Walking & Rolling

Walking & Rolling | Transit | Carpooling | Driving

Safe Routes to School

Walking or rolling to school gives children a sense of freedom and responsibility, allows them to enjoy the fresh air, and familiarizes them with their neighborhood while getting them to school alert, refreshed, and ready to start their day.

The first step in getting to school safely is choosing the right route. The City of Palo Alto provides Walk & Roll Maps, which are designed to help parents and students explore healthy, active commute routes to and from school. In addition, PAUSD students receive extensive road safety training. This includes: K-2 Pedestrian Safety, the third grade Bicycle Life Skills Curriculum (including the on-bike Bike Rodeo), the Eighth Grade Getting to High School eventand various refreshers and assemblies.

If you would like to refresh your memory, below you can find pedestrian and bicycle safety tips and information on helmets.

Pedestrian Safety Tips

  • Be alert: Everything else on the road is bigger and faster than you are – from skateboards to bicycles to cars.
  • Eye contact: Assume drivers don’t see you! Make eye contact – especially at intersections and driveways.
  • Be predictable: Do not jump off the curb for a fast start or make other sudden moves that place you in the path of oncoming vehicle traffic.
  • Crossing Guards: Obey instructions of crossing guards. They are there to help you cross safely.
  • Navigating intersections:
    • Look in all directions: Although you generally have the right of way at intersections, use caution. Look both ways and pay attention to drivers turning left and right.
    • Traffic Signals: Wait your turn at traffic signals. When the red flashing hand appears, DO NOT start crossing. Wait for the next light cycle and walk when the white walk signal appears. If you are in the intersection when the red hand starts flashing, continue walking to the other side.
    • Mid-block: Crashes that happened when crossing mid-block tend to be more severe than crashes at intersections. If you cross between intersections or outside of designated crosswalks, you must yield to motorists.

Bicycle Safety Tips

  • Eye contact: Assume drivers don’t see you! Make eye contact – especially at intersections and driveways.
  • Helmets: Wear your helmet and buckle it every time. To best protect your brain, your helmet must fit properly – snug and level on your head, just above your eyebrows.
  • Crossing Guards: Obey instructions of crossing guards. Elementary school students are required to get off their bikes and walk through intersections with crossing guards.
  • Where to ride:
    • Door zone: Ride at least 3 feet from parked cars to avoid suddenly-opened doors.
    • Gutter: Ride far enough from the gutter to avoid the debris that accumulates there, and scan the road ahead for hazards. Check over your left shoulder for approaching traffic before moving left (practice so you can do this without swerving).
    • Sidewalks: Don’t ride on the sidewalk. Unless you are walking your bike, you are not a pedestrian.
    • Right side: Ride on the right in the same direction as traffic. Wrong way riding is extremely dangerous.
    • Be predictable: Don’t weave in and out of parked cars.
  • Navigating intersections:
    • Hand signals: Signal your turns if you can do so while maintaining good control of your bike.
    • Stop signs: Obey stop signs and traffic signals.
    • Left turns: Don’t turn left from the bike lane or right side of the road. Most youth should make pedestrian-style left turns (called “box turns”). Experienced bicyclists can look, signal, and merge to the left in advance of the intersection, much the way car drivers turn.
    • Approach: Encourage right-turning drivers to turn behind you instead of cutting across in front of you by moving a couple of feet to the left when approaching intersections (look over your shoulder to be sure it is safe before doing so).
  • Becoming a pedestrian: Consider this if the intersection is especially crowded. Move out of the stream of traffic, get off your bike and walk it in the pedestrian crosswalk. Young children are often slow and wobbly when starting from a stop. They are better off as pedestrians at intersections with traffic lights.


California state law requires that a properly fitted and fastened helmet be worn by those under the age of 18 who are using a bike, scooter, skates or skateboard.

A helmet should fit: “Snug, Level, and Low”.

The above pictures show a helmet positioned well vs. too far forward.

The above pictures show a helmet positioned well vs. too far back.

The helmet should be comfortably touching the head all the way around, level and tight enough to resist even violent shakes or hard blows and stay in place. It should be as low on the head as possible to maximize side coverage, and held level on the head with the strap comfortably snug.

Getting a helmet adjusted properly and keeping it that way is important. There are links below to detailed instructions on the adjustment procedures.

A helmet should be replaced if it has been in a crash, if the foam is cracked, if the shiny outside layer is cracked or peeling, or if it doesn’t fit anymore.

Every Child. One Voice. Welcome to the website of the Palo Alto Council of PTAs. Our purpose is to foster collaboration, conduct leadership training, and coordinate the efforts of our site PTAs. This website is intended to be a resource for our PTAs to accomplish their Mission.