So the day I started working at Walk Bike Nashville I knew everything about Safe Routes to Schools. Today, nearly one month into my new job as Safe Routes to Schools Coordinator, I know nothing about it! How did that happen?
Hello everyone, my name is Robert Johnson and I have taken the full-time role previously occupied by Katie Hoovler. My legs are a little hairier than hers, and don’t pedal as fast, but they are longer.
I would like to thank the Board and staff of Walk Bike Nashville (WBN) for giving me this opportunity. I have been an urban transportation professional my whole life, I have focused on walking and cycling since arriving in Nashville four years ago, and then specialized in cycling with small children since my own 2 children started school three years ago. Now I’m getting to do it all day!
Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) is the name given generally to activities that promote and facilitate walking and cycling to and from school.
My interest in SRTS is sustained because it covers a wide range of disciplines – building stuff (like crosswalks and bike lanes), teaching children how to walk and cycle safely, encouraging the community to support kids in getting out and about in the fresh air, arranging events like Walk to School Day, liaising across multiple agencies to get things done, and dealing with the policies and laws that shape our everyday activities – all of which involve a lot of talking, something I excel at.
I also like teaching. I am a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor and have taught many children how to ride bikes, as well as adults through the Walk Bike University program. I have also volunteered for many Bike Rodeos over the past few years. Bike Rodeos are fun events that teach children bike handling skills and road safety. They love it, we love it, and they come away energized, exercised, empowered, and safer!
What will I be doing at Walk Bike Nashville? I’ll be arranging Walk and Roll to School day (May), organizing Bike Rodeos at MNPS schools, arranging Walk to School Day (October), promoting SRTS to anyone who will listen, and providing advice to anyone interested in getting out and about with children on foot or bicycles. I am also thinking about how we should expand our program in the years ahead – let me know if you have ideas!
Of course it’s hard to beat just taking kids out for a bike ride. I’ve invested in an Xtracycle cargo bike, which enables me to carry up to 3 children on my bike with me.
Frequently, after all the arranging, and meeting, and helmet fitting, and putting on of suitable clothing, and talking about the weather, I’ll have a friend’s child riding with me - and after a few minute’s silence they will suddenly exclaim “This is fun!”.
Remember, more kids out walking and cycling, more often, is good for you, good for your family, good for your community, and good for your environment!