This fall, I agreed to become a Traffic Safety Representative for Elliot's school, along with a Spanish biking superdad (and Facebook programmer) named Ender.
One of our main responsibilities as TSR is to run the semi-annual Walk & Roll event, as part of National Walk to School Week. Walk & Roll events encourage families to get their kids to school by bike or on foot. Since our k-5 school pulls students from all over the city and beyond, we also include carpooling - and riding the bus - as acceptable ways to "walk and roll" to our school.
Fresh off my trip to New York for the Peoples Climate March, I was really fired up to make a difference - so I pushed for a full week of action. My rationale was that starting a new habit takes repetition - and if we could get people out of their single-family-cars for an entire week, they might be more willing to keep up their new habits on a regular basis.
The week we picked turned out to be a four-day week - which was probably a good thing, as we were all completely fried by the end of the week! Every day we got to school early, served bagels and coffee to parents and students, shared carpooling resources with parents, and punched punch-cards for every student participating in the event. We had students put stickers on a giant "How Did We Get to School?" chart, and we asked families to post their "Roll Model" pledges on a "Wall of Fame." We kicked off the week with smoothies made by "bike blender" - powered by parents and the Palo Alto Mayor and Superintendent. Every afternoon, we punched punchcards and cheered on the families that were biking, walking, and carpooling. But despite the grueling pace, Walk & Roll Week gave me a great opportunity: to look kids, and parents, in the eye, and give them a heart-felt THANK YOU for doing the right thing. I got to be relentlessly positive every morning for four days in a row - which, when you're dealing with climate change, is a real blessing.
Students participating: 279
Number of walk/roll/school-pool trips logged to/from school: 1,563
Number of students logging 8 or 9 walk & roll trips: 103
Average # of walk & roll trips per participating student: 6
Pounds of CO2 poop (estimated) NOT emitted by our school: 1,700
Time will tell how many families continue their good commuting habits. But with the drought persisting, we've at least got plenty of dry, warm days ahead to help encourage biking.