An interview with Ashley Hernandez of Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition

Success Story: City of Santa Clara SR2S Poster Contest

An interview with Ashley Hernandez of Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
Tell us about the Poster Contest and its audience.

Earlier this year, students in Santa Clara were invited to get creative and design Safe Routes to School-themed posters. Grand prize winners received a unique reward: their posters were displayed on Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) buses! The contest is a great example of the broader reach SRTS has when partnerships are utilized.

The contest included one middle and six elementary schools and was open for two weeks. There were four grand prize winners, ranging from Kindergarten to sixth grade. Contest guidelines included submissions under one of four themes: Walk, bike, or take VTA bus or train to school and beat the traffic; VTA bus or train is an easy way to get to school; Protect your head – wear a helmet when riding your bike; and, Walk to school, the environment will thank you.

What was the inspiration for this event/program?

The inspiration behind the contest was a desire to reach students who may not be able to walk or bike to school and to raise awareness beyond the school community.

Did you face any challenges in implementing this program and how did you overcome them?

The most difficult part was getting schools to advertise the contest. At schools with SRTS champions, it was easy to hang posters around campus and advertise the contest online, but it was more difficult at schools lacking strong support for SRTS. This barrier was overcome by SRTS staff personally visiting schools and hanging up posters themselves, with school approval.

Did any new opportunities arise out of this project?

The goal of Santa Clara’s SRTS program is to make the neighborhood safer to walk and bike to school. By having posters displayed in public, it brings awareness not only to people at the school, but to community members as well. It furthers the idea in the community that kids want to walk and bike to school, and with increased numbers, it’s safer for them to do so.

For others who may want to implement a similar program, what advice or resources can you recommend?

If others were looking to implement a similar contest, the criteria should be very specific and list 3-5 options, otherwise there will be many unrelated submissions. I also suggest using templates from SRTS poster contests implemented in other school districts. Overall, I was very impressed with the poster submissions. Students in Santa Clara are extremely talented and excited about walking, biking, and taking transit!