Summer is just around the corner and there are already many more pedestrians on the road.
We all want to live in a community where it is safe to walk to the park, to school or to one of our charming local stores.
This is one of the endearing aspects of living in a rural, resort community. You can stroll down the street, grab an ice cream, go to a park and have a picnic or take an evening walk to watch the sun set over the lake. Walking is a great way to stay healthy, get exercise and it is better for the environment.
Over the next few weeks, the Konocti Unified School District will be limiting our bus services for the remainder of the year and encouraging more of our students to walk and bike to school.
Although the reduction in bus services is due to transportation budget cuts at the state level, we also know that summer will soon be here and our students will be out and about.
We need to teach our students how to walk safely on roadways and we need to impress upon drivers that they must drive carefully and watch for motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Officials and employees of the city of Clearlake have been meeting and collaborating with Konocti Unified School District officials to make our streets safer for pedestrians and bikers.
Several streets have been designated as safe routes for bikers. We have placed signs on these streets encouraging their use for students walking to school. These streets include Walnut and Uhl near Burns Valley School and Sutter and Willow Glen to Woodland near Pomo School.
We ask that parents walk these routes with their children for the first few days of limited bus services, beginning May 21.
Then, during the weeks until school lets out, we will have volunteers walk the students to school in what has been called a “walking bus.”
We also ask that drivers use a different street than those designated for walking and biking and to be very careful when crossing these streets. This will make these routes safer.
The walkers also have to be responsible. The Konocti Unified School District has started teaching the Child Pedestrian Safety Curriculum in our classrooms grades K-5. We are also doing pedestrian safety assemblies for the children grades K-3.
We are giving the children the following guidance:
- Walk with a friend when possible
- Ask your parents to help you pick a safe route to school: one that avoids dangers
- Stick to the route you picked with your parents. Don’t let friends talk you into shortcuts that could be more dangerous.
- Walk on the left hand side of the street, facing traffic.
- When you are near the street, don’t push, shove or chase each other
- Never hitchhike or take rides from people not arranged by your parents
- Talk to your parents and teacher about any bullying that may happen during your walk and never talk with strangers.
- Always wear bright-colored clothes and if it is dark or hard to see carry flashlights or wear reflective gear
- Watch out for cars and trucks at every driveway and intersection. Look for drivers in parked cars; they may be getting ready to move.
- Cross the street safely. Stop at the curb or edge of the street. Look left, right, left and behind you and in front of you for traffic. Wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing. Keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing. Walk, don’t run, across the street.
- Obey traffic signs, signals and adult school crossing guards.
The Lake Transit Authority has also been collaborating with the Konocti Unified School District and the City of Clearlake.
Lake Transit is implementing special services and fares effective on Monday, May 21, to assist KUSD students who would like to try their services to get to school. Please contact Lake Transit for information about the special, free Route 6 Tripper, which has been added to help students get to school.
The Summer Cruisin’ Pass is now on sale at Lake Transit in Lower Lake, and Ray’s Food Place in Clearlake. Although the pass indicates that it is valid from June 1 to Sept. 15, Lake Transit will honor this pass effective May 21.
The cost for the entire summer is $20 to students up to 18 years of age. For those over 18 years of age, a monthly pass costs only $40 – the cost of a tank of gasoline.
The more we all use public transit throughout the year, the more services and routes can be added. Lake Transit buses are a convenient, comfortable, and affordable way to get around Lake County.
Our communities should be considered walking and biking communities. Roadways must be safe for our children and other residents to walk and bike. That is part of the small town life that encouraged many of us to come to Lake County.
Let’s work together to make this happen. Walk more, and when you drive, please drive safely.
Dr. William MacDougall is the superintendent for the Konocti Unified School District, based in Lower Lake, Calif. He is retiring effective June 30.