Candidate Survey Question #7
Safe Routes to School: Forty years ago over 60% of school children in the United States walked or rode a bicycle to school. Today, that figure is less than 10%. This decline in bicycling and walking has been mirrored by dramatic increases in childhood obesity. Studies have also shown that more active transportation results in higher scholastic performance.
What do you see as the primary barriers to walking and biking to schools in La Verne, and what can would you recommend to encourage more active options?
This is a very complicated question. Starting in 2011, Over 100,000 State prisoners have been early-released or through Prop 47, many felony crimes have been reduced to misdemeanors. No city in California is as safe as it used to be. Safety is the highest priority in families in any community. La Verne is one of the safest cities around, but parents are still very concerned for their safety. This is being talked about in YFAC meetings, on how this can be accomplished. YFAC is made up of representatives from La Verne Police, Bonita School board, school counselors, city staff and 2 city council members. We are hoping to find a way. But it has to be safe, or parents will not allow their children to rides their bike to school
I think that the biggest issue is safety of the Children and the parents busy schedule. Engage law enforcement and community engagement to have the parents follow their children on bikes or walking if possible to school
I honestly believe this decline is reflective of our current society. However, not only does this trend have the potential to change, but is in process of a switch back as we move toward more sustainable lifestyles and practices. While more of our youth stay indoors rather than playing outside, developments of interactive gaming like PokemonGo that encourage walking and exploring show a lean for us to connect virtual play with exercise and engagement outside of the home. I would recommend providing up to date incentives through both school district resources, such as receiving PE credit for biking x distances, recording daily steps on personal devices, and also leaning in to skateboarding and other similar activities that youth choose over bikes when analyzing these statistics.
City Council Candidates
It is quite sad to see such a decline in physical activity for our youth. I believe physical engagement to be one of the most crucial components of a child’s well being. There are various reasons for this decline in biking to school. Whether it be the abundance of vehicles, concerns for child safety or an overall reluctance to partake in physical activities, I believe there are simple yet effective initiatives which can be taken to improve this issue.
First of all, I believe a parent’s concerns over safety may be one of the greatest factors in this decline of biking. A great deal of local news stories pertaining to child abduction along with increases of pedestrian related traffic incidents here in La Verne shape the ways parents view their child’s safety. Additionally, many schools are near main streets. I was actually struck by a vehicle on my way to school while crossing Wheeler Ave. on my skateboard in 2015. So it is instances like these which shape our opinions and concerns.
This is why I believe La Verne’s Schools should have a monthly “Bike/Walk to School Day”. If endorsed by our schools, families can be notified about which days this program will take place. We could have larger turnouts of children and parents reading together to school which will create a more safe and inclusive environment. Along with this, we can notify LVPD to patrol areas closer to schools in order to ensure more safety and better police relations. Students can be congratulated by their teachers for taking part and maybe even further swayed to ride to schools more often.
I also believe local infrastructure projects which encourage more walkable and pedestrian friendly streets and sidewalks can also have a positive impact. In general, a broader support of biking for youth by both our local schools and local government can greatly improve the ways families view biking and walking.
There are many reasons for the decline of children walking or biking to school. one of them is the issue with the distance and safety due to lack of sidewalk or bike lane on many areas of La Verne.
I remember in the 70’s and 80’s we rode our bikes all over the town. Going to school, going to eat, and to meet friends in some cases I rode from LaVerne to Huntington Beach with a few friends just to see if we could. That was before the internet and gaming consoles became such a part of our current lives.
It would be great to create programs to bring families together and riding at the same time. Maybe have an event once a month called “Friday night Ride” where we block off a section of “D” street to allow just riders and walkers to enjoy downtown. Another idea for Grades 6th through 12th is to use riding/walking from home as an extra credit for P.E.
I have been a teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal for the past 23 years at school sites and even in La Verne, the primary barrier are two income households, and fear of students safety. Being in education I am aware of the correlation between active students and achievement. As a site Principal, along with my PTA, we encouraged certain days of the month with a walk/ride to school event. We had parent volunteers on the routes to the school for extra safety and precautions. This encouraged students to come to school on other means of transportation and then grew the riding to school community.
Kidnapping and parent anxiety is a huge issue. Parents protect their children by driving them.
I would be interested in polling/surveying parents/caregivers of our school age children to determine the primary reasons for why their children do not walk or bike to school. As an involved godmother and aunt, I know that some concerns I hear from parents are overall safety (strangers/neighborhoods, length of route to/from school, etc.) or convenience. I’d like to know if the safety issues are related to the paths that the children would have to travel (lack of good lighting, poor signage, traffic, etc. - things that can be addressed in the Active Transportation Plan) or something else so that we can determine what the barriers actually are versus what we might think they are. If the primary barriers are related to poor routes that do not accommodate safe walking or cycling, then we should evaluate how we can correct that.