Safe Routes Newsletter


Another Stupendous Bike to School Day

Old Mill School students gather at the Depot. For more pictures go to our Facebook page

Marin Safe Routes to Schools celebrated the 6th anniversary of National Bike to School Day at 45 K-12 schools on Wednesday morning, May 9th, the highest number of participating schools to date for this event.

Marin County continues to set an example locally and nationally with growing numbers of kids traveling green to school. SR2S teaches 10,000 students in safety classes at 40 elementary and middle schools. These safety lessons create the confidence necessary for students and their parents to get out of their cars and onto their bike seats.

Bike to School Day provided a chance for new riders to gear up for cycling with experienced friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters. Old Mill Elementary School in Mill Valley had over 100 students pedal in their Bike Train with Mayor Stephanie Moulton-Peters joining again this year. Parents, police officers and fire trucks led long trains of cyclists at many Marin Schools. Willow Creek Academy celebrated Bike Week with Beeline Bikes, a mobile bike repair service coming to their campus. Sausalito Police escorted Bike Trains which “kept growing” said an enthusiastic parent.

Bike to School Day was made possible by the huge numbers of administrators, teachers, parent volunteers and community supporters that make the day memorable and fun for students across Marin County. For more pictures go to our Facebook page


Sir Francis Drake Boulevard Project to Improve Crosswalks and Pathways (and Relieve Traffic Too!)

Sir Frances Drake Blvd. is one step closer to seeing major improvements for all users.  On May 8, the Marin County Board of Supervisors certified the Environmental Impact Report for the Sir Francis Drake Rehabilitation Project. The planning for the project has been underway since 2014 and included input from Safe Routes to Schools representatives, particularly those associated with Bacich Elementary School and Kent Middle School.

The project consists of several physical modifications to Marin’s primary east-west arterial roadway between Highway 101 and Ross, including repaving the entire roadway.  The project also includes reconfiguring key intersections, to create shorter crosswalks at Eliseo Drive, La Cuesta Drive, El Portal Drive, Wolfe Grade, and Laurel Grove Avenue. 

The project will also provide mandated improvements such as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements, including an at-grade crosswalk across Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at Wolfe Grade. In addition, a wider sidewalk and access enhancements will be provided between Manor Road and Wolfe Grade, and future provisions will enable a wider pathway along the north side of the arterial roadway between Eliseo Drive and Wolfe Grade.

These improvements will greatly increase the safety for children walking and biking to school.  The project was overseen by County of Marin Public Works staff and its main funds are from the Transportation Authority of Marin’s Measure A program. For more information go to the county's web page

Partnership with Health Department Benefits Schools

In an effort to boost participation in contests promoting children's physical activity and healthy habits in underserved communities, Safe Routes to Schools partnered with the Marin Health and Human Services in the Spring of 2018.  The government agency donated most prizes for the Green Sneaker Challenge contest held in four schools.

The schools benefiting from the partnership were Bahia Vista Elementary, Lynwood Elementary, and Venetia Valley School, who are part of the regular SR2S's bilingual program. Martin Luther King Jr. Academy was added in the spring as an introduction to the program with the idea to kick off a monthly event in the fall.  

“Thanks to MHHS' contribution, Safe Routes could offer a better assortment and more quantity of prizes and incentives to our participants this semester,” said SR2S Bilingual Coordinator, Monica Leifer. Children who won the Green Sneaker Challenge at the bilingual schools received Razor scooters, LED jump ropes, helmets and socks for boys and girls. Students from MLK collected sneaker key chains and the popular “squishes.” 


What? No Cars on Campus?

Surreal!  A high school in full session with an empty student parking lot. 

Students from SEA-DISC Academy at Drake High School resurrected the event for Earth Day, an initiative that was created 8 years prior with their Green Routes Club and Safe Routes to Schools.

Aila Richardson, a Senior in SEA-DISC who organized the event with fellow team members, saw an archived photo of the event and was inspired.  “I believe that we can all work together to reduce the thousands of pounds of CO2 that we emit traveling to and from school.  Even if students and parents resisted, I wanted to build awareness and make a statement; the smallest of actions, even for just one day, really matter.”

Aila was appreciative of the support she received from Administration and the Drake Fund which provided a free lunch- barbeque to encourage students to remain on campus for Earth Day events. The empty parking lot was used by the Mountain Bike Team to host cycling activities.    

Senior Alessia Potovsky, who designed the No Cars on Campus posters, has encouraged “green transportation” for three years by leading evens such as “Cocoa for Carpools” and “Stranger Things.” The later capitalized on the popular Netflix series to point out the absurd climate change that our world faces while encouraging students to “go green” for waffles.  Alessia said, “I don’t tell students that driving alone in a car is bad, but that carpooling, biking, walking and taking the bus is fun and can truly make an impact on the amount of pollution we are creating.  Mostly it’s about being aware of our carbon footprint and that we can take action to make a difference.”

And they are!  70% of Drake High School students travel green to school thanks to these dedicated student leaders and a school committed to taking action.   



High School Transit Race

Bonus points for hugging a Redwood Tree!

Thirty (30) freshmen from the Marin School of Environmental Leadership at Terra Linda High School participated in Safe Routes to Schools Transit Race and learned how they could travel independently using the vast network of Marin Transit. Using student clipper cards and transfer passes, students saw that they could travel extensively for just one dollar, freeing them from their dependence on cars and parent drivers.

Students raced in teams by bus to designated locations to take selfies and win point. The team with the most number of points won ice cream gift cards. Bonus points could be won by making up jingles, taking photos hugging Redwood trees, and making new friends on the buses. Students commented that using the Google Transit App made route planning easy and fun. The ultimate beneficiary, the environment. An average oil powered automobile emits 20 pounds of carbon dioxide with every mile driven. Had each student been driven the 25 mile route, they would have emitted 15,000 pounds of CO2. Instead, they discovered how to have fun with friends while leaving the car behind.


Planting a Seed at a Young Age

Little sneakers at 18 elementary schools were moving in Safe Routes to Schools’ new Spring Walk & Roll Challenge to Cool the Earth."The contest reinforced the importance of green travel as a tangible way to reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Donna Faulkner, Principal at Wade Thomas Elementary School in San Anselmo.“Kids loved getting their punch cards hole-punched and took pride in their pledge to walk, bike, scooter or carpool to school.On our Walk & Roll days, we observed less cars at our main school entrance where parents drop off their kids in the morning."

The contest highly encouraged parents to carve out the time to walk/bike to school with their child on the six designated Walk & Roll dates. Schools were provided with a colorful banner for children to sign as a pledge to use their feet to get to school as often as possible, or carpool. The colorful spring design on the backpack cards reminded children to enjoy nature en route to school. Students placed their contest cards into a box on the last day of the challenge to take part in an exciting raffle prize drawing. Safe Routes to Schools is grateful for the K-5 volunteer parents that made our new Spring Challenge happen by hosting welcome tables. Thank you!

SMART Boosts PE Teacher’s Bike Commute

Featured Champion Teacher

The Safe Routes to Schools program has always had a strong relationship with the Physical Education department at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael. In years past Safe Routes instructors have taught bicycle safety to upwards of a 1,000 students per year and hosted an after-school bicycle club.It is of note that all five P.E. teachers at his school enjoy riding themselves!

Teacher Mike Runyeon has always been a strong supporter of bicycle safety lessons. Since the arrival of the SMART train he is one of many people who can now ride a bicycle for their daily commute.

What did your bike commute look like before SMART?

Prior to this year and maybe six times per year, I would load up my bike from home in Petaluma, drive part way (sometimes to Novato sometimes to Terra Linda) and then bike to school from there.

This year, almost every day I ride from home to the SMART train station in Petaluma, take the train to San Rafael and then ride to school from the station.

What do your commutes look like?

My commute looks like this; 2-1/2 mile bike ride to the train station, 30 minute ride on the train to San Rafael, five-minute ride to school from the downtown station. My total commute time from home to school is about 60 minutes.

Often times when I drove from Petaluma to San Rafael, my commute would take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. The difference is; my current commute is a lot less stressful. When I arrive to school I feel refreshed and ready to go as opposed to ready to rip someone’s head off.

I encourage anyone and everyone to get out and take advantage of public transportation and cycling.With the wide array of bicycle types, there is a bike for everyone.

Thank you Mr. Runyeon for your support of Safe Routes to Schools over the years!

We are always happy to hear people's stories about how bikes can improve their trips to school.Do you know someone who bikes to school? Send us their story and a picture!


Hall Middle School Students Make a Difference

Some very kind eighth graders at Hall Middle School that call themselves “The Difference-Makers” decided to ask their community for bikes in good working order. They hoped to collect bikes to give to underserved students. After much advertising and getting to school early to receive bikes, they collected 23 excellent bikes! Safe Routes staff helped facilitate the donation and arranged a give-away to students at Lynnwood Elementary School in Novato. At Lynnwood, there are students who would love to ride to school but don’t have the means to get a bike. Twenty-three happy elementary students now have bikes and can experience the joy and independence of riding to school!

Thanks goes to Mike’s Bikes for helmet donations!