GreenTown’s Bike/Walk to School Program: Spotlight Almond Elementary
Almond Elementary School’s Boltage (fomerly Freiker) program, GreenTown’s flagship bike/walk to school program, launched in spring 2009 after founder Jon Simms, parent of a then second grader at the school, spent a few months fundraising for the program. The funds were used to finance the “Zap” (a solar-powered radio-frequency identification reader) which tracks the number of trips children take to school on foot or by bike. In addition the funds were used to get various incentives. Some businesses such as Baskin Robbins and Spot’s Pizza donated ice cream for incentive prizes and pizza for pizza parties. What kid doesn’t enjoy the occassional ice cream or pizza?
Freiker at Almond Elementary
With a significant number of everyday Almond School children now biking or walking an average distance of half a mile per trip, current program coordinator Tamara Fagin is shifting emphasis from rewarding ridership with incentives to building smarter cyclists and increasing their comfort with rides about town. Though occasionally, you can still find Fagin at the Zap machine giving out thirst quenching gum, tatoos, wrist bands or a pat on the back.
“We’re working on getting kids and parents more involved and comfortable with riding not only to school but also to town,” says Fagin. “I want 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to be independent and able to safely ride and park their bikes at the library or shops downtown. This requires teaching kids and parents about bike safety and teaching motorists and pedestrians how to share the road.”
Fagin has proposed a number of measures to make Los Altos more bike friendly:
First, she has recommended to the Los Altos City Council that they increase the available bike parking downtown.
Second, she submitted a law to State Senator Joe Simitian’s “There Ought To Be a Law” Contest. Her proposal would outlaw parking or stopping in bike lanes within 250 feet of school entrances during the morning or afternoon rush. In March, we’ll find out if we have a winner!
Third, she seeded the idea that Los Altos attempt to break the World Record for the Longest Bike Parade, currently held by Davis, CA, offering a fun event for our community that also draws attention to the challenges of safely cycling around town.
GreenTown is fully supportive of making Los Altos and Los Altos Hills more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Stay tuned for more information on upcoming events and programs!