Students at Prestwood Elementary School now have even more reason to pedal to school, thanks to a group effort resulting in the donation of some brand-new bike racks.

Peak Racks (a San Luis Obispo company), delivered the two racks to the Sonoma school on January 26. The steps leading up to their arrival are truly a team effort stemming from Bike to Work Day 2009. Each year, Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition (SCBC) works with representatives from the nine Bay Area counties to organize the popular event, which features events throughout May – National Bike Month. The Team Bike Challenge draws more participants each year; in 2009 more than 500 teams competed throughout the Bay area, including 5 teams organized through Santa Rosa-based Marmot Mountain, LLC.

One of the Marmot teams placed first in Sonoma County, AND took the title of Regional Champion. As such, the team earned two bicycle racks from Peak Racks; then members had to make the difficult decision about where the racks would be installed.

“We’re very excited to make this contribution to SRTS and Prestwood Elementary. We all have fond memories of riding our bikes to school and the freedom bicycles gave us. We would like to thank Peak Racks and The Sonoma County Bike Coalition for supporting cycling in our community,” said Daniel Mora, Marmot team member.

The winning Marmot team decided it wanted to donate the racks to a school, and asked the Sonoma County Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program for help identifying the perfect recipient. SRTS provides a framework through with schools, parents, and students can reduce traffic congestion, increase physical activity, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting active transportation
to school

SRTS and the Marmot Team selected Prestwood Elementary School to receive the racks because of its parent-led involvement with SRTS. The Prestwood SRTS team organized a very successful International Walk and Roll to School Day event in October 2009, with about 2/3rds of the school participating. One parent said “It was like a ghost town, no cars were on the street and bike racks were overflowing.” Planning for their event included mapping out student addresses and identifying three off-site meeting points. Then, the SRTS team personally called over 200 parents who lived more than one mile from school and invited them to participate. Over 20 parents volunteered that morning, monitoring entry points, giving out prizes, leading walk/bike groups, etc. The Prestwood team has visions of more Walk/Roll encouragement days in the Spring. “We are excited to have been chosen for this donation and want to thank Marmot and Peak Racks for their generosity. Weather permitting, we have a large contingent of bike riders. Often times our bike racks are full and bikes are leaning against the classroom walls. These racks are well constructed and will serve the kids of Prestwood School for years to come,” said Matt Lage, SRTS Team Leader.

“Installing bicycle racks, especially in more convenient locations, is a simple, effective way to positively affect the number of kids who bicycle to a school, especially in conjunction with a SRTS encouragement and/or education program,” said Tina Panza, Director of the Sonoma County Safe Routes to School Program.

Parents, teachers, and school administrators may visit www.sonomasaferoutes.org, email saferoutes@bikesonoma.org, or contact Tina Panza at the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition for more information about the Sonoma County Safe Routes to School Program. The website includes downloadable resources and guidance on how to get a school program started.

About Sonoma County Safe Routes to School:
The Sonoma County Safe Routes to School program, funded through the Measure M transportation tax, supports grass routes Safe Routes to School efforts by providing guidance and resources to interested schools, as funding permits. The goal of Safe Routes to School programs is to encourage walking and bicycling where it is safe, and to make changes where it is not safe. SRTS programs do this through an integrated approach that includes five E’s – encouragement, education, evaluation, engineering, and enforcement. However, a school can launch a SRTS program with just one component, and build from there. In doing so, SRTS programs address health and safety by reducing traffic congestion around schools, increasing physical activity, encouraging lifestyle changes for families, creating safer, calmer streets and neighborhoods, and improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition is the lead implementation agency for the county SRTS program.