Tag Archives: safe routes to schools



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

active2 activeTHREE

“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.


Hidden Valley Elementary School in San Anselmo, California


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


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.



Daily Pedal to School – A Body And Mind Boost

by Laura Kelly

Imagine biking to elementary school daily with your children.  What?  Who can do that?  Is it possible in today’s busy parenting world?  Why would I?

Chris Brignetti and Sarah Winarske live in San Rafael with their two daughters and have made biking to school every day a family habit.  Ginger is in Kindergarten and Lucia in fourth grade at Vallecito Elementary in Terra Linda.  Every day Ginger and Lucia commute to school by biking a half mile with their parents. “Riding is better than sitting in the back seat of a car,” said Ginger.  “I see wet grass and people’s faces when I am riding my bike.  It feels open and free.”

Biking their route takes a shorter amount of time than driving due to traffic congestion. The family lives close to Terra Linda High School where traffic can be heavy in the early morning.  The decision not to drive was an opportunity for Chris and Sarah to teach their children that a bike is a more relaxing way to travel places and spend great family time.

“Being stuck in school traffic builds stress. Biking releases tension and starts the day in an upbeat way,” said Chris Brignetti. “This is our chance to make a lasting impression with our young children by teaching them the benefits of biking places. Riding releases endorphins, makes you feel good and is an opportunity to help our planet.”

The couple still feels the stress that most families go through trying to get out the door every morning. However, the difference is that pedaling to school nurtures the body and mind of their daughters before the start of the day.  “It’s a body, mind and spirit boost,” said Sarah Winarske.  “The elementary school years will be gone before we know it.  Biking with our young children is a memory that our daughters will fondly remember forever.”


Mr. Ake

Father’s Colossal Determination Makes Streets Safer for Children

By Monica Leifer

Gener Ake, a parent at Bahia Vista School, didn’t like what he saw when he would bring his children to school. The sight of irresponsible driving around Bahia Vista Elementary bothered him, but what really made him sweat was the sight of children crossing the street in dangerous ways. Then, Gener Ake decided to grab the bull by the horns: He became a volunteer crossing guard two years ago, and since then has always been on the lookout for other volunteers. Rain or shine, he works three shifts, every single day in front of his son’s school.

At first, Gener did not find much support from the school administration, but that did not deter him. Quite the contrary, Gener held tight onto his plan. He did not even have traffic cones, so he had to borrow them from the PE teacher every single day. Later, some parents donated a few. Fortunately the situation improved, and now he has found his best ally in new Bahia Vista Principal, Cecilia Perez.

“Gener always helps in any way he can, whether it be with directing traffic, school events, or PTA leadership meetings. We are so grateful for everything he does and to have him as a part of our school community,” says Sarah Gaidano, Family Advocate at Bahia Vista Elementary.

Gener is hopeful that the new Safe Routes to Schools program in Bahia Vista will succeed at changing the habit of driving to school to that of walking or biking. He hopes that with reduced the traffic around the school and organized walking school buses, the safety for children and adults will increase. For this reason, Gener has volunteered to serve as Safe Routes’ Team Leader at Bahia Vista.

But even with the cooperation of the school administration and SR2S, Gener still has his work cut out for him. Dealing with neighbors and fellow parents is not always easy. “I lose my volunteers constantly because of the rudeness and aggressiveness of parents who don’t want to follow the rules of the road,” says Gener, who at this point is again working alone. His last standing volunteer, a grandpa, had a blood sugar level drop when a parent insulted him. Gener feels particularly irritated when people park in illegal spots, blinkers on, and often leaving babies alone inside their cars.

The Mexican father of two would like to see more help from the PTA. “Their support would go a long way,” as well as some more assistance from the District, who recently hired a crossing guard to work in front of the main entrance of the school. However, he feels more crossing guards are needed around the neighborhood. “My favorite spot to plant myself is near Pickleweed Park. There is a curve where you can’t see the cars coming and many kids (and their parents) cross the street right there,” he says. That was the place where one person was run over by a car about a year ago.

Currently, Gener is working three shifts from Monday to Friday. For the first shift, he is out on the street from 7:45 a.m. until all the kids are safely inside the school building. The second shift starts at 1 p.m., when kindergarten is dismissed and then, he patiently waits around until 2:30 p.m. for the rest of the students to come out.

But helping people cross the street is just one of Gener’s tasks. He also tries to prevent neighbors from taking the teachers’ parking spots and parents from blocking access to the school with their vehicles.

“I do all of this for the children, they are my inspiration,” Gener concludes.