What is the number one issue for students to walk and bike to school safely? According to west-side Cupertino residents, “cars not following traffic laws” is the most dangerous problem students encounter.  This issue was just one result from Walk-Bike Cupertino’s s first annual safety poll of local parents of school-age children.  Over 400 families responded to the online survey about walking and biking to school.

Other major issues identified include lack of crossing guards, lack of protected bike lanes, and a lack of sidewalks or pathways where they are needed.  Some parents were also concerned about bikes and pedestrians not following the traffic laws. “The safety aspect is the real concern that cannot be fixed with the amount of cars around schools,” one local resident stated.

Though the top safety issue was vehicle traffic laws being ignored, residents didn’t think that it was their driving: over 75% of responders stated that they “absolutely” know the traffic laws and understand pedestrian right-of-way laws.  Over 72% “absolutely” understand rules for sharing the road with bikes.  As Stevens Creek Elementary parent Jian He states, “I follow the rules of the road.  If my fellow drivers stop when they are supposed to, my children are safer, and I return the courtesy by following the same rules and help to keep their children safe too.”

When their students are walking alone to school, parents aren’t confident.  Half agreed that their children understood biking and walking laws, but almost as many said that they weren’t confident that their children followed the rules even after they were discussed.  One parent said that she followed her son to school a few times to see if he was being cautious.  “He was careless and could not understand if cars [were] close to him, they can’t stop right away.”

What can be done to improve safety when walking or biking to school? Parents agreed that to bike more safely, more bike lanes, especially protected bike lanes, were needed.  To walk more safely, most parents would like more crossing guards and improved sidewalks.  For both issues, increased enforcement of traffic laws for everyone is needed.  It’s been noticed by residents that more green bike lanes have been installed around schools, and more crossing guards are on duty at key intersections.

Thank you to everyone that participated. Walk-Bike Cupertino expects to have another survey in the coming years.

The information in this post is solely the opinion of the author and Walk-Bike Cupertino, and does not reflect the opinions of any other organization or entity, including the City of Cupertino.