Safe Routes Newsletter

WINTER 2017–2018

Let's Make Art! Win a Bike!

Through art, students can motivate a community to make a positive change. Safe Routes to Schools’ Art Contest invites children in grades K-5 to encourage others to walk, bike, scooter, or skateboard to school or around town.  Students, draw or paint a colorful scene of you walking or biking.  How does it make you feel? What do you see? Who do you walk or bike with?

Deadline is January 31.  Here are the guidelines

Prizes and Award Ceremony

One Grand Prize Winner will receive a new bicycle and helmet donated by Mike’s Bikes

One First Place Winner will receive a gift card for new pair of sneakers, valued to $50.00

15 Honorable Mentions will receive a $5.00 Jamba Juice gift card.

Student winners, and their parents/guardians and teachers, will be invited to attend the Art Opening and Award Ceremony at the Marin Museum of Bicycling in early February. Refreshments will be served and winners will be acknowledged.

Questions? Please contact  Get flyers and guidelines including Spanish versions on our web site


Kids and Community Celebrate the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project

On November 4,the Mill Valley community celebrated “MillerFest” and the completion of the 1.8-mile Miller Avenue Streetscape project. Safe Routes to Schools led a police and fire escorted bike ride on the newly engineered road, a tribute to the 10 year vision of the City of Mill Valley. The corridor completes a vital safe route for Mill Valley Middle and TAM High Schools’ pedestrians and cyclists, as well as elementary schools such as Park and Marin Horizon private school.

Mill Valley Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Chair and Safe Routes Volunteer, Debbie Alley, commented that her son now feels confident he can ride safely along Miller Avenue to school. The project overhauled Miller Avenue from Sunnyside Avenue to Almonte Boulevard, and included revamping the roadway, adding new buffered bicycle lanes, bike racks, improved crosswalks, park benches, street lighting, landscaping, a new boardwalk connecting downtown and the Presidio Avenue neighborhood, and a new bridge connecting to the Sausalito-Mill Valley multi-use pathway.

A majority of the funding came from Measure A, administered by the Transportation Authority of Marin.


Venetia Valley's Walking School Bus Turned One

For over a year now, between 10 and 15 families have joined the Venetia Valley walking school bus departing once a month from the Jury Duty Parking Lot (AKA “the Duck Pond”), across the street from the Marin Civic Center. The group of students is led by several parent volunteers and sometimes Principal Juan Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez has shown up a few times with freshly brewed coffee for the parents, who feel very energized to walk along with him early in the morning. “I think his presence should eventually increase participation,” said volunteer Josefa Alonso.

Interestingly, some parents think the walking school bus benefits peace on campus. “The morning scene in the car line is bad. Parents scream at each other over parking spaces and congestion because there are too many cars. I think the walking school bus is slowly improving this situation,” said Alida García, a second grade mom who never misses an event.  For Paula Viera, who helps at the welcome table, the greatest benefit is the socialization and the 'awakening of the brain' that happens after the brief walk to the school.

For next year, both administrators and parent volunteers have the goal of increasing the number of children joining this fun activity.


Turn the Key, Be Idle Free

At Miller Creek Middle School, student monitors discovered that 75% of the cars waiting to pick up students after school idled more than 40 seconds with the average around three minutes. According to the EPA, this is common; their recommendation is to turn off the engine after 10 seconds to protect children from pollution in school zones. Eliminating traffic on school campuses is the ultimate solution; buses and cars pollute as they line up to inch their way in and out of the driveway. With a grant from the Air District and support from their science teacher, Mike Schulist, the Green Monitors took action. No Idling Signs went up. A campaign was launched to promote “Park and Walk” locations away from school and to educate parents and students to “turn the key, be idle free.” Contact your Safe Routes to School representative to learn more strategies to reduce pollution around your campus.


Novato Champion Teacher

Matt Gardner, a long time employee of Novato Unified School District, is one of the many teachers and school staff that help the Safe Routes to Schools program reach students every year. Sometimes scheduling classes requires some creativity or even an occasional rain check, but despite teaching at multiple schools Matt always makes sure his students get Safe Routes lessons. He knows how valuable these lessons are for both traffic safety and exercise and he truly enjoys taking the kids on a neighborhood walk to practice crossing the street or seeing the smiles as kids ride bikes in school at the program’s bike rodeos. The Safe Routes to Schools program would like to thank the dozens of school staff who ensure thousands of students receive classes every year. Without these extra efforts the Safe Routes team would be unable to do the work they love. Thank you!

Reed District Volunteers Help Produce Routes Maps

The Reed Union School District’s Safe Routes to School Task Force recently completed a new Suggested Route Map for Bel Aire Elementary School in Tiburon. The new map was put together with the help of the Town of Tiburon’s Public Works department, several very dedicated members of the Tiburon Task Force, and Safe Routes to Schools.

Bel Aire Elementary School has a large number of students that walk and bike to school. Students going to or from school that do not live in the immediate neighborhood must cross Tiburon Boulevard (State Route 131) – a fast and wide four-lane roadway. This crossing has been challenging for many students. Recent intersection improvements, including a new “bike box” facility at Greenwood Cove/Blackfield Drive and Tiburon Boulevard and new green bike route sharrows help to make the journey safer for students and more predictable for drivers. The new map highlights all of these new facilities as well as suggesting the best routes for drivers to drop off and pick up students so as to avoid conflicts with students walking and biking.

Patrick Barnes, Director of Public Works and Town Engineer – who was deeply involved in the route identification and mapping process said, “This map is great for students and parents who decide to enjoy the trip to school. I particularly like the safety advice on the back of the map. It is important to be predictable, alert and visible.”

Task Force member Angela McInerney adds, "The map has been an invaluable education and outreach tool in even the short time that we have had it. It has enabled us to start conversations about specific routes as well as engage in deeper discussions regarding safety tips with a wide range of users- parents, students, and educators. In short, it has been a positive influence and a game changer for ALL of the traffic routes in our school neighborhood." 

View the Map and Safety Tips 

Del Mar Middle School is now working on its own Suggested Routes to School map. As with the Bel Aire map, the Del Mar map is a collaborative effort between members of the Tiburon Safe Routes Task Force, local parents, the Department of Public Works, and Safe Marin Routes to School staff. The map will feature suggested walking and biking routes, locations of crossing guards, bus routes, distance and time to school from key points, and notes any hazards to avoid. These maps contribute to the green travel success of schools. 


Rock Students' Epic Journey

Drake High School’s ROCK program dedicated a school day for 112 students to experience transit throughout the Bay Area at an event called “The Epic Transit Journey.” The ROCK program teachers said that students are well aware of the environmental challenges that they face.  When students have the opportunity to use transit, they are able to bridge the gap between the theoretical wish to benefit the environment and the tangible actions that truly matter.

The Epic Transit Journey was initiated through Safe Routes to Schools staff who helped students acquire student Clipper Cards and who taught route planning and transit use prior to the event. Students rode Marin Transit, SMART, Golden Gate Transit, Bart, and Muni to learn how to travel the Bay Area independently and efficiently while learning the benefits of traffic reduction.   When asked “why would anyone wish to take public transit over driving a car,” students responded “because it’s fun and easier than we thought it would be.” “It saves gas and it’s really important for the environment.” Other students added, “We didn’t mind the walking needed to get places; it was great exercise and gave us a chance to see things we wouldn’t normally see if we were in a car.” 

SMART - Think safety first.

Railroad safety is for everyone: pedestrians, drivers, and bicyclists. We all have a role to play in encouraging safe behavior near all tracks and trains. Please readthese key safety tips and share them with your friends and family.

  • Always expect a train.
  • Stop, look both ways, and listen for a train.
  • Only cross the tracks at designated crossings.
  • Wait for the bells and lights to stop, and wait for the gate to rise before crossing.
  • Motorists: Never stop your vehicle on the tracks. Always be sure you have enough room to make it safely through to the other side before driving over the tracks.
  • Bicyclists: Riding your bicycle adjacent to the tracks is unsafe and illegal.
  • Pedestrians: Never walk on the tracks. It is dangerous and illegal.


New Look for Bike Rodeos

Elementary school students are being treated to six new bicycles and a snazzy graphic wrap on the Safe Routes to Schools bike trailer. Many of the bicycles that have been replaced had been in use for a decade. The new bikes will ensure that elementary students have a positive experience when borrowing a bicycle. Matching banners are also up at schools to remind families to walk and roll. If you see the Safe Routes trailer around town it is a safe bet that kids are riding bikes and learning the rules of the road on that day!


Small Steps to Grow Green Habits

Our parent and teacher volunteers are vital implementers of Safe Routes to Schools encouragement programs, such as the popular Green Sneaker Challenge. The passionate dedication of our volunteers is instrumental to achieving mode shift at schools. The Green Sneaker Challenge was launched at 21 elementary schools by volunteer teams who organized “meet and greet” tables for students who traveled to school by bike, scooter, foot, bus or carpool. Children looked forward once a week to receiving a green ink “sneaker” stamp on their backpack card. On the last day, students place cards into a raffle box and the winner receives a new scooter. Elementary school children enjoy this fun contest, which boosts green travel school pride and creates positive habits.

"The Green Sneaker Challenge was a great way to motivate our students and families to travel green consistently over a month where we had both rainy days and compromised air quality due to the Northbay fires. Kids loved the excitement of getting their Green Sneaker cards stamped each week, and most still proudly have their cards attached to their backpacks even though the Challenge ended weeks ago." – Heather McPhail Sridharan, Parent Volunteer Coordinator, Kentfield School District Safe Routes to School Program