We are thrilled to announce the completion of the Safe Routes to School project at AP Giannini and Sunset Elementary — just in time for the start of the new school year. After the city was awarded the grant in 2011, the schools, families and local residents all worked together to ensure that the final design addresses the many safety concerns around the two schools.
In addition, thanks to the advocacy of SF Bicycle Coalition members, this project includes brand new bicycle lanes from 20th Avenue all the way to Great Highway along Ortega Street, with a buffered bikeway in front of the two schools. A major thanks goes out to the work of the SF Municipal Transportation Agency to make sure that this project went in the ground as quickly as possible. Special recognition also goes to Principal Sophie Lee, who has encouraged more students to bike by requesting an additional bike rack for Sunset Elementary and connected parents and teachers to this project.
Come check it out! We are planning a celebratory event in October for Walk and Roll To School Day. Stay tuned for more details.
We reached out to Nik Kaestner, a former board member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition who was one of the many voices speaking up for this project. In addition, he serves as the SF Unified School District’s Director of Sustainability. He shares his thoughts as both a school advocate and a parent who bikes with his children.
Why is Safe Routes To School such an important program for students and their families?
Safe Routes provide the infrastructure and programs that make it safe and convenient to choose a healthy and environmentally friendly way to get to school. In addition, walking school buses and bike trains also build community and allow students to arrive at school ready to learn. Finally, ensuring that students have a variety of ways of getting to school means that students from disadvantaged areas have the means to get to the school of their choice.
Why were you such a strong voice in the improvements along Ortega Street? What does this mean for the students at Sunset Elementary and AP Giannini?
I felt the need to get personally involved at Sunset because we had an opportunity to coordinate the streetscape improvements with those in the school parking lot. Families need to be able to cross the street and get to the bike racks in a safe and easy manner.
What are your own favorite experiences biking with your family?
I take both of my boys to preschool and back several times a week. Between my kids, their bike seats, and my heavy Dutch cruiser, I’m schlepping over 100 pounds. So in addition to discussing the many things we see on our journey, I get a work out at the same time!