News

Menlo Park talk tonight: Making safe routes to school happen

Jen Wolosin, founder and chair of Menlo Park-based Parents for Safe Routes, will give a talk, "Between Home and School: Why Safe Routes Matter and How to Make Them Happen," in the first presentation of the school year in the Menlo Park City School District's Parent Education Speaker Series.

The free public event is set for Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Hillview Middle School Performing Arts Center at 1100 Elder Ave. in Menlo Park.

Following Ms. Wolosin's presentation, a panel that includes Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith and Menlo Park Complete Streets Chair Bianca Walser will take questions from the audience.

According to the Parents for Safe Routes group, half of all students nationwide walked or biked to school in 1969, but by 2009, only 13 percent did.

Ms. Wolosin will talk about how parents are advocating for children in the community to be able to walk and bike to school safely. She will look at efforts in other places to allow more children to experience the benefits of walking and biking to school, which include healthier bodies and minds, increased independence and confidence, and more connections with neighbors.

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Having Safe Routes to School not only makes the roads safer for kids, but it also improves the quality of life for everyone by reducing traffic congestion and creating friendlier neighborhoods, supporters say.

Parents4SafeRoutes.org has more information and a newsletter. The organization is working with schools, municipal leaders and community members to build a Safe Routes to School partnership and drive change with the stated goal of helping "every kid have the option of biking, walking, or taking an active form of transportation to school. We also support carpooling and busing to reduce the number of cars on the road."

Other programs in the speaker series are:

● Tuesday, Oct. 3, 6:30 p.m., "The Future of Education: Menlo Park and Beyond," with Superintendent Erik Burmeister and district principals Willy Haug, Sharon Burns, Linda Creighton, and Kristin Gracia.

● Wednesday, Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m., "Anxiety & Depression in Teenagers," with medical doctor Jacob Towery, a Stanford professor and author of "The Anti-Depressant Book: A Practical Guide for Teens and Young Adults to Overcome Depression and Stay Healthy."

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● Wednesday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m., "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy," with Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook.

● Wednesday, Feb. 28, 6:30 p.m., "The Minds of Boys and Girls," with Michael Gurian, author, consultant and philosopher.

● Wednesday, March 21, 6:30 p.m., "Parenting in the Digital Age," with Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet and Erica Pelavin, co-founders of My Digital TAT2.

● Tuesday, April 17, 6:30 p.m., "Get Connected: Talking with your Adolescent about Sexual Health," with Vanessa Kellam, parent engagement coordinator, Health Connected.

● Wednesday, May 2, 6:30 p.m., "Managing PreTeen and Teen Transitions," with Erik Burmeister, superintendent, Menlo Park City School District.

MPCSDspeakerseries.com has more information. All events are free and open to the public, with free onsite child care for children who are potty-trained and older.

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Menlo Park talk tonight: Making safe routes to school happen

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, Sep 15, 2017, 10:08 am
Updated: Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 7:58 am

Jen Wolosin, founder and chair of Menlo Park-based Parents for Safe Routes, will give a talk, "Between Home and School: Why Safe Routes Matter and How to Make Them Happen," in the first presentation of the school year in the Menlo Park City School District's Parent Education Speaker Series.

The free public event is set for Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Hillview Middle School Performing Arts Center at 1100 Elder Ave. in Menlo Park.

Following Ms. Wolosin's presentation, a panel that includes Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith and Menlo Park Complete Streets Chair Bianca Walser will take questions from the audience.

According to the Parents for Safe Routes group, half of all students nationwide walked or biked to school in 1969, but by 2009, only 13 percent did.

Ms. Wolosin will talk about how parents are advocating for children in the community to be able to walk and bike to school safely. She will look at efforts in other places to allow more children to experience the benefits of walking and biking to school, which include healthier bodies and minds, increased independence and confidence, and more connections with neighbors.

Having Safe Routes to School not only makes the roads safer for kids, but it also improves the quality of life for everyone by reducing traffic congestion and creating friendlier neighborhoods, supporters say.

Parents4SafeRoutes.org has more information and a newsletter. The organization is working with schools, municipal leaders and community members to build a Safe Routes to School partnership and drive change with the stated goal of helping "every kid have the option of biking, walking, or taking an active form of transportation to school. We also support carpooling and busing to reduce the number of cars on the road."

Other programs in the speaker series are:

● Tuesday, Oct. 3, 6:30 p.m., "The Future of Education: Menlo Park and Beyond," with Superintendent Erik Burmeister and district principals Willy Haug, Sharon Burns, Linda Creighton, and Kristin Gracia.

● Wednesday, Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m., "Anxiety & Depression in Teenagers," with medical doctor Jacob Towery, a Stanford professor and author of "The Anti-Depressant Book: A Practical Guide for Teens and Young Adults to Overcome Depression and Stay Healthy."

● Wednesday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m., "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy," with Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook.

● Wednesday, Feb. 28, 6:30 p.m., "The Minds of Boys and Girls," with Michael Gurian, author, consultant and philosopher.

● Wednesday, March 21, 6:30 p.m., "Parenting in the Digital Age," with Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet and Erica Pelavin, co-founders of My Digital TAT2.

● Tuesday, April 17, 6:30 p.m., "Get Connected: Talking with your Adolescent about Sexual Health," with Vanessa Kellam, parent engagement coordinator, Health Connected.

● Wednesday, May 2, 6:30 p.m., "Managing PreTeen and Teen Transitions," with Erik Burmeister, superintendent, Menlo Park City School District.

MPCSDspeakerseries.com has more information. All events are free and open to the public, with free onsite child care for children who are potty-trained and older.

Comments

whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2017 at 11:02 am
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2017 at 11:02 am

The Santa Cruz sidewalks should make walking to school much safer. A pity it took so long for the city to do it. I remember discussions 17 years ago.

A major problem though is the dramatic increase of auto and delivery truck traffic over the years, especially with Facebook's continued dramatic growth and the rise of Amazon use. The constant residential construction doesn't help. Neither does the constant flow of gardeners since folks and their teenage kids became too lazy to use a lawnmower and rake, instead spending their time on their electronic devices. Such is life.


resident
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 15, 2017 at 11:18 am
resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 15, 2017 at 11:18 am

This year is the 10th anniversary of the iphone and the soaring rates of distracted driving that came along with it. Safe routes to school (and everywhere else in the city) are more important than ever.


Sunny
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 15, 2017 at 12:50 pm
Sunny, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 15, 2017 at 12:50 pm

We can't have it both ways... the huge amount of parents driving their children to school and "safe" routes. The traffic is so much lighter in the summer when school is out. When school starts up again, traffic is so heavy where I live it's backed up on Middlefield from Oak Grove to Ensinal, mostly because of the parents turning left from Middlefield to Ensinal, dropping off their kids. Parents dropping off their kids at Nativity school also cause a traffic jam, park illegally and then j-walk across the street. Same with Ringwood near the elementary school; parents won't use the crosswalk and crossing guard but just dash across the street. They're a great example to their children.

Please, no more traffic "calming" and dangerous bike lanes. The new bike lane on Ravenswood heading west towards El Camino is too narrow and close to traffic. Many bikers just ride on the sidewalk because the road is too unsafe. It's not the fault of the drivers who can't fit in their lane.

You want kids to have a safe route to school? How about BUSSES? How about teaching kids pedestrian/bicycle safety rules. Let's try that before more traffic "calming" that is just exacerbating the situation. And please get rid of the stupid "islands" in the middle of the road in front of crosswalks where trees are planted, blocking the view of pedestrians trying to cross the street. It is a particular problem on Willow at Waverly. I was almost killed there trying to cross the street to the pedestrian bike bridge because the trees in the middle of the road block the pedestrians from view of motorists. Whose bright idea was it to plant trees in the middle of the road next to a crosswalk?

Now that I'm on a roll... please also remove the newspaper receptacles (I don't know what they're called) and too-wide out of date street lamp from the corner of Santa Cruz at ElCamino, on the south west corner, across from the BBC. Anything that obstructs a driver's view of pedestrians should not be close to a pedestrian crossing. It's another place where I have to dodge cars making right turns.


Ye Olde Times
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Sep 15, 2017 at 2:09 pm
Ye Olde Times, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Sep 15, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Bicycling in Menlo Park is already plenty safe.

Some people argue that bicycling in today’s world is more dangerous than in the old days, because now we have SUV’s and smartphones and texting. I disagree. Bicyclists are actually safer on the road today than they were in the old days.

There were big SUV’s and big cars around even in the old days. The Chevy Suburban has been around forever, technically since the 1930’s, although it was a tad smaller then. By the 1960’s, the Suburban had become pretty large. Even some of the cars from the 70’s were monstrously huge. Ever seen a 1978 4-door Lincoln Continental?

The old SUV’s and old cars had plenty of power, but they had poor visibility, huge blind spots, lousy windshield wipers, weak headlights, sloppy steering, and pathetic drum brakes. Vehicles these days are safer in all regards. With modern disc brakes you can stop on a dime.

In the old days, we didn’t have smartphones and texting while driving. True. Instead, we held a cup of coffee in our left hand, since cup holders had not been invented, while simultaneously using that same left hand to operate the driver’s side window crank, since lots of cars didn’t have electric windows.

And in our right hand we held a cigarette, while simultaneously using that same right hand to operate the 4-speed stick shift, since lots of cars didn’t have automatic transmissions.

Our left foot was used to operate the clutch pedal, while our right foot was used to operate the gas pedal. The brake pedal was pretty much left all alone until you needed it, and then when you did use it, the inefficient drum brakes were all you had.

You might also be rummaging through the glove box looking for your favorite cassette tape, and maybe you had a newspaper on your lap if you were trying to catch up on the sports section.

Some of the old cars had just the perfect sized steering wheel for steering with your left knee when you needed to do something else with your hands.

Ah, the good old days when everyone was safer.


Louise68
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 15, 2017 at 5:02 pm
Louise68, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 15, 2017 at 5:02 pm

how it can ever be "safe" for anyone to ride a bicycle on the same roads that motor vehicles are using?

Even the smallest motor vehicles are 10 times as heavy as an adult male on a bike, and are more than 25 times as heavy as a child on a bicycle. Now -- which can stop in the shortest distance: the child or adult on a bicycle or a motorist in a motor vehicle? Is the answer to this question important to those who are in favor of children sharing our roads with motor vehicles?

All who bicycle on roads used at the same time by motor vehicles are gambling with their safety and their lives.

Please stop thinking that painted lines on roads give any protection at all to bicyclists. "Most of the time, you get the bear, but sometimes the bear gets you."

I just do not want anyone to get hurt or killed on our roads.


resident
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 15, 2017 at 7:02 pm
resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 15, 2017 at 7:02 pm

@Louise68 - what is your opinion on crosswalks?


Louise68
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 15, 2017 at 11:24 pm
Louise68, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 15, 2017 at 11:24 pm

First of all, all I ever want is for our precious children -- and everyone -- to be safe. And I worry about kids riding bikes to and from school on the same roads as motor vehicles, as I do not want any of them to get hurt while just trying to get to and from school, and trying to do their part to lessen the amount of CO2 being emitted. That is noble and good, but kids and adults should not be put in the position of having to choose between getting safely to and from school and other places and doing their part to lessen the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.

@ resident:
You wrote: "@Louise68 - what is your opinion on crosswalks?"

I can clearly see what I think you are implying: that painted crosswalks and pike lanes are one and the same -- that neither provides any protection from getting hit by a motor vehicle, yet we use them all the time, so why do I object to people riding bikes in bike lanes on motorways when I have never publicly said anything about how dangerous it is to use crosswalks?

Because pedestrians never walk only in crosswalks; they spend almost all of their journeys on sidewalks, which motor vehicles are forbidden to use and never do use. Bicyclists, on the other hand, spend almost all of their journeys in bike lanes, sharing the very same roads that motor vehicles use.

That is a huge difference.

Thanks for asking the question. It made me think, which helped me clarify my thoughts.


Jen Wolosin, Parents for Safe Routes
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm
Jen Wolosin, Parents for Safe Routes, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm

Tuesday night (9/19) will be an opportunity for our community to come together to discuss how we can work towards Safe Routes. Two additional panelists will also be joining us; Theresa Vallez-Kelly, Safe Routes to School Coordinator for San Mateo County and Penny Ellson, longtime Palo Alto Safe Routes Parent Champion.

In the meantime, please take a moment to review these great Safety Tips provided by Palo Alto. The tip sheet offers great reminders for all road users - bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers.
Web Link

I hope to see many of you at 6:30pm on Tuesday at Hillview.

Sincerely,
Jen Wolosin
Parents for Safe Routes


Sunny
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 17, 2017 at 5:35 pm
Sunny, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 17, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Jen, just out of curiosity, have parents who won't let their children walk/bike 'to school been asked why? Will they still drive their kids to school even if there is a "safe" bike/pedestrian route? I think there are many parents who only feel safe driving their children to school. If it's not just being hit by a car that scares them, it's a fear of kidnapping or some other fear. Today's media has everyone paranoid that the world is not a safe place. I don't think children are afraid to make their way to school but their parents don't want to let them out of their sight. My how attitudes have changed since I walked myself to school when I was in kindergarten. My mom wouldn't drive me to school unless it was pouring rain.

Before you start trying make it even more difficult for commuters to get to work in the morning, at least do a survey to find out what parents are afraid of and if "safe" bike routs will even make a difference. If today's children don't feel safe riding in the many bike lanes near the schools, or walking on the sidewalk, I don't think anything will make a difference unless cars are prohibited from driving during the time children are traveling to/from school.

When I was a child I grew up learning how to take care of myself - how to be responsible for my actions. Children were taught how to navigate the streets to make it safely to school. In my school, if a child broke a safety rule the police were called to the school and the child got a lecture about pedestrian safety rules. No one in my school was ever hit by a car. Today the attitude seems to have shifted to children not having any responsibility but everyone else making sure they are safe. Sure, drivers have to obey traffic laws and be extra cautious of children on the road when school starts, but children also have to strictly follow pedestrian/bike safety rules.

Jen, here's another idea...why not have parents try and find the safest most direct route to school and accompany their children on that route. If they see something unsafe they can report it. Ask the children where they feel the most unsafe and why. Does anyone do any actual research - bike/walk the route themselves to come up with a solution? Has anyone been asked to observe children making their way to school to see if they are obeying safety rules? Is the problem too much traffic, lack of bike lane/ sidewalk, or children not obeying pedestrian/bike safety rules? When you identify the problem it's easier to find a solution.


Louise68
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 18, 2017 at 2:19 am
Louise68, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 18, 2017 at 2:19 am

Maybe the kids are more aware of the real dangers in riding their bikes on a road they share with motor vehicles - to many of which are driven by drivers not paying any attention to where they are gong -- because of using their smartphones or doing many other things besides paying attention to where they are going.

And, please remember -- we are approaching the time of year when the Sun in the mornings will shine right into drivers and bicyclists' eyes, making a dangerous situation even more dangerous.

And kids riding bikes do not have a steel cage around them to protect them in case of a crash. They -- our children - are just out there, with no protection around them, and they much harder to see than any motor vehicle because they re so small.
And some bicyclists can make unexpected moves much more quickly than can any motor vehicle because bicycles are around 1/25th the weight of even the smallest motor vehicle, and can thus stoop or change direction much more quickly than can any motor vehicle can -- because of those darned laws of physics, which too many pro-bicycling people seem to act as if they did not exist.

I want our children to hage truly safe routes to and from school, and not to be talked into doing things that are inherently dangerous by well-meaning or unrealistic adults, who may think, "Oh -- nothing bad is going to happen to MY children -- because noting bad has happened to any children so far, so those who worry about their safety are over-reacting."

That is rather like gambling with your children's safety and lives -- and it is still a gamble, even if people think the stakes (risks) are very low.

I had not even considered the dangers in this internet age of child abductions. That is another risk that children on bicycles face that children in their parents' cars do not face. Again -- the risk seems very low, but is that risk worth taking chances with your children's futures and lives?

Bring bck school buses, and none of this will be a problem.

Hey -- I do wish with all my heart that it were truly safe to let kids walk and bike to and from school, but things are very different now than tney were in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, when there were no drives distracted by smart phones, and hre was not internet that made child abduction and the rest that is awful all too easy.

And it is a real shame that it is no longer safe -- for many reasons -- to let kids ride their bikes to and fro school or walk alone to and fro school. I wish with all my heart that things were much better, because all kids need to somehow learn to be independent. It is just hard to find truly safe ways to do that these days.

As I said above -- pleaes bring back school buses.


Jen Wolosin, Parents for Safe Routes
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 18, 2017 at 9:09 am
Jen Wolosin, Parents for Safe Routes, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

Dear Sunny,

Great questions and points.

We actually have some data on why parents do not let kids walk or bike to school from a 2015/2016 San Mateo County survey of MPCSD parents. They were asked, "Do any of the following items concern or limit your child's ability to walk or bike to/from school?" Parents were allowed to check multiple answers and there were 414 parents responding to the question. Below are the results, in order from the most checked to least checked answer:

Too much traffic along route - 87%
Unsafe intersections - 82%
Speeding traffic along route - 82%
Lack of bikeways - 75%
Lack of sidewalks and/or paths - 74%
Child's before or after school activites - 47%
No crossing guards - 37%
Too far from school - 34%
No adults to walk or bike with - 34%
Stranger danger - 27%
Lack of bike parking at school - 7%
Don't know best route to school - 6%
Violence/crime in neighborhood - 4%

The top 5 reasons were related to traffic and infrastructure. Stranger danger came in 10th out of 13 reasons.

Stranger danger as a reason seems quite large because it is so sensationalized. That's not to say it isn't a legitimate concern. We just need to keep it in perspective. Parents for Safe Routes is actually recommending that schools bring in KidPower, an amazing local organization that teaches kids "stranger safety." Instead of scaring kids, the organization educates kids how to notice people/behaviors who are out of the ordinary. It also advocates scaffolding - parents walking routes with kids to make sure they are ready for a level of independence, not just sending them out on their own with no guidance. Check it out at www.kidpower.org. This also bring me back to your point about parents accompanying their kids to make sure they are safe and responsible before letting them out on their own - absolutely!

Finally, you mentioned that we are "trying to make it even more difficult for commuters to get to work in the morning." I couldn't disagree with you more. Currently, in San Mateo County 20-30% of morning commute traffic during peak hours is school-related. If we can get parents out of the habit of driving their kids to school, there will be much fewer cars on the road during the most congested time and this will benefit everyone - especially commuters getting to work. Safe Routes has benefits for the larger community. This isn't just about the kids...

Thanks you for caring about this topic. I hope you will join us tomorrow night (9/19) at 6:30pm at Hillview to learn how to be part of the solution.

Sincerely,
Jen


Downtown worker
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 18, 2017 at 11:08 pm
Downtown worker, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 18, 2017 at 11:08 pm

Who in the building dept. [part removed] let the hotel builders at El Camino & Glenwood take over the entire bike lane on Glenwood? It's gone, under construction barricades, turning a major route to Hillview, St. Joe's, SHP, and Menlo schools into a terrible hazard for cyclists.


Hillview mom
Hillview Middle School
on Sep 19, 2017 at 8:15 am
Hillview mom, Hillview Middle School
on Sep 19, 2017 at 8:15 am

A poster above mentioned school buses. Several SamTrans routes serve M-A and Hillview (and I think one goes to Encinal). A wonderful service which my kids use. They still take the bus when it rains too :-) The bus my kids ride is very full, a lot of kids have to stand, but perhaps it is a good time to request SamTrans to add another bus or route?


Downtown worker
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 19, 2017 at 4:08 pm
Downtown worker, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 19, 2017 at 4:08 pm

@ Hillview mom -

Sam trans needs a better route from Hillview to M-A. Kids who live in the Hillview vicintiy & west need to change buses to get to M-A, very time consuming & inefficient.


Let's Be Smart Now
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 19, 2017 at 4:09 pm
Let's Be Smart Now, Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 19, 2017 at 4:09 pm

The problem is with the bad driving -- drivers running red lights, not stopping at stop signs, texting while driving -- and all the effort to make a bike route safe won't make it so. Until drivers are fined for driving poorly the kids will not be safe. I do not let me kids bike to school -- just unsafe. Just the past two weeks two kids in our neighborhood got hit. Who wants to take that chance. Jen Wolosin would make better use of her time ensuring that bad drivers are fined and not on the road. This issue has been going on since my kids, now in college were in elementary school.


Sunny
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 19, 2017 at 5:39 pm
Sunny, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 19, 2017 at 5:39 pm

All of you people blaming "bad drivers." When's the last time a child was injured on his/her way to school because of a "bad driver? " Are '"bad drivers" really the problem? Or is the problem helicopter parents who think they need to constantly hover over their children? I'd say the BIGGEST problem is the parents driving their kids to school, adding to the traffic and making it more unsafe for the many children who ARE walking and biking to school. Parents are the problem!


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 19, 2017 at 8:08 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 19, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Sunny:

This isn't a one or the other. There is responsibility to pass around on all fronts. "helicopter parents"? You bet. Today's kids are over supervised, over scheduled and over parented. When we were kids, (yes I'm older) our mothers sent us out to play and didn't want to see us until they called us for dinner. We walked or biked to school unless it was pouring rain. Then again, I grew up in Seattle so that happened a lot, so my recollection is we even walked when it was raining. We didn't melt and neither will today's kids.

Distracted drivers now? You bet way more now than there used to be, especially when we were kids. Only distraction people had back then were changing the station on the radio or screaming kids in the back seat. Otherwise? Nothing.

That said, how much more dangerous is it really for children to walk or bike to school? Do we know? Have any studies been done? Or is this just fear of what people think "might" happen acted upon by parents that are overprotective?


Downtown worker
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 20, 2017 at 5:24 am
Downtown worker, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 20, 2017 at 5:24 am

In case you didn't see this, Bay area Freeway traffic increased 80% between 2010 - 2016.
Web Link
Traffic on local arteries has risen too, as cars travel to/from freeways. Diminishing the effective width of our streets with bump-out "patios" for restaurants on Santa Cruz & hotel construction storage on Glenwood between San Antonio & El Camino & on El Camino in front of the future hotel makes cycling, skateboarding, & walking more dangerous.
A defensive cyclist on Santa Cruz used to have a possible escape to move between parked cars to evade contact with moving vehicles, but now (s)he'd be squashed into a wooden wall. The obliteration of the bike lane by the Glenwood corner, combined with the construction vehicular traffic, amplifies the dangers to cyclists & pedestrians enormously. Kids can't safely use that route to get to schools. Using the other side of the street means dodging gas station ingress/egress.
There's been some very poor planning by MP's Bldg & Planning + clear violations of public use of bike lanes. What happened to common sense & concern for citizen safety as we all deal with increased traffic on narrowed roadways? No wonder parents drive their kids instead of letting them bike to school.


Bob
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 20, 2017 at 7:25 am
Bob, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 20, 2017 at 7:25 am

While I support safety for people using our roads, there needs to be a balance.

I've noticed that MP is "experimenting" on Oak Grove with a bike lane. This comes at the expense of parking spaces. The re-striping of the street with news lanes can be confusing with added visual stimuli trying to look out for people in cross walks, bikes, where to park, confusing paint lines, etc.. etc. Let's make it more difficult to get around downtown. Santa Cruz Ave has also downsized parking spaces. I'm sure the merchants appreciate that.

I too bike around town but haven't had trouble navigating the streets. Even with all these new pathways, I still don't see that much bike traffic.

Congrats MP, you've added more complication to our streets!


Hillview mom
Hillview Middle School
on Sep 20, 2017 at 9:03 am
Hillview mom, Hillview Middle School
on Sep 20, 2017 at 9:03 am

@Downtown worker,
Thanks for that information. SamTrans 86 runs from PV/Ladera to M-A and 286 runs from Sharon Heights to M-A. What do you think would best help the West Menlo area? Maybe something along the lines of the 80 route (Oak Knoll) but going directly to M-A rather than connecting at Hillview?


Downtown worker
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 20, 2017 at 11:05 am
Downtown worker, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 20, 2017 at 11:05 am

@Hillview mom -
Kids from uninc. W Menlo (& Atherton) have to take the Alameda line to connect with a line to get them to M-A.
Valparaiso can't handle anymore traffic than it already gets. The Middle Ave link is poorly timed, for Allied Arts & Bay Laurel kids.
Let's face it, public transportation here is poor, unless one wants to ride up & down El Camino.


Louise68
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 22, 2017 at 10:03 am
Louise68, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 22, 2017 at 10:03 am

Menlo Voter --W6xBN
Are you asking for past data on how many kids in the Menlo Park City School District have gotten injured every year in collisions with motor vehicles while riding their bikes to and from school? Is any number greater than zero acceptable? If so, why?

What if one of the children who got injured in a collision with a motor vehicle while riding his or her bike to or from school was your child? What would your views on this subject be then?

These questions are also directed to all those who are in favor of kids riding bikes to and from school, instead of being driven in a motor vehicle or riding buses.


MP Resident
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 22, 2017 at 9:23 pm
MP Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 22, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Nothing is perfectly safe. Riding to school in a bus or car is not perfectly safe. Walking is not perfectly safe. Biking is not perfectly safe. School sports are not perfectly safe. Chemistry labs are not perfectly safe. Getting out of bed is not perfectly safe.

Zero injuries are a strawman argument - taking a bath has a non-zero injury rate.

Especially for middle school students, being able to bike safely to school is a huge step towards them being able to take responsibility for their own transportation, and have some real independence from their parents.

As a society, it is our job to limit the risk of *serious* injuries. This may mean low speed limits and strict enforcement during school hours (because forces rise with the square of speed), strict enforcement of traffic laws (because too many local drivers think they are above the law), and additional bike lanes and other road improvements, even if they come at the cost of a few parking spaces.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 23, 2017 at 8:50 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2017 at 8:50 am

louise68:

I'm asking for data because I don't think it is a real issue. If no children have been injured by cars in the past it's a non-issue. If no children have been injured this issue is just overwrought parents worried about something that doesn't and hasn't happened. No one really knows if this is a real issue if no data has been gathered. Until it has it's all conjecture and opinion.


kbehroozi
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm
kbehroozi, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm

It's pointless to argue that everyone would be safer on buses or in private vehicles (also debatable): we have buses and cars at our disposal and yet people continue to bike and walk places.

Re: data, we had 5 reported accidents involving middle school students on bikes during the first two weeks of school. There's a list on the Parents for Safe Routes website, here: Web Link

This is what my husband calls a "swiss cheese model"––there are several different factors contributing to potential accidents, e.g. unsafe road conditions that are temporary, unsafe conditions that are permanent, unsafe behavior on the part of either drivers or cyclists (or both), etc. Most of the time these things don't align and the accidents are avoided. But occasionally they do align and we have problems. So the city needs to assess each contributing element and figure out how we can minimize risk.

Any system that wholly depends on drivers being 100% focused and not making mistakes is not a sufficiently safe system. Any system that expects kids, whose decision-making skills and abilities to assess risk are not yet fully developed, to embrace safety and decorum at all times, is also flawed. So while education and enforcement of all road users is an important component of safer streets, we also need to engineer for safety where possible: slowing traffic down, removing visual barriers, using established techniques that promote bike and pedestrian safety, etc.


Hmmm
another community
on Sep 26, 2017 at 12:32 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Sep 26, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Parents might be appalled to see how irresponsibly and recklessly their children behave when biking. Kbehroozi is right - improvements need to be made.

It's both somewhat shocking and very disappointing to see so many kids on the roads, with constant exhortations from Wolosin about how drivers need to behave given the lack of real safety infrastructure. Encouraging so much cycling without valid safety improvements, for the reasons so often bandied about, is silly and unsafe. Find other ways for your kids to safely get more exercise and fresh air, and hire school buses. Driving has become stressful enough as it is, but she and her cohort insist on foisting their vision on others.
I don't have much of choice about driving in Menlo, but parents can create safer choices for their kids. Please focus on that.


kbehroozi
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 26, 2017 at 1:50 pm
kbehroozi, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Sep 26, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Hmmm...

While I'll agree that we shouldn't be encouraging kids to ride in places that are unsafe, I don't find it "shocking" or "disappointing" that so many are already biking and walking to school.

Please remember: each biking/walking kid represents one less car on the road (and given our congestion issues, this is non-trivial). A lot of kids already ride school buses but this solution doesn't work for everyone (nor does it make sense for the majority of kids who live within a mile or two of school). We just need to develop the education and infrastructure to meet their needs.

Also––until the day we see all road users consistently using turn signals, stopping at crosswalks, passing safely, driving the speed limit, and putting away their ubiquitous phones, I'm fine with exhorting both adults AND kids to behave more safely on the road. Yes, we need to work with our students on safer behavior and this is going to be a huge focus of Parents for Safe Routes––but I hope you agree that adults (in cars, on bikes, etc.) should be held to a higher set of expectations. They are the ones who've passed driver's ed, who are licensed to operate heavy machinery in public spaces, who have the brain capacity and experience to discern risk and make good judgment calls.

Finally, you're really misreading Jen Wolosin, who is as sincere, open-minded, and dedicated a public servant as you'll ever meet. She started Parents for Safe Routes because she thought we needed to improve the safety of our streets before encouraging people's kids to use them. It's hard to believe that anyone could find that objectionable.


Hmmm
another community
on Sep 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Sep 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm

I never said you said anything that was shocking or disappointing - I did. It's unclear to me why you'd even think that when my comments are clearly my own. [Part removed.] It's obvious your comments are now slanted. For example, each kid on a bike certainly doesn't represent one car off the road. You've set me up to look like some anti-cycling bad guy. [Part removed.]

If Wolosin actually believes the safety needed to be improved BEFORE any increased number of kids began cycling, then she should've done something more to enhance that safety. The entitlement that has arisen in Menlo in recent years is distasteful and potentially dangerous. Everyone who has moved here and started families in the past two decades has greatly contributed to the local traffic, but the increasing push to get kids to cycle to school is suddenly everyone's priority? Nope. It's not mine, and it actually endangers me and mine.

What I find particularly objectionable is that she is constantly pushing for more cycling without actually getting adequate safety enhancements added. There is also this strange behavior I see happening where she and those who think like her believe that they can influence the driving habits of strangers but they don't focus equally on getting local parents to influence how their kids cycle, or focus on the kids themselves. What have you and buddies in your pro-cycling lives done to adequately address safety issues?

Those of us cyclists who've been hit by cars locally know that a good many parts of the area are really not cyclist ready, but instead of pushing for truly adequate changes while also focusing on school buses and safe cycling training/camps, there are just meetings, sharrows, a few other changes, articles like this and lots of comments, I'm also calling you out for another big part of this that's annoying, unwelcome and insulting: Your attempts at shaming those who don't go along with your vision. You did it to me in the comment above. Instead of flagging your comment for its attempt to mischaracterize my comments and shame me, I'm leaving it as is and request that you do the same with mine. My family and I have lived in the area for many decades, and it's only recently that I've seen such an uneven - and unsafe - effort to get more students cycling to school. You still have a lot of work to do, so instead of shaming critics, you should listen to us and examine your own behavior and more importantly, how you all are going about this endeavor. It's your kids who are putting their lives on the line, not mine.


Jen Wolosin
Registered user
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Sep 28, 2017 at 9:47 pm
Jen Wolosin, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2017 at 9:47 pm

Parents for Safe Routes has borrowed from the National Safe Routes to School Movement a multi-faceted strategy that encompasses 7 E’s:

*Engineering
*Education
*Enforcement
*Encouragement
*Engagement
*Evaluation
*Equity

To show you how seriously Parents for Safe Routes is taking this approach, here is a sample of how I spent my week:

Engineering - I attended Tuesday’s City Council meeting and donated my public comment time about the development at 500 El Camino Real to the fabulous Katie Behroozi. Katie shared her concerns about the lack of planning on the property for cyclists - many of whom will be children traveling via the railroad crossing to/from Hillview. I also attended a M-A 2020 Traffic meeting today where I spoke with school officials, consultants, County Public Works staff and neighbors about the possibility of a bi-directional bike lane along the M-A side of Ringwood to make the pedestrian/bicyclist (many of whom are from East Palo Alto and lack other ways to get to school) experience entering and exiting campus safer and more predictable.

Education - On Monday I met with the Assistant Principals of MPCSD to discuss how parents can and will partner with the school district to create and implement a comprehensive bike education curriculum. On Tuesday, we sent parents to Palo Alto’s bike rodeo (hands-on bike education seminar where kids practice bike safety skills) to learn best practices and today (Thursday), Laurel - Upper Campus had a 3rd grade bike rodeo where many of us (including myself) volunteered. I also discussed at a meeting on Wednesday at Oak Knoll with its Assistant Principal and the wonderful Katie Behroozi the concept of a Spring bike rodeo that would take place on a weekend that both kids and parents would attend - to not only teach kids, but to make sure parents are educated as well.

Enforcement - At the M-A 2020 meeting today I discussed with the Atherton police the need to ticket kids for not wearing their helmets. In an effort at having parents enforce themselves, at yesterday’s meeting at Oak Knoll we started planning a “Safety Intervention” week to reinforce the proper traffic flow around the school.

Encouragement - Due the high numbers of kids in the Belle Haven neighborhood that walk to school (and many of them take the bus from East Palo Alto), Parents for Safe Routes is working with neighbors of Belle Haven, the school and the San Mateo County Safe Routes program to celebrate the kids in the neighborhood on International Walk to School Day on October 4th. This week I ordered our first batch of Parents for Safe Routes shirts in Spanish (Padres para Rutas Seguras) for that event.

Engagement - I’m replying to this thread. And, although it was last week, I spoke to a room of almost 100 community members about Safe Routes - you can watch the presentation here: Web Link While many are starting to pay attention to and understand Safe Routes issues, based on this thread, this is clearly a lot more engagement that we need to do.

Evaluation - Today at M-A 2020 I spoke to the consultant who will be collecting travel data for M-A to make sure it is consistent with the data that will be collected by the San Mateo County Safe Routes program so that it is comparable. I also offered Parents for Safe Routes to help recruit volunteers to assist in M-A’s next travel audit.

Equity - At the Asst. Principal meeting at MPCSD we discussed a bike donation drive so kids in our area without bikes can have them. We also discussed how to get the school extra bikes so that on-campus bike education events can be inclusive of all children.


I share with you some of my week to give you a sense of the breadth of what we’re working on. This is not just about adding bike lanes and definitely not about adding sharrows (in many circumstances, they are not appropriate for kids, let alone adults). This is about a holistic, strategic, partner-based approach to getting our kids to school safely and in the meantime, helping the community with our traffic crisis.

As for more busing, Parents for Safe Routes is completely supportive of more busing. As an example, the topic was discussed extensively today at the M-A 2020 meeting. Unfortunately, due to the housing crisis, SamTrans is unable to fill its open bus driver positions. They have buses, just no drivers.

The reason why I am pleading with members of this community to look at their own driving/walking/biking behaviors is because that is the easiest, most cost effective, most immediately actionable thing we can do to make a difference. Developing an educational curriculum to teach our kids young so that by the time they are in high school they are safe/confident/capable bicyclists will take time. Creating better sidewalks and bike lanes will take time. But if we all slow down, put down our phones and be a little more present, we could make a difference - and model the type of behavior we would like to see our kids exhibit.

Parents for Safe Routes is not about entitlement. We are volunteers advocating for all children in our community, even when our efforts may not benefit our own kids. Kids are biking now (with or without us encouraging them). Let’s do what we can to make it safe for them, and in the process, hopefully improve the quality of life in Menlo Park. It’s worth a try.

www.parents4saferoutes.org


Hmmm
another community
on Sep 28, 2017 at 10:21 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Sep 28, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Jen - Why are you and others focused on buses from SamTrans instead of dedicated school buses for just the schools? This is not a county bus issue, it's a school bus issue. With respect - I don't think you can be expected to requisition dedicated school buses. That school buses aren't a focus and all those Es are your focus, as well as what you think can make an impact immediately, that's low cost and easy to do? This is *not* a complete approach. Did you arrive at your communication plan as a result of not being able to get more SamTrans buses?

Frankly, it's rather strange that something as crucial as student safely is bent messages the way you've chosen. Instead of tangible solutions such as dedicated school buses and real infrastructure changes, time and energy are being diverted to this agenda, with t shirts in Spanish and no cost efforts to attempt to change driving culture.

Only *now* bike rodeos are being planned? Bicycle safety courses should be a *much* higher priority if you've organized an actual group to address this. Pleasing with drivers to impact driving culture when an equal effort hasn't been made with students? Not good. And where are the traffic cops who need to be ticketing near *all* the schools?

As for the entitled aspect - I suspect you understand what I meant and are deliberately not addressing it. That's fine, but your ignoring it has no impact, and that is not a good thing.

The bottom line is that it's incredible that in an area with so much money and so many smart people - as you've described previously - no one is getting dedicated school buses. [Part removed.]


Jen Wolosin
Registered user
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Sep 28, 2017 at 11:17 pm
Jen Wolosin, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2017 at 11:17 pm

The SamTrans driver shortage is just one example of the busing challenge. A Board Trustee for Sequoia Union High School District was also at the M-A 2020 meeting I attended today. After hearing about SamTrans I asked him about district-funded buses. He said the district lacked funds (there is one bus that takes kids at 5pm who stay at school later to East Palo Alto). Also, if buses were offered to M-A kids there would be a district-wide equity issue and they would need to offer buses to the other high schools (Sequoia, Woodside, Carlmont, etc.). The principal of M-A was asked if the school foundation/PTA might be able to fund a school-specific bus. She said that the focus of their funding is in the classroom.

As for the elementary school districts, they do offer buses. My son takes the bus to Laurel in MPCSD because I personally do not feel that Coleman Avenue is safe for my son (or me) to walk or bike on during school commute hours. Las Lomitas Elementary School District also has a very robust busing program, due to their enrollment area including kids coming all the way from Woodside and Portola Valley. That being said, there is probably an opportunity to get even more kids on a bus. Of course there are funding and resource constraints related to this.

I encourage those of you who are passionate about increasing the amount of school buses we have in this community to get involved and lobby your school boards and local officials for this to happen. I will happily write a letter, sign a petition and attend a meeting on behalf of Parents for Safe Routes to support these efforts. Just because this solution (more busing) isn’t our top focus doesn’t mean we aren’t in agreement. Our group has limited capacity, and we have chosen to focus our efforts on the 7 E’s of Safe Routes (as described above). There’s plenty of room in safety advocacy for all kinds of approaches.

As for why it’s taken so long to get bike education going...I’m not even sure how to address that. Parents for Safe Routes is building a strategic community partnership with the schools, municipalities and community members to build a long-lasting Safe Routes to school program/culture in Menlo Park. It takes time (we started in January). We are hard working, open minded and inclusive in our efforts. We invite those with constructive suggestions to share them and to join our efforts. And if anyone has a better idea of how to get the streets safer in a faster way, and they don’t like the way we’re doing things, we encourage them to take it upon themselves to take action in a way that works for them. Organize a bike education program right away. Get more buses. Implement real infrastructure changes. Get involved. We’d love to see that!


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