The Town of los Gatos is holding its second K-12 Safe Routes to School Week Sept. 10-14.
All schools and students in town are encouraged to participate and contribute to improving the health of students and the environment by reducing traffic congestion around schools, the town said in a written press release.
The easiest way to participate is to not use a vehicle for the school commute, according to organizers.
Parents, teachers and students are encouraged to walk, bike or skateboard to school.
For those who don't live close enough to walk or bike to school, or who drive for other reasons, organizers hope they'll carpool or use safe and legal drop-off and pick-up spots away from congested area around the school.
If schools in Los Gatos have issued a Parent Driver Contract, organizers of this week's observance are asking parents and guardians to sign it to commit their families to always use safe driving practices around schools and when children are present.
Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Sgt. Steve Walpole has said in the past that the four most congested intersections in the Los Gatos are near (Daves Avenue at Poppy Lane), (Blossom Hill and Roberts East), (East Main Street at Jackson) and (Nino Avenue at Los Gatos Boulevard).
Police have maintained safety in those congested areas by using crossing guards and citizens who are part of the Department of Transportation’s “Safe Routes to School” program.
Safe Routes to School is an international program designed to examine conditions around schools and determine ways to improve safety and accessibility and reduce traffic congestion and air pollution around schools by encouraging children to walk to school.
Parents should also talk to their children before ushering them out the door. Officials warn that elementary schoolchildren are impulsive and still need guidance and supervision when playing and walking near traffic. Kids can’t estimate speed and are just learning to read, in many cases, so it's imperative that parents take the time to talk to their children about the rules of the road and of sidewalks, too.
Here are a few tips the NHTSA shares with parents:
- Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available.
- Walk facing traffic, if no sidewalk is available.
- Don’t assume vehicles will stop. Make eye contact with drivers.
- Don’t rely solely on pedestrian signals; look before you cross the road.
- Be sure to let a crossing guard know that you are waiting to cross the street.
When crossing the street:
- Cross at a corner or crosswalk with the walk signal.
- Stop at the curb.
- Exaggerate looking LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT for traffic in all directions before and while crossing the street. Explain to the child that they are looking for either no traffic or that traffic has stopped for you to cross safely.
- Hold your child’s hand when crossing the street.
- Cross when it is clear but keep looking for cars as you cross.
- Walk, don’t run or dart, into the street.
- Look for signs that a car is about to move (rear lights, exhaust smoke, sound of motor, wheels turning).
- Walk alertly; use your eyes and your ears to increase your safety.