City offers safe routes

Safe Routes to School had another successful year in Gilroy. The Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission, along with Santa Clara County Public Health, took a leadership position in getting all the stakeholders in the city to come together to form a Safe Routes to School Task Force. The county secured funding for our action plan, which will guide and sustain the program for the long term.

Safe Routes to School is the commission’s top priority. One reason why is the economic benefits that spill over into the city when we stay local and play local. When you engage the youth to walk and ride to school, they become more comfortable with their streets, neighbors and surroundings. Suddenly walking and riding to downtown, Gilroy Gardens, the sports park, Nob Hill, The Patio and the newest Hecker Pass Ag-Tourist project along the bike/ped path seems a lot quicker and easier than driving in your car. Shifty Cycles has free bike valet for Downtown Live, Tamal Festival and Bonanza Day Parade. Look for more bike/ped-oriented open streets events.

The bicycle commission plans to ask the City Council to recognize “Walk & Roll” each Wednesday. Rucker Elementary will have its first Walk & Roll Wednesday this month. We reached out to each high school last year to participate in the Silicon Valley Clean Energy Bike to the Future Event at Gilroy Gardens, and several students who have been leaders in their middle school SRTS programs are moving onto high school. The Specialized Foundation Riding for Focus program began this year at Ascencion Solorsano Middle School. We helped teacher Anthony Fucella apply for the grant.  

The creation of a bike park in Gilroy is closer than ever, thanks to the City Council’s unanimous request for a draft memorandum of understanding between the City of Gilroy and Garlic City BMX so that the latter can proceed with site evaluation, project development and fundraising activities for the construction of a proposed dirt pump track at Christmas Hill Park. Having places like this that are open to public year-round in our parks supports our efforts for biking to school and playing local. When completed, enthusiasts will be able to access the pump track from the current bike/ped trails.

We encourage the public to nominate someone for a monthly award within Gilroy who strives to make Gilroy a better place in regard to biking and pedestrian activities.

The commission also invites the public to attend one of our meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month at  6pm in the City Council Chambers, or email any of us. For more information, visit www.cityofgilroy.org/280/Bicycle-Pedestrian-Commission. The commission is the city’s advocate for Complete Streets, Safe Routes to School and bicycle/pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

The youth in our community will shape the future, but it’s up to us to show them the way. As Mark Fenton has famously said, “Let’s create a community full of free-range children!” If you are looking for ways to get involved then look to the schools that need parent volunteers and join a City of Gilroy commission. The Bicycle Pedestrian Commission will have one open seat this December.

By Zachary Hilton

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