Dear School Leaders and Safe Routes to Schools Champions,
Welcome back to school! I hope your summer was enjoyable and active. I am pleased to announce a new and important program as we start the 2019-20 school year — the ACT Safely Rail Safety Education Program. Funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, this program is aimed at educating students and adults about ways to stay safe around trains and railroad tracks. We’re kicking off the program this year by observing National Rail Safety Week from Sept. 22 to 28. Consider holding your school’s monthly walk and roll event this week using the September theme, ACT Safely around trains, or incorporate rail safety into an event any time during the month. More information is under Announcements and Resources in this newsletter and on the website at alamedacountysr2s.org/rail-safety.
There is much to do as the year begins, including planning your school’s Safe Routes to Schools activities. Here’s a short checklist of activities to get on the calendar and help keep your students active and healthy:
Walk and Roll to School event each month, September through June.
Rail Safety Week, Sept. 22–28.
International Walk and Roll to School Day, Oct. 2 (or a different October date that works best for your school).
Golden Sneaker Contest, Feb. 24–March 6.
Bike to School Day, May 14 (or a different May date that works best for your school).
For high schools, Cocoa for Carpools (during the winter months).
Now is a good time to reconnect with the Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) Program, as we continue to offer resources to help you plan for events and activities. This year, we have a new SR2S planner! We’ve designed a useful 11-inch by 17-inch poster to help you plan and track your school’s accomplishments. Post it in the classroom, on a prominent bulletin board at school, or at home for everyone to see. Visit our website and download the poster so you can get started!
Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools Program Manager
P.S. We have a new member of our SR2S team – Mailchimp! We’re now using this platform for our newsletters and e-blasts.
Rail Safety Week, Sept. 22–28, 2019
Join us and many others across North America in observing National Rail Safety Week from Sept. 22-28. Each year during the last week of September, the national rail safety education nonprofit Operation Lifesaver, Inc. partners with Operation Lifesaver Canada to mark the observance of Rail Safety Week in North America. Students can review rail safety tips in class and at home using resources from our website, including how to ACT Safelynear railroad tracks:
The ACT Safelyprogram was developed through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to address the high incidence of fatalities and serious injuries from collisions due to trespassing onto railroad right-of-way. Our student programming aims to raise awareness about trespassing and teach safe behaviors when walking or bicycling near railroads. Since safety knows no age limit, raising awareness and offering safety education for adults is also important. We offer resources for adults and students on our ACT Safely website! These include fact sheets, posters, flyers, activity sheets, and videos. International Walk and Roll to School Day, Oct. 2, 2019 — register and plan your school’s event!
We invite you to join schools across Alameda County in celebratingInternational Walk and Roll to School Day! This year, International Walk and Roll to School Day will be held onOct. 2, but you can hold the event on another day in October that works best for your school.
International Walk and Roll to School Day is a one-day event to encourage and invite students, families, teachers, and staff to walk, roll, carpool or take public transit to school. The event is celebrated throughout the world and is a great way to be active, encourage safety while traveling to and from school, and help protect the environment.
In July, the Complete Streets for Active Living Bill (S.B. 127 — Wiener), cleared the Assembly Transportation Committee. This bill, if passed, will require complete streets improvements to be included in maintenance and rehabilitation projects on streets that are part of the state highway network but function as local streets. Complete streets help to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
At the committee hearing, Moses Trujillo, a 5th grade student at Malcolm X Elementary in Berkeley, testified about the conditions along State Highway 13 (Ashby Avenue) that he must cross to get to school from his home. He talked about organizing a student march to bring visibility to the traffic safety concerns and, more broadly, the climate change issues as a result of this high-traffic street. He set the tone for the committee discussion and, ultimately, the committee’s passage of the bill when he stated, “As a kid I can do some things, but we depend on adults to handle bigger problems like providing safe streets for all.”
Great job, Moses!
Do you live in Hayward? Give the city input on their Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan!
The City of Hayward is currently updating their Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. You can give the city feedback on their draft bicycle network and recommended facilities by completing an online survey or reaching out to city staff via email. Learn more!
As summer vacation ends, families around the county are making commute plans to get to school on time and without traffic headaches. In Albany, families at Ocean View Elementary School have extra logistics to manage since students will be housed at four different schools as the school is rebuilt! A group of committed parents and partners are working to ensure walking and bicycling are part of the commute solution.
Silvia Yee and Rachel Sarah, Ocean View's SR2S parent champions, anticipated the move and began planning for school transportation changes early this spring.Esther Ramer, an Ocean View parent and University Village resident, represented UC Berkeley student parents who must balance getting their children to other campuses and themselves to UC Berkeley on time.Ken McCroskey, a long time SR2S champion, Albany Traffic and Safety Commissioner, and Albany Strollers & Rollers member contributed expertise to the cause!
Together, these four parents coordinated a variety of active and healthy options. Rachel will be leading a daily bike train, and University Village staff is stepping up to organize Walking School Bus routes. In addition, they hosted a special back-to-school dinner and transportation fair for families focused on "How to Get to School Safely During Construction" to help families understand their walking, bicycling, carpooling and transit options. This steadfast team of parents reached out to a host of local partners and agencies to make sure that all the families at Ocean View have a viable commute plan before school starts.
Thank you to these incredible partners who have collaborated to keep families informed and safe on their varying commutes!
Over the course of the school year, you might hear families or your site coordinator talking aboutwalking school buses or bike trains. Here’s a quick reminder of what they are and why we love them:
Walking School Buses Walking school buses are a group of families living in the same neighborhood who form a walking group and share the responsibility of taking the children to and/or from school along a set route. The availability of the walking school bus depends entirely on the availability of the parents and what’s most convenient for everyone. Although some parents decide to make a set schedule, others prefer it to be less formal.
Bike Trains Like walking school buses, bike trains are groups of parents and kids who ride together from the same neighborhood along a designated route.
Benefits of Walking School Buses and Bike Trains
Increases safety since children are walking in groups and accompanied by an adult when walking to school.
Helps improve health of students and families by incorporating exercise into their daily routine.
Reduces absenteeism and helps increase student self-esteem by rewarding students for improving and/or having perfect attendance.
Saves parents’ money by not using their vehicle.
Saves parents’ time by sharing the responsibility of getting the kids to school with other parents.
Reduces traffic congestion around the school and improves air quality.
For information on how to start a Walking School Bus and/or Bike Train at your school, including how to request safety supplies and free trainings, visit our website.
The Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools Program is a program of the Alameda County Transportation Commission (alamedactc.org) and is funded with Alameda County's local sales tax Measure B, regional, state and federal funds.