2018: A great year for bike safety

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 to lead us through the formation of our action plan, which will guide and sustain the program for the long term.

We presented our 2018 work plan to City Council, and the safe routes plan is our 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, Sports Park, Nob Hill, The Patio and the newest Hecker Pass Ag-Tourist project along the Bike/Ped path seem 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 Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission plans to introduce a resolution to City Council to recognize Walk & Roll each Wednesday. Rucker Elementary will have its first Walk & Roll Wednesday in October.

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 Safe Routes programs are moving onto high school. Our Gilroy commission’s April Monthly Award recipient Karina Rodriguez plans to start a Safe Routes Committee at Gilroy High School.

The Specialized Foundation Riding For Focus program began this year at Ascencion Solorsano Middle School. We helped P.E. teacher Anthony Fucella apply for the grant, and we wrote a letter of support for this great program.

I’m excited to announce that getting a bike park located in Gilroy made it further than ever, when City Council unanimously approved direction to staff to draft a memorandum of understanding between the City of Gilroy and Garlic City BMX so that Garlic City BMX 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 support our efforts for biking to school and playing local. You will be able to access the pump track from the current bike/ped trails.

Safe Routes summary reports for residential developments are in the packets for the Planning Commission and City Council now. This is information for them to see what the strengths and weaknesses are for current infrastructure.

We encourage you to nominate for our monthly award a Gilroy resident who strives to make the city a better place for biking and pedestrian activities. Come to one of our meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month 6pm in the City Council Chambers, or email any of us. For information, visit www.cityofgilroy.org/280/Bicycle-Pedestrian-Commission. We are constantly advocating 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. Like 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.

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