Neither the weather nor COVID could stop the administration at Kathryn Hughes Elementary School in Santa Clara from renewing its commitment to making neighborhood streets safe for kids going to and from school.
“Prior to the pandemic, we had a commitment to having Safe Routes to School,” said Hughes Elementary School Principal Joe Young. “It was walk, roll and ride to school day and we had a lot of events and specific dates for that. And so, since the pandemic, to be able to kick off and renew that commitment has been wonderful.”
On April 10, representatives from the City of Santa Clara, Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) and Santa Clara’s police and fire departments all visited with the students at Kathryn Hughes to officially kick off the Safe Routes to School program.
The City has partnered with the nonprofit Safe Moves to help teach students and the school community about proper safety while walking, biking or scootering to school.
“It’s a priority of the City, especially as we’re trying to promote different modes of transportation, you know, walking, and bicycling being one of them, that we encourage our students and their families to be more comfortable riding,” said City of Santa Clara Assistant Director of Public Works Michael Liw. “So, safe routes to schools is a program that we’ve had for several years and with the help of the VTA, and obviously the partnership with the school district has been very beneficial to the population.”
The kickoff was supposed to happen in 2019/2020 but it was canceled because of the COVID pandemic. With things starting to get back to normal, Hughes Elementary was first on the list for the program’s return. Principal Young says it’s good for the community.
“Even teaching the students about it’s not just looking two directions, it’s looking in four directions. There’s a car that’s behind you trying to make a right turn. You need to make eye contact with the driver,” said Young.
Safe Moves founder Pat Hines was on hand for the kickoff. She was in charge of the highlight of the day for students, the watermelon drop. The performance featured a watermelon with a helmet strapped on and one without. Each one is dropped from about waist level to show students how much of a difference wearing a helmet can make when it comes to bicycle safety.
Following the school assembly, Hines took fourth graders through the bicycle rodeo. Safe Moves set up a mini street at the school, complete with traffic lights, wooden cars backing out of driveways, train tracks and distracted drivers. Fourth graders rode bicycles and scooters on the street with Hines pointing out all the dangers riders needed to recognize.
Funding for Santa Clara’s Safe Routes to School program came from a variety of sources including the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, the City of Santa Clara, Measure B and a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.