High schools to hold community meetings on infrastructure needs
Efforts to shift school commutes away from single-rider trips to more sustainable modes of transportation, such as walking, bicycling, carpooling and public transit are making a difference at 12 Sonoma County high schools.
“Since September 2017 the Safe Routes to School pilot program has seen measurable increases in active and alternative forms of transportation among students at participating high schools,” said Kelly Elder, Public Health Division manager at the Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS).
The two-year pilot program is coordinated by DHS and funded by Caltrans’ Active Transportation Program. It aims to increase physical activity among high school students and decrease greenhouse gas emissions related to vehicle trips.
DHS collaborated with the Center for Climate Protection to implement youth leadership trainings at 12 local high schools, while W-Trans, a traffic-engineering consultant, received funding to assess walking and biking infrastructure around the schools.
“Our team has gathered information on walking and bicycling to and from school, and we led walking audits in the spring to identify critical pedestrian and bike safety issues,” said W-Trans Principal Steve Weinberger.
In May 2018, assessments conducted in neighborhoods near each school resulted in draft recommendations for infrastructure improvements to be shared and discussed at school sponsored community meetings between September and December 2018.
The project supported walking audits at all 12 participating high schools, to identify concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists related to the safety, access, comfort and convenience of the environment and propose infrastructure improvements to address them.
Families are invited to attend these community meetings in order to prioritize recommended transportation infrastructure improvements and provide feedback on routes to school.
“We are looking for input from the public on our recommendations for modifications and enhancements to transportation facilities, or to tell us if we have missed anything. Public input is an essential part of planning for infrastructure improvements in our communities,” said Weinberger.
After these community meetings, students from each high school will also be presenting policy and/or infrastructure proposals to their local school boards or administrations in spring 2019.
• Forestville: El Molino High School
• Healdsburg: Healdsburg High School
• Petaluma: Casa Grande and Petaluma High Schools
• Rohnert Park: Credo High School
• Santa Rosa: Maria Carrillo, Montgomery, Piner, Roseland University Prep and Santa Rosa High Schools
• Sebastopol: Analy High School
• Windsor: Windsor High School
For more information about the meetings, contact Amy Jolly at the Center for Climate Protection at 707-525-1665 x119, or visit www.eco2school.org
— Submitted by Rohish Lal