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CALCOG - California Association of Councils of Governments

10/04/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/03/2019 22:38

New SRTS Programs “Popping Up” in Monterey County

This Summer, children in Monterey County started engaging around bike and pedestrian safety at 'My Town: A Pop-up Children's Museum' The exhibit featured a neighborhood playscape with a library, store, streets, and other elements of vibrant and healthy communities. It also offers a unique opportunities to teach traffic safety skills to young children. It also engages parents, guardians, and other members of the community to think about safe routes to school and learn about local & regional transportation resources.

  • HOW DO YOU TEACH THEM ABOUT TRANPORTATION RESOURCES??
  • WHAT KINDS OF THINGS ARE DONE TO TEACH SAFETY.
  • DO YOU HAVE PICTURES? Like in front of the Steinbeck Center?

The first exhibit popped up at the Steinbeck Center in Salinas. And the exhibit has been recieving between 100 to 300 visitors a day over the summer period. The opportunity to expose so many kids to this kind of learning in critical because Salinas has 8 times the national average of child pedestrian traffic fatalities.

The program was funding in part by Measure X, the county's recently adopted transportation sales tax measure. The program--launched in partnership with California State University, Monterey Bay,Museum, First Five Monterey County, Salinas Public Library and Hijos del Sol Art Productions-aims to develop better transportation infrastructure for students traveling to and from school, educate children and the community how to safely walk and bike, and encourage children to use active transportation that will lead to a healthier lifestyle.

In addition, the Transporation Agency of Monterey County (or TAMC as they are affectionately known locally), have been using Measure X funds improve student safety throughout the county. One significant project has been to develop safety recommendations for 15 schools in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District based on community input. To assure full engagement, TAMC collaborated with the Monterey County Health Department, City of Seaside Public Works, City of Marina Public Works, and Ecology Action (are they a nonprofit?) Together, with some additional funding from the SB1 Sustainable Planning Grant Program, these groups developed an engaging and hands-on planning process including bilingual community meetings with childcare provided, walking audits, and temporary on-street demonstrations.

Real change occurred as a result. In May 2019, the team selected two improvements identified through the planning process to 'test' on the street for a two-week period. The on-street demonstrations transformed one street in Seaside and one street in Marina into more walkable and bikeable places. HOW? PLEASE DESCRIBE. Public opinion surveys and count data were collected for each demonstration to gauge whether or not the improvements should be made permanent and if the design should be improved. The project team received lots of good feedback from the community and city staff which will be included in the final Seaside & Marina Safe Routes to School Plan and future grant applications. EXAMPLE?

More bicycle training classes are another outcome. The Measure X Safe Routes to School Program has also set a goal of providing pedestrian safety classes to all 2nd graders and bicycle safety classes to all 5th graders in Monterey County. TAMC has contracted with Ecology Action to teach bicycle and pedestrian safety in elementary schools in the Salinas Valley, Marina and Seaside over the next five years. Last year, 2,155 students were trained and 156 students learned how to ride a bicycle for the first time!

In short, Measure X has many components that will improve transportation infrastructure throughout Monterey County. How much Measure X money goes to SRTS?'?But through the Measure X Safe Routes to School program, Monterey County's youngest residents are among the first to realize it's benefits.

Things That Make this Effort Successful

  • After much work, the voters of Monterey County supported a local sales tax measure
  • TAMC has a culture of community collaboration, and has emerged as a trusted source
  • The Transportation Agency facilitates regular safe routes to school meetings with key partners and semi-annual meetings with a larger safe routes to school taskforce to coordinate and identify new opportunities.
  • Looked for opportunities-like the pop-up museum-to insert a curriculum instead of creating and independent program. Also an outcome of collaboration
  • Staff and Board is committed to childhood safety.

In 2016, after a great deal of work, the voters in Monterey approved a local sales tax (Meaure X) to approve transportation projects. This kind of local funding allows the local agencies to do more projects to address local needs. One of those areas that generally benefits is local Safe Routes to School programs.

The Measure X Safe Routes to School program takes a comprehensive and collaborative approach to improve children's health by making walking, bicycling and carpooling safer and easier. Fiscal Year 2018 - 2019 was a busy one for safe routes to school work in Monterey County. Program highlights include Safe Streets demos in the cities of Seaside and Marina, expansion of the Safe Routes to School Education Program, creation and launch of the MY Town Exhibit and securing ~$3 Million in grant funding to deliver safe routes to school planning and programming in Monterey County over the next three years!

Seaside & Marina Safe Routes to School Plan

The Measure X Safe Routes to School Program has a goal to develop safe routes to school plans for every school district in Monterey County. The Seaside & Marina Safe Routes to School Plan, funded through a Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant, will develop safe routes to school recommendations for 15 public K-12 schools in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. The planning team comprised of staff from TAMC, Monterey County Health Department, City of Seaside Public Works, City of Marina Public Works, and Ecology Action has conducted an engaging and hands-on planning process including bilingual community meetings with childcare provided, walking audits, and temporary on-street demonstrations.

In May 2019, the team selected two improvements identified through the planning process to 'test' on the street for a two-week period. The on-street demonstrations transformed one street in Seaside and one street in Marina into more walkable and bikeable places. Public opinion surveys and count data were collected for each demonstration to gauge whether or not the improvements should be made permanent and if the design should be improved. The project team received lots of good feedback from the community and city staff which will be included in the final Seaside & Marina Safe Routes to School Plan and future grant applications.

Safe Routes to School Education Program

The Measure X Safe Routes to School Program has also set a goal of providing pedestrian safety classes to all 2nd graders and bicycle safety classes to all 5th graders in Monterey County. TAMC has contracted with Ecology Action to teach bicycle and pedestrian safety in elementary schools in the Salinas Valley, Marina and Seaside over the next 2-5 years. In the 2018 - 2019 school year Ecology Action served a total of 41 5th grade classes and 50 2nd grade classes at eleven schools with comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian safety education. 2,155 students were trained and 156 students learned how to ride a bicycle for the first time using Measure X funding.

MY Town Exhibit

MY Town is a traveling children's exhibit design to teach traffic safety and other healthy life skills to young children and their guardians. The exhibit was created through a partnership between TAMC, MY Museum, CSUMB, First 5, Monterey County Libraries, and Hijos del Sol as a creative way to engage the community and create a fun space for learning about traffic safety. The initial site for the exhibit was at the Steinbeck Center in downtown Salinas and was free to the public. The grand opening was held on June 7 and was a great success with 750 people visiting the MY Town Exhibit. Since its opening, MY Town averaged between 100 - 300 visitors per day and was open Thursday through Sunday. Staff is actively looking for the next locations for the exhibit.

It Takes a Village to Create Safe Communities!

Collaboration is one of TAMC's strengths, as is thinking outside the box to find new and fun ways to engage the community in transportation projects. The Measure X Safe Routes to School program's success can be attributed to both. Every safe routes to school plan and project has been done in partnership with the County Health Department and other community organizations interested in the health and safety of children in Monterey County. The Transportation Agency facilitates regular safe routes to school meetings with key partners and semi-annual meetings with a larger safe routes to school taskforce to coordinate and identify new opportunities. Through these partnerships, the Measure X Safe Routes to School Program has been able to leverage resources and expand it's reach to a larger and more diverse community.