s Coffee for supplying us with jugs of hot water. 

Walk for Waffles!

The Kent Eco-Action club wanted to serve-up waffles and whipped cream to all walkers and bikers. But their school had approximately 300 students to feed on the rain-free day – too many waffles to serve!  To solve the problem they decided to have a contest pitting Physical Education (P.E.) classes against each other. The P.E. classes with the most walkers and rollers for an entire week won Waffle Parties –  whip cream too! 

Thanks to P.E. teachers Jason Gatti, Matt Gillespie, and MaryEllen Gore for taking the time to promote walking and rolling during your classes.

A big “Shout Out” to all P.E. teachers because you are the ones who spend extra time emailing us back and forth to schedule our classes. Safe Routes couldn’t administer the education program without you.