At the end of July in 2013 FABB was pleased to report that Fairfax County had received grant to hire a full-time Safe Routes to School Coordinator. Hiring a SRTS coordinator had been a major FABB goal for many years. Led by Jeff Anderson, FABB worked closely with Doug O’Neill of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), Christine Green, the Greater Washington DC Regional Policy Manager, and members of the School Board to develop the grant proposal. Less than six months later in January 2014 the FCPS hired Sally Smallwood as the first ever Safe Routes to School Coordinator.
In subsequent years, the Safe Routes to School program has encouraged daily commuting to school where appropriate by walking or biking, promoted Bike/Walk to School Day and monthly or weekly walks, and taught students to ride and perform basic bicycle maintenance skills. Another part of the program involves instructing teachers on the SRTS curriculum along with maintenance skills.
Aided by other grants and donations, the program has purchased and placed bicycles at 23 county elementary and middle schools. Each school gets 35 to 50 bikes with 4 to 6 striders, 40 to 50 helmets, and a storage shed. The program also has two traveling fleets of bikes (one for elementary schools with 40 bikes and one for middle schools with 30 bikes) that it moves between schools for bike instruction during the school’s physical education class.
The SRTS program is always looking for volunteers to create school bike clubs to teach bike maintenance and help maintain the schools’ bikes. The program provides tool boxes and supplies to schools with bikes. In addition, grants fund more demanding repairs at local bike shops. Volunteers to help “triage” bikes for repairs and to help winterize the bikes when they go into storage later this year would be extremely helpful for the program and the kids.
If you are interested in volunteering or donating a child’s bike, please send Sally an email here: [email protected].