Safe Routes Newsletter

WINTER 2020–2021

Safe Routes Task Forces Assist with Smooth School Reopening

As schools across the county began to reopen for in-class instruction, dedicated volunteers from Safe Routes to Schools helped many of them prepare for students walking and biking with social distancing protocols. Most schools reopened carefully and gradually with hybrid learning; half the class were in person, the other half remained online at home and the next day they would switch. Additionally, many schools created multiple access points, spreading the children around the campus to avoid crowding. Safe Routes volunteers identified park and walk locations in order to reduce the traffic and student congestion around the immediate vicinity of the school and to continue to encourage walking and biking to school. Park and Walk locations were included on recommended route maps and distributed with the school access maps showing entry points for students. Hall Middle School and others provided bike racks at each access point. Some schools even created more space for students through temporary “pop-up” infrastructure (see subsequent articles).  

Due to these efforts, several fully opened school districts including Larkspur/Corte Madera and Reed have said families were smoothly walking and biking to school with no traffic issues reported. Thanks to our volunteers for aiding your school districts in these difficult times.


Motivating Walk and Roll with Chalk 'N Walk

Kids could be kids before sitting in a structured classroom this fall by skipping and giggling along chalked routes to schools.

“Hop like a bunny,” “Smile N Stroll” “Jump for Joy,” “Keep on Rollin’” - these were just some of the playful and optimistic messages greeting walkers and rollers returning to campus. Marin Safe Routes to Schools wanted to make the return joyful and memorable after months of remote learning, and what better way than to turn sidewalks into colorful, adventurous routes to schools. “The chalk art painting on the sidewalks added a great vibrancy as students entered the school,” noted Pepe Gonzales, Principal of Laurel Dell Elementary School.

Chalk N Walk messaging that graced pathways and recommended routes to schools, served to encourage students to walk and roll, or even park and walk short distances to school. Principal Leo Kostelnik from Edna McGuire commented, “They are fantastic! I saw lots of kids studying the drawings and heard a few exchanges about how they bike or walk to school.” Schools welcomed the chalk art which playfully reminded families of safety protocols, such as “Simon says, stay 6 feet apart,” “Mask ON,” and “Use your head before your feet, stop at the corner of the street.” With traffic reduced, now is the perfect time for families to practice walking and rolling to school. Chalk N Walk playfully reinforces active travel habits, establishing a “new normal” for the long-term.

Schedule your schools Chalk N Walk for 2021 now- contact


New Instructor Joins Safe Routes to Schools

Ushering in this New Year, Matt Farber has joined our Safe Routes to Schools team to develop and deliver pedestrian and bicycle safety curriculum to 1st-12th grade students throughout Marin. Matt is an educator who is passionate about sharing the benefits of walking and bicycling with students, focusing on the importance of safety, healthy lifestyles, and the environment.

According to Matt, “active transportation opens the world to students.” He can’t think of a better way to spend time with kids than walking and cycling together, claiming it is quality time spent unfiltered in a natural environment. He adds, “walking and biking immensely helps with development and learning.”

Matt joins us with a wealth of youth and adult programming experience, most notably with Backroads where he led an array of biking and other recreational activities for individuals and families in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Included in his 10+ years of professional experience, Matt led youth development programming to serve at risk youth. Matt is adept at developing and implementing programs serving the needs of diverse abilities, ages, and cultures, and he enjoys spending his time helping families succeed and appreciate the great outdoors. Matt will be a natural and wonderful addition to our Marin County Bicycle Coalition and Safe Routes to Schools teams, bringing passion, positivity, and sensitivity to inspire a wide range of cycling enthusiasts.

Matt mentions how his dad’s cycling to work had an influence on him. “It was pretty cool to see him commit to a healthy lifestyle; he even rode in the rain.” Matt feels compelled to pass along cycling to the next generation, shaping their future by instilling the joys and benefits early in childhood.

As an avid traveler and lover of the outdoors, Matt can be found hiking and biking pretty much any time he has a free moment. That is, when he’s not caring for his Golden Retriever puppy, Murphy. Students out and about in Marin may just be lucky enough to run into Matt and Murphy. But first, they will find Matt teaching them on-line at their schools until such time that Safe Routes returns, in person, to campus


Monthly Activities Aim at Reducing Screen Time and Increasing Exercise

The social isolation and online learning imposed by COVID-19 are still looming over thousands of school children all over the world. But that hasn’t stopped Safe Routes to Schools from pursuing its goal of keeping young people active, safe and providing opportunities to get away from non-stop screen time.

To overcome challenges brought on by school closures, Safe Routes, in partnership with Marin Health and Human Services (MHHS), presented over 5,000 students with four monthly challenges between September and December. The targeted students attend seven bilingual schools in the County and received the materials from the hands of local nonprofits and public libraries. MHHS added an extra bonus with different prizes for kids who watch a monthly video about the benefits of drinking water as part of their campaign “Rethink Your Drink.”

At the end of every month, parents turned in pictures of their children’s exercise logs to enter them in a raffle drawing for soccer balls, basketballs, scooters, and gift certificates.

Petrona Chan, who has a daughter at Davidson Middle School and a son at the Pickleweed Preschool says that, “Sometimes the kids are very bored; but having specific ideas of what to do outside, like jumping rope or practicing their route to school on their bikes, gives them a purpose when leaving house.” Chan adds that she is happy to participate because the forms include activities that she would not normally have thought of.

Another Bahia Vista and Pickleweed mom, Marisela Tzun-Hernandez, loved it when they rode their bikes as a family to the public library and also, walked together to a firehouse for the November challenge. “It’s going to be hard to follow the instructions to the dot this month. They ask you to break a sweat, but it’s harder to sweat when it’s cold,” she jokes.

A Laurel Dell dad, Carlos Rodas, who was the first person to submit an entry back in September, mentioned how much his two daughters enjoyed watching the videos about drinking water. “It’s wonderful that you guys bring this to our attention,” he says.