Monday, April 12, 2010

Safe Routes to School: A New Chapter

Safe Routes to School, by default, has a good press. Not many who'd come forward to advocate for unsafe routes, you would think. But looking at it more closely, cracks become visible: The program is unwieldy and hampered by bureaucratic overheads. Often the students (& parents) who start a program have long left the school when the new zebra crossing is finally on the ground. Be it state (SR2S) or federally (SRTS) funded, it requires partnerships between schools and municipalities which are unwieldy and can lead to a wrong emphasis on building streets, sidewalks, crossings, when the real safe routes to school would be built in the heads of drivers and students and teachers. Some cities are known to use the SRTS funds for their general upkeep of streets, other cities cannot spend the money because a hiring freeze make it impossible to spend those precious dollars.
A new solution  comes from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the Bay Area. With the help of the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition they have developed a regional Safe Routes to School program. This is a lean and mean operation, financed through Federal Congestion Management Air Quality (CMAQ) funding and focused on education and encouragement with flexibility to allow funding of facilities where needed. Without cement and asphalt, but with concepts and knowledge, routes for active transportation can be built more quickly, cheaper and more effectively that the geographic notion of a safe route seems to suggest,  which still dreams of cement and a sidewalks, and is a distant relative of the highway notion of the transportation universe: wedded to the notion that with a bit more cement you can always build your way out of any transportation impasse.
The Education Committee of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition  is now embarking on a campaign to engage the Regional Transportation Authority, or very own Metro, to implement and fund a similar program in our region. A letter to the members of the Metro board went out April 15. Please forward it in your own name to the Metro Board and get in touch if you can assist in this important effort. Perhaps you have a direct contact with one of the board members and can raise the proposal privately with them. Safe routes to school are not mind-games of the cement salesman, but an educational goal which teachers can deliver  just as quickly and effectively as they deliver spelling and multiplication and the rest of their precious load.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Car Talk fails the PE Teacher

Car Talk radio show of 5 December fails the PE Teacher with transmission trouble.

Every week Car Talk stages the grandiose and helpless feat to laugh away the fact that cars and their infrastructure have become one great destructive force in our world. A hollow and forced laughter indeed, insulting and painful. If a PE teacher thinks it is OK to take the car for a commute of a little more than a mile, and if Car Talk forgets to advise the caller on leaving his car in the garage, then we know that we still have ways to go.
And yet. And yet: On their website the show description already speaks a slightly different language, and, disguised as humor, the truth comes out: "What's the best advice for a gym teacher with transmission trouble? How about setting a good example for his students by running to school?"

If this all sounds a bit cryptic, then perhaps the letter of complaint makes it a bit clearer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Walgrove Elementary Rides

In the end we counted 27 bikes parked at the racks where just 3 or 4 are seen on a normal day: Great turnout, and see how easy it was. One week it took us, not more. The school also had a good contingent of placard bearing teachers on the sidewalk, a peloton of five turned two rounds of honor on the backtop, bicycle bells were ringing, even a few whistles, and we managed to get together a few email addresses of cycling partents. No Fox News yet, but we are waiting for the results from the video workshop, Jonathan.

How did it happen? An chance encounter at the bike valet parking (Thanks Lumo, a few eager parents, an announcement from the deputy principal, it seems everybody was just waiting for this initiative to happen. Thanks, LAUSD for declaring bike to school day, - but we want it every month, every week now. We tried it, and we liked it.
And now: The PTSA is thinking to engange the services of a safe cycling instructor, diary pages are turned to find a new date, when the concerns of the teachers are not competing with the work of the cyclists. Safely, often, and very visibly: "There they are again, so many", "But I told you everybody cycles", "Mom, I also want to ride a bike", "Daaaad, stop, let me out of the car, I want a bicycle." This is what we will hear, loud and clear, from the back seats in the neighborhood - watch this space for updates!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

LAUSD: Get to School without a Car

SPECIAL MEETING 11 a.m., Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This is the resolution introduced by Board member Ms. T Galatzan - Get to School without a Car Day (Waiver of Board Rule 72)
Whereas, The Los Angeles Unified School District should encourage healthy behavior of students, parents and school staff members by encouraging them to walk or ride a bicycle to schools instead of driving;
Whereas, The promotion of healthier lifestyles through walking or bicycling to schools will help reduce carbon monoxide gases from cars and trucks which have adverse effects on the health of children;
Whereas, Bicycling and walking to school can have a positive mental and physical impact on the health of students and learning capabilities;
Whereas, Daily bicycling and walking exercise can help to reduce obesity and prevent diabetes;
Whereas, Nationally in 1969, about 90 percent of kids who lived within a mile of school walked or rode bikes to get there and nationally in 2004, just 48 percent did at least one day a week;
Whereas, Students need to learn at an early age and be exposed to alternative modes of transportation other than using a vehicle to transport to schools;
Whereas, In recent years the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has enhanced the public transportation system throughout the city by providing bicycle racks on their buses, making it more accessible and user-friendly for bicyclist;
Whereas, May is the National Bike to Work Month and May 15 is National Bike to Work Day; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That Los Angeles Unified School District schools receiving the Safe Routes to School educational program grants, about 250 elementary schools and 15 middle schools, be helped to disperse the free educational materials for students and parents;
Resolved further, That the District collaborate with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Los Angeles County of Public Health, and the City of Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee to develop a blueprint for a Bicycle Policy Guidelines to be adopted by each school; and be it finally
Resolved, That the District encourage schools and offices to participate in the annual National "Bike/Walk to Work Day," on Friday, May 15, 2009, and declare Friday, May 15, 2009, "Bike/Walk to School Day" for students, parents, and school staff.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Planning Walk or Bike to School Day


Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - 3:30-5:30pm,
Meeting in Room 312, Blue Core
Lincoln Middle School
1501 California Avenue
Santa Monica CA 90403
Note: Room 312 is on ground floor,
near staff parking lot off California and the bike rack, of course!


1. Welcome and Introductions
Purpose: Plan for Walk or Bike to School Days June 1-5, 2009

2. Safe Routes to School at SMMUSD – Alison Kendall

3. Bike Day Organizing at Samohi – Lulu Mickelson and Theo Benjamin,
Samohi Solar Alliance

4. Walk-Bike Day at Lincoln June 3 and JAMS Middle Schools – June 3 or 5, 2009

5. Bicycle Safety Education Ideas for May:
Bike Safety Assembly
Bicycle Skills Classes - After School, LACBC and SM Police SRO
Helmet Sales at School
Sponsorship for Helmet Prize Giveaway
Safer Route Planning – Distribute Bike Maps
Additional Safe Bicycle Racks – Bike Valet?

6. Getting the Word Out:
Staff, Parent and Student Leaders at each School
School Administration and Security Staff
City: Police, CREST, TDM
PTSA Meetings, including Malibu, Council
School Email Lists
Student Posters
Local Press

7. Collecting Information
Helmet Use and Bike Counts
Classroom Surveys: Walk, Bike, Transit, Carpool, Drive?
Rewards for Participation – Sponsors?
Calculate Carbon Savings
Recruit Volunteers for Next Year + Safe Routes

Thursday, April 2, 2009

SMMUSD Adopts Bicycle Resolution

At the meeting in the SMMUSD District offices the board members voted unanimously for the Resolution. Yeah! Thanks to Alison for the great work, thanks to Tana for the inspiration, thanks to Barbara for her support and being there early on. Thanks to Jim, Ron, Mihai, Anthony and most of all A Super Great Thank you to the students of SAMOHI, the Solar Alliance and the Bicycle Coalition: You've got the wheel rolling, and now we have a commitment from the district, and that means, that means, that means, that means the-sky-is-the-limit. Anyone said we need to think big? Yes indeed. And we may have a test on this resolution tomorrow, so we better all memorize it.

The discussion highlighted the need be flexible with the bike to school date because of conflicts with examinations. There was emphasis to ensure helmet use, there was a suggestion to count cyclists, and to report back on accident numbers, in order to improve dangerous roadways. There was a very interesting suggestion to honor, annually, a student, a parent, and a member of staff or teacher for "services to cycling", and now, --- leaving out all the Whereas - here is the Resolved

Resolved: The District supports the annual National “Bike/Walk to Work Week”, May 11 - 15, 2009, and the District also declares Friday, May 15, 2009 “Bike/Walk to School Day” for students and school staff;

Resolved: The District will support the establishment of bicycle clubs and other student clubs to encourage walking and biking to school.

Resolved: The District and school safety staff will work with the PTSA, local police and school resource officers and cycling organizations to maximize opportunities for safety education for cycling students as offered by the League of American Bicyclists, including promoting use of bicycle helmets, knowledge of traffic rules and cycling skills;

Resolved: The District will encourage schools to document unsafe pedestrian and bicycle routes to the schools in conjunction with Safe Routes to Schools programs;

Resolved: The District will actively pursue Safe Routes to School State infrastructure grant funding for improved bicycle facilities and infrastructure;

Resolved: The District will direct all schools receiving Safe Routes to School grants to include parents and staff in the educational effort;

Resolved: The District will offer their staff commute alternatives programs based on local Transportation Demand Management ordinances so that staff and teachers can become commuting role models for their students;

Resolved: The District will host a safe cycling course for staff and teachers as part of the commute alternatives;

Resolved: The District will collaborate with the city of Santa Monica to implement sustainable transportation policies for schools and other district facilities;

Resolved: The District will collaborate with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to develop a blueprint for Bicycle Policy Guidelines to be adopted by the District Health and Safety Advisory Committee and implemented by each school’s safety committee;

Resolved: The District schools will distribute free information to students, staff and parents on alternative modes and public transportation to schools provided by Big Blue Bus;

Resolved: This District should do all that it can to promote walking and cycling as a viable means of transportation to schools and offices;

Resolved: The District should encourage students, parents and school staff members to walk, bike, or take a bus to schools instead of driving;

Resolved: By 2012 all schools in the district are to have safe and secured bicycle parking facilities, meeting relevant bicycle rack specifications and providing sufficient secure bicycle parking capacity to meet the most recent CHPS standards for California schools such as a fenced bicycle area with bicycle racks, for students and staff and visitors. City of Santa Monica or LA DOT standards for bicycle racks should be consulted for updated standards. A range of bicycle parking, including some weather protected parking, bike parking accessible outside school hours, and bike parking near all campus entries should be provided.

Happy Bicycle Parking Everybody! What next?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

SMMUSD To Consider Bicycle Resolution

The Board of the SMMUSD is considering this bicycle friendly resolution. It supports walking and biking to school and declares May 15, 2009 Bike to School Day, suggests improved bicycle parking, bicycle safety education for staff and teachers, and of course also for students, bicycle guidelines, and active Safe Routes to School projects. The vote will take place at the School Board Meeting which starts at 5:30 pm on April 2, 2009 in the District Office, 1651 16th Street, Santa Monica. Please join us for the meeting, and support safe cycling at our schools. Download the booklet with the resolution and share it with others. Or read the same text printed on two pages without any folding. Use Comments below to share in this effort and get in touch with other concerned Students and Parents on the bicycle.