Surrey’s Walk and Roll to School Challenge, organized by HASTE, the Hub for Action on School Transportation Emissions, and the City of Surrey, officially kicked of on April 20th to celebrate Earth Day. Mayor Dianne Watts joined children and their families on their morning walk to Hazelgrove Elementary. This is the largest elementary school in Surrey, with over 700 students, so to see the parking lot almost empty of vehicles dropping off students was very welcome to Carrie Johns, Hazelgrove’s PAC Chair. Johns comment: “it looks like the middle of the day, not your usual drop off or pick up, this is exciting to see”.
Almost 70% of Hazelgrove’s students walked to school on the day. Other guests included the School District Superintendent Mike McKay, School Board Trustee Ijaz Chatha, Area Superintendent Alan Jones, Fraser Health’s Lori Smart, City of Surrey staff and their Parks division mascot, Douglas Fir. Hazelgrove’s vice-principal Christine Shepherd says “It was exciting to see so many children walk to school today! We are pleased to see that the number of cars in the parking lot was greatly reduced. It is wonderful to see the children and their families making a conscious decision to take care of themselves and the environment by walking to school”.
HASTE’s MyTravel calculator has always gotten rave reviews from teachers and students – it’s a fun, smart and easy to use tool that helps calculate the environmental impacts of trips to and from school. And now, a couple of changes will make MyTravel even more powerful and accessible.
First, we built a new version of MyTravel in Java Script. This new calculator runs smoothly on just about any computer, even the “classic” and “vintage” models found in some schools! Though not as flashy, it still has all of the best features of the original MyTravel – with the added benefit that it can be used to calculate the impacts of any kind of trip, not just to-and-from school. If your computer has had hiccups with MyTravel in the past, we invite you to give the new version a try.
Second, we added some context to the results MyTravel calculates to make them even more relevant and accessible. Help your students figure out how many apples they’ll have to eat to have enough energy for Bike to School Week. Or how many trees it would take to remove the ammount of Green House Gasses they’re saving by carpooling.
Gearing up for Bike to School Week
Spring is here, and that means Bike to School Week is right around the corner. BtSW encourages students and school staff to try biking to school, and celebrate with those who already do. Cycling is a great way to increase personal and environmental health, cut down on transportation emissions, and have some fun on your way to and from school.
Schools in Metro Vancouver can participate in the Vancouver Area Cycilng Coalition’s BtSW event. Kelowna area schools will want to connect with the IGo program. Plans are underway on the Sunshine Coast for a Bike to School event in June. Schools in other communities can design your own event – check the HASTE website for helpful ideas and resources.
(If you’re in Metro Vancouver, it’s not too late to enter the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition’s BTsW Poster Contest!)
Helping more BC Schools go Idle Free
We’ve added more resources to help schools reduce vehicle idling. Thanks to the Government of Saskatchewan’s Go Green Program, HASTE now has Anti-Idling Resources in French: a poster, an outdoor signage template and information cards that explain the impacts of idling. And to help take Anti-Idling to a larger scale, we’ve assembled a list of sample School Board Anti-Idling policies and a summary of Anti-Idling Bylaws from accross BC. If your School Board or Municipality is interested in going Idle Free, HASTE can help!
Metrolinx in Ontario has created a great web video about the benefits of walking to school, as explained by students. Watch and learn about how elementary school students feel about their walk to school and why they are encouraging their peers to try it.
More Info: Over the past 20 years, in Canada and all over the world, there has been a steady decline in active travel to/from school (walking, biking, etc). Students who could be using active ways are instead getting a ride in the family vehicle, and missing out on opportunities for exercise, fresh air, and social time with friends and family.
Last December, as part of HASTE’S Cool Routes to School program in New Westminster, students at FW Howay were out of classroom to help enforce vehicle speeds around their school. Equipped with a radar gun and a clipboard, students clocked and measure the speed of cars along Cumberland Street – at street where speeding is often a concern.
Students quickly learned that many drivers do not respect the 30 km/hr school zone limit and witnessed first hand the power of enforcement as cars quickly reduced their speeds upon seeing the orange and yellow vests and radar gun. Many students also commented on how big and noisy vehicles can be and that many of them contained only the one driver.
HASTE’s Cool Routes to School program uses a student leadership model that encourages student to become transportation champions at their school with the goal of increasing active and safe travel and reducing the use and reliance on vehicles. To find out more about Cool Routes to School, please contact Mike Smith, the program co-ordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.