The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) awarded $300,000 to the County Office of Education's Safe Routes to School Program to continue its School Travel Fellowship, which helps city and school teams work together on temporary pilot projects to enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety near schools.
The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program encourages and enables school children to walk and bicycle to school by implementing projects and activities that improve the health, well-being, and safety of children, which results in less traffic congestion and emissions caused by school-related travel. Its School Travel Fellowship was launched in 2021 to strengthen communication and collaboration between educational institutions and municipalities in creating safer and more sustainable communities.
Over the past year, SRTS supported five teams from Millbrae, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, South San Francisco, and Redwood City over the span of nine months to implement projects that enhanced pedestrian and bicycle safety near an identified school in their community. All of the projects were temporary and varied widely, from traffic calming measures like the creation of temporary quick-build roundabouts or protected bike lanes or crosswalk enhancements to facilitating the establishment of meaningful connections between city and school teams with their local communities. These projects provided cities with valuable information, allowing them to receive community feedback and gauge the necessity of permanent improvements:
- East Palo Alto: Added temporary traffic circles near Los Robles Ronald McNair Academy (pictured below, top left)
- Redwood City: Added crosswalks and temporary curb extensions to calm a four-way intersection near Henry Ford School
- South San Francisco: Added temporary curb extensions, center lane delineators, and a permanent mural inside of a three-way intersection at Martin Elementary School (pictured below, top right)
- Menlo Park: Launched practice rides led by schools, organized commute groups led by Menlo Park City School District parents, and engaged local businesses in encouraging safe biking behaviors and keeping children safe on their commute (pictured below, bottom left)
- Millbrae: Added temporary curb extensions at Green Hills Elementary School and Meadows Elementary School (pictured below, bottom right)
Thanks to renewed funding from the Office of Traffic Safety, the next School Travel Fellowship cohort will begin in 2024, with applications available later this fall. Please contact Theresa Vallez-Kelly, Coordinator, Safe Routes to School, for more information.