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Monterey County

Colorful sidewalks in South County map safest routes to school

GONZALES, Calif. (KION) The Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) and the Monterey County Health Department have teamed up with South County schools and volunteers to paint designs on sidewalks in an effort to map out safe routes to schools.

So far, sidewalks in the cities of Greenfield and Soledad have already been painted. Volunteers gathered today for their last stop in Gonzales.

“This is a great idea, it would make it safe for the kids. Every family here will benefit from this," said Maria Uribe, a Gonzales resident.

Painted sidewalks highlight the routes for the two programs launching this fall, "Walking School Buses" where a group of kids walks the same route daily under adult supervision. Or "Park & Walk" a program designed for families who live farther away. They will be encouraged to park a few blocks from school and walk their kids
the rest of the way.

Monterey County Health, Chronic Disease Prevention Specialist Jessica Perez said, "Sometimes parents don't have time to drop off their kids at school because they're working. This gives them another option so they know their kids arrive at school safely."

According to Lupe Covarrubias, also a Chronic Disease Prevention Specialist for Monterey
County Health Department said the benefits are twofold, healthier family lifestyle and helping to prepare students for class.

"When kids walk to school, by the time that they get to the school, they're more alert, they're more wide awake, so they're more open to learning," said Covarrubias. "They get more oxygen into the body. And so then that way it helps their brain open up to have more learning."

Beyond health benefits, the programs hope to help alleviate traffic known to back up during the start and end of school hours in Gonzales. Ariana Green with Transportation Agency for Monterey County said she hopes this will create a trend.

"Whenever we have more people walking, especially together, then that street will automatically feel safer, because drivers will notice the pedestrians more and be more aware, to look out for them," said Green. "Then the pedestrians themselves feel safer walking with a group."

A summer challenge will start next week to promote the use of the painted routes. Families are encouraged to walk and become familiarized with the route before fall. Families who participate will have the opportunity to win a bike at the end of summer.

"All people have to do to participate is walk the route, snap a picture of them walking the route, we'll see the stencils and know where they are," said Green "Then they just post the picture to Instagram with the hashtag Safe Routes Monterey."

This will also be done around Monterey County including, Salinas, Seaside, Marina, Castroville, and Prunedale. But, the dates are still yet to be determined. 

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Jonathan Sarabia

Jonathan is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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