Posts by: "Jaime Fearer"

Assemblymember David Chiu Announces Automated Speed Enforcement Legislation Alongside San Francisco and San Jose Colleagues and Advocates

California Assemblymember David Chiu joined San Francisco Mayor Lee, San Jose Mayor Liccardo, and state and local advocates yesterday to introduce important state legislation needed to achieve Vision Zero. Assembly Bill (AB) 342—also known as the Safe Streets Act of 2017—amends the California Vehicle Code (CVC) to authorize the use of Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) systems to enforce excessive speeding violations over the posted limit in the City and County of San Francisco and the City of San Jose for a five-year pilot period.

California Walks, Walk San Francisco, and the San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets support this legislation and stand with the family members, loved ones, and friends of those who have suffered from preventable traffic crashes. Unsafe speed is the single highest factor of fatal and severe injury collisions in both cities, and it is a fundamental predictor of crash severity. In particular, seniors, youth, and people walking and bicycling, bear disproportionately greater risks of injury or death in speed-related crashes.

“Too many people are losing their lives or living with life-altering injuries from traffic collisions,” said Tony Dang, Executive Director of California Walks. “This safety legislation would enable cities to adopt a proven technology that will make our streets safe for everyone.”

“Automated Speed Enforcement can play a key role in helping make our cities safer, particularly for our pedestrians and bicyclists, seniors and children,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We need to explore all opportunities to protect the most vulnerable users of our streets, and I’d like to thank Assemblymember Chiu, Mayor Lee and our many other partners for their support of piloting this proven technology in our two cities.”

California Walks and its partners, locally and across the state, are committed to working toward zero traffic deaths and serious injuries through safety initiatives which build better and safer streets, enforce the most dangerous traffic violations, educate the public on traffic safety, and adopt policy changes in order to eliminate traffic deaths and reduce severe injury collisions. Assemblymember Chiu’s introduction of AB 342 is a bold declaration in support of safe streets in California.


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“We are walking boldly into a new future,” announced David Grant, California Walks’ Board President. “Our long-time Executive Director Wendy Alfsen, 67, is retiring, effective June 30, 2017, and Tony Dang takes up the reins as new Executive Director, effective January 1, 2017, continuing his leadership in California’s movement toward a sustainable, just, and equitable transportation system.”

Tony at the PedsCount! 2016 Summit

To prepare for Wendy’s retirement, our Board established a Transition Team to guide and prepare our organization for this leadership transition, and at its November 2016 meeting, our Board unanimously approved Tony’s hire as Executive Director. But Wendy won’t be leaving Cal Walks quite yet! She’ll take on an updated role as Senior Director and will play a pivotal advisor role during the upcoming six-month transition period. In addition to these role changes, Jaime Fearer, our current Planning & Policy Manager, will assume the position of Deputy Director and will be the point person for our communications and local advocacy work going forward, while state advocacy will remain with Tony. And, as you may have seen in our latest newsletter, Caro Jauregui has been promoted to Senior Manager, Policy & Programs in recognition of her hard work and leadership of our Southern California staff.

Wendy at the PedsCount! 2016 Summit

Under Wendy’s leadership, California Walks has emerged as the statewide voice for safe, healthy, and walkable communities for everyone. “We have grown from a handful of local walking advocacy efforts to a strong alliance of organizations working to lift up the critical role walking plays in our transportation system. Our work to establish the state Active Transportation Program as a trailblazing program to advance walking and biking in a fair and equitable manner is just one example of how our influence has grown and has already resulted in millions of transportation dollars invested in communities too often left behind,” explained Wendy Alfsen.

Wendy walking alongside Greenfield Walking Group youth and residents to raise pedestrian safety awareness in Bakersfield, Summer 2013

“I am proud of my legacy and grateful to have been able to begin bridging communities’ local priorities with state level advocacy. Even more, I am grateful that Tony, our staff, and Board are continuing to grow our movement to reach its full potential. Walking is a deceptively simple solution for so many of our challenges—from community health to climate change to building vibrant, inclusive neighborhoods—and yet the simple act of walking and crossing the street remains a dangerous endeavor. So as California Walks and all our partners continue to elevate walking as the most—instead of the least—valuable form of transportation, we can save lives and create a California where every resident can lead a healthy, joyful, and prosperous life,” concluded Wendy Alfsen.

“I’m looking forward to shepherding California Walks in the next stages of its journey. Especially as we enter potentially challenging and uncertain times ahead, I refuse to allow our state to settle when it comes to active transportation. Over the years the status quo has created a transportation system that has scarred and divided communities for decades, where walking receives no investment and places our residents in danger. With your support, we will push California to be a leader in advancing a sustainable and just transportation system for all,” said Tony Dang.

P.S. Your support helps us advocate for healthy, safe, and walkable communities across the state! Please donate today!

Our workload is growing and so is our staff—we are very excited to ring in the New Year with three new members of the California Walks family:

  • Miha Tomuta, Community Engagement Manager, based in Orange County
  • Wendy Ortiz, Community Engagement Coordinator, based in Orange County
  • Austin Travis Dylan Hall, Central Valley Policy Manager, based in Fresno

Miha, Caro, and Wendy making grand plans for 2017 in our Whittier office

Austin leading walk audits in Kern County

For now, you can see Miha, Wendy, and Austin’s bios on our staff page. In the coming weeks, they’ll each share a bit more about themselves and their goals for the coming year with Cal Walks.

Caro Jauregui, now Cal Walks’ Senior Manager, Policy & Programs

But that’s not all of our good news—in recognition of her tremendous work, including coordinating the many moving parts to make PedsCount! 2016 successful and organizing the Active Transportation Leadership Program in Garden Grove and Anaheim—Caro Jauregui is being promoted to Senior Manager, Policy & Programs!

The San Jose PedsCount! 2016 delegation (plus Jaime). Photo: Susana García.

The San Jose PedsCount! 2016 delegation, plus Jaime. Photo: Susana García.

Thanks to the generous support of the Knight Foundation, California Walks was able to send local delegations from San Jose and Long Beach to the PedsCount! 2016 Summit. The funding allowed me to organize a select 10-person, interdisciplinary team of people and organizations I work with here in San Jose. The team was composed of educators, students, citizen advocates, and staff from the city (Departments of Transportation and Planning) and the county (Public Health).

Below you’ll find a personal reflection from Susana García, Vice Principal at Notre Dame High School in downtown San Jose. What strikes me about Susana’s pieceand of the reflections from the other delegation membersis just how powerful the experience was. Not that I’m surprised, just very happy that some of the take-aways from this immersive and experiential Summit will be translated into place-based and participatory learning and action back at home. So please, dive into Susana’s reflection and take a closer look at the PedsCount! 2016 Summit in Long Beach on Storify.

By Susana García, Vice Principal, Notre Dame High School

At Notre Dame High School in San Jose, social justice is in our blood. We read about it. Think about it. Take action on behalf of it. Year after year, commencement addresses from impassioned students talk about our transformative curriculum and its impact on their worldview. Yet, I have to admit that after 16 years at Notre Dame, transportation justice was a new term to me. The concepts were not new ones; this work is always about creating community, equity, and mutual respect in a sustainable way. The exploration of transportation justice that I experienced at the PedsCount! 2016 Summit was inspiring for me as an educator and a citizen.

Here are three personal takeaways from this year’s summit in Long Beach:

When colleagues and friends asked where I was going, I would jokingly respond that it was “a conference about walking.” As a downtown school, with so many cultural resources and wonderful restaurants nearby, walking is something that we do quite a bit of. It didn’t seem too far of a stretch to attend. In fact, earlier in the academic year, civil rights veterans visited our school in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and reminded us that basic things we now take for granted, such as cut-through sidewalks, came from the passage of the ADA. Yes, I had already been thinking about walkability. But, the conference revealed that there is more work to be done.

Notre Dame High School attendees (Jaime snuck in the picture again). Photo: Susana García.

Notre Dame High School attendees (Jaime snuck in the picture again). Photo: Susana García.

Safety for our walkers (and bikers – see the powerful work of the Go Human campaign), advocacy within communities that lack pedestrian infrastructure (for example, the work of UCLA researcher Herbie Huff and her work in Cudahy, CA), and contesting discrimination in all forms (a particular thanks to Cultiva La Salud‘s Genoveva Islas for her work and personal stories of triumph) are all initiatives that each citizen should be fighting for in order to make our society better for everyone.

Walkability activates a space and empowers a community to claim that space as their own.

Access for Youth
Thanks to a generous grant from the Knight FoundationSan Jose, I was able to attend the conference with my colleague, Eran DeSilva, as well as two students. The presence of these thoughtful and articulate teens added a layer of insight to my own experience. The importance of the voice of youth was not lost on the conference organizers who included a plenary panel of youth sharing their experiences in their own words. After returning to the Bay Area, and looking at our home with new eyes, I recognize the critical need for an affordable and connected public transportation system. For most of my life, I have had access to a car (more recently upgraded to a plug-in hybrid) and hadn’t given it much thought.  Still, I was on board with the public transportation need for environmental reasons; recognizing that our youth inherit the planet from previous generations. I see the issue even more clearly through the lens of transportation justice. For some within our community without access to a caryouth, elders, differently-abled, and low-income workers to name a fewan effective public transportation system provides needed access to jobs, healthcare, and education. I realize that the youth intersect with this movement at many levels. The task ahead is complicated and needs sound transportation policy as well as the informed voice of the youth.

Teens must have a presence in the current transportation justice movement.

Think Differently
My favorite topic from the summit was placemaking, and the strategy of parklets in particular. I love the idea of thinking beyond the obvious limitations of a wall or a sidewalk to create something beautiful and meaningful in a different way. From discussions, to photos, to literally sitting in a parklet as we enjoyed a progressive dinner through downtown Long Beach, I am personally inspired to apply this strategy and this way of thinking to my own personal and professional life. (I want to install parklets around Notre Dame High School and activate the SoFA District to support our small business and museum neighbors!)

PedsCount! 2016 Collage. Photo: Susana García.

PedsCount! 2016 Collage. Photo: Susana García.

As I already mentioned, I attended this conference with two of our students. It is fairly common for teachers to attend conferences in the summer, with other teachers, about teaching. It is not at all common for teachers to attend with their students nor to explore a topic that seemingly has nothing to do with curriculum instruction, classroom management or technology integration. Yet, at the conclusion of the two days, I realized that this experience was teaching my students and me much more about 21st century skills. This is the direction that education must take. Coaching our students through application of knowledge in real settings as well as the soft skills they will need in the future (for example, at a conference, skills like networking and dressing in layers because of air conditioning). Eran and I are looking to launch a new model of professional development that includes shared access to opportunities that better position them, and us, for career and life success.

Think different to be different.

WalkSJ Walkable Poster

As part of Cal Walks’ work, we foster connections between advocates at the local level and coordinate statewide policy advocacy with our local partners. Here in Santa Clara County and San Jose–where I’m based–we work both with a coalition of individual residents and community-based organizations as well as with city and county agencies.

This year, a large part of our San Jose focus will be our partnership with the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition and city staff as we work together on the first full year of Vision Zero implementation, and we’ll have more to share in the coming months.  We’re also getting our new encouragement program, Walk San Jose, up and running. We’re honored to receive support from The Knight Foundation–which recently announced its latest round of San Jose funding–for the Walk San Jose project. This project is also supported in part by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) project. The PICH funding covers, among other expenses, the translation of all the project materials into Spanish and Vietnamese.

The premise of Walk San Jose is simple: a series of community-identified walking loops across the city, each focused on a different neighborhood and its people, history, architecture, public art, natural resources, and more–the possibilities are truly endless. The loops are intended to be explorations of a community’s assets, as defined by the residents and community leaders themselves. The overarching goal of Walk San Jose is as simple as the premise: Let’s expose residents and visitors to our city’s diverse communities; let’s facilitate meaningful and actionable conversations among people on local issues, opportunities, and challenges; and let’s do this while promoting increased physical activity, community building, and advocacy for creating healthy, safe and vibrant neighborhoods–all through the lens of walking.

On January 12, we hosted a “Loops + Lunch” kick-off for stakeholders from across the city to begin to build support for the project and to gather feedback at this beta phase of the project.

While we debuted the first 2 loops at once, the remaining 4 inaugural loops will be established via community-led processes. The vision is that stakeholders will workshop to map their community assets, prioritize them for a loop, and conduct walk audits as a part of the planning process. One overarching goal of the project is to empower residents to have a voice in the processes that affect walkability and pedestrian safety, all while celebrating what makes these communities so wonderful.

Each loop will debut publicly with a celebratory group walk, culminating with reflective, connecting discussions over food and drink at an establishment within that neighborhood. After the debut walk, the loop cards will be available in shops, libraries, and offices throughout the community. The 4”x 6” loop cards are free, handheld, and self-guided. And if the design looks familiar, that’s because we’ve teamed up with City Fabrick, the nonprofit urban design studio that created the Walk Long Beach loop cards.

Please join me on a walk soon, and get in touch about how we can help curate a loop in your neighborhood.