Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Learning by Example from an Award-Winning SRTS Program
Webinar date: October 20, 2009

Q: Do you have trail, sidewalks the entire way? in one photo, it looked like a sidewalk ended. does the “bus” go on the road at any point?

A: Only on crosswalks. One route walks thru the park on grass.

Q: does the ped bus go rain or shine? we hear weather concerns all the time, and this isn’t even Colorado!

A: Yes! We embrace all weather.

Q: What do you say to parents that say they just live too far or there kids are too young?

A: Meet a couple of blocks from school and extend distance over time and walk with classmates. 3-5 Kindergarteners walking together are very cute.

Q: We just started Walking School Buses and would like to get safety vests for our “drivers”. Do you have any ideas / suggestions / successes for organizations or types of firms that might be willing to donate up to 25 reflective safety vests?

A: No, please ask Vivian. Might have kids and maybe a teacher write to manufacturer (include a class photo and goals of program). I bought Velcro glow in the dark pant cuff holders at Performance Bike in Boulder.

Q: Have the kids been the parent motivators at all?

A: Yes, many kids love to bike/run/walk and ask their parents to come along if they can keep up.

Q: Is there a regional SRTS coordinator of any kind?

A: Yes, Lenore Bates, the State of Colorado’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator (as well as her colleague, Betsy Jacobsen) are superb organizers, resources, and cheerleaders for SRTS programming. Staff of the city of Boulder/GO Boulder, namely Marni Ratzel and Bill Cowern gives Boulder a leg up in all areas related to transportation demand management and of walking, biking, and public transit infrastructure.

Q: Suggestions for schools with high percentage of free/reduced , more diversity, lower incomes?

A: Which class can have most bus ridership? Maybe and ice cream and fruit celebration after a month? Bike donations from local businesses?

Q: How far in advance do you start planning for Walk to School events?

A: If you can set up a calendar for entire year, GREAT. To start maybe an event for Fall and another for Spring? October is International Walk to School Day and they provide promo materials, puzzles, education tools and more. Can also combine with biannual Turn off TV programs.

Q: any thoughts on the Freiker Counter that other BVSD schools have used?

A: Personally I like our program. Other schools in BVSD have had success with the Freiker program and it is a local company.

Q: Where did you purchase the reflective caps and safety color backpack straps?

A: Caps are still a favorite. Hard to miss!
Cuda Buffalo Apparel, 5510 E Broadway Ave, Spokane, WA 99212, (509) 534-1333, Fax: (509) 536-0287,
Sanmar Port Authority Safety Cap #C836 Color: Safety Yellow/Reflective
Didn’t buy backpack straps so can’t help you there but good idea.

Q: How do you get a critical person involved (the principal)?

A: Ask Kent Cruger to send him an e-mail or a quick phone call. How does this program help the critical person? Good local PR.

Q: Have you tracked cost savings (fuel, busses etc) associated with reduced bussing due to the number of children who walk to school?

A: Bear Creek does not have school busses but I know that the director of transportation is a huge proponent of alternative or car free commute ways to school. Budget issues are another reason to give this program a try.

Q: I noticed that the demographics of your school has limited diversity. Do you have recommendations for encouraging students of different ethnic groups, taking into consideration cultural values?

A: Do people/students in other cultures/countries use mass transit, walk or ride bikes? Have kids research a project about life and transportation in _____. Google images and Google maps is a great source for this.

Q: Can you speak more about the development of off-site parking and the promotion of walking even part of the route?

A: We asked local businesses, churches, city owned parking lots if we could “stage” in their parking lots. Mostly they said yes, especially locally owned merchants who wanted our business. After dropping kids some parents would stop at coffee shops or supermarket on way home. Same with after school.

Q: Does the school do any pedestrian safety presentations, assemblies, classroom curriculum?

A: Not that I know, although PE teacher did talk about safety of crossing streets, stop, look, listen, make eye contact, etc.

Q: What motivations do you notice spark the most interest in participation (health, environmental, etc.)?

A: All of them, different motivations for each family but we try to promote all reasons to participate + invite comments.

Q: Do you incorporate students playing music that they have learned in the school band, into any walk to school events?

A: Not yet although we have thought about better coordinating music program with Walk to School events. My son would say that lugging a cello uphill twice a week is FUN. Music is twice weekly but a parade with walkers playing music sounds fantastic.

Q: Do any of the students ride a regular public bus to school?

A: Not many to elementary school but much larger numbers as they graduate to middle and high school

Q: Do any of the students live closer than 3 miles from school?

A: 2/3 of our students live within 3 miles and ½ live within 2 miles.

Q: Sorry if I missed this before… who tallies the daily “clothes pin transportation charts?”

A: After kids arrive and put their clothespin on the chart, one student records the totals each day on a slip of paper, in the same way that attendance is tallied, and hot lunch count, etc. (but on a separate sheet, of course). This quick job of looking at the clothespins and summing them is included in the student “jobs” that are done in class every day. Except in Kindergarten and K-Care, where the teachers say they often just take a verbal tally and record it themselves.
These sheets have five days on them, and are turned in weekly to the front office.
Then at month’s end, I (Vivian) add them up and get totals and % for each class in each category, etc. That takes about an hour or so, once a month. [This could be done by any parent volunteer, or could be an extracurricular math problem for some 5th grade students, or could be handled by any teacher or admin who was involved.]
I believe that another school in BVSD now uses this method, but they use magnets instead of clothespins. And at another school kids put beans into a big pot every time they CFC. Then someone counts out the beans (I don’t know how often).

Q: What kind of small incentives do you use?

A: balloons, bike bells, stickers, peal and stick tattoos, shoe lace ties, blinking reflectors/lights, bike pins, hats/caps, water bottles, helmets, ankle straps, gift cards for movie tickets and bookstore, passes to recreational center, fresh fruit, ice cream and pizza parties!

Q: does the walking/biking continue with middle and high schoolers within the Boulder area?

A: Yes. Biking is especially popular at the MS level and RTD (our local city bus) is popular at HS level. We are exploring ways to promote SRTS rather than the current 11th and 12th grade auto parking space stickers. We are also encouraging car pooling. Finally, we promote bus passes, 10 pack bus coupons, working with CU’s office of transportation and their on campus on call bike mechanics.

Q: What kind of bike racks will you be installing?

A: Inverted-U racks manufactured by Madrax

Q. What successful strategy surprised you most?

A: Still can’t answer that question. Do know that the more the kids take possession of this program and the more fun they have, the more successful it is. Teachers are an invaluable part of this program.

Q. Yellow Brick Road suggests using obvious design elements for wayfinding. Was this an element of the SRTS program?

A: No. We modified as the program possessed and all groups contributed from event to event.

Q. How do you motivate key players for a successful SRTS program?

A: We use positive comments, photos, thank you notes and succinct updates to communicate and share.

Q. How do you get School district administrators on Board?

A: Landon has been great about keeping the enthusiasm at a high and prolonged level. And the more successful we are, the more other schools want to try the program.

Q. How do you get parents and the community involved?

A: Ask them. Community has been very supportive as have parent volunteers. We are modeling for our kids, and the kids like it.

Q. Can you address some of the obstacles to implementing an SRTS program?

A: Recruiting and retaining parent volunteer leaders requires effort and attention.
Reaching a school community beyond the core advocates with messages regarding SRTS
Overcoming parent concerns (and cultural attitudes) about the relative safety and convenience of walking and cycling to school