Local schools participate in green commutes

Courtesy of Doug Hahn
Mountain View High School’s bicycle racks filled up quickly Thursday morning, thanks in part to its first Carbon-Free Commute of the school year. Nearly 500 students participated in the event.

If your drive to work last week seemed a little smoother, you can thank students at Loyola School and Mountain View High School.

Loyola held its annual Walk to School Day Sept. 20, and Mountain View High participated in its first Carbon-Free Commute of the year Thursday.

Doug Hahn runs the Carbon-Free Commute program at Mountain View High, his latest endeavor in an eight-year crusade to promote car-free commuting. His mission has paralleled his children’s school years.

“When my children were at Oak School, I took over an existing program handing out hot cocoa for walkers, bikers and carpoolers,” he said. “Later, when my children transitioned to Mountain View High School, I participated in and then took over the existing Carbon-Free Commute program.”

The program advocates for bike lanes and safe streets so that students can use alternative transportation to commute to school. In addition to reducing the environmental impact of commuting and the congestion of school traffic, the program aims to instill a sense of self-reliance in students who often depend on their parents to ferry them around.

“We count the number of bicycles on Carbon-Free Commute days and see anywhere from 200 to 400 bicycles, depending on time of year and weather,” Hahn said.

Mountain View High’s current enrollment is just over 1,800 students. Hahn counted 464 bikes Thursday, a strong turnout due in part to the mild weather. The program runs throughout the school year, usually one morning per month.

Younger students were getting in on the action as well, according to Shirin Cooper of the Loyola PTA, organizer of Walk to School Day.

Students and parents formed two “walking buses” – organized routes where students and parent volunteers walked together and picked up classmates at various stops along the way to school. One left from Seena Avenue at Covington Road, while the other started at Marti’s Dance Studio at Rancho Shopping Center before winding its way to Loyola.

It was also Wheel to School Day for students who preferred to travel on two wheels instead of two feet.

One bike train left from the intersection of Summerhill and Magdalena avenues, while the other departed from Loyola Drive at Frontero Avenue.

The alternative options enabled Loyola students, drawn from the second largest area of any of the Los Altos School District’s schools, to join the communal commute.

The celebration included a bagel and juice breakfast with coffee for parents, a bike blender with kids powering the blender by pedaling and a raffle for a gift card to Yogurtland.

While the rest of the district will celebrate Walk to School Day Oct. 4, Loyola had a good reason for jumping the gun.

“We had ours early because we wanted to get parents and kids excited about walking to avoid traffic jams during construction of our school solar project,” Cooper said.

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