Research/scan compliments of Dr. Chuck Hillman, University of Illinois

Walking and Rolling Help Children’s Brains

Did you know physical activity encourages greater brain activity as well as general health? And that’s not all. Stanford Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman recommends viewing morning sunlight to increase metabolism, focus, sleep, and immune system function. Movement and sunlight are among his top five activities to improve performance and health.

So, when you and your child walk or ride a bike to school, you’re getting a triple benefit: a more relaxed morning commute, a dose of brain stimulation, and an immune system boost. It could be the single best thing you do for yourself and your child every day.

A Walk & Roll Revolution

To raise awareness of how physical activity makes kids healthier and happier, Safe Routes interviewed Juliet Starrett, a Marin mom, co-founder and CEO of The Ready State, and coauthor (with her husband Kelly) of The New York Times best-seller Built to Move, about how she started a walking school bus at her children’s elementary school in Terra Linda.

Juliet found out that in the 1970s, 85 percent of children walked or rode a bike to school. Then, she and her husband decided to set the alarm clock 20 minutes earlier to have enough time to walk to school with their two daughters. That simple decision created a cascade of benefits.

“The walk was an opportunity to spend some uninterrupted, quality time together without cell phones,” she said. “Our kids picked flowers or looked at worms on our walk. It was a very different experience than entering from the drop-off lane.”

Juliet soon read about “walking school buses,” a concept advocated by the federal Department of Transportation, to encourage children and parents to walk to school together. She made a flyer advertising it at Vallecito and outlined meeting places and a route where parents could drop off their kids “rain or shine.”

At first, about 10 children joined the Starretts on their route. Over time, however, more families came along and some parents parked and walked if they lived far away. Friendships formed. On its biggest days, the bus included 40 people.

“Parents would say, ‘I can’t walk because I have a full-time job,’’ Juliet said. “But I also had a full-time job and I still had time to walk in the morning and get to the city by 9 am. It takes a little bit of intention and a little bit of a mindset change to make walking a part of your day.”

Bike Hero Award

Nominations for the Safe Routes’ Bike Hero Award are now open until May 31st. Bike Heroes are great “roll” models: They are students who get up early to ride regularly, inspire others to bike, obey all rules of the road, and have FUN biking. Each May, parents, administrators, teachers, and friends are invited to nominate their favorite student cyclist for the county-wide award. We’re awarding $50 gift cards to two elementary students and two middle school students.


Nominate your BIKE HERO HERE!

Past 2023 winners

Be E-Bike Safe

Guidelines to stay safe while riding e-bikes and what to know when buying one for your child.

Download this important information from Transportation Authority of Marin.

Wear a Helmet and Wear it Properly

You’re more likely to have a crash  resulting in a brain injury when you ride a faster e-bike compared to a regular bike. Make sure your helmet fits and that it’s properly adjusted and attached before you ride. Helmets designed for increased speeds are ideal.

Practice Passenger Safety

E-bikes are heavier and harder to control with or without a passenger. Carrying a passenger is legal only if your e-bike has a seat for another person; regardless, the extra weight can make it difficult to maneuver, slow down, and stop. Passengers must also wear a helmet if they are under 18.

Be Responsible, Predictable,
and Visible

E-bike crashes are more likely to lead to severe injury and hospitalization compared to crashes involving regular bikes.
Be responsible: follow laws and stop at stop signs.
Be predictable: ride in the same direction as traffic.
Be visible: use bright clothing and use lights.

SLOW Your Speed

The higher the speed, the higher the risk of severe injury. At 20 MPH, it could take you almost four school bus lengths to fully stop to avoid an obstacle. Take your time when riding and don’t exceed the manufacturer’s top speeds. 

E-Bikes Are Electrifying the Future!

What Parents Should Know

Update coming soon.