International Walk and Bike to School Day

On October 3, 2012, over 40 countries participated in International Walk and Bike to School Day.  Locally, the Santa Clara Safe Routes to School (SR2S) team worked with six Santa Clara schools in an effort to promote active commutes, reduce traffic congestion, and generate awareness for more walkable and bikeable communities.  Students were encouraged to use active transportation to get to school by walking, riding a bicycle, or using a scooter or skateboard. Once at school, they were offered rewards to recognize their positive efforts.

At Juan Cabrillo Middle School, students were greeted with lively music and snacks as they arrived by foot, on bikes, skateboard, and scooters.  The school’s Leadership Class, comprised of twenty-five superb students, spearheaded the planning and execution of this grand event. The club made posters to advertise the event weeks before and also helped plan all the details for the big morning.  Posters and balloons decorated the court yard along with a ‘Map Your Route’ table for students to show where they walked or biked from, a refreshments table where students could refuel and rehydrate, and a prize table  that showcased raffle prizes including locks, helmets, water hydration packs, and bike lights.  To ensure the accurate tracking of participants, four groups of leadership students were positioned around the boundaries of the school to give students a hand stamp and raffle ticket as they approached the school.  The hand stamp allowed students to get a snack and drink while the raffle ticket allowed them to be entered in the drawing.  The energy level was high that morning as students arrived to the sounds of music and interactive activities. The event generated a lot of enthusiasm among the student body and reminded everyone that walking and biking to school can be fun, healthy, and rewarding.

Four elementary schools also celebrated International Walk and Bike to School Day. Bowers, Briarwood, Haman, and Montague elementary schools greeted students with a Hydration Station and Travel Tally Chart. The Hydration Station included apple juice, water, clementines, and stickers for students who participated by either walking or rolling (bicycling, skateboarding, or scootering), and those who took the bus.The Travel Tally Chart had five modes of transportation to choose from: Walking, Rolling, Bus/Transit, Car, or Carpool.  Students were asked to place a sticker dot based on how they arrived at school that morning, and those that walked or biked were eager to display their accomplishment on the board. Of the hundreds of students that participated in this activity 41% at Bowers, 31% at Briarwood, 56% at Haman, and 61% at Montague indicated that they walked or rolled to school. All schools showed increase in active commutes, considering most schools average about 24% of walkers and bikers. Sutter Elementary will be celebrating Walk and Bike to School Week from October 8-12.

The students and parents at all school sites expressed great interest in the event. One parent stated, “This is great. My son told me this morning that we couldn’t drive to school today, that we needed to put on our walking shoes.” This was a great event to showcase the many benefits active commutes offers to students, parents, and the entire community around schools. All of the participating schools expressed interest in continuing to promote more walking and biking to school through similar events and activities.

A big thank you to Silicon Valley Power, who generously donated healthy snacks and refreshments for all participating schools!

Montague Bike to Family Fun Night a Success

On September 28, 2012, Montague Elementary held Bike to Family Fun Night from 5-6pm.  The Safe Routes to School team was present, working to make this event fun and educational for both students and parents. We hosted a “Snail Race,” free mechanic work (provided by Calmar Bicycles), a picture board, and lent helmets to those in need.  We had over 70 students and parents with bicycles come to the event.  This exceeded our expectations and turned out to be a huge success.  For the hour we were present, kids continuously participated in the “Snail Race”, the mechanic helped fix about 40-50 bicycles, and parents captured many photos of their kids’ smiling faces in the picture board. There were many kids that were using their bikes for the first time in months; they were clearly excited to be riding them too! The blacktop was bustling with kids riding their bikes.

This event also served as an opportunity to gather feedback from parents about “Safe Routes to Schools Maps” that were developed for parents and students to utilize for walking and biking to school.  Once the maps are complete, they will be made available to the entire school, which can also be used to identify walking school bus routes.

Crystal Martin, our SRTS champion and teacher at Montague exclaimed, “Family Fun Night went amazingly! All of the parents and students have been talking about how much fun it was and how great it was that they were having bike repairs.”  Bike to Family Fun Night was a great community-building event.

If you are interested in hosting a similar event at your school, please email santaclarasr2s@bikesiliconvalley.org.


 

International Walk and Bike to School Day is October 3rd

Mark your calendars for October 3rd; International Walk and Bike to School Day is coming! Santa Clara schools along with others in over 40 countries will be celebrating this event by encouraging their students to walk, bike, skateboard, scooter, or use any other mode of active transportation to get to school.  This event helps remind us all of the simple joys of walking and bicycling to school, the health benefits of daily physical activity, and the need for traffic safety around schools. Studies show that kids who walk to school have a lower chance of being obese, are less frequently sick, and do better in school.  Why wouldn’t you want to encourage walking? Join this international movement and help make your community a more walkable and bikeable place.

If you are interested in helping promote this event at your school, contact your school principal or email santaclarasr2s@bikesiliconvalley.org.

Student at Cabrillo Middle School practicing hand signals.

Learning safe walking and bicycling skills

Safe Routes to School has started out strong this school year. We have been busy conducting indoor and outdoor class presentations at seven Santa Clara schools.  Interactive, age-appropriate bicycle and pedestrian safety classes are teaching students essential walking and bicycling skills that empower them to walk and bike to school safely. Second grade students receive instruction on pedestrian safety, while fourth and sixth grade students learn important skills they need to be safe cyclists. To date, over fifty classes have been taught and more will continue to take place in the upcoming weeks.

If you would like to assist with bicycle and pedestrian skills training, including bike rodeos, please email Ashley@bikesicilionvalley.org.

Welcome Back to School!

It’s time to start thinking about pedestrian and bicycle safety as you plan your child’s route to school.  Santa Clara’s Safe Routes to School programs have begun, and throughout the fall, we will continue to educate students on the rules of the road for pedestrians and bicyclists.  In addition, the Safe Routes team is planning fun activities and events to encourage students to walk and bike.  There are many opportunities for community members, families, students, and schools to get involved.  Plan a walking school bus with your neighbors, join a group bicycle ride to school, and keep an eye out for International Walk and Bike to School Day in October.  If you would like to volunteer to help bring these programs to your school please contact Ashley at ashley@bikesiliconvalley.org.  And don’t forget to check the Santa Clara Safe Routes event calendar regularly to stay informed of upcoming events.

A busy month of May

Students practice bicycle handling skills at Montague Elementary School.

The spring Safe Routes to School Program in Santa Clara concluded on a great note.  Altogether, with the help of Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition staff and volunteers, we conducted a total of 17 bicycle and pedestrian rodeos. Through the rodeos, we taught important bicycle and pedestrian safety skills to over 400 students during the month of May!

Overall, during the spring of 2012, a total of 30 classroom presentations and bicycle and pedestrian rodeos reached nearly 800 students at six schools in Santa Clara: Briarwood Elementary, Bowers Elementary, Haman Elementary, Montague Elementary, Scott Lane Elementary, and Sutter Elementary.

The Safe Routes to school program will resume at all of the same schools, and expand to Cabrillo Middle School, during the fall of 2012.  We encourage you to get involved whenever possible, whether it’s by volunteering with bicycle/pedestrian rodeos and walking school buses/bike trains or by simply choosing to walk or bike with your kids on your way to school.

Enjoy the summer!

It’s Rodeo Time!

After a week of talking about bicycle safety in classrooms all around Santa Clara, both the students and I were more than ready to get out on the blacktop and practice everything we had learned. Ernesto and I packed up our fleet of bikes and a ton of sunscreen and hit the road! At each rodeo, students got the opportunity to practice emerging from a driveway and entering the road; making a left shoulder glance when going around an obstacle in the bike lane; using left, right, and stop hand signals; and everyone’s favorite- bicycle control and stability in the Snail Race.

Some of the students we worked with were experienced riders who have been learning traffic safety by riding with their parents from a young age, while for others the rodeo was their very first time on a bicycle. I had a great time spreading the joy I get from riding a bike to all of the students, and they definitely enjoyed themselves as well, while also learning how to ride safely. Hopefully we get a few more lifelong riders out on the road as a result!

Results are in: Surveyed schools show great walking numbers

Data gathered through student travel tallies and parent surveys conducted in February show that six schools in Santa Clara have between 16% to 32% of their students walking or biking to or from school. These are some good numbers, considering the national average is at around 15%. But we’re sure we can do much better. With the almost-perfect California weather and pretty good infrastructure, almost all students should be able to walk or bike to school on a regular basis. Results show that less than 5% of students are biking to school.

There are many benefits to walking and biking: for health, the environment, and for fun! Students that bike or walk to school benefit from increased levels of daily physical activity, help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution around schools, and arrive to school more awake and ready to learn.

As you may have heard, our efforts to increase walking and bicycling at these schools are already under way.  Over 500 students at Briarwood, Bowers, Haman, Montague, Scott Lane, and Sutter Elementary will receive pedestrian and bicycle education during April and May.

If you would like to assist with bicycle and pedestrian skills training, including bike rodeos, please email Anna@bikesicilionvalley.org.

Stay tuned for more updates.  In the meantime, we’d like to encourage you to walk and bike to school with your kids whenever possible.

Safe Routes to School really gets rolling!

Teaching signaling skills

Teaching signaling skills

After weeks of planning, researching, and scheduling, we finally had our first opportunity to take our youth bike education to the streets! We went to Scott Lane and Montague on Monday, and Sutter, Haman, Bowers, and Briarwood on Tuesday, bringing our games and videos along with us. The fourth-grade students we met were all fun and funny kids – very enthusiastic about everything we did, and they can’t wait for us to come back so they can show us their bikes and their riding skills. It was great to see all of our hard work in practice, and it gave us lots of feedback for how we can continue to fine-tune our curriculum and make it the best it can be.

Our next step, in two weeks, is to go back to these same schools and hold bike rodeos so that students have a chance to practice applying all the skills they learned this week. The bike rodeos are a great chance for students to become stronger and safer cyclists, and we need help to make them a success! If you are interested in volunteering with one of our bike rodeos in Santa Clara, please e-mail me at Anna@bikesiliconvalley.organd I can fill you in on the different opportunities we have coming up!

Let’s get rolling with parent surveys

Santa Clara SR2S will really be getting the ball rolling this week as we distribute our parent survey to six of the participating schools. The surveys are designed to give us an idea of how students are getting to school, now, at the beginning of the program. This allows us to do two things. First, we can determine how to focus our efforts. For example, if we see that third and fifth graders at one school walk frequently, but their fourth grader peers don’t, we know that we need to work to get those students walking more.

Second, the surveys will help us learn when and where our efforts are working. We will compare the results of this first survey to those of a follow-up survey distributed later. If we see more walking and biking from our students and their families, we know we’re on the right track! If we see that we can do better, we’ll know what to focus on.

So if you’re a parent of a student at Briarwood Elementary, Haman Elementary, Montague Elementary, Scott Lane Elementary, Sutter Elementary, or Cabrillo Middle Schools, please help us get smart. Take the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ParentSurvey2012_SantaClaraCity

Both English and Spanish surveys are available. Just two minutes of your time will help us change lives!