Thanks to Aundraya Martinez, Santa Clara County Juvenile Probation Department and Cordell Bailey of City of San Jose, Department of Transportation for co-authoring this guest blog post sharing their experiences on,”VP Unidos Caminata Project” a community collaborative that resulted in a big win for Vision Zero. We learned about this exciting project through a Pedal2Health partnership with Valley Palms Apartment Neighborhood Association.
Aundraya Martinez, Neighborhood Safety/Services Unit, Juvenile Probation Department: In 2016, leaders in the Valley Palms/Tully-Ocala Neighborhood identified improving pedestrian safety as one of their most prominent violence prevention efforts to increase walkability in their neighborhood, especially as students traveled to and from Katherine Smith Elementary School and Overfelt High School. As part of their School-Based Violence Prevention Plan, K. Smith parents focused efforts and funding to enhance their Walking School Bus program that encourages students to walk to school in large groups led by adults in the school community.
With groups as large as 200 students, the Walking School Bus program at Katherine Smith Elementary School became a model of parent engagement and a community effort to leverage a deeper partnership with the Walk & Roll Program. However, the volume and speed of cars in the neighborhood was still a pressing issue in addressing the flow of traffic and overall safety for students/families walking to school. As a result, parent leaders called on their City Councilmembers and the Department of Transportation to solicit studies on the potential for enhanced crosswalks at key intersections surrounding Katherine Smith and Valley Palms, given the neighborhood’s location along the Vision Zero San Jose Priority Safety corridors.
In District 7 of San Jose City Council, Valley Palms Unidos and Parent Pride leaders from K. Smith requested an enhanced crosswalk at the intersection of Lanai/Waverly, which is the first stop of the Walking School Bus and the busy gateway into Valley Palms Apartments from King and Tully Roads. Councilmember Tam Nguyen and the Department of Transportation notified Valley Palms Unidos that each District was allowed the construction of two enhanced crosswalks per year and the request at Lanai/Waverly was fourth on their list of intersections for the fiscal year. With this news, VP Unidos and K. Smith parent leaders decided to launch their “Comunidad Unida por un Cruce Seguro” Campaign for Pedestrian Safety to showcase their community-backed support for securing an enhanced crosswalk and their commitment to ensuring a safe route to school for their children. The month-long campaign in April of 2017 featured activities on power-mapping, phone-banking and canvassing, gathering signatures from 51 percent of VP households, a focus group with the Department of Transportation, and culminated into the “Caminata” where hundreds of students, community partners, and parents walked to school with Councilmember Nguyen and the D.O.T to highlight the need for an enhanced crosswalk at this intersection. As a result of the Valley Palms Unidos campaign, Councilmember Tam Nguyen announced his decision to include the Lanai/Waverly intersection in his list of crosswalk enhancements for District 7 and the Department of Transportation announced a wider Lanai Improvement Project.
On March 12, 2018, Valley Palms Unidos and their partners celebrated the ribbon cutting ceremony of the newly constructed enhanced crosswalk at Lanai and Waverly, a major accomplishment in their violence prevention efforts. The ceremony featured words of celebration from Councilmember Tam Nguyen, Mario Lopez from the Office of Supervisor Dave Cortese, Maria Gonzalez of Valley Palms Unidos, Rachel Trowbridge of Katherine Smith Elementary School, Alex Shkouratoff of the Department of Transportation, Mariel Caballero of the Santa Clara County Probation Department, and Charles Crosby of the Evergreen Elementary School District. In addition to speakers, the ribbon cutting celebration was widely attended by many partners including the Cindy Hendrickson from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Deputy Chief Kathy Martinez from the Santa Clara County Probation Department, Esther Mota from the Crime Prevention Unit of the San Jose Police Department, Hilda Morales from Conxion to Community, parent leaders and teachers from Katherine Smith Elementary School, and many, many more!
Cordell Bailey, Vision Zero, City of San Jose: One of the biggest wins of the year when it comes to the Department of Transportation’s efforts to make San José a safer and more walkable/bikeable city is the new enhanced crosswalk and traffic calming project on Lanai Ave in San José. This project was first proposed by the newly formed Valley Palms Apartment Neighborhood Association with the help of the Santa Clara County Probation Department. After a year of working with the City of San José’s Department of Transportation and Councilmember Tam Nguyen’s office, the ribbon cutting and grand opening for this project occurred on March 12th, 2018. This project benefits a safe walking route to school for children and adults walking and bicycling to Katherine Smith Elementary School as well as neighborhoods east of the Valley Palms Apartments. This is a great example of a community coming together to promote safer walking and bicycling routes! Si Se Puede or as those in the efforts to promote Vision Zero say, it takes all of us! Great work, Valley Palms!