Safe Routes Newsletter

FALL 2020

Safe Routes Back to School

"When life gets you down, do you wanna know what you've gotta do? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”  –DORY

Dory reminds us that when we “just keep swimming,” we can meet life’s challenges head on to make it a little less grim. With uncertainties provided by Covid-19 and fall wildfires in California, we are reminded to keep going, even if we feel we are swimming upstream.

That is why over the summer, Safe Routes presented a new Back to School Tool Kit at Task Force meetings, providing recommendations for Park and Walk locations and pop-up infrastructure to encourage active travel with physical distancing when schools reopen.  Instructors have created innovative, on-line live presentations to be scheduled with teachers; safety education is particularly essential to address the recent uptick in biking, replacing, for many students, afterschool sports and other activities.  And though welcome tables and fire truck escorts may be deferred for a time, Safe Routes will still have remote fun activities to encourage children to keep on moving to stay positive and connected with their communities.

School communities face formidable challenges to restructure learning that is best for students and staff amidst changing health protocols.  Parents are taxed with meeting home-school accommodations, some while working and others while looking for new work.  All are showing herculean adaptation and agility on behalf of children.

When students return to school for in person instruction there will be many changes from normal.  Staggered schedules, smaller class sizes and hybrid learning will be the norm for a while.   With bus service curtailed (see article in this newsletter), Safe Routes to Schools wants to make sure that children still have the option to walk and roll to school while maintaining social distancing.  

Whether your student is returning remotely, by hybrid or in person this fall, Safe Routes to Schools has strategies and tools for making back to school a happy, healthy, and safe new beginning.

Fall Events and Contests

Here are several activities to motivate kids to exercise throughout the coming months while remote learning is in effect.

Family Bike Week Challenge for Elementary Students – On-going

Engage your family for five days of FUN activities to practice biking skills while doing a scavenger hunt.  Students can also enter a raffle to win Ice Cream gift cards by participating in the Family Bike Week Challenge.  Parents can learn tips to ride safely with children by watching a short Savvy Family Biking video.

The Matso Family from Larkspur were thrilled to win ICE CREAM in the Family Bike Week Contest this summer. "Amazing! I just told the kids they won and they’re so excited. We had a great time participating in the family bike week. Thank you for providing this opportunity and education for the kids. They were engaged and learned how to ride safely."

Bike to Wherever -  Month of September

Gear up for Marin County Bicycle Coalition’s Bike to Wherever Days and register at Love to Ride to win prizes. 

“Now we are encouraging people to join us on two wheels on September 24 and during the whole month of September as we celebrate the importance of cycling for health, safety, and helping in the fight against Climate Change,” said Scott Haggerty, Chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, BTWD’s lead sponsor. “Bicycling is one of the safest, most efficient and enjoyable forms of transportation.”

International Walk and Roll Week – October

Students throughout Marin County will be invited to use their feet in a remote celebration of the International event hosted annually in October.  While “IWalk” will look a bit different this year without fire trucks escorting huge groups of children walking and rolling to school, Safe Routes to Schools is planning a scavenger hunt to keep students engaged and connected with their community.  Details will be coming to schools soon.

Ruby Bridges Day – November

The Problem We All Live With, by Norman Rockwell

Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to walk into an all white elementary school in Louisiana on November 14, 1960, breaking the New Orleans desegregation crisis. Norman Rockwell’s “The Problem We All Live With” illustrates Ruby being escorted to class by four deputy U.S. marshals as six year old Ruby was being threatened by those opposed to segregation.  Safe Routes to Schools will observe this historical event in November.  Details will be provided through school communications. 

Keep your kids MOVING while schools are Closed

The “new norm” for elementary school children this fall includes these somber facts …

  • No more team sports after school
  • No more meeting friends at the play structure during recess time
  • No more playing four square on the blacktop
  • No more walking home after school for a play date
  • No more duck, duck, goose.

As a result of these losses, mental and physical health is increasingly at risk for children. Kids need to see and be with kids. Our new social distancing norm of confinement limits daily emotional connections. Decreased physical activity in children is triggering a seesaw of mental ups and downs. And screen time is at a record high due to no physical classroom time and cancelled after school sports.

But, wait …

There is still one form of exercise that is 100% acceptable during these pandemic times for children to keep MOVING …

Riding their bicycle!

Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep balanced you must keep moving.” His famous quote compared riding a bicycle with living successfully.  Riding is a tangible opportunity for children to see friends, neighbors and community from a safe distance.  It pumps up their heart rates, and keeps their minds balanced.

Is your child getting enough movement at home? What if you started today to nudge (or reward) them to ride their bike every day after social distance learning? What if you walked while your child rode their scooter or bike? The habit of a daily neighborhood ride after remote learning will boost their morale and happiness level.

Here are the Top 10 reasons why parents should encourage their child to ride their bike every day!

  1. Pedaling will make your kid SMILE.
  2. Cycling boosts BRAIN power.
  3. Biking can turn a negative mood into a WONDERFUL one.
  4. Riding gets your kids OUTDOORS and instills a deep appreciation for nature.
  5. Biking breeds INDEPENDENCE in children.
  6. Biking is a SAFE social distancing physical activity.
  7. Nudging your child to ride gives you a daily BREAK from each other.
  8. Biking builds muscle and boosts CARDIOVASCULAR health.
  9. Biking is SUPER FUN and keeps away the blues.
  10. Biking at a young age will carry over as a habit for LIFE.

Safe Pathways Projects Completed in Larkspur

New bicycle, pedestrian and ADA access improvements have been constructed along South Eliseo Drive in Larkspur. These projects include high visibility marked crosswalks and several concrete “splitter islands” to channelize vehicles to make legal turning movements and to provide refuge for pedestrians crossing South Eliseo. These improvements were identified as priorities developed by the Larkspur-Corte Madera Safe Routes Task Force and a series of workshops with residents and other users of the South Eliseo corridor. The workshops were conducted to identify short- and long-term improvements along an important corridor that serves many different uses and users, high traffic volumes, on-street parking demand, travel routes to schools, as well as a key connection to high-use bike paths. TAM allocated $100,000 from Safe Pathways funding to support these recent improvements