Walking and Biking to School in the Winter

Yes! We encourage sustainable transportation (which is the theme of Newton students Climate Strike event on Friday, 12/06, by the way ).

Newton Safe Routes to School published a page on their website about “All Things Snow“, including:

  • Newton Residential and Business Snow Ordinances – new for 2019!
  • City routes to schools
And a tip on how to ask for sidewalk service:
 
If uncleared sidewalks are keeping you or your children from getting where you need to go, report them on 311. Download the 311 app, snap a pic, note your location, and hit submit. Be specific with your concern and category. You may report anonymously or login.
 

School Cases: Zervas encourages families to walk, bike, ride the bus or carpool to school

Original post from Zervas Walks – 

Zervas is celebrating international walk to school day on Friday, October 4.

GETTING TO SCHOOL

WALKWalking is the best way to get to school! Kids love to walk, especially with friends, and it gives them time to wake-up, socialize and expend a little energy so they arrive at school ready to learn. Walking home is a great way to wind down. We encourage all families to walk whenever possible. Zervas is designed as a walkable school.

BIKE – Biking is another great way to get to school! Children in grades K through 3 should bike with an adult. There are bike racks by the front door of the school and at the back playground.  The Newton Police will host bike safety training for Zervas 5th graders again this year.

BUSSchool buses help reduce traffic! If you live more than a mile from school you may be eligible for bus service. Go to the Newton Public Schools transportation website for more information and Zervas bus schedules.

CARParking is extremely limited. Drivers must use the Blue Zone (a “live” drop-off/pick-up zone) or park legally on the street. If you choose to drive, please read this guide and review the map carefully.

SCHOOL ZONE SAFETY

  • Slow down, hang up, and be patient!
  • Kids must always use the crosswalk even with an adult!
  • Never drop off or pick up from a traffic lane or a No Parking or No Standing area – only from the Blue Zone or a legal parking space. There are no parking spaces in front of the Blue Zone.
  • Beethoven Ave is Do Not Enter at drop-off and pick-up headed north. Stay on the east side of the street to allow for emergency vehicles.
  • No turning in driveways — kids are running down the sidewalk that you are crossing!
  • If the Blue Zone is full you cannot wait for spaces to open – it creates dangerous gridlock. Either circle the block or park legally.
  • Don’t back up to exit the Blue Zone – a child might step off the curb behind you!
  • Park legally. Observe all signs.
  • Do not enter the school bus loop or staff parking lot on Beacon St.
  • Never block (or park within 5ft. of, or park in) a private driveway.
  • Never pass a school bus with flashing red lights! It’s the law.

More on the Zervas Walks website

Transportation: “Why, and How, Kids Should Walk or Bike to School”

Original post from Next City 

As back-to-school season starts up again, it might seem like little has changed about the journey to and from school every day. But here’s a striking fact: the percentage of students walking or biking to school has decreased dramatically over time, from 42 percent in 1969 to only 10 percent in 2017. Rates of walking and biking fell dramatically over decades, then leveled off around 2000. Getting more students walking and biking to school isn’t just about nostalgia for the days when students walked 15 miles uphill to school — both ways. It could have widespread benefits for students and for communities.

At an individual level, walking and biking can boost students’ healthphysical activity, and even their concentration in school. If more students walked or biked to school, there could also be meaningful benefits in terms of environmental health and student safety. The more students who walk or bike, the less cars on the road around schools, which could minimize safety hazards and decrease air pollution.

The problem is that right now, too many families don’t perceive walking or biking as safe, and unfriendly infrastructure in many communities does little to dissuade them. The infrastructure investments in our cities and states have prioritized cars and traffic reduction over pedestrians and cyclists. Even among students who live less than a mile from school, walking and biking has decreased dramatically in favor of cars.

This creates a vicious cycle: the fewer students who walk or bike, the less safe and normal it feels to do so. And investments in student-friendly streets seem less urgent if most people opt to drive. But if more students walked to school, it could actually increase the safety of walking and biking and demonstrate demand for student-friendly infrastructure investments. That would also mean fewer cars on the road and more visible reminders for drivers to be safe. The same principles apply for adults walking and biking to their jobs — but students are much more likely to live close to school, and the safety stakes are even higher.

Walking and biking could also have environmental benefits for communities. School transportation from school buses and private vehicles results in millions of tons of greenhouse gases per year, which contribute to climate change, and exposes children in vehicles or on the street to harmful pollutants. The impact of this exposure is significant: A recent study showed that equipping buses with cleaner fuel technology improved respiratory health and attendance rates and test scores.

And encouraging walking and biking is an equity issue. Low-income, black, and Hispanic students are three times more likely to walk or bike to school than their peers, so making walking and biking safer and more supported could have particular benefits for these students. This is due to a combination of factors, including access to a vehicle and a driver, and higher likelihood of living in denser neighborhoods close to school.

In order for more students and families to choose active forms of school transportation safely and confidently, they need support and dedicated infrastructure investments in and around schools. There are a few relatively low-cost solutions communities can implement to get started. One is for parents or schools to organize a “walking school bus” for students from the same neighborhood to get to school together. In these models a volunteer or an aide accompanies students along a consistent walking route, picking up students along the way at predetermined stops. Another would be for schools and districts to implement targeted supervision along popular walking or biking routes. In Chicago, for example, “Safe Passage” workers from community based organizations are posted along designated walking routes to and from participating schools to engage with students and families and monitor student safety. Crime during school hours along these supervised routes has gone down 32 percent since 2012.

But more comprehensive solutions involve wider infrastructure changes like protected bike lanes, traffic-calming measures, and curb extensions to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists of all ages. Success can start at the school level, but local and state governments need to partner in this effort to really shift the walking and biking environment for students. Federal programs, like the Transportation Alternatives Program and Safe Routes to School, can cover part of the cost of comprehensive walking and biking programs, and the Safe Routes Partnership provides models, guidance, and support for communities looking to advance their Safe Routes to School approach. Across various communities, Safe Routes to School programs have been associated with higher rates of walking and biking, and lower rates of child injury.

Portland, Oregon is an exemplar, with the share of students walking and biking on track to exceed 50 percent by 2025, up from about 30 percent in 2006. Portland’s multipronged efforts go beyond the school district, including a voter-approved gas tax to support safe routes to school, new traffic engineering plans and family safety education around select schools, and investments in bikeways and pedestrian-friendly streets across the city.

It will be up to local communities invest in student-oriented streets, turn around trends, and help more families to choose a walking or biking journey to school. They should remember that when more students walk or bike to school, the environment and student safety could both reap rewards.

By Bonnie O’Keefe, August 27, 2019

Safe Routes to School Newton Task Force

The SRTS – Newton task Force was created 12 years ago by a group of concerned parents to address the issue of too many vehicles at our schools.

Safe Routes is a collaborative, community-focused approach that bridges the gap between health and transportation. Representatives from each school, Newton Police, DPW, City Council, the Mayor’s Office, the School Committee, and and MassDOT meet monthly on Fridays at 9:30 a.m. at the Waban Library.

2019-2020 Meeting dates: Sept 13, Oct 18, Nov 15, Dec 13, Jan 10, Feb 7, Mar 13, Apr 3, May 8, and June

SRTS utilizes the six E’s to implement its program- Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Evaluation, Engineering, and Equity. Learn more about the six E’s at MassGov Safe Routes to School website.

Overlap and opportunities with GN School Connections

  • Anti-idling campaigns. Signs from MA DEP’s “The Green Team“, new Blue Zone signs, education campaigns
  • Active transportation. Mode shift from individual car trips to walking and biking
  • Communal transportation: Mode shift from individual car trips to bus and carpools. Discounted Charlie Card Campaign
  • Combine efforts and volunteers on joint initiatives

School reps from Williams, Burr and Bigelow are needed!

Contact: Ne[email protected]

Follow Newton SRTS on Facebook @NewtonSafeRoutes