Recap of Fall Info Sharing Meeting

Folks from 9 schools and several other organizations attended the information sharing session earlier this month. Many other folks expressed interest, but couldn’t make it due to a variety of conflicts. This time of year is especially busy in the school communities!

The major topics we discussed included:

Ballard Bikes
The new Ballard Bikes program is a multi-school collaboration to get kids biking and walking to school at several Ballard schools (currently seven). The focus is on year-round encouragement and sharing of resources, as well as creating a “bigger buzz” about active commuting in Ballard. The schools have already co-hosted a bike rodeo at the Ballard Neighborhood Greenway opening, and are holding a bike to school kick-off event on September 28 at Salmon Bay K-8.

International Walk to School Month and IWalk
October is International Walk to School Month. All local schools are encouraged to participate. One way to get plugged in is through Feet First, which has many resources available to help plan and run events. Schools can use a variety of approaches, ranging from a single day event, to weekly or month-long events to encourage walking to school. Wednesday, October 9, is International Walk to School Day. To register an IWalk event, go to http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/node/add/event.

SDOT Mini-grants
It is almost mini-grant season. Last year 29 schools and organizations received grants — a record year! At the meeting, Seattle Department of Transportation requested input on the size of grants, the outreach flyer they are using, etc. There was no shortage of ideas; two good ones were (1) to consider changing the timing of the annual grant program so it coincides with the school year, and (2) to augment the existing annual grant program with smaller “quick start” type grants so that new schools could apply any time. The tentative date for applications for 2014 funding is October 25.
School Road Safety Initiative
The City of Seattle’s School Road Safety Initiative involves both planning and implementation to improve traffic safety in and near school zones. The major elements are a city-wide plan, traffic safety plans around twenty schools, and Safe Routes to School projects. The work will address all five “E’s” of Safe Routes to School — engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation.  Funding for both planning and implementation is coming from traffic speed cameras installed in school zones, and currently $14.8 million is anticipated for 2013-14., with a mayor proposed list of projects under review at this time as well.
Folks in attendance shared information on a few other upcoming events and initiatives as well, including tonight’s Green Your School Fair at Lincoln High School.
Thanks to all who could attend, and to everyone else who expressed interest as well. Here’s to another year of walking and biking to school!

 

Fall 2013 Walk and Bike to School Info Session

Parents, teachers, staff, and students across Seattle are beginning another school year. As the instruction and extracurricular activities begin, parents are also planning the school commutes that take tens of thousands of Seattle kids from where they live to where they learn. So It’s a great time to get the creative juices flowing and share ideas for helping more of our kids choose active and sustainable transportation for this coming year.

Come meet with other walk and bike to school organizers and advocates next Tuesday and get things rolling for another school year.

Fall 2013 Info Sharing Session

Tuesday, September 10, from 6:00 to 7:45 p.m.
Ballard branch, Seattle Public Library, 5614 22nd Ave NW

Are you a Safe Routes to School organizer at your local school? A parent interested in starting a program? A community member interested in what the buzz is about and maybe wanting to lend a hand? This meeting is for you.

Next Tuesday evening will be an opportunity to share updates, ideas, and plans for ramping up walking and biking this year.

The agenda will include:

  • “Ballard Bikes” multi-school walk and bike to school plans
  • Creative ideas from individual schools to get more kids walking and biking (share yours with others!)
  • A report from Feet First on October Walk to School Month
  • A report from SDOT on upcoming Safe Routes to School mini-grant opportunities
  • The latest on the School Road Safety Task Force

This event is open to everyone in the community who is interested in increasing walking and biking to Seattle schools. Hope you can join us and please spread the word.

Their are good options for getting to the Ballard library by bike, on foot, or on public transportation. There is bike parking out front and the library is near several bus routes. If you drive, you can park for free in the garage underneath.

Seattle has seen continuing growth in the number of schools promoting active transportation, and in the number of families choosing to commute to school under their own power. Let’s work together to maintain the momentum in 2013-14!

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Spring Walk.Bike.Schools Meeting 4/10 Salmon Bay K-8

bike to school sign-in table at early Bryant Bike to School kickoff

Parents and school-community members are invited to participate in the spring Walk.Bike.Schools meeting 7pm Wednesday April 10. We’re headed to Ballard again, this time the Salmon Bay K-8 library.

In addition to our normal information sharing and bike-program planning, we’re hoping to talk a little bit about strateegery. It’s been a year since we kicked off this “program” (using the term loosely here) and it makes sense to step back and see who or what the group wants to be when we grow up. Anne first broached this in a message to the WalkBikeSchools Google Group, but we didn’t get any discussion on the list. It was April Fool’s day, so maybe folks were so busy with hi-jinks like freezing bed sheets and putting “Wet-paint” signs on dry paint. In a nutshell, we came up with a rough outline about who we are (much of it based on what we were thinking when we launched the group), but still need the group to help decide what we want to do.

Who/What is Walk.Bike.Schools?

This is first and foremost a parent group. We invite any interested parent who cares about walking and biking to school to join and participate. We also welcome neighbors of a school to participate [and members of a school staff/faculty]. Schools and neighborhoods should work together to encourage walking and biking to school.

 This past year other groups have attended meetings and participated in the conversation surrounding walking and biking to school. From Bicycle Alliance, to SDOT, to Feet First, to Cascade Bicycle Club, to Undriving, to members of the Pedestrian Advisory Board and the Bicycle Advisory Board. Did I miss any? If you are a member of a group that cares about encouraging kids and families to walk and bike to school, you too are welcome. We will all likely have opportunities for collaboration.

We’ve added that to the “About” page here on the blog, but we’ve still got a bunch of decisions to make as a group. For example, are we happy just meeting every three or so times a year for general information sharing and bike and walk planning? Those are great activities and I think we can all agree it’s pretty helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off— especially if it’s someone from another school who’s already been through the startup phase!  We’re all busy, so maybe that’s enough. Fair enough.

But there’s also an opportunity to use our unique position as parents to demand  the city and SPS to do more to encourage active transportation. For example the district is making noises and passing resolutions about walking school buses. But so far, we haven’t seen much in the way of action beyond a survey. Does this group want to take a stand on things like that? Do we want to hold the district accountable to the safety and transportation issues we care about? As parents, I certainly feel we should, but whether we take an official group position is up to all of you.

That’s probably enough to chew on now. A brief agenda is below.  As always, you are welcome to contribute your ideas. If you have a program to share (or questions/comments about starting a program at your schools) please come to the meeting.

Walk Bike Schools Spring Meeting
Where: Salmon Bay library 1810 NW 65th St. • Seattle, WA  http://www.salmonbayschool.org/
Date: Wed, April 10th
Time: 7:00 – 8:30
 
Agenda
  1. Welcome and Intro (Anne)
  2. 1 year check-in for Walk.Bike.Schools. Who are we? Do we need a mission or direction? What does the group want our role to be (Tim)
  3. Walking and biking to school in Seattle. Are there specific issues Walk.Bike.Schools wants to take a position on? If so, which and how do we act? (Clint)
  4. Loyal Heights bike club info and update (Shannon)
  5. Salmon Bay – getting a new bike and walk to school program off the ground, challenges etc (Karen)
  6. SDOT mini grants, How to keep track of expenses for year-end reporting (Anne)
  7. General bike to school month discussion, program & event tips, etc. Bring your questions and ideas and make use of the group’s collective wisdom (all)

A reminder for future events: We love mixing up the location of meetings and sharing the walk.bike.love with communities all over the city. If you want to host, give us a shout!

Another awesome info sharing session

Last week’s walk.bike.schools meeting was awesome! It was great to hear ideas from Ballard and throughout Seattle to get more kids walking and biking.

We heard from Loyal Heights Elementary about their bike to school program, along with some of their ideas for the coming year. These include creating more targeted education on road skills for student bikers, a possible after school bike club, perhaps some group rides on the proposed Ballard Greenway, and a bike swap.

Feet First described how October’s IWalk works, with lots of specific examples of events, promotional materials, etc., that other schools have used. Did you know that October is International Walk to School Month, and Oct. 3 is International Walk to School Day? A great time to organize a walk  event, or just to walk to school yourself! (And not to worry, biking or really any kid-powered commuting counts.)

The IWalk concept is very flexible: it’s an umbrella that supports walk-to-school organizers in putting on events for a day, all month, or anything in between.

We also heard an inspiring story from Dearborn Park Elementary, where teachers and even the principal have led walking school buses. Very cool!

The meeting also included a roundtable discussion where folks could share what they are working on and  ideas for collaboration. Not surprisingly, lots of great ideas emerged:

  • A possible multi-school bike festival, perhaps with a bike swap, fun events Fiets of Parenthood style, and a sign-up table for various schools’ bike to school programs.
  • Partnering with the Undriver Licensing project, which could encourage middle or high school students to further commit to walking and biking by getting their Undriver License!
  • Tieing into the Washington High School Cycling League. Ballard High is a member, and a similar league may be launched at the MS level
  • Connecting with the Seattle Public Library, especially the neighborhood branches

Folks were clear they want to continue to share information and build a citywide coalition of school programs. To that end we agreed to get together again in early November to debrief on October events, and to collaborate between now and then through this blog and the walk.bike.schools google group.
There was particular interest in getting more information and examples for walking school buses and bike trains, so look for more info here soon.

Our meeting got some nice press coverage as well; check it out!

Thanks to all who could join us, and to Loyal Heights for hosting!

Let’s load up the bike racks…
and wear out some sneakers too!

Let’s Rally in Ballard!

After two successful meetings this past spring and early summer at Bryant Elementary, walk.bike.schools is taking the show on the road. We’re getting together in Ballard this coming Tuesday to launch some plans for getting more of our kids walking and biking!

Walk.bike.schools was launched this past spring to increase collaboration among Seattle schools and to create a stronger and clearer voice for kid-powered commuting within the city and the school district. While this effort began in NE Seattle (initially sponsored by parents from Bryant Elementary and Eckstein Middle School), the vision has always been citywide. Attendees at the first meetings reflected that diversity, with schools from all over the city becoming involved. It quickly became apparent there is strong interest in kid-powered commuting throughout Seattle, and Ballard happens to be one of several hotbeds for these programs!

West Woodland, Salmon Bay, Adams, Loyal Heights, Whitman, and Ballard High are among the schools in the Ballard neighborhood doing incredible things to promote walking and biking to school. These schools are linked as well. Kids from these several elementary schools frequently attend Whitman Middle and then Ballard High.

Even the high school students bike to school in Ballard!

Ballard is also the home of Kidical Mass, and as kids and families who have participated in those rides begin elementary school, it could really turbocharge these programs!

To acknowledge the great work going on in NW Seattle, this Tuesday’s walk.bike.schools meeting is in Ballard, specifically at Loyal Heights Elementary School. We hope that meeting in Ballard will reinforce the citywide nature of this effort,  showcase the great work going on in Ballard and throughout Seattle, and provide an opportunity to discuss the potential synergy of collaborating among several local schools in one neighborhood.

On Tuesday, we’ll also hear some specific ideas about gearing up for International Walk to School Month and IWalk in October. The good news from Feet First (local IWalk sponsor) is that IWalk can include bike to school programs too, basically any form of kid-powered commuting. Walk and Roll, Walk and Wheel, or any other variation you can think of… it’s all fair game!

Hope to see you Tuesday night!

2012-13 Kickoff Planning Meeting

Walk.bike.schools is starting early this year to plan for another great school year of walking and biking. The weather has been perfect for walking and biking, and next month is International Walk Month. So what better time than now to hatch a plan at your school to support kids and families in getting to school under their own power!

Come to next Tuesday’s walk.bike.schools planning meeting to share tips and techniques to get more Seattle kids walking and biking!

Meeting details are:

Tuesday, Sept 18
6:30 to 8:00 p.m
Loyal Heights Elementary School in Ballard
2511 NW 80th St.

Folks can enter the school at the entrance nearest 80th and 26th Ave NW (the northwest corner of the school). We’ll meet in the cafeteria, and will have someone stationed at the entrance to direct you to the cafeteria.

For those who choose to bike to the meeting, one of the gates will be open (on the west side of the school grounds) to provide access to the school’s bike racks, which are near the playground.

The agenda is still being firmed up, but we will be hearing a bit about IWalk and walk to school programs in general. As well as some inspiring stories from schools around our city who are working to get more kids walking and biking. The goal of the meeting is to share tangible ideas that can be put into practice at our schools. If you have specific ideas or want to participate and share some info about what you’re doing at your school, let me know!

As always, these meetings are intended for any and all parents, staff, and anyone else with an interest in promoting walking and biking to Seattle schools. Spread the word to other folks you know who share this interest.

Thanks in advance to Loyal Heights for hosting. We’re looking forward to getting together in the heart of Ballard, where there is a huge amount of energy around walk and bike programs.

Let’s continue to grow this movement of kid-powered commuting!

Hope to see you next Tuesday!!

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Kicking Off Another School Year

Happy back to school week!

For most of our Seattle schools, this is the first week back in action. Some others got a head start and began the 2012-13 school year last week. Here in NE Seattle, high school students started Tuesday, but for middle and elementary school kids, today is “opening day!”

It’s a great time to begin encouraging walking and biking to school. The weather is great, the long-range forecast looks excellent, and families and students are full of enthusiasm. October is International Walk to School Month and an opportunity to participate in IWalk and other walk to school programs. These first months of the school year are an excellent time for biking as well, so get creative and encourage families to do either.

Walk.bike.schools is planning a Fall kickoff meeting, so look here for details in the near future. We are currently thinking of meeting later this month to compare notes, share tips, and build on each others’ creative energy for getting Seattle’s kids walking and biking. As always, anyone interested in getting Seattle kids walking and biking is welcome to come and participate.

In the meantime, if you’re kicking off a walk or bike program at your school and have some ideas to share, let us know.

Happy back to school week!!

Walk.Bike.Schools Rolls Into Summer!

Seattle walk and bike to school organizers got together earlier this week and created some end-of-the-school year momentum. We started with a Bike to School Month recap, and also spent some time thinking ahead to the Fall and the 2012-13 school year.

It was a record Bike to School Month here in Seattle, with literally thousands of students participating. There were 3100 elementary age kids who rode on Bike to School Day alone! Cascade staff provided a nice rundown of some of the key numbers for those who are statistically minded. Congratulations to Laurelhurst, Eckstein, and Garfield for winning the inaugural “Golden Pedal” awards for getting the most kids riding this past month at the elementary, middle, and high school levels respectively.
While the statistics are compelling, so are the stories. A couple of highlights:
  • Over 70 Ballard High students  rode on Bike to School Day, plus the core group at Ballard ran a bike donation drive for BikeWorks, and helped as volunteers at West Woodland’s Bike Rodeo too!
  • Loyal Heights Elementary had well over 100 kids riding in the school’s first real year with a program. They are considering starting a bike club at the school next Fall to maintain the momentum! (Ballard overall is a hotbed for bike to school programs; Adams Elementary and Salmon Bay K-8 had really successful years too.)
  • The Thornton Creek bike trains — the first in Seattle — were a huge success, with as many as 35 kids participating, and Wedgwood Elementary had a enthusiastic and growing core group riding throughout May as well.
  • Several other new programs had good participation in their first year, and laid the groundwork for future success. Overall more schools participated in Bike to School Month than ever before. Hearing about schools that are just beginning programs is always inspiring. It takes some work, but with persistence these programs can’t help but grow.
We also heard from Caitlin from Feet First, who talked about the IWalk program and International Walk to School Month in October. There was a lot of interest in focusing in the Fall on promoting walking to school. Caitlin provided an opportunity to sign up for the IWalk mailing list, and Feet First also plans to share info through the walkbikeschools Google Group as well.
Seth from Bicycle Alliance of Washington and the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board also reminded us of the Safe Routes to School Summer Institutes, an upcoming opportunity for folks interested in getting some good training on helping kids walk and bike to school safely:
This August training session is free, and looks to be an excellent way to learn the basics and best practices of starting up and running a Safe Routes to School Program.
As usual, there was some great energy and ideas, and it was just really nice to meet and talk with other folks who are trying to create culture change at their schools. One interesting idea that emerged was to create a “starter kit” — basically an information package to give step by step tips to getting a new program started at a school. Many of us with longer standing programs recall their beginnings, when we had a small handful of families biking and/or walking. It can seem a little daunting when you’re first starting up, especially if you’re a new parent at the school as well. Some info to share techniques for those early stages could be really useful.
Attendees agreed that Walk.Bike.Schools will meet again in the late summer or early fall to gear up for the 2012-13 school year. Look for this next meeting to be hosted by another school in a different part of the city.
It was great to maintain the momentum of these last few months, and look forward to more excitement to come! Thanks to all who could attend!

Walk.Bike.Schools Planning Meeting

Come to next Monday’s “Planning Meeting” to chart out our course for getting more Seattle kids walking and biking to school!

Are you interested in learning about bike and walk to school programs? Helping to grow a movement to get more kids walking and biking to schools all over Seattle? Join us next Monday to share information between schools and other organizers.

Walk.Bike.Schools Planning Meeting
Monday, June 18, 2012
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Bryant Elementary School (in the school library)
3311 NE 60th Street

Come share information and stories with other schools about what is working, what challenges you are facing, and your ideas for getting more of our kids walking and biking to school. Or just come to listen, especially if you are looking to get a new program started and want to hear ideas from others.

All parents and others interested in promoting biking and walking to school are welcome. So spread the word!!

At the meeting, we will debrief on Bike to School Month, and chart out next steps for collaborating among schools on walk and bike programs. We’ll also begin to look forward to the 2012-13 school year and more walking and biking fun and successes. There are already plans brewing for September and October, so it’s a good time to touch bases before everyone scatters for the summer.

Parents sponsoring these programs at our local schools will be on hand to brainstorm ideas. Staff from key organizations that work on walk and bike to school programs will be there to participate and provide updates as well.

For those that weren’t able to attend in April, we generated a ton of great enthusiasm and ideas last time we met. See http://walkbikeschools.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/test-shortlink/ for a recap. Let’s build on those ideas next week!

Hope to see you Monday!

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A Great Kickoff Meeting for Walk.Bike.Schools!

First Walk.Bike.Schools Meeting

Frankly, we’re feeling pretty jazzed here at Walk.Bike.Schools! headquarters. When we started planning this “project,” we weren’t sure if we’d have 5, 10, or 20 of you who’d make the time to come a meeting. In fact, we had 35 or so parents, plus another 5 or so folks otherwise connected with the walk-and-bike-to-school movement in at least 14 schools.  All on a record-busy night for bike and ped meetings. Wow!

We experienced inspirational sharing of insights and ideas from participants. Some real winners included:

  • Make it fun for kids and they can motivate their parents!
  • Let’s develop Buddy Schools to match up existing programs to mentor new programs
  • Target preschools for early bike and walk involvement. That way kids and parents will already be converts when they hit elementary school
  • and many more!

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