Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Safe Routes to School News

I was inspired during today's Southern California Safe Routes to School network conference call by some of the interesting projects happening throughout the region  (if you'd like info on how to join in the monthly calls, contact the CA policy manager Jessica Meaney). Here's the scoop on what's happening with SRTS in:

Los Angeles
The City has received nearly $500,000 in funding to work with six schools in the west LA area on outreach and education to increase active transportation to school. The educational campaign has included public service announcements on spanish and english TV (starring kids from the target schools), lawn signs, educational brochures, billboards, radio spots, and ads on buses and at bus shelters. Along with the media blitz the schools have held assemblies, given out prizes like bikes and pedometers, and worked with parents to address perceived safety concerns. The results have been a 19 percent increase in kids walking to school. You can learn  more about the City's activities at the Watch the Road website.

A committee of dedicated parents in Glendale have been working for the last two years to improve safety around local school sites. Their first step was to address the hazardous conditions created by parents' poor driving habits. The committee created a valet system for the AM drop-off period, staffed by student, faculty, and parent volunteers (and the occasional school board member), then took a stab at the PM pick-up period by piloting a "no drive zone" around the school: parents who drove to pick up their kids were required to park several blocks away (a local grocery store generously let the parents use their parking lot), then walk to get their children.

Burbank has been focusing on bikes lately in its SRTS efforts, setting up a bike education program with assemblies on bike safety and special courses for parents and kids. The city has also set up a bike coop program, where kids learn to fix and maintain donated bikes--and then get to keep them for their own. Next year the City plans to set up a citywide committee to address SRTS on a bigger scale, taking a look at areas where pedestrian improvements could help get more kids walking.

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