Leader Profile: Kerri Heusler
An interview with Kerri Heusler of Street Smarts Diablo
Tell us a little about yourself.
I worked on affordable housing at the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and transitioned into the field of transportation three years ago to launch Street Smarts Diablo, a program of 511 Contra Costa. My agency reaches suburban and urban communities in Central and East Contra Costa County. We teach bicycle and pedestrian life skills to our students, partnering with local agencies and law enforcement agencies to customize the program for our community. In our first three years, we have visited 108 out of our 116 schools and have educated 75,000 students. Our schools continue to ask us to return annually.
What are some major issues facing your community and how does your work address them?
Throughout our time teaching bicycle and pedestrian safety, we’ve learned that many students either don’t have helmets or can’t afford to buy one. As a result, Street Smarts Diablo created a middle school helmet program. We also provide bike lights and information about the rules of the road.
What excites or inspires you about your work?
I see the lasting impression that our programs have in the community. We are proud to have visited schools and shared our bicycle and pedestrian safety messages. I enjoy when young kids recognize our robot car, Mr. Beeps. In addition, we have partnered with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to bring the Start Smart program to high schools. After attending our program, I hear students and parents say, “I am going to drive slower.”
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in supporting similar work?
Contra Costa County has many great transportation resources and I have benefited from working closely with our elected officials, City and County staff, law enforcement agencies, San Ramon Valley Street Smarts and Contra Costa Health Services to name a few. We all have the same common interest in educating our community about the importance of safety on the roads. In this field, people are very willing to share best practices.