Safe Routes Newsletter


Marin Safe Routes to Schools Celebrates 20 Years

The year 2020 marks a 20-year era of Marin Safe Routes to Schools, the origin of a now national program spanning all 50 states. TAM’s Safe Routes to Schools program wishes to extend our deep gratitude to thousands of dedicated parent volunteers, school administrations and teachers, law enforcement, public works departments, city officials, and partnering agencies. Together, we enrich the lives of students while teaching them to respect the planet for future generations.

2020 Tips for Building Healthy Habits: Start Small, Be Consistent

As is common with a new year, we often set lofty goals that are hard to achieve.

Yet James Clear, author of New York Times best seller, Atomic Habits, says building good habits is about making tiny changes in routines and being consistent in doing them.

Shifting transportation habits is cited as the hardest behavior change one can make, even though the huge benefits for healthy kids and planet are compelling reasons for action.  So how can one start taking small steps, contributing to traffic reduction, safer streets and cleaner air for our children?

Find a location from which your family can walk or roll to school, at least one day per week, rain or shine. Even if you walk just a few blocks, you are training new habits. Declare your identity, such as stating that you’re a “Walk and Roll Wednesday family;” Clear says “identifying based habits” forms how you perceive yourself, and makes behavior change lasting.  Start at the same time, at your designated location, once or more per week

Looking to the years ahead, these small steps help students feel independent and confident as they grow older, having practiced safely navigating streets under an adult’s watchful eye. 

Join Safe Routes to Schools on Facebook or Instagram and share your pictures to #walkrollfamily or #saferoutesmarin

Gear Up Your Child for Rainy Days

“It’s not easy being green,” said Kermit the Frog.

Californian kids on the “Go Green” travel track are fortunate not to deal with severe weather challenges when walking to school, such as freezing cold temperatures or a heavy snowfall.

Walking all year-round is an attainable goal for our Golden State students.  Maybe even a “walk in the park” when compared to other parts of our country that get hit with blizzards and hurricanes.

Here are a few tips to make walking to school in the rain a winter habit:

#1   Place rain gear next to your front door 

Proper rain gear can be game-changer.  A waterproof jacket with a hood, colorful boots and kid-friendly umbrella can transform walking in the rain to a playful adventure.  If your child is in need of gear, here are suggested retail links to order rain gear today:

#2  Make it a fun adventure

Puddle jumping is allowed when walking on rainy days! So is splish-splashing around after school and enjoying the change in elements.

#3 Park and Walk

If you live far away, then drive part way and walk the remainder on rainy days.

#4  It’s healthy

The smell of rain has a calming effect.  The air is cleaner and fresher.  Walking in the rain can be a peaceful experience before the start of the school day, and it relaxes the mind before learning.

Pirate Spotted in Area Elementary Schools

Drawing at Laurel Dell. The picture includes the team of teachers, Principal Pepe Gonzalez, the ten winners of the drawing and Pirate Monica Leifer

Seven schools around Marin County were “under siege” in December by a female pirate carrying a treasure chest full of booty. This pirate was unique. Instead of stealing, she was giving. The reason for the visit was that many students have consistently used their feet, took the bus or carpooled to go to school. They were rewarded with a chance to win a prize during the Safe Routes to Schools' challenge, “The Search for the Hidden Treasure.”   Bayside MLK School in Marin City was the first beneficiary of the treasure chest. Short Elementary, Venetia Valley, and Bahia Vista in San Rafael followed. Novato schools were not forgotten as Olive and Lynwood Elementary were showered with jewels as well.

At the end of the challenge, there was a drawing with ten winners per school. The prizes were toys for active play such as pogo sticks, balance boards, hula-hoops, jump ropes, soccer balls, basket balls and more. The Marin Health and Human Services sponsored the drawing to incentivize active living at schools where more than 50% of students receive free or reduced lunches. With the end of the challenge, the pirate went away with her empty treasure chest and the goal of coming back in the Spring.

Drake Epic Transit Journey

Sir Francis Drake High School sent 110 Freshmen and Sophomores out on public transit and told them they could go anywhere in the Bay Area, as long as they returned before the end of the school day.  TAM’s Safe Routes to Schools program prepared them first, teaching them how to trip plan using the google maps transit app, read bus stop signs, obtain and use student discounted Clipper Cards to get on/off the bus, and other transit etiquette. Parent chaperones were only along for the ride; they were told not to problem solve for the students.

Students earned classroom points for how many different modes of transit they used, how many landmarks they discovered, and how well they presented their “Epic Journey” in a brief video. Some groups circumnavigated the entire Bay Area!

"Transit day was the most useful day for me because I normally have my parents drive me to where I need to go, but through this trip I realized that I am capable of getting places on my own. I now know how to use Marin Transit and I am very thankful."
– Drake freshman Alena Sharp

Thank you to Drake ROCK teachers for offering this very valuable life skill to your students.  

Youth Clipper card info:


Walk and Roll Wednesdays – every Wednesday;
tabling first Wednesday of every month

Parent Team Leader Meeting – Thursday, Feb 6,11:30 am Transportation Authority of Marin

Elementary Classroom Challenge – April 15 - May 6

Bike to School Day – May 6

Task Force Meetings

  • Novato – Jan 15, 7 pm, City Offices
  • San Rafael – Jan 22, 7 pm, San Rafael School District
  • Kentfield – Jan 23, 9 am, Kentfield School District
  • Tiburon – Jan 27, 8:30, Tiburon Town hall
  • Mill Valley – Jan 30, 9:30 am,
    MV Community Center Field room (teen zone)
  • Larkspur – Feb 13, 3:30 pm, Central Marin Police  Authority
  • Ross Valley – Friday Feb 28, 10 am,
    Ross Valley School District
  • Sausalito – March 13, 8:30 am Location TBD

Transportation Authority of Marin
Allocated $5 Million in Funding
for Safe Routes Projects

The Transportation Authority of Marin board approved allocation of Measure AAfunds for $4,461,000 for 13 large projects and $700,000 for 14 small projects from the fourth cycle Safe Pathways Call for Projects. See details in the staff report.  These projects were identified through the Safe Routes to Schools Task Force process.  Participants identified problem areas and participated in Walk Audits with Safe Routes and jurisdictional staff.  Safe Routes engineering team developed concept plans that were then vetted with the local jurisdiction’s engineering staff and task force members to come up with a final plan.  The jurisdiction then submitted the grant application to TAM.  Here are the funded projects:


  • East Blithedale Bicycle Improvements, Mill Valley
  • Francisco Blvd. Multi-use Gap Closure, San Rafael
  • West Marin Pedestrian Improvements, Point Reyes
  • San Rafael Third Street Improvements
  • High Canal Pathway, Corte Madera,
  • Sir Frances Drake Bike/Ped Improvements, Kentfield
  • Doherty Drive Bike Lane, Larkspur
  • Hart Street Bike Pathway, Larkspur/Corte Madera
  • Laurel Grove Pathway Extension, Ross
  • Hawk at Sir Frances Drake and Saunders, San Anselmo
  • Azalea Ave. Crosswalk and Bike Spine Extension, Fairfax
  • Coloma St. Pedestrian Improvement, Sausalito
  • Del Mar School Improvements, Tiburon


  • Pixley Ave. and Redwood Ave. Intersection Improvements, Corte Madera
  • S. Eliseo Dr. Crosswalk Improvements/ Bike Lane, Greenbrae
  • Rapid Flashing Beacons in Mill Valley, Kentfield and
    San Rafael
  • Point San Pedro Rd Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB),
    San Rafael
  • Throckmorton Avenue and Olive Avenue Intersection Improvement Project, Mill Valley
  • Caleta Avenue Sidewalk Gap Closure Project, San Anselmo
  • Sunnyside Avenue Sidewalk Gap Closure Project,
    San Anselmo
  • Myrtle, Tamalpais and Raymond Avenues Sidewalk Gap Closure Project, San Anselmo
  • Fifth Avenue and River Oaks Road RRFB Project,
    San Rafael
  • Knight Drive and Ashwood Court RRFB Project, San Rafael
  • Mission Avenue and Park Street RRFB Project, San Rafael
  • Mission Avenue and Alice Street RRFB, San Rafael
  • Nevada Street Restriping Project, Sausalito

Bacich Family Bikes Rain or Shine

Bacich Elementary parents Dan Leibowitz and Xantha Bruso commute by bike with their sons, Remy and Cyrus, nearly every day. Even when inclement weather strikes, they don rain jackets and fit plastic bags over their backpacks to stay dry.

The route to school from their home in Corte Madera centers around the local network of multi-use paths and crosswalks staffed by crossing guards at Bon Air Road. The presence of accessible bike infrastructure was a key factor in their decision to move from San Francisco to Corte Madera.

For the Liebowitz family, biking to school is a fun way to begin the day together, and a valuable experience for the kids. “As young bikers, getting around on their own has taught them to be more independent and confident,” observes Dan. “It helps them have a can-do, no-big-deal attitude that carries into other aspects of life.”

The Liebowitz family have lights on their bikes, so they can also ride home from after-school activities. The kids enjoy the bike commute for its scenery, as well as exercise they get from being active. Cycling’s positive impact on the planet is another reason to ride. Plus, it’s simply good fun. Their message to classmates who are interested in biking to school? “Hey, you can do it!”

Community Liaison Keeps SR2S Program Running at Venetia Valley

Pilar and Team. From left to right, Brian Calderon, Kristal Garcia, Pilar Sanchez, Roberto Aguilar and Cerbelio Rodas

Kudos to Pilar Sanchez, a Community Liaison, who for over two years has made the SR2S program possible at Venetia Valley, a K-8 school in San Rafael. Pilar and her coworkers have taken care of the publicity, retained volunteers, and organized events and prizes. “It’s not just me. I want to clarify that this is a group effort,” she says.

Pilar thinks that the Safe Routes’ program is important not only because of the physical activity, but also because family members feel closer when they walk together to school.

Now that Venetia Valley is undergoing construction and has closed the drop off zone, Pilar and her teammates ensure that students travel safely to school from the remote drop off location at the Jury Duty parking lot. Their goal is to keep this dynamic going indefinitely. “With the rain, we have seen a big decrease in the number of students using the remote drop off, but we are hoping that the numbers will go back up when it dries out,” she said.

Eyes Up – A Neighborhood Outreach Program

When tragedy struck the Butterfield Road neighborhood, some locals jumped into action. Soon after a drunk driver killed an elderly woman and her dog, signs appeared admonishing people to slow down. Then Marin County Supervisor Katie Rice’s office collaborated with the neighborhood to formalize the campaign.  The result is Eyes Up – an education campaign encompassing 20 community organizations – which developed a logo, social media ads, signage and other outreach to raise awareness on the need for safe driving. The focus was on speeding and cell phone usage with messages admonishing people to slow down, pay attention and turn the phone off. Almost 90% of the 650 residents who responded to a survey were aware of the program, mostly through the physical signs. Of those, 70% said they would take a pledge to turn off their phone while driving.   The campaign will be repeated in the spring, and will include a formal pledge to take action. The overall goal is to make the neighborhood safe for all road users, especially children traveling to school.