Students and staff were asked to get out of their cars on October 21 and come to Santa Monica High School (SAMOHI) by either bike, bus, or by walking for SAMOHI Bike It Day.
Organizers say the day was a great success with 200 students arriving to school by bike and another 800 students arriving at school by either bus or by walking. A count for the school’s staff was not available, but Superintendent Tim Cuneo, SAMOHI Principal Hugo Pedroza, and others made a symbolic ride around the school’s campus prior to a lunchtime event organized by the campus student club, Solar Alliance.
City Council member Kevin McKeown, who participated in the SAMOHI Bike It Day, told the Mirror “The School District, the City of Santa Monica and most excitedly, the students, are working together for safe streets and safe routes to schools. We can solve the drop off and parking problems at SAMOHI. The answer is bikes.”
The chair of the event’s organizing committee, Richard McKinnon, told the School Board on October 15 that this “event is an exciting moment because it leads on to the Bike It days later in the year at SAMOHI, the bike to school efforts at the middle schools, and the bike safety efforts in Malibu. He also told the Mirror that the “City of Santa Monica needs more bike parking and bike lanes in the downtown area.” He is hoping that the additional revenue the City receives from reducing free parking in the City’s downtown parking structures from two hours to one hour can be used to create additional bike lanes in the City.
Dr. Michael Cahn another of the day’s organgizers, noted that the “Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is exempt from the citywide TDM (Traffic Demand Management) regulations.” They therefore, have no one to assist District staff that want to rideshare or bike to school. He supports the District hiring a rideshare coordinator because the School District “should be leading by example.”
Santa Monica received a Safe Routes to School grant from Caltrans for $880,000 and the City contributed an additional $100,000 so that pedestrian and bike safety improvements can be made around the streets of SAMOHI. These funds will also be used to install additional bike racks on the campus.
One of the students who rode his bike to SAMOHI for the first time for SAMOHI Bike It Day was 9th grader, Isaac Staugaard. Usually, his dad drives him to school and he takes a bus home. Now that he’s tried biking to school he “might bike more often” because it helps save energy.