Napa Bets on Bikes for Students

by | Aug 24, 2022

Elementary students bike to school. Photo: Briana Marie.

What’s flat, covered in pavement, and unsafe for cyclists? Most Bay Area cities, unfortunately. 

On the upside, many people are working to make cities more bike-friendly. The Napa County Bicycle Coalition (NCBC) took a step forward in June with the publication of “Safe Routes to School” reports for 31 schools in the county. 

Bike Coalition Executive Director Kara Vernor says, “In a countywide survey we commissioned, researchers found 88% of Napa County parent respondents indicated that they would like their children to be able to walk and bike to school.”

Walking and biking are low-cost transportation options that also increase children’s daily physical activity, improve their cardiovascular health, and have been linked to improved academic performance. Fewer cars also means less traffic congestion and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Each report identifies steps needed to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety within a half-mile of a school. Vernor says she looks forward to “the installation of high-visibility crosswalks, new miles of bike lanes, and traffic-calming measures that encourage families to travel by foot or by bike.” And because schools are interspersed throughout Napa, plan implementation will make it easier for all cyclists and pedestrians to get around the county.

Safe Routes to School is a national initiative that was funded by Congress in 2005. Locally, the program is led and implemented by three key partners: the Napa County Bicycle Coalition, Napa County Office of Education, and Napa Valley Transportation Authority. 

Carlotta Sainato, Napa County Bicycle Coalition Program Manager, said, “Given the health and environmental challenges we face, we must make multimodal improvements to our transportation infrastructure as quickly as possible.”

map of safe bike routes to school napa

Map: Amber Manfree. (Click to enlarge).