This Wednesday, on Walk to School Day, as dozens of Sunnyside Elementary students form “walking buses” to wind their way down to school before the bell rings, their parents will also be calling for a safer, calmer Monterey Boulevard.
“There’s been a big surge in interest for walking this year,” said parent Julie Tonroy, “Just think how many parents and kids would join us if we could calm traffic on Monterey.” Tonroy is the sustainability chair in Sunnyside’s PTA; with this event, she plans to kick off Sunnyside Elementary’s new “Walking Wednesdays” program; she already walks to Sunnyside Elementary every day with her 7-year-old son Erick, but she would like to encourage more walkers to join them. At Sunnyside, more than half of the students live within one mile of school but only 20% walk or bike, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, which selected Sunnyside to participate in its “Safe Routes to School” program.
The Friends of Monterey Boulevard has teamed up with Walk San Francisco and San Francisco’s Department of Public Health to take the first steps toward calming traffic along Monterey. We have already put up “We Live Here — Please Slow Down” signs, done traffic surveys, and done online and written surveys of parents and other users of Monterey Boulevard.
The primary recommendation they make in the resulting report is to bring Monterey’s speed limit down from 30 to 25 miles per hour. “Monterey Boulevard isn’t a highway, but it can feel like one,” said Elizabeth Stampe, director of Walk San Francisco. “The city has been transforming some big streets to be safer and greener; Monterey is ripe for improvement.” Stampe pointed to current planning for Masonic Boulevard, Cesar Chavez, and greening along Divisadero as positive models for Monterey.
The report also makes recommendations about how to make specific intersections safer for pedestrians.
“While we were doing our traffic surveys, I actually saw an elderly man get completely stranded in the middle of the street. Someone had to go rescue him and help him get where he was going,” said Adrienne Johnson, parent of 3 school-age children and a leader of Friends of Monterey Boulevard. “Making this street safer for our kids will make it safer for everyone.”
The principals of Sunnyside Elementary and St. Finn Bar, two of the three elementary schools close to Monterey, will be signing letters to request a “school zone,” establishing lower speed limits for 1,000 feet around the school, which parents and neighbors say will be a first step toward calming the entire street.
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd couldn’t attend the event as he was walking his own son to daycare, but he issued a supporting statement:
“On Walk to School Day, Oct 6th, Supervisor Elsbernd supports making it easier and safer for children to walk to school and will continue to work towards making San Francisco streets safer for all pedestrians. The Supervisor will walk his son Michael to daycare on Walk To School Day as he does every morning.”
WHO: Sunnyside parents, Friends of Monterey Boulevard, and Walk San Francisco, 8:00 am Wednesday, October 6
WHEN: Kids depart at 8:10; arrive at school at 8:30 for Walk to School Day events.
WHERE: Kids depart at 8:10; arrive at school at 8:30 for Walk to School Day events. Sunnyside Playground, at the corner of Foerster and Melrose Ave. (map)
VISUALS: School children in chaperoned “walking buses,” making their way to Sunnyside Elementary. A post walk celebration on the school yard involving prizes and snacks.
We at FoMB send our heartfelt thanks to Walk San Francisco and the SF Department of Public Health for all of the help and support they have given us in this project.