SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — With fall sports cancelled and PE classes being taught virtually, kids haven’t been getting a regular dose of outdoor activity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
As an alternative to crowded bike paths and trails, the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation, Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition along with SBCAG Traffic Solutions collaborated to develop the Family Walk & Roll initiative.
"We've created this alternative so that families can ride in the street or around the sidewalk in safe groups in their neighborhoods,” COAST administrator Barry Remis said.
The campaign encourages families to bike, scooter, skateboard or walk within their neighborhoods using routes of varying lengths.
"It's an ongoing initiative where you can follow these chalk arrows and ride in your neighborhood,” COAST educator Vanessa Rencher said.
Neighborhoods from Santa Maria to Carpinteria have special chalk marks on the ground guiding riders. That's part of a route system that is also on a smartphone application riders can follow.
"Everybody is curious what these arrows are,” Rencher said. Once you explain that is has to do with Family Walk & Roll, everybody is very supportive."
Their website also has safety tips, how-to videos, integrated curriculum ideas and even a neighborhood scavenger hunt activity.
"On that website, they can actually bring out the digital maps using Strava,” Remis said. “That can map their way through the different neighborhoods."
When the initiative began in May, organizers were using regular sidewalk chalk to mark routes. However, those arrows quickly faded.
Organizers are now painting routes with an approved and resilient ‘liquid chalk’ recipe.
"Initially we were using chalk and the chalk doesn't stay very long,” Rencher said. “Now we've changed to liquid chalk."
It should last through a few rains,” Remis said. “It's not permanent, it's a temporary thing."
Green arrows specify short routes, blue arrows for medium while yellow indicates long.
Multi-colored arrows can be found where two or more routes overlap.
Families can even adopt a route and help with maintaining directional arrows or adding creative chalk art along the sidewalks.
"We just want to get people active during the pandemic,” Remis concluded. “Just because we have a stay-at-home order doesn't mean people are stuck in their homes."
Organizers are also leading after-school ‘bike club’ group rides at Harding University Partnership School on weekdays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.