Today we're excited to share a guest blog post by Wendy Ortiz, Community Programs Manager at California Walks (Cal Walks)(link is external), our partners for the Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training (CPBST) program. Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The purpose of the CPBST program is to train local neighborhood residents and safety advocates on how to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and to strengthen collaboration with local officials and agency staff to make California communities safer and more pleasant to walk and bike. The original post appeared on the Cal Walks blog on November 4, 2019(link is external) and has been lightly edited for clarity and formatting.
Another year, another 12 walking and biking safety trainings completed with communities all across the state! This year we worked with communities as far north as Blue Lake Rancheria in Humboldt County and as far south as Muscoy in San Bernardino County. We worked with five schools, one tribal community, three local municipalities, and another three community-based organizations, all working to create people-centered streets and spaces.
This year, we delivered an unprecedented six out of the 12 trainings with communities in Los Angeles County, including: Lancaster, Azusa, Boyle Heights, Santa Monica, South Los Angeles, and Watts.
Interested in bringing a training to your community? We’re currently taking applications, so get one in today!
Partner Highlight: Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
Parents and community members getting ready to start the walking
and biking assessments at Hollenbeck Junior High School in Boyle Heights.
Our collaboration with Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (Partnership LA) resulted in three enthusiastic, fun, heartfelt, and cumbia-filled trainings with parents at Roosevelt High School and Hollenbeck Junior High School in Boyle Heights, 20th Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles, and Joyner Elementary School and Markham Middle School in Watts.
Working with parents as part of Partnership LA’s Parent College Program, Hannah Caruso, Manager of Organizing & Advocacy, and Stephanie Hernandez, Parent Organizer, heard repeatedly from parents their concerns with their children’s personal safety while walking and biking to school and safety from speeding drivers along main streets. The parent leaders noticed the stark differences in maintenance and planned improvements in their communities compared to other neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Armed with the advocacy learned through the Parent College Program and the tenacity to get it done, these parents welcomed us into their meetings to hash out the logistics and strategize about how the Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training (CPBST) program could further develop their safety goals.
Parent groups at the walking and biking assessments at the Joyner Elementary School in Watts (left) and the 20th Street Elementary
School in South LA (right).
There are several characteristics that can describe all three parent groups: intergenerational, Spanish-speaking, energetic, welcoming, warm, thoughtful, and strategic. But within each group are the stories of parents and grandparents who have been diligently working for years towards the physical safety and emotional well-being of their children.
Maria Gurubel leading the pack during the walking assessment at the Watts CPBST Site Visit.
Maria Gurubel is a long-time community advocate for the community of Watts and Markham Middle School. She has been a Watts resident and advocate for over 20 years, which is evident through the many relationships she’s been able to build and nourish. Throughout our walking assessments, Mrs. Gurubel gave us a personal history of her neighborhood filled with the names of families and local businesses that make Watts a vibrant cultural hub. Mrs. Gurubel’s waving, smiling and chatting with friends about the purpose of the walking assessments was a definite highlight and testament to the importance of supporting community-based advocates who know what’s best for their families.
South Los Angeles
Maria Carmen Lopez and her husband share their plan for the installation of high-visibility markings with the rest of the group
during the South LA CPBST (left). Karla Vilchys walking hand in hand with her child during the South LA CPBST Site Visit (right).
Karla Vilchys and Maria Carmen Lopez are both mothers and parent advocates at 20th Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles. Throughout the planning process and the workshop itself, both mothers created and made space for their children to identify their own concerns and solutions to feelings of safety. We heard from their children about how they get to and from school and what they’d like to see so that they and their friends can feel safer. The mothers shared the importance of including the entire family in their advocacy work so that their children can learn at an early age that they have a voice and the power to shape their futures.
The planning committee conducting the walking assessment
during the Boyle Heights CPBST Site Visit.
The Boyle Heights CPBST had the largest parent involvement in the training planning process, with numerous parents from both Hollenbeck Junior High School and Roosevelt High School. Our Safe Routes to School work has historically focused on elementary schools, so it was exciting to see the parents develop ideas for safety programs led by the older youth. Among those ideas was the creation of a youth recreational center to keep them engaged year-round and the use of Photo/Video Voice to advocate for the repair of their City’s sidewalks. These parents encouraged other parents to stay involved at the school level and are eager to co-create a safer community with their creative, more technologically-savvy children.
We’d like to thank Hannah and Stephanie for being guides and facilitators in the parents’ work towards building a more healthy, safe and vibrant communities. And we’d like to thank all the parents who shared their stories with us and continue to dedicate their time and resources towards the community’s overall wellbeing. These families demonstrate the need to view and treat communities as true experts of their own experiences who can identify concerns and solutions towards the betterment of their own neighborhoods.
Apply Now for a CPBST!
California Walks and SafeTREC are proud to partner with communities and families across the state and look forward to hearing and sharing more personal stories of walking and biking adventures. Visit here to APPLY NOW! To learn more about the CPBST program and access summary reports from past trainings, check out our site and SafeTREC’s interactive map.
If you are interested in bringing the CPBST to your neighborhood in an effort to transform the way decisions are made, particularly in low-income communities of color that are actively responding to historical disinvestments, please review the Program Application (English/Spanish) and submit to Wendy Ortiz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 714-742-2295.
Who is eligible to apply?
Non-profits and community-based organizations and groups;
Local city and county government agencies;
Schools and school districts; and