Last week, the same week as Earth Day, San Francisco celebrated their sixth annual Bike and Roll to School Week. It was one of a number of events in the Bay Area in the past few months that are working to improve the environment and safety in the Bay Area.
Photo: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
San Francisco's Safe Routes to School program, led by the Department of Public Health, was initiated in 2009 at five elementary schools, and has expanded to a total of 15 schools, with another expansion planned. Says Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, “We are proud to be part of the beloved Safe Routes to School program, responding to the growing demand from parents across the city to find ways to bike, walk, take transit and carpool to school. The rapidly growing popularity of Bike & Roll to School Week is a clear indication of the demand for family-friendly biking and rolling routes to school.” The event was a major successes, with an increase in schools participating: 68 schools this year, up from 53 last year.
San Francisco's event comes just weeks after the transportation authority passed a resolution supporting Vision Zero. Last year, 2013, saw a near-record number of people killed while walking and bicycling in the city. The Vision Zero resolution calls on the city to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2024. This is an amazing vision, though advocates are still waiting for San Francisco to funnel resources into assuring its implementation.
This amazing work in San Francisco is part of a broader movement in the Bay Area in support of walking and bicycling. Last year, Plan Bay Area was passed with a new Complete Streets policy. The new policy works to achieve climate change protection by requiring each local jurisdiction to either pass a Complete Streets policy resolution, or certify that their General Plan complies with the California Complete Streets Act, in order to receive One Bay Area Grant funding for transportation projects.
The Safe Routes Partnership and other active transportation advocates strongly supported this policy and worked with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to develop the policy. As a result, we have at least sixty-six Complete Streets policy resolutions in the Bay Area, which is about a third of the 101 jurisdictions (cities, towns, and counties) in the Bay Area. Almost all other jurisdictions certified that their General Plans meet the requirements of the California Complete Streets Act.
This success is just incredible, with essentially every jurisdiction in the Bay Area having Complete Streets on the books! This is fantastic movement toward protecting our region's environment. Look forward to more information from us on the implementation of MTC's Complete Streets policy. San Francisco, and the whole Bay Area, had a lot to celebrate this month!