Spring Newsletter 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.
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.
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.
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