Wednesday, April 1, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Pedal power! Street Smarts, Davis Bicycles! getting kids on their bikes

By
From page A8 | December 04, 2012 |

Carson Zenner doesn’t need any extra encouragement to ride his bike to school every day.

He’s pretty much always ridden his bike to school, he said, and from his home in East Davis to César Chávez Elementary School, it’s quite a ride — 6.4 miles round-trip, in fact.

As a centrally located magnet school, Chávez draws students from all over Davis, and given the school’s location on busy Anderson Road, all those parents dropping off all those kids can make for some serious congestion. That’s just one of the reasons a concerted effort is under way at the school to get more kids on their bikes. And it looks like it’s working.

Thanks to a $284,000 transportation grant received last year by the city of Davis Street Smarts program, Chávez is among a number of Davis schools participating in the active4.me program, which encourages students to walk or bike to school by tracking their miles logged, gas saved and calories burned and enticing them with prizes to boot.

The scan-and-notify system also gives parents some peace of mind: When kids arrive at school they scan the bar-tag they were given when they signed up for the program. A computer then logs their arrival and immediately sends an email or text message to their parents, letting them know their students have safely arrived at school.

Davis Bicycles! members Tim Starback and Phil Cox created the system several years ago as part of the saveagallon program (since renamed active4.me) and piloted the program at Birch Lane Elementary School. The school subsequently showed increases in the number of students biking or walking to school every day.

With the transportation grant, the Street Smarts program was able to pay for additional scanners and computers for other interested schools. Now, Birch Lane, Chávez, North Davis, Montgomery and Willett elementary schools are all using scan-and-notify systems and reporting positive results. Other elementary schools have expressed interest as well, said Davis Bicycles! member Christal Waters, who has been involved in the program.

But the city and Davis Bicycles! can do only so much to help. Although Street Smarts can provide the equipment and Starback, Cox and Waters assistance, parent volunteers are needed at each school to run the program.

At Chávez, that parent is Caroleen Becker.

Becker had heard about the scan-and-notify program and asked why Chávez didn’t have it. Within weeks, the school did. Now, parent volunteers are stationed at bike racks in front of the school as well as in the back, scanning in students as they arrive. Becker reports the city and active4.me provided everything she needed and got the program up and running.

“They really laid the groundwork for this,” she said.

And the parent response — particularly among parents willing to scan once a week — made it possible, she added.

Just since the program started at Chávez in November, Becker has already seen a difference in her own family: Her son, who was never all that thrilled about biking to school, is much more willing, especially now that he can log on to active4.me and compare his miles to his sister’s.

The possibility of prizes doesn’t hurt either. Thanks to donations from several Davis businesses, Becker has been able to reward participants with locks, bells, baskets and other bike accessories. The computer system selects winners based on how how often they’ve biked to school, or how often they biked on cold days or even rainy days.

“The kids are really jazzed about it,” Becker said. “They come in and say, ‘Wow, I have that many miles.’ ”

Becker plans to keep them jazzed by adding more fun activities throughout the school year.

Noting that students come from all over town, Becker said she wants to challenge students from each region to see who can build the longest train of bikes to school — with North, South, East and West Davis all competing against each other. She’d also like to see parents from each area map out the best routes to school for students.

That would tie in with another goal being funded by the transportation grant.

Street Smarts coordinator Rachel Hartsough said an audit likely will get under way in the spring, involving parents, students, teachers and interested community members, as well as city and Police Department personnel, to physically walk and bike routes to schools in order to create new suggested routes for every school in Davis, as well as to determine what infrastructure changes would improve safety for students who are biking or walking to school.

“We think we can dramatically improve the number of kids who bike to school,” Hartsough said.

Another way Hartsough hopes to improve safety is through the installation over the summer of electronic speed boards near most Davis schools. The boards flash back to drivers the speed at which they are traveling and should serve as reminders to drivers to slow down, Hartsough said.

Speeding has long been the top safety complaint the city receives about drivers near schools, and the California Safe Routes to School program reports that traffic safety is the one of the main reasons children do not walk or bike to school — and with good reason. In 2010 alone, more than 21,000 California schoolchildren were sent to an emergency room and more than 1,500 hospitalized due to pedestrian or bicycle injuries.

But the state program hails Davis Street Smarts as “a success story,” citing bike rodeos at elementary schools where children learn safety tips and get their bikes checked and helmets fitted; the annual Loopalooza, a fun way to introduce families to the city’s bike loop and safe routes to school; and the ever-expanding scan-and-notify system.

All of those efforts, the state program says, make Davis a model for communities everywhere.

For more information on the Street Smarts program and ongoing efforts, visit http://street-smarts.cityofdavis.org or contact Hartsough at [email protected] or 530-757-5640. Learn more about scan-and-notify at http://www.active4.me.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Comments

comments

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

.

News

 
Food Bank springs for year-round assistance

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Funding sought for slain vet student’s pets

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Next-generation GMOs: Pink pineapples and purple tomatoes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

Dismal snowpack gets one more measure

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
 
Woodland Library’s community room reopens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Museum celebrates Easter with candy-filled eggs

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Easter egg hunt set Sunday at Atria

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

AquaMonsters open summer registration

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Odd Fellows will host a big birthday bash

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Tamblyn presents a comedy concert

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Cancer fighters will gather Saturday for Relay For Life kickoff

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Poet laureate emerita celebrates at book-release party

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
UCD gets grant to look at open access to published research

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

‘Sip and Shop’ kicks off Child Abuse Prevention Month

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
AARP’s free tax-prep services continue

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Round up at the registers for Davis schools

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Pain management lecture slated April 8

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

Seniors invited to join new social group

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

 
Pence Gallery: See artists at work during Garden Tour

By Natalie Nelson | From Page: A10 | Gallery

.

Forum

Shootings showed need for MRAP

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
Program sparks lots of questions

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Is Davis on the cusp of an evolutionary change?

By Rich Rifkin | From Page: B4

 
Will containers block cyclists’ path?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

We have no room for another cart

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
This is no way to run a city

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Get informed on organics program

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
Bicycle bells are my birthday wish

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

 
Groom’s parents overwhelmed

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

.

Sports

Aggies get ready for Hawaii by rolling over St. Mary’s

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
UC Davis represents well at Final Four in Indiana

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Descalso looks back at Aggie days, ahead to new Rockies gig

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Blue Devils drop softball game at CBS

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
JV/frosh roundup: DHS younger girls soccer squad stomps Grant

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

UCD roundup: Nunez powers Aggies to softball win

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Gibson’s heroics ensure a DHS split at Boras Classic

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B10

.

Features

Spring is a busy time for honey and hives

By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

 
Bluesman and guitarist Buddy Guy comes to Davis

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Fiery bluesman brings guitar pyrotechnics to The Palms

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics