safe routes logoSafe Routes to Schools

E-Newsletter       January 2017

In This Issue
Creating REsilient Sons and Daughters
New Hands Free Driving Law
Green Sneaker Challenge
Tool Box - Sidewalks
Making the Cold Cool
Cocoa for Carpools
Free Bike Racks     
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Start the new year with the resolution to reduce your car trips to school

Creating Resilient Sons and Daughters
(January Blog)
When Jenna Neustaetter, Senior at Redwood High School and President of the Environmental Action Club, was asked what had a huge impact on her life, she reflects positively on her upbringing.   "The resiliency that I learn while growing up has given me the confidence in my own ability to carry myself through life." Jenna eagerly looks forward to college next year with the self-assurance to be on her own.

Jenna admits it was tough at times because her parents typically didn't "give-in" to her desires for comfortable alternatives. "My parents didn't give us a choice about walking or biking to school. They wanted us to learn responsibility and independence - to become self sufficient."

New Hands-Free Driving Law 
Highway fatalities spiked last year to the highest percentage increase in 50 years according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Distraction by mobile devices is being blamed for the increase in fatalities across the country. In response, Governor Brown has enacted a new CA law to eliminate all hand-held use of mobile devises. That means that flipping through your music collection, using maps services, browsing traffic reports, or taking videos and photos is illegal now in addition to texting and talking while holding the device.   The phone must be mounted and used hands free or with a Bluetooth, with only a single tap/swipe permitted.

Insurance companies research conclusively shows that speech to text or talking on the phone significantly impairs the cognitive function of driving. Their advice - simply turn it off while driving.   read more
And the National Safety Council says the law doesn't go far enough read more

Other informative articles on the subject:
There is no such thing as multi-tasking. read more

Studies show that language comprehension while listening to what someone else says, negatively impacts driving performance by 37% even if the phone is not held.   read more 

Turn the Key, Be Idle Free
MSATs are Mobile Source Air Toxics that are emitted from vehicles.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 1,000 compounds come from emissions and are responsible for 50% of cancer risks.  Mobile sources like cars are the largest contributor of air toxics and school children and the elderly are the most vulnerable. 
For the immediate health of children and the long term benefit of our planet, we must act now with a sense of urgency.  The best action is to leave the car at home and walk or bike to school.  If you must drive, be sure to turn off your engine when you stop for more than 10 seconds.  Encourage others to take action with you. 
For more EPA information about MSATs and what you can do to create an idle free school, see EPA web site

Bilingual Schools Green Sneaker Challenge

Bahia Vista and Lynwood Elementary Schools, two of the schools under SR2S bilingual program, finalized their Green Sneaker Challenges in December, with the drawing of two Razor scooter and two Giro helmets at each school. Competing for the grand prize were kids who, on many occasions braved the bad weather and used a green way to school in the fall.
At Bahia Vista the students were challenged to form walking school buses of three or more to get a stamp. One hundred children obtained the four stamps necessary to enter the raffle.   "I have definitely seen a reduction in the traffic on Bahia Way since Safe Routes started here and particularly now with the competition. says Gener Humberto Ake, a volunteer crossing guard parent.
At Lynwood, walking or biking was the only requirement for entering the drawing. Even with the number of rainy days we had in the fall, 50 children obtained the four stamps needed to participate.
The challenge at Bahia Vista was possible with the collaboration of the Marin Human and Health Services, who made it possible for their intern, Narli Arango, to host all the events. The Bahia Vista and Lynwood PTA donated the scooters and the helmets.

Tool Box - Widening and Continuous Sidewalks
Extending sidewalks where they currently do not exist can provide improved access to schools.

Sidewalk widening to at least six feet can enable pedestrians to walk side-by-side or wheelchair users to pass each other.  Continuous sidewalks are necessary to make sure children are not forced to walk in the street periodically. 
Sidewalks have been widened and extended throughout Marin including areas around Brookside School and Wade Thomas in San Anselmo, Evergreen Ave. in Mill Valley, Oak Manor in Fairfax, and Olive School in Novato.
Making the Cold Cool: Keeping Your SRTS Program Going During the Winter
rain biking
As we enter the coldest months of the year, many Safe Routes to School Programs are put on hold due to the challenges of winter walking and cycling. Cold or icy and rainy conditions can often seem like insurmountable roadblocks to a program's continued success.  However, this does not have to be the case. The National Center for Safe Routes to Schools archives has a webinar on winter walking and biking. While geared toward the snowy areas of the country, Marin's cold and rainy month pose its own challenges. 

Check out the webinar

Cocoa for Carpools - New Flyer
To keep the momentum going with green transportation during the inclement weather, consider hosting a Cocoa for Carpool event. Cocoa for Carpools is a hugely popular event offered by our Middle School Teens Go Green Clubs, but could be hosted at any school. We have a  new flyer which can be printed and customized with a date. 

Kids appreciate even a small cup of cocoa for their effort. Warm cider is an alternative that is also popular. Of course, a carpool that includes a "park and walk" aspect to the commute will help to foster active transportation habits that benefit students.

Request a flyer from