Making it safer to walk, bike to school


A serious effort is under way to get Portola Valley students to walk or bike to and from Ormondale and Corte Madera schools, and to get their parents out of their roles as chauffeurs.

The Town Council, at its May 26 meeting, discussed a recent report on what it would take to create so-called safe routes so that kids could conveniently bike or walk to school.

Enticements will be necessary. The report included results from a December 2009 household survey in which parents cited distance, traffic safety and convenience as the top reasons for driving their kids to school.

"It's going to take some doing to get people out of their cars is the bottom line," said Anne Campbell, the superintendent of the Portola Valley School District and a member of the group that prepared the report.

The town has a network of trails, but some may need fences or new surfaces, council members noted. Kids from Corte Madera, for example, tend to walk on the surface of Alpine Road, perhaps because the trail is unfriendly to the small wheels on student book carriers, Councilman Ted Driscoll said.

The likely next step is the formation of an ad hoc committee representing a cross-section of the community, a common solution in this town. The initial report was the product of a group that included representatives from the school, town government and residential communities, and the Trails and Traffic committees.

Go to this link (case sensitive) and turn to page 67 to view the survey results.

Go to this link (case sensitive) for an overview of the project.

On the traffic safety issue, Mr. Driscoll suggested pressuring drivers to slow down by equipping the town's radar-gun trailer with a camera and posting photos of speeders on the town's website.

"We have found the enemy and it is us," he said.

That may not be the only enemy. The equestrian community, as represented by the Trails Committee, "does not believe that these trails should be for bicycles. They're for equestrians," Councilwoman Maryann Derwin said. "They are not going to budge on sharing the trails."

Calls to Trails Committee officials were not returned by press time.

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