Santa Monica Families Go Car-Free For Bike It! Walk It! Bus It! Week

May 8, 2019
by Cory Keen

 Santa Monica Families Go Car-Free For Bike It! Walk It! Bus It! Week

In a region that models heavy reliance on cars, how do we teach our kids that it’s actually a great idea to take greener modes of transportation? Through a lot of hands-on experience — and Santa Monica’s Bike It! Walk It! Bus It! week is a great way for youth to start getting that experience.

Not familiar with Bike It! Walk It! Bus It!? It’s a week in which Santa Monica families are encouraged to forego driving in favor of eco-friendly modes of transportation, like walking, biking, or taking transit to school.

But it doesn’t stop there — the weeklong event also teaches kids how to travel through the city safely.

Students Leading The Way

Bike It! Walk It! Bus It! was founded by the Samohi Solar Alliance — a student club at Santa Monica High School with the intention of spreading environmental awareness and enacting sustainability measures at the local level.

The group turned their attention to promoting greener modes of transportation to school launching what was then called “Bike It Day” in 2007. Bike to School Day was aimed at encouraging families and students to forego drive-and-drop-off culture at school in favor of hopping on a bike — a choice that helps reduce greenhouse emissions.

In the 12 years since its inception, Bike to School Day has evolved into what is now called Bike It! Walk It! Bus It! and the program is stronger than ever, extending beyond Santa Monica High School to include a total of 14 schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

What used to a be a one-day effort has expanded into a weeklong celebratory and educational event that includes fun activities like “bike trains,” “walking school buses,” and friendly competitions. There are also safety skills training sessions and educational workshops focused on teaching bike maintenance, rules of the road, and route planning.

All these activities are designed to get kids used to the idea of taking greener forms of transportation, while teaching them smart safety practices, habits that will serve them — and the environment — well in years to come.

After all, when it comes to creating a city that’s healthy and sustainable, we want our kids to get on board. Sixty-four percent of Santa Monica’s emissions come from transportation, but transitioning to active forms of transportation can help lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, so we can enjoy our city for years to come.

 

Partnering With Santa Monica’s Safe Routes To School Initiative

Bike it! Walk It! Bus It! has become a linchpin of Santa Monica’s Safe Routes to School program, created by Council with a part-time coordinator and built into an informal partnership among the City, School District, the Parent Teacher Association, and local advocacy groups such as  Santa Monica Spoke. The goals of the Safe Routes to School initiative are to:

  • Encourage families to spend time together outdoors
  • Increase safety around local schools, and increase a sense of community pride
  • Help people try diverse ways of getting around to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality
  • Educate students about the rules of walking and cycling in our communities — so they stay safe on the roads

That last goal goes hand-in-hand with Santa Monica’s Take the Friendly Road education and outreach effort. With this campaign, we’re working to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by the year 2026. One way we can get there is through education. Learning — or relearning — the rules of vigilant travel and passing them down to our youth can help keep us all safe as we walk, bike, skate, and scoot through Santa Monica.

When’s the Next Bike It! Walk It! Bus It! Week?

Want to be a part of the next Bike It! Walk It! Bus It! Week? It’s taking place May 6-10, 2019.

Here’s a list of schools getting in on the action:

Elementary schools: Muir, SMASH, Will Rogers, Edison, McKinley, Franklin, Grant Roosevelt

Middle schools: Lincoln, John Adams

High schools: SAMOHI

Private Schools: New Roads, Crossroads, St. Monica

Take the Friendly Road

Bike It! Walk It! Bus It! is just one of the many ways the city is working to build a community that’s safe for everyone — regardless of whether we’re walking, biking or driving. To learn more about Santa Monica’s goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2026, check out santamonica.gov/friendlyroad.

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