Menlo Park streets need to Be safer for kids

While many have set their eyes on Washington DC over the past week, a growing group of concerned citizens have also had their gaze focused on Menlo Park. On Tuesday, January 17th, we launched Parents for Safe Routes ( Inspired by the national Safe Routes to School movement. Parents for Safe Routes is a group of dedicated families and neighbors committed to helping kids get to school safely.

We have experienced firsthand what it’s like to pedal down a Menlo Park street with our young children, fighting for space along narrow roads with cars, other bikes, and pedestrians, concerned for our safety. We have seen countless near misses between commuters speeding and kids trying to cross busy streets. We have driven our kids to school, one by one, because, even though we live so close, we didn’t think the streets were safe enough to allow for walking or biking.

We have decided to stop complaining about the situation and take action. We believe that by working together we can make a difference in our community. Parents for Safe Routes sees ourselves as partners with Schools and the City/County (and other relevant jurisdictions), ready to do the work to make the lives of our children, and the larger community safer and better. Traffic is only getting worse in our area, and the more we can do to reduce single occupancy driving, the better off we all will be. We invite all those in the community, who are concerned about traffic, to join us.

While our website has information about our vision and a list of Menlo Park community leaders who are on our Advisory Committee, some important things to note include:

  • We are here to improve the conditions to and from EVERY school. Our ultimate scope will include schools in all public school districts (MPCSD, Las Lomitas, Ravenswood and Sequoia) and all private schools. We want to be as inclusive and thorough as possible.
  • This is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take time to work through the multi-jurisdictional complexities of our area and to network and navigate through the community, schools and the agencies. We are committed to sticking with this.
  • We are not here to dictate a solution to problems. We are here to help identify areas that need improvement and to offer our support.
  • We are not here to point fingers or to harp on how things have been. We are looking towards the future and optimistic that by working together, we can make a difference.
  • While our name is "Parents" for Safe Routes, we also want to include neighbors and anyone concerned about traffic, in the conversation.
  • We are not anti-car or anti-parking. We support all efforts to reduce single occupancy vehicle driving to schools, including carpools, more busing and other creative solutions.
  • We are a work in progress and, to borrow from Silicon Valley speak, we plan to "pivot" when and where it makes sense.

Parents for Safe Routes will work with Schools and the City/County (and other relevant jurisdictions) across all 6 E’s of Safe Routes. These areas include Engineering, Enforcement, Education, Encouragement, Evaluation and Equity.

As our first act of business, we respectfully request that on Tuesday, January 24th, the Menlo Park City Council adopt both the Transportation Commission and Bicycle Commission’s 2-year work plans that prioritize Safe Routes to Schools. In addition, we request that at the Friday, January 27th Goal Setting Meeting, the City Council prioritize Safe Routes to Schools and allocate resources and funding toward this goal as appropriate. A more strategic and comprehensive approach to Safe Routes is needed. Please sign our online letter to City Council.

Amid a national climate of divisiveness, we hope that locally, we will be able to unite around our kids and each other. We look forward to beginning the process. Please join us.

Jen Wolosin