The day is nigh! Wednesday, October 7, 2015 is Walk and Bike to School Day (according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School).
We’re helping to coordinate a walk and roll (probably more scooters than bikes) at San Rafael Elementary in Pasadena, CA. We’re meeting Wednesday morning at 7:10 to 7:30 a.m at San Rafael Park in Pasadena and going to school in a big group.
This is the first Walk and Bike to School event we’ve helped organize. The big day is almost here, but there were baby steps to get to this point. We have had to tailor our event to work with the large number of kids commuting to San Rafael Elementary from outside the neighborhood (ourselves included!). We’re hoping to make this a more regular part of going to school and efforts in both Los Angeles and Pasadena by local non-profits, city government agencies, and the LAUSD and PUSD have given us some hope. Following along with the days events is easier now that we’ve all figured out hashtags. I think #WalkToSchool15 is what everyone is using to spread the message.
Our journey to the big event this Wednesday morning started by talking to the PTA and the school principal – both of which sort of shrugged their collective shoulders, smiled, and said, “Great! Hang some posters. Sounds like a good idea!”
Talking with a parent involved in similar efforts at the Los Angeles Unified School Districts’ Ivanhoe Elementary in Silver Lake (controversial public meetings over the road diet on Rowena serve many noble purposes!) we were advised to give stacks of flyers to every teacher in the school to hand out to kids.
Our friend at Ivanhoe said, “Once the kids find out about it, participation will jump.”
This morning (Monday, October 5, 2015, two days before the event) we hung our posters around the campus and delivered our flyers (enough for every student) in the mail boxes of all the teachers at San Rafael Elementary.
Since most of the kids at San Rafael Elementary don’t live in the adjacent neighborhood, the plan is to meet three blocks away at San Rafael Park between 7:10 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Local kids and parents can do what works best for them – hopefully they will join our parade. With our group of kids together at the park we plan on walking and rolling on the sidewalk on a long, unbroken, side street towards the campus. We need to cross one small local street and we’ll arrive just as the first bell rings at 7:45 a.m.
After Wednesday’s event, we’re hoping to schedule a weekly or monthly walk and bike to school day. Additionally, there are a few intersections where a continental crosswalk and curb ramps would help with these efforts. I suspect that means circulating a petition amongst parents at the school and the local neighborhood association to have the city government install those amenities using Safe Routes to School grant dollars or some other source of funds.
If you live in Los Angeles, their Department of Transportation is making a big push this year to expand their coordination with the school district (LAUSD). In 2014 they had 67 schools participate in their program. You can find out more about Los Angeles’ Walk and Bike School Day efforts here.
If you live in Pasadena, the city has prepared Safe Routes to School maps for every single school in the city (Los Angeles has done this as well), but municipal efforts there aren’t as focused on Walk and Bike to School day this year. Several local non-profits have gotten the city to designate this month as “Walktober” and to coordinate a bunch of pedestrian friendly events all month.
The days events will undoubtedly be documented on every social media platform out there. The hashtag to use to find all the photos, videos, and tweets is #WalkToSchool15.
We hope to see you on the streets this coming Wednesday, October 7, 2015 or online with all your fun pictures and comments. We will be re-tweeting like maniacs all morning long.