Think back to your elementary school days; remember that distinct sound of echoing hallways, that alluring smell of the cafeteria/gymnasium during lunch when pizza was on the menu… and the bonus of chocolate milk. Well, these are the types of flashbacks I’ve been getting these past few weeks as I have been visiting schools all over the Peninsula and the South Bay.

In East Palo Alto, we have completed a set of school site walk audits and parent meetings to help identify physical and behavioral safety hazards in and around schools. Some of the things we’ve noticed so far have been incomplete and lack of sidewalks, problematic intersections and crossings, lack of signage, as well as unsafe behaviors from drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Now, we don’t just want to identify these issues and make a laundry list. We want to find the root of the problem, propose solutions and work with schools, cities, and the community to improve safety, walkability, and bikeability. We know it’s a process, sometimes a long process, but we are in it for the long haul.

In Santa Clara, we are continuing to meet with principals and teachers to talk about upcoming Safe Routes to School activities. At this point, we have gathered baseline data to determine how many kids are walking and bicycling to school, as well as gathering input from parents about their motivations and/or barriers to walking and bicycling to school.

There is a lot of good positive energy around Safe Routes to School (SR2S) programs in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, and I’m very excited that SVBC is involved with spearheading various components of these wonderful initiatives.