On Wednesday, October 10, 13,000 schoolchildren across San Francisco participated in Walk & Roll to School Day.
This year’s Walk & Roll to School Day marked a decade of the city’s Safe Routes to Schools program to help kids get to school in a safe, healthy, active way. Over 90 schools participated, with students accompanied by city leaders at several schools.
The Mayor leads the way
At Peabody Elementary, Mayor Breed and District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer joined 253 students and their families on the walk to school.
The Mayor emphasized her commitment to Vision Zero: the goal to end all traffic deaths by 2024.
“All of our students, regardless of which neighborhood they live in or which school they attend, should be able to safely walk or bike to school,” said Mayor Breed. “We are adding crossing guards across the City and I am pushing the SFMTA to expedite Vision Zero projects because we do not have time to waste. We need safer, more livable streets now.”
“Here in the Richmond, lots of families walk to school,” said Supervisor Fewer. “I walked with my children to school for years. I’m impressed by the program at Peabody, where families meet up regularly to walk all together as a big group.”
Families met at the Richmond Library, where students received stickers and prepared to walk to school holding their banner with the Mayor.
As a special treat, all the students also got yellow Vision Zero superhero capes.
Safer streets so kids can walk
“We applaud Mayor Breed’s action to speed up fixes to the streets,” said Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk San Francisco. “Walking has to be safe in order to be fun.”
“It’s good to be back at Peabody,” added Medeiros. “Here in 2011, with Mayor Lee, Walk SF celebrated the launch of San Francisco’s 15-mile-per-hour school zones, creating the very first of 181 safety zones around schools citywide.”
Walk SF helped make San Francisco the first city in the state to implement the school safety zones on this scale.
“We look forward to more big strides from this city’s leadership,” said Medeiros, “to make the streets better for people on foot.”
More programs from the Safe Routes partnership
Walk and Roll to School Day is run by Walk San Francisco as part of the San Francisco Safe Routes to School partnership. This program, funded by the city and the federal government, is run by city agencies and nonprofits. It brings San Francisco families together to walk, learn safe biking skills, find carpools, and take public transit. It also works with families to improve walking and biking conditions around schools, with wider sidewalks, safer speeds, better crosswalks, and more.
The Safe Routes partnership also brought “Ed’s Neighborhood,” named after Mayor Ed Lee, to Peabody Elementary. Supervisor Norman Yee led the creation of this traveling demo, which sets up a miniature street at schools to teach kids about traffic safety. The new program is aimed for kids in kindergarten through 2nd grade, and will travel to schools throughout the district this year.
The Safe Routes partnership also offers a program for older kids in 3rd to 5th grade that’s led by Walk SF called Street Safety Explorers. In it, students learn about the importance of street design and pedestrian safety. As street safety explorers, they get to analyze streets around their school and learn how to advocate for change.
Great reasons to walk to school
Several more city and school leaders were part of the event, cheering kids on, including San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Director Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Board Chair Cheryl Brinkman, Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg, San Francisco County Transportation Agency Director Tilly Chang, and Police Department Deputy Chief Mikail Ali.
“We encourage students to walk or bike to school when possible. It is a way to stay fit and help our environment too,” said SFUSD Superintendent Vincent Matthews, as he walked with students.
At the school, Peabody’s principal Willem Vroegh (pictured at right with the Mayor) addressed the assembled families and leaders.
“Studies have found that walking to school helps children academically, not just physically. It can also be a great way for parents and kids to talk about the upcoming day,” said Principal Vroegh.
“Helping students walk to school gives them another tool for success.”
Many thanks to Walk SF member and volunteer Jeffrey Gray for his excellent photos of the event.