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One car less in San Carlos
April 22, 2009, 12:00 AM By Michelle Durand

San Carlos parents are using Earth Day today to promote safer walking routes to school for themselves and their children while simultaneously reminding them to vote for an upcoming parcel tax.

"It mixes it up a bit and promotes two important issues,” said Marie Camenzind, coordinator of the San Carlos Safe Routes to School program.

Today marks the program’s second anniversary following a year that saw more walkers, fewer cars and more dollars for improving sidewalks, crosswalks and participation, Camenzind said.

The safe routes group highlights its efforts with monthly Car-LESS Days which asks students to walk, bike or carpool. The kickoff last year had 85 percent participation and, although statistics are not kept on the rest of the year, Camenzind said it’s clear more people are trading in fuel for shoe leather.

Parents joined the international safe routes movement to fight obesity, promote health and help the environment. Some schools such as Heather and Arundel elementary prove more difficult because of their location but Camenzind said motorist awareness and getting more people out of their cars will help increase all around safety.

The group is also improving city infrastructure like sidewalks and crosswalks to aid safety. The city just received $340,000 in federal stimulus funding to enhance school routes through curb enhancements and crosswalk painting. The group also received other grants used to purchase incentives, like pedometers, which participants will receive today.

In some instances, though, all the money in the world may not improve some areas where the city lacks sidewalks. There are also areas without enough street space to add sidewalks without dangerously narrowing the road, Camenzind said.

New to today’s walk will be the promotion of Measure B, a parcel tax that could raise $800,000 for schools. The parcel tax is on a mail-only ballot so Camenzind said passing out maps of mail drop boxes to walkers and bikers could encourage voter turnout.

In the last year, Camenzind said she has been most surprised by the overwhelming support of the community which in turn has eased grant applications.

"The schools, the council, everybody is making this a priority and that’s what makes [the program] an attractive candidate [for grants]. If everybody is working together, they are more willing to give the money to make the improvements,” she said.

Anyone wanting more information is encouraged to participate today or contact Camenzind at

Michelle Durand can be reached by e-mail: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.  



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