In October, Laurel School's upper campus, the new site for its third- through fifth-graders located at 275 Elliott Drive in Menlo Park, will open its doors for 300-plus students. The current Laurel School site, located at 95 Edge Rd. in Atherton, will continue to operate for kindergarteners through second-graders.
What is known with less clarity is how the children who will attend it will get to and from school.
Encouraging kids to ride their bikes to school decreases car traffic and could reduce childhood obesity, City Councilwoman Catherine Carlton said. "We need to make sure kids can get to school safely."
Jen Wolosin, the mother of one of the soon-to-be third-graders at the new school, has taken it upon her shoulders to help the city of Menlo Park figure out a way for kids to get to the school safely by walking or biking. A self-titled "Laurel Mom," Ms. Wolosin says even though her family lives close enough to the current Laurel School campus to walk or bike, she doesn't feel comfortable commuting with them through harrying traffic conditions, so she drives.
She said her 8-year-old daughter has been practicing riding her bike to prepare for her commute to the new school. She said she asked herself: What would it take for me to feel comfortable letting my kids bike to the new campus?
The "Revised Laurel Connector Bike Plan" is Ms. Wolosin's idea for what could be done on Menlo Park streets to make the streets safer for kids walking and biking to school. It would start at Menalto Avenue and Oak Court and end at the San Mateo County line on the 800 block of Coleman Avenue.
It recommends restricted parking on several streets, new stop sign installations, no stopping zones, crosswalks, improved sidewalks, reduced speed limits of 15 miles per hour, crossing guards, and sharrow markings to be painted on the road, which are painted symbols of bikes intended to remind drivers to share the road with bikers in the same lane.
The proposed route skips over stretches of Coleman Avenue that fall into unincorporated county land. She created a video of what an average school day looks like on the unincorporated stretch of the street. It shows the road congested with heavy traffic while teens, children, and adults with preschoolers weave through the cars while walking and biking.
Recently, she and other community members worked with the county to get "no parking" signs installed on the street, which is expected to happen in coming weeks.
A previous version of the plan proposed restricted parking near the business area at Gilbert and Menalto avenues. After meeting with business owners there, she made some alterations to the plan.
She is planning a door-to-door campaign to the roughly 350 houses on streets affected by her proposal, and is rallying people to attend an Aug. 23 City Council meeting to show their support for the plan.
"I feel like this is doable," she said, adding, "I have no illusions this will happen overnight."