Safe Routes Newsletter


Save these dates: International Walk to School Day October 2, 2019

National Bike to School Day May 6, 2020

Bike Month Celebrated Throughout Marin County

Thousands of students at 45 schools throughout Marin County strapped on their helmets on May 8th   for the fifth annual National Bike to School Day.  .  Bike to School Day is a huge celebration for children and school communities. Gwen Froh, Program Director, said “thanks to the schools, parent volunteers and town officials, happy family memories were created through the simple joy of riding a bike together.” 

Parent volunteers at several schools organized bike trains, which were joined by fire trucks and law enforcement. The largest train was at Old Mill Elementary, with over 100 students and families cycling from the Mill Valley Depot.  A fire truck escorted Ross Valley Charter and Manor Elementary students down Sir France Drake Boulevard, their smiles visible to the commuters driving down that busy corridor.  Individual parents and teachers also formed their own bike trains all over Marin County.


The Dixie Bike Train

In 2017, the Dixie Bike Caravan (formerly the Marinwood Bike Rodeo) was formed to bring community together through  a fun and social bike ride.  Once a  month during the sunny season, families gather  for a fun musical ride in the neighborhood before  a communal barbeque.  The event occurs on Friday evenings, allowing everyone to decompress from the busy week. 

Founder Anthony Fontonio thought of the idea after participating in the Walk and Roll Wednesdays organized at Dixie Elementary by Safe Routes Team Leaders, Oliver and Jennifer Plunket.  “We thought it would be fun to stretch the concept of a Bike Rodeo since most riders are familiar with that,” Fontonio said.  After the success of the Friday night family rendezvous and ride, Anthony began leading a bike train to school with his daughter, Blake Fontaine, proudly riding on the back of his cargo bike with French music blasting.  As many as 40 students and parents have joined the informal morning ride. 

“Kids are smiling; they are happy and parents are relaxed,” said Anthony of his motivation for leading the bike train to school.   “It’s a great way to start the school day.”

“Anthony brings tremendous spirit to our school community,” said Principal Will Anderson.  “Students love seeing him ride up on his cargo bike which he transforms into a sleigh, complete with reindeer, during the winter months.”


New Contest Scores Home Run in Bilingual Schools

In May, six bilingual schools in San Rafael, Novato and Marin City finished their first round of a new contest, the Search for the Hidden Treasure, which offers an alternative to the Green Sneaker Challenge. Like its predecessor, this new contest also requires a card with all four stamps to be able to participate in the drawing. Ten winners earned a prize chosen from a toy chest presented during a school-wide meeting. This time around, prizes included toys promoting physical activity such as hula hoops, hopper balls, soccer balls, jump ropes and water bottles.

For those who did not win this time, don't dismay; there will be another opportunity to join the fun of walking and rolling to school to win incentives, starting next school year. In the fall, prizes sponsored by the Marin Health and Human Services will vary and will be a fun surprise!  


Summer Bike Camp Guide

photo courtesy of Fairfax Cycling Camp

Want to hone your child’s bike skills this summer?  Sign them up for one of the many bike camps:

Bike Adventures for Kids San Anselmo

Kids discover the endless possibilities for adventure in their own backyard and feel the freedom of exploring the best of Marin's outdoors by bike.

Fairfax Cycling Camp 

Riders aged 8 & up gather in the morning for a fun day on wheels, covering 8-16 miles,while learning safety, skills,& maintenance.

Mill Valley Mountain Bike Camp

Our campers’ adventures are carefully customized so they progress as their comfort and skill level grow. We group campers by grade—2nd – 4th graders in our Mountain Biking Skills Camp, 5th – 7th graders on the Mountain Biking Adventure Team, to be sure they’re in good company as they build confidence and further their mastery of mountain biking.

Mt Tam Bike Camp Mill Valley 

Mt Tam is in its 13th year of  creating a fun, safe,non-competitive environment where kids can connect with riding, nature and each other through adventures mountain biking.  Ages 8-14

No Limits Mountain Bike Camp  Corte Madera

Join No Limits Mountain Bike Camp for selected terrain that ensures fun for all skill levels. Along with learning and improving biking skills and disciplines, riders of all abilities will learn safety, bike maintenance, and trail etiquette – all while exploring the great outdoors and making new friends!  Grades 2-7

Otis Guy Mountain Bike Camp, Fairfax

Otis was the Co Head Coach of Sir Francis Drake High School Mountain Bike team for years and has been running a mountain bike camp instructing kids ages 8-13+ for the last nine years.  No other camp exists that has this depth of background of cycling knowledge and has the preparation to handle any emergency.

"School Tag" Inspires Biking at Willow Creek Academy

If you travel down Bridgeway in Sausalito in the morning, you might see a bike train leading to Willow Creek Academy,  rain or shine.  Christian Verduzco, along with his son Jarel and friends, have been biking every day in May, inspired by the School Tag program which allows students to collect points to win prizes when they walk, bike, or bus to school. 

Mr. Verduzco values the time with his son; “Because of School Tag, my son is eager to bike to school.  It’s given me a unique opportunity to teach him responsibility, to pay attention and follow instructions while learning a valuable life lesson and having fun.”  As students get older, they often credit cycling for making them better drivers, able to make smart decisions while alert for pedestrians, cyclists and other cars. 

School Tag is an automated program designed by tech-parent Aaron Roller with input from his daughter, Lillie and her friend, Lila LeCog, 8th grade students who wanted to create a safer and healthier school by eliminating cars on campus. To play the game, students are given a tag with a unique country flag designation for tracking purposes. Students log their walks and rides by scanning their tag on sensor boxes located on various routes to schools.  The further the student walks or bikes the more points he or she accumulates toward a weekly and month-end prize. Read full article: Marin IJ  


Drive Clean Marin Partners with Safe Routes to Schools

Photo courtesy of Cool the Earth

In partnership with Drive Clean Marin, Safe Routes to Schools hosted a Parent Education night at Sun Valley Elementary School to build awareness of the health impacts of pollution on children in an effort to reduce vehicle emissions.  Drive Clean Marin’s goal is to inspire residents and employees to reduce their carbon footprint by driving electric vehicles.   Safe Routes to Schools promotes healthy and safe transportation choices, noting that clean air while walking or biking to school is important for developing lungs and brains.

Parents that drop off or pick up their children may  form a line of idling cars while inching their way to a school’s campus.  Air toxins from exhaust deposited at school are known to be harmful, causing asthma, respiratory problems, and even cancer. 

Safe Routes to Schools’ goal is to reduce traffic and pollution around campuses by having more families walk, bike, or Park and Walk a short distance to school if they live too far.  Drive Clean Marin’s initiative seeks to have every Marinite make their next vehicle purchase electric, replacing all carbon emission vehicles by 2030.  Through collaborative education and outreach, our two organizations can  create healthy environments and travel modes for the  next generation.  


Neighborhoods Flourish When More Kids Walk to School


Thanks to grant funding by the Bay Area Quality Management, Safe Routes to Schools created a new pilot program called Park and Walk (PAW) to increase sidewalk usage and decrease school traffic congestion. Traffic car lines at both the front and back school entrances dramatically decreased this spring at Loma Verde Elementary School in Novato, where PAW was successfully implemented by volunteer parents, student leadership, law enforcement, and the school Principal, Tehniat Cheema.

The new PAW campaign encourages families to park a short distance away from school, and then walk with their child.  PAW families filled up the neighborhood sidewalks with smiling faces and hands being held en route to school. Colorful PAW lawn signs marked suggested routes for parents to “park,” and then walk to school.

PAW backpack cards were distributed to all students participating in active transportation to school by foot, bike or scooter. Volunteer parents and student leadership stamped cards at a morning welcome table for nine consecutive days. PAW was promoted to parents via the school newsletter, Open House, backpack mail and mobile text. If a child received six stamps on their backpack card, then he/she qualified for a raffle prize drawing on the last day of the PAW pilot.  In all, 62.7% of the school achieved 6 punches on their punch card.  This compares with the survey measure in the fall when only 15% of the students walked or biked to school.

Statewide News: Complete Streets Bill Rolling Along

The Safe Routes Partnership is pleased with the continued progress of SB 127 (Wiener), the Complete Streets bill they are co-sponsoring along with California Walks, the California Bicycle Coalition and the American Heart Association. The bill has now passed out of the Senate Transportation and Appropriations committees. In the process, the Partnership has agreed to amendments that removed the proposed reordering of the State Highway Account’s priorities. However, the core of the bill - requiring that stretches of the State Highway Network that function as urban arterials or rural/small town main streets are equipped with sufficient infrastructure for walking and biking when they are programmed for rehabilitation - remains intact. Going forward, we look forward to working with CalTrans to agree on definitions that will further clarify exactly when projects from the State Highway Operations and Protection Program (SHOPP) are subject to these requirements. 

Marin Safe Routes has already been successful in working with CalTrans’ SHOPP program to make improvements along Shoreline Highway in Point Reyes and has been in discussions for safety issues along Tiburon Blvd, both Caltrans highways..