Ever felt anxious walking or bicycling across a busy street, with traffic whizzing by? Imagine how much harder it might be if your wheels were attached to a wheelchair, or if you steps were shortened because you were young or elderly. A number of North Bay residents want to raise awareness of bicycle and pedestrian safety, particularly for the area's most vulnerable populations: children, seniors and the disabled. "The bottom line is that everyone needs to feel safer than we do now when we take a step into a crosswalk or get on a bicycle," says Shirley Zane, executive director of the Sonoma County Council on Aging. The Council on Aging is one of the sponsors of the Take Back the Streets march and rally slated for Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Courthouse Square and Juilliard Park, in Santa Rosa at 1pm. "In California," Zane adds, "less than 1 percent of transportation funds are dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian safety, even though pedestrians comprise more than 17 percent of all traffic deaths." Take Back the Streets is presented by a coalition of 21 sponsors, among them the city of Santa Rosa, the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, a number of neighborhood groups and a range of nonprofits aiding disabled folks. On a similar theme, International Walk to School Day is Wednesday, Oct. 4. A total of 1,582 schools nationwide have registered for this event, including 244 campuses in California. In the North Bay, participating sites include Mill Valley Middle School; Laurel Dell Elementary and Marin Waldorf in San Rafael; Proctor Terrace and Biella elementary schools in Santa Rosa; Woodland Star Charter School in Sonoma; and Windsor Middle School and Brooks Elementary in Windsor. Currently, no Napa County schools are officially registered, but there's still time to sign up online (www.walktoschool.org). In fact, October is Walk to School Month, and parents and teachers are encouraged to create a range of activities. There's also info online (www.safroutetoschool.org, under "campaigns") about Marin County's program that became the nationally successful Safe Routes to School project, getting children out of cars all year long and safely bicycling or walking to school.
Way to go
Well-deserved and long-overdue kudos go to Elizabeth Stinson, director of the Sonoma County Peace and Justice Center. She was honored Sept. 21 at the second annual Peace Prize ceremony hosted in San Francisco by Agape Foundation Fund for Nonviolent Change. Stinson received the foundation's Long Haul Prize for her work helping young people resist military recruitment. "It's really nice for a social-justice community when the dissenting voice gets acknowledged," Stinson says. "I don't think this is just about my work; I think it's about the center's members, whose donations support this work and support that dissenting voice."