Category Archives: walk

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TRACKING YOUNG GREEN TRIPPERS

by Laura Kelly

Yes, it takes a group of dedicated volunteers to scan.

Yes, it’s a weekly (or monthly) commitment during the school year.

Yes, it’s effective in encouraging active transportation and creating habit.

Several elementary schools in Marin County have been making green travel a weekly habit by using Activ4.me, a web application that tracks green trips by child, classroom, and school.  The tracking system generates real-time statistics including C02 reports and miles traveled. Active4.me captures every trip and can instantly notify a parent by text, email or phone that their student has arrived on campus.

Volunteer school teams using Active4.me conduct weekly (or monthly) scan days at school entrances.  As students arrive on campus, parent volunteers and/or student green teams scan barcodes located on a mini-sneaker that hangs from the child’s backpack.  A student receives a scan if they arrive to school by foot, bike, scooter, skateboard, carpool or bus. Active4.me reports can provide students with immediate feedback on their green trip totals.

Old Mill Elementary School in Mill Valley

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“Showing students their updated trip count and mileage totals encourages a green travel movement at our school” said volunteer parent Renee Shelton. “Students enjoy positive feedback and you can see the sense of accomplishment light up their faces when their barcode tags are scanned.”

Old Mill is also using the “Trip” based virtual badges whereby kids receive blue ribbon, perfect attendance and rain day special awards.

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Hidden Valley Elementary School in San Anselmo, California

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Active4.me helps to get parents out of their cars and moving by foot or bicycle to school with their child. Scanning staging areas are social, fun and build green travel pride. “Please scan me!” says kindergartener Stella Lofrano at Hidden Valley.  Her mother, Lacey Lofrano, says scanning is a “big deal” every week for her 5-year-old daughter. “She wants the scan for her kindergarten class to receive points to possibly win the golden sneaker award.  I believe the active transportation habit that these young students are developing now will carry through to the middle and high school years.”

Parent volunteers for Safe Routes to Schools at Hidden Valley host green trip classroom competitions using the Active4.me database.  A report generates the top producing classrooms for green trips every week. Golden sneaker trophies are presented to classrooms with the highest active transportation totals at the school assembly.

Safe Routes to Schools would like to acknowledge these outstanding elementary school parent volunteers for their dedication in using Active4.me and inspiring green travel at their schools from 2015 to 2017:

Hidden Valley Elementary

Karen Stead Baigrie; Karen Zamarano

Old Mill Elementary

Kim McFerrin; Garin Bougie; Renee Shelton

 Brookside

Laura French; Chad Sigler; Greg Benson; Karla Pavkovic

Wade Thomas Elementary

Joe Loll

The cost for an elementary school to implement Active4.me is $300, not including backpack tags. For more information about implementing Active4.me at your school, please call (530) 402-8250 at Active4.me.

 

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Funding Rolling in for School Pathway Improvements

By Wendi Kallins

Walking and rolling to school is about to get safer thanks to a new infusion of funds from the Transportation Authority of Marin.  Over $4 million was recently approved for 27 school-related projects through TAM’s Safe Pathway program.

Soon parents and children will see newly painted crosswalks, flashing beacons, new and repaired sidewalks, better pathways, and improved intersections at schools throughout the county.

Tiburon concept planIn Tiburon, a vital intersection across Tiburon Boulevard that leads to Bel Aire School will have special green-striped bike lanes providing easier access to Blackfield drive along with other improvements.  Last school year, the Town of Tiburon had funded a weekly bike train with paid conductors.  This year, volunteers have taken over and are now riding together almost daily.  This intersection has been a problem area due to the high traffic levels and travel speeds.  The improvements will go a long way to improving the safety of the bike train to be able to navigate the intersection without conflicting with cars for space.

Fairfax pioneered the two-mile long Bike Spine, a series of signage and pavement markings bike spinealong the neighborhood routes to school.  They will now use their $350,000 grant to complete the pathway’s last gap between Oak Manor Drive to White Hill School, allowing students to ride along busy Sir Frances Drake Boulevard on a separated pathway for the last stretch.

Residents of the Canal area of San Rafael have had to ride alongside automobiles on the narrow Grand Ave Bridge that leads to San Rafael High School, Montecito Shopping Center and Downtown San Rafael.  A new bridge, funded with the $824,000 grant will provide pedestrians and bicyclists with a much safer way to travel outside the Canal neighborhood.

Neighbors of Olive School on Plum Street in Novato have been waiting for years to see some sidewalks improved on this important passage to the school.  Thanks to the Safe Pathways grant their waiting is over.

What is Safe Pathways?

Lagunitas conceptThe Safe Pathways program is a capital improvement element of the Safe Routes to Schools Program under Measure A.  The $4.1 million that was just approved includes funds from transportation sales tax revenues, from MTC’s One Bay Area Grant, and from other sources.

In this round, the request for proposals allowed the jurisdictions to choose between small and large projects.  The small projects had to be under $25,000 and be completed within one year of funding allocation.  Small projects include installation of traffic safety devices such as the rectangular rapid flashing beacons and speed feedback signs.

$3,850,000 was set aside for large project applications requesting up to $350,000, except for projects requesting federal OBAG funds which had no maximum limit (i.e. the San Rafael Grand Street Bridge).  These projects mostly consist of sidewalk construction and new bike lanes.

How Were Projects Evaluated?

Larkspur planApplications were evaluated based on the ability to relieve a safety problem on school routes, complete a gap in the bicycle and pedestrian facilities, maximize daily use by students, and attract matching funds.  The TAM staff made sure that there was equitable funding throughout the county.

Large projects needed to be identified as part of each jurisdiction’s Safe Routes to Schools Travel Plans for their schools.  These plans emerged from the Safe Routes to Schools Task Forces which consist of volunteer team leaders, elected school and city officials, law enforcement and public works.  Walk audits gave the task force members an opportunity to identify the problem areas.  The Safe Routes engineering team then worked closely with the local public works to develop concept solutions to be added to the travel plans.

 

 Small Projects ($25,000 maximum allocation)
Agency   Project Name and Description RecommendedAmount
Fairfax SFD/Taylor Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons (RRFB) $25,000
Marin County Changeable Message Sign (CMS) on schools in unincorporated areas $18,000
Marin County SFD/Lagunitas School Road RRFB $25,000
Marin County Butterfield Road/Green Valley Court RRFB $25,000
Marin County Strawberry Drive at Strawberry Point School RRFB $25,000
Mill Valley Throckmorton Sidewalk Gap Closure $25,000
Novato Solar Speed Feedback signs at four designated schools $24,500
Novato Ignacio Blvd/Laurelwood Crosswalk Enhancements $25,000
Novato Ignacio Blvd/Country Club Drive Crosswalk Enhancements $25,000
Novato South Novato Blvd/Lark Court Crosswalk Enhancements $25,000
Novato South Novato Blvd/Yukon Crosswalk Enhancements $25,000
Ross SFD Sidewalk Construction $25,000
San Anselmo SFD Mid-Block Crosswalk Improvements $25,000
San Rafael Solar Powered Crossing Signs at Fifth Avenue and Cottage Avenue $25,000
Tiburon Ned Way/Tiburon Blvd Crosswalk RRFB $25,000
Total $367,500 

 

 Large Projects ($350,000 maximum allocation)

 

Agency   Project Name and Description RecommendedAmount

 

Mill Valley Camino Alto Bike Ped Improvements $350,000
San Rafael Grand Avenue Bike/Ped Bridge $824,000
TAM TAM Junction Class II Bicycle Improvements along Hwy 1 $350,000
Larkspur Doherty Drive Bike Ped Gap Closure $350,000
Novato Plum Street Sidewalk Improvements $350,000
San Anselmo Brookside Elementary School Sidewalk Gap Closure Project $350,000
Tiburon Greenwood Cove/Blackfield & Tiburon Blvd Bike Ped Improvements $116,000
Sausalito/Marin County Bridgeway Pedestrian Improvements:A. Bridgeway Sidewalk Improvements ($204k) for Sausalito

B. Hwy 101 Underpass Lighting Upgrade ($146k) for Marin County.

$350,000
Fairfax Fairfax Bike Spine Gap Completion Project $350,000
Corte Madera Tamalpais Drive Pedestrian Crossing Enhancements $90,000
Marin County Pedestrian Improvement Project along major school routes. $350,000
San Anselmo San Anselmo School Route Bike Spine Project Contingency
Sausalito Coloma Street and Ebbtide Ave Pedestrian Improvements Contingency
  Total $3,830,000

Safer Streets for Schools Throughout Marin

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Based on the outstanding efforts of parent volunteers, team leaders, Task Force members, and staff at various jurisdictions, much has been done to increase green trips in Marin County, including the planning, design and construction of numerous infrastructure improvements. In fact, over $20 million in SR2S infrastructure projects have been constructed in the past 10 years. Some recent improvements include:

In Larkspur Doherty Drive got a makeover including wider bike lanes in addition to a multiuse path and sidewalk for access to Hall Middle School and Redwood High School. San Rafael completed Belle Avenue Pedestrian Improvements, adding new curb ramps and realigned crosswalks across Belle Avenue and San Rafael Drive. Fairfax completed its two-mile long School Bike Spine, with special green bicycle route markings and signs.

In Ross and San Anselmo, pedestrian refuge islands, curb ramps and signs and markings were added to Bolinas Avenue. Many recent bicycle facilities have been added in Mill Valley, including buffered bike lanes on Miller Avenue and sharrows on Sycamore Avenue. Corte Madera implemented pedestrian and bicycle improvements in the vicinity of the new Cove School. Novato constructed high-visibility crosswalks, curb ramps, and bikeway improvements near several schools.

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The Transportation Authority of Marin received applications from nearly all jurisdictions in Marin County for Safe Pathways infrastructure funding. The requests totaled more than $350,000 for lower cost improvements such as Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons and solar-powered radar feedback sign installations. Larger projects such as pedestrian or bicycle gap closures, sidewalk widening, and crosswalk enhancements requested a total of $4,975,600. Many of these projects were developed from school walk audits, in which parents, school staff, and Public Works identify safety concerns.  The value of requests exceeds the available Safe Pathways funding budget, demonstrating the continuing need for infrastructure upgrades. The infrastructure planning will continue.  Behind-the-scenes work is underway to eliminate more barriers for walking and cycling. The school travel audits continue to focus on issues and ideas. Task Force meetings continue to bring light to new issues as well as prioritize them. As a result, solutions are being identified and developed, such as new pathways, striping, signs, sidewalks and bike routes, and funding continues to be sought.