Safe Routes Newsletter


Student Art Promotes Safety

Winners of the Safe Routes to Schools / Street Smarts Art Contest were announced on March 2nd at a highly-attended award ceremony at the Marin Museum of Bicycling in Fairfax. Awards were presented to students by the long-standing supporter of Safe Routes to Schools, 2nd District Supervisor Katie Rice. At the ceremony, Supervisor Rice praised the community for supporting Safe Routes to Schools which serves 25,000 students through Measure A Funding.

Over 120 students submitted drawings showcasing “fun green travel and safe roads for all users.” Gwen Froh, Program Director, said “the art contest was another way to engage students to positively impact our community.” In fact, Street Smarts Marin will incorporate student art in new banners to promote safety messages throughout the county.

Madison Bishop, 4th grade Bel Aire,   beamed when she won first place, a new bike donated by Mikes Bikes. The win was poignant for Madison’s mom, Sharon. “After losing my own little sister to an accident, there must have been angels making this story come together so many years later. It means the world to our family thatMadison’s artwork will underscore messages of safety and care that will accompany countless children on their safe routes to school.” Madison added, "I'm really happy that my artwork gets to be shared as a symbol of safety."

Ava McKeever, a 7th grader from White Hill Middle School took home the first place award for middle schools, a new GoPro camera. Second place winners were Haly Rothbart from Hall Middle School and Humna Baporia, 2nd grader from Edna McGuire. 30 additional students won Honorable Mention and were treated to gift cards from Three Twins Ice Cream.

Safe Routes to Schools could not have made this event possible without the generous donations of our sponsors: The Marin Museum of Bicycling, Mikes Bikes, The Good Earth, Three Twins, Alite Designs, Riley Street Art Supply, Perry’s Art Store, Safeway. Thank you.


Makeover for Vineyard Rd. Novato

Vineyard Road will get a significant makeover that will include new paving, sidewalks and crosswalks.  On February 27, the Novato City Council voted unanimously to add the improvements to the existing paving program.  The new sidewalk on the south side of Vineyard road will allow a continuous sidewalk from Pleasant Valley Elementary School to Sinaloa Middle School.  In addition, a sidewalk will be added to the island at Mill Road and a midblock crosswalk will be installed at Dominic Drive, a small “alleyway” that is used by school children.  The additional projects will be paid for with the new gas tax funds approved by the legislature last year.

Vineyard Road has long been a priority project for Safe Routes to Schools as it is a major route used by students on a daily basis.  The winding and narrow street does not have a continuous off road alternative for students.  Due to budget and grant considerations, Vineyard Road was initially slated for resurfacing without any other improvements.  As a result of parents attending a Safe Routes Task Force meeting to voice their safety concerns, a walk audit was scheduled on October 24th to evaluate the road for students.  Christopher Blunk, assistant public works director for Novato, identified solutions to the issues presented on the walk audit and found funding to add the improvements to the existing repaving project.  Despite historical neighborhood opposition, the enhancements were found acceptable to the neighborhood and parents alike.  This is a wonderful success to the collaborative approach of Safe Routes to Schools to find common ground and provide safety for students to access schools.  Thanks to the City of Novato Public Works, the Council and the many parent activists who made this possible.


Park Renovation Aims to Increase Children's Exercise

Pickelweed Park in the Canal area of San Rafael received a much-needed facelift thanks to the Marin Health and Human Services and the Boy Scouts. “Pickelweed Park was chosen among many other projects in the County because of the number of kids in the neighborhood with no other opportunities for physical activity,” says Oscar Guardado with the Nutrition and Wellness Program at Marin Health and Human Services.

A total of 37 adults and children volunteered for 340 hours to repair a dilapidated playhouse. They also fixed existing street signs and created new ones, such as speed signs for bikes and trikes, bike lane lines, crosswalks, all simulating city roads. The volunteers power washed the cement streets of this pretend town, and using stencils, they painted games such as a hopscotch to encourage children to play actively. Even the sand in the sandbox was strained and left looking like new.

The project was completed last Summer at a cost of $1,900 provided both by the Boy Scouts and Marin HHS. 


San Rafael Exploring Safer Access Through the Downtown

Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) has partnered with the San Rafael Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) and the City of San Rafael to explore safe pedestrian and bicycle passage through the downtown.  The BPAC is currently updating its Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan which includes Safe Routes to Schools recommendations.

Last fall the BPAC organized a bike audit through the downtown area and invited SR2S task force members to ride along.  The goal was to evaluate the routes down 5th Ave. and 4th Street as possible recommended routes.  Safe Routes also held its own bike audit to look at the route from Greenfield Road to Davidson Middle School via 2nd and 1st streets to assess the best routes and make recommended improvements.  Of particular concern is the area along 2nd street to Miramar.  The only off road alternative is an extremely narrow with broken sidewalks.  This stretch is part of the Third Street Corridor Plan being developed by the City of San Rafael which includes proposals for a multi-use pathway along this stretch.  All of this planning, when implemented, will offer better access through the downtown for the middle and high school students.


Teachers Replace Cars with E-bikes

While there is much talk about electric cars, electric bicycles have already delivered the promise of fast, efficient, affordable and convenient transportation.

Recently Safe Routes to Schools Lead Instructor James Sievert chatted with Mill Valley Schools P.E. teacher Alan Tong about how e-bikes have changed his commute.

How long have you been riding an e-bike to school?

Since Sept 2016, when I started working at Edna Maguire Elementary.

How is riding your e-bike different from riding a regular bike?

When commuting with my road bike, I usually wear cycling shorts, a wicking jersey and cycling shoes. This means that I have to change when I arrive at work. I also arrive a little sweaty.When commuting on my ebike, I simply wear my work clothes and regular shoes. And, I don't break a sweat.

Ebikes make any climb pretty easy. For example, I average around 7 mph while climbing the Corte Madera grade on my regular bike . On my ebike I average 15 mph.

How does your e-bike commute compare to your driving commute?

My ebike commute can save me time compared to driving. That's because I can use a bike path to avoid car traffic and some signal lights, I am always at the front of the line at the signaled intersections that I do have to use, and especially that I don't have to hunt for parking. While driving, I have to wait for the cars ahead of mine to drop kids off before I can park. When I ride my bike I roll right up to my office door.

While riding I get to see and greet many students on their way to school and often talk to other riders about ebikes.  I’ve had zero negative comments so far.It's totally stress free and I arrive for work energized and ready to go.It's really fun.

Do you know any other teachers that have used an e-bike to get to school?

I know three PE teachers who commute on ebikes. I recently sold my first ebike to one of my co-workers. I also know a middle school custodian who rides an ebike.I should also note that I cross paths with ebike riding parents nearly every day.

What advice do you have for people interested in e-bikes?

Research. Electric Bike Review is a great site full of bike reviews, forums, advice and technical info.Take one, heck, take several for test rides. Don't worry about being called a "cheater" unless you're on Strava. Most of the comments I get are positive, even envious. Plus, I see more and more ebikes on the road every week.

Thank you Allen Tong for your insight and support of Safe Routes to Schools!

Family Biking Events

As new riders get confident, they start to venture out past the end of your driveway and enclosed parks. Having an understanding of the needed traffic skills while riding is necessary for them (not to mention their parents’ well-being).

Help your children learn how to ride safely on the road by joining a Family Biking Workshop. Be trained to safely navigate the streets with fun activities, including an optional parent and child group ride after the kids-only instruction.

Taught by a League of American Cyclists certified instructor, topics will include basic bike skills, rules of the road, effective communication, and proper equipment. All drills and riding instruction will take place away from traffic and streets in a controlled environment so that new riders can focus on handling their bicycle and developing these needed skills.

Adult volunteers are needed to cycle with students during the neighborhood bike ride. Helmets are required for all participants. Please register here and provide requested information. A representative from MCBC will email you additional event details.

A parent/guardian is required to ride with each registered student cyclists. All participants are expected to be in good health, bring a properly fitted bicycle in good working condition and a fitted helmet.

Upcoming Family Biking Workshops:

After Dinner Bike Ride and Ice Cream Social

April 25 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Tamalpais Valley Community Center, 203 Marin Ave
Mill Valley

Community Picnic Fruit and Vegie Fest

May 11 @ 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Department of Health and Human Services, san rafael,, 3240 Kerner Blvd San Rafael


Redwood High Steps up Carpooling

Saum Zargar, Assistant Principal Redwood High has taken measures to beef up carpooling at Redwood High School.  With a growing population and buses overflowing, the school needed to find new ways to decrease the traffic congestion on Doherty and Lucky Drives which also serves Hall Middle School.  Currently, there are 1800 Redwood students, yet population is projected to increase to 2150 in the next few years. Parking is limited at Redwood  with only 330 spaces. 

Saum’s solution was to designate 40 parking spaces for carpool only.  The parking spots are located in the front row where staff monitor/validate the number of students in a carpool from 7:40 to 8:10 am. Students that carpool like being able to arrive right before the bell rings and still get parking, a positive reinforcement for eco-green travel. Not all of the spots fill each day, however they are reserved for student carpools ; those emply spaces encourage other students to consider carpooling.

Saum updated the “Getting to Redwood” website page. The page provides information to students and parents on: cycling, walking, carpooling and bus options. To encourage student carpooling at the start of the school year, several promotional emails were sent to students and parents. At the start of this school year, 70 students applied for a green permit card. On an average day, 35 carpool vehicles currently fill the spots.    Compared to last year when students used only  3 carpool spots, this is a tremendous success representing a decrease of 102 cars. 


Practicing the Safest Route from Home

Elementary school students can win prizes on National Bike to School Day (May 9th) by participating in Safe Routes’ new Walk & Roll Challenge, which runs from March 21 to May 9, 2018. Participating schools provide every student with a backpack card and will forward a motivational letter to parents encouraging them to practice walking or biking to school with their child on six Walk & Roll countywide dates. For parents who work, or live far from school, it’s suggested to park ten minutes away and walk partway to school with their child. The Challenge is an opportunity for parents to reinforce safe pedestrian skills and/or ride together.

“We are excited to kick off the new Walk & Roll Spring Challenge at Loma Verde Elementary School this month. As the weather gets warmer, the timing is perfect to invite families to participate in green travel to school,"said Kelly Smith, a parent volunteer at Loma Verde Elementary School."Each student will receive a backpack punch card with fun spring illustrations. Students that participate in four or more ‘hole punch’ days, will qualify to win awesome raffle prizes provided by Safe Routes to Schools. Our goal is to decrease morning traffic at the car drop off area and to bring our community together by walking & biking to school."

Morning exercise is important for children’s health and wakes up the brain for better learning. An important goal of the Walk & Roll Challenge is for parents to teach their child the best walking and/or biking route to school at a young age. “The sooner a parent begins ‘leading the way’ by practicing pedestrian skills with their child, the sooner the child will be street-savvy and confident,” said Laura Kelly, Marketing and Outreach Manager for Safe Routes to Schools. “It’s fun to walk with friends, family and neighbors. We are asking parents to set their alarm clocks early the night before our Walk & Roll dates and take a leadership role in teaching their child the importance of green travel.” 

To learn more about our new spring challenge, please contact Laura Kelly, Marketing and Outreach Manager for Safe Routes to Schools at or go to our guidebook.


Sonoma County SRTS Adopts Marin Green Sneaker Challenge

Safe Routes to Schools in Sonoma County is launching Marin’s popular Green Sneaker Challenge this month. “We're super excited to be implementing the Green Sneaker Challenge, for the first time in Sonoma County, this spring and beyond,” said Tina Panza, Sonoma County Safe Routes to School Program Director, Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. “The Challenge posters and backpack cards, designed by our colleagues* in Marin, are refreshingly fun and eye-catching, and the step-by-step guidebook is so helpful to our Champions! Our 20 participating schools really appreciate having such fabulous tools to support them in inspiring more families to walk and roll.”

For elementary schools in Marin County interested in receiving supplies and advertising the Green Sneaker Challenge at their school in April, please contact Laura Kelly, Marketing and Outreach Manager for Safe Routes to Schools at (415) 231-5729.

Here is our easy-to-implement guidebook,