Do you remember walking and biking to school when you were a kid?
It was hard to pick only 5, but we did! Congratulations from Safe Routes to Schools to the following five winners who shared their beautiful reflections of traveling to school when they were a kid. Each winner received a $100 gift certificate donated by a local restaurant.
#1 Kathleen Hiatt Cutter, San Anselmo-Fairfax Patch
The Steakhouse Grill & Bar at Deer Park Villa – $100 gift certificate winner
I watched the seasons come and go and the creek levels rise and fall. I remember the crisp air and crunch of the fallen leaves that blanketed the streets in autumn. Winter brought numb hands that appreciated the ski gloves and watery eyes. Spring was sublime: the welcome floral smells and the pockets of warmth I hit as I pedaled along. Summer warm mornings promised that summer vacation was around the corner. All throughout those years, I remember the rattle of the planks of the wooden bridge as I rolled across. I remember slowing across that bridge when the frost made the crossing treacherous, never falling. I remember watching the raging water of the winter storms from the safely of that sturdy bridge and the catfish lazily trolling the bottom in the low waters of spring. But mostly I remember the confidence, independence, and self reliance I earned riding to and from school. Also the appreciation for seeing what was important outside me: something greater than me and something lovely that so few people seemed to stop and appreciate.
#2 Craig Belfor, San Rafael Patch
San Rafael Joe’s - $100 gift certificate winner
In the fifties I went to Mary E Silviera School in Marinwood. We would walk north, up Las Gallinas to the end, and cross the creek, or if it was winter go over in a raft. The parents hated it, but we loved it. In the sixties, I walked from Marinwood to Terra Linda High going south out Las Gallinas, then through the Freitas ranch, as there were no houses from Lucas Valley road to Las Colindas in Terra Linda. You had to stay away from the bull, which was very territorial. In the nineties, my daughter asked to be picked up at San Marin High so she wouldn't have to walk home. Being a furniture mover, I swung by with a National Van Lines semi and blew the air horn. She never asked me again.
#3 Lisa Yee, Mill Valley Patch
The Buckeye Roadhouse (MillValley) $100 gift certificate winner
One of the reasons we moved to Mill Valley was because we were able to buy a house where our kids could walk to all of their schools. In first grade I lived a block from school. My older brother, sister and our family dog would walk with me there. Since first grade got out an hour earlier than the rest of the school, I would walk myself home. I went out the front door and crossed the street with the crossing guard. Our half collie half English sheep dog, Fluffy, would be sitting on the sidewalk across the street and would walk me home. Then an hour later she would go to the school and wait for my brother and sister. The next year Fluffy had died and my family moved about a half a mile from school. There were a lot of kids in the neighborhood and we all would walk to and from school together. We, for the most part, behaved ourselves because we knew if we misbehaved one of the neighbors would call our parents. It was a small town, and everyone knew everyone and had their nose in everyone's business. If the weatherwas truly bad, one of the parents would drive us to school.
#4 AayushBulusu, Novato Patch
Muscio’s Italian Restaurant - $100 gift certificate winner
My Mom encouraged me to go green in every aspect of my daily life in whatever way I can. She told me several times that she and my Dad came from India to US and survived in the US for 6 years without car by just relying on public transport.
That encouraged me to walk to my school - Rancho Elementary in Novato to make the environment free from pollution. I am proud when I stop at the pedestrian way for 1 or 2 minutes waiting for the ongoing traffic to stop.
I feel so proud that I'm saving couple of bucks to my parents for gas and could use the same money for my college. On my way to school I enjoy walking in the small path surrounded by bamboo trees on one side and beautiful flowers and creepers on the other side. It is a great way to start the day by breathing cool fresh air. I’m enjoying the beauty of all seasons by walking to school like a free bird flying in high sky without any limits.
#5 Christine Sorensen, Larkspur –Corte Madera Patch
The Left Bank - $100 gift certificate winner
When I was in first grade I walked to school alone. The building was across the street, then around the corner- a two minute walk. It was 1978, Massachusetts.
I had a front door skeleton key on a shoelace that I wore around my neck. I remember my darling teacher Mrs. Archer, and I remember my friends, but what I remember the most was skipping school to play in the local park, pick tulips from neighbor's yards and buy penny candy from the local drugstore. Overeating powdered grape Kool-Aid mix and finding dead cats are some of the highlights.
But it all came to head the day I raced across the street without looking first. I knew better, and as the oncoming car gently hit me I heard my mother's voice in my head. Look before you cross! I was ok, but that marked the end of my latchkey days.
THANK YOU to our restaurant sponsors for supporting Safe Routes to Schools in our fall contest with your generous donations: Buckeye Roadhouse, Mill Valley; Joe’s Restaurant, San Rafael; The Left Bank, Larkspur; Muscio’s Italian Restaurant, Novato; Steakhouse Bar and Grill at Deer Park Villa, Fairfax.
Many of us have fond memories of riding our bike to school. Thirty years ago, biking and walking to school every day was the norm for most of us. Having Mom or Dad drive us to school was not even an option! Today, biking is making a big comeback in Marin County and becoming part of our culture. Safe Routes to Schools asks parents to use these guidelines when encouraging your child to bike to school:
Ride With Your Kids
The best way to persuade your children to embrace cycling is to ride with them, when they are in elementary school. Show them how to stop at corners, and look and listen for cars. If they are resisting biking to school, then offer a reward like stopping at a local ice cream shop or the library on the way home.
Practice Traffic Skills
Teach your children that their bicycles are vehicles, just like cars. Obey stops signs and traffic signals, and show them how to hand signal when biking.
Make a Road Map
Sometimes, the most direct route to school isn’t the safest. Identify the lowest traffic roads and safest route from your home to school, even if it’s a longer ride.
Wear a Helmet
Teach your child how to adjust their bike helmet straps so it fits properly, and the importance of wearing a helmet every time they ride to protect their brain.
Wearing bright clothing is also important so other road users can see them easily.
Organize a neighborhood bike train
Worried about your kid riding to school alone? Coordinate with families in your neighborhood and start a bike train. Parents can take turns leading the group and have fun bonding with families on the way to school. And what a memory for your child!