Thank You to Ride America for Safe Routes
Jeanie Ward-Waller is a structural engineer who also holds two masters degrees. After working as a civil engineer on building construction for four years, Jeanie decided to do something big, bold and very different.
This winter, Jeanie created Ride America for Safe Routes and embarked on a plan of action to lead a bicycle advocacy tour across the entire country, raising money and awareness for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the League of American Bicyclists
I was thrilled to have a chance to meet Jeanie, her sister Chelsea Ward-Waller and friend Stephanie Palmer in Sacramento last week. They were surprise special guests at the California Department of Public Health’s Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure conference, sponsored by the Technical Assistance Resource Center. Needless to say, the crowd was delighted and ecstatic to listen to the tales of these courageous young women – all in their twenties – who rode their bikes coast to coast to promote Safe Routes to School.
The ride started in Key West, Florida in February, and proceeded across the southern portion of the US. Jeanie decided to pick a route that would take them through the cities that are the least friendly to bicycle and pedestrian transportation so that they could show why it’s really needed. They rode 5,200 miles before ending in San Francisco three months later, and blogged the entire way. They had a blast and accomplished their purpose with flare and style. A few highlights of their trip include:
- 16 schoolwide bike safety assemblies to kids
- 12 meetings with mayors, city council members and engineers
- 45 meetings with bicycle advocates in different communities
- 25 cities featuring media coverage including a blog from US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
Jeanie and Chelsea’s mom, Dr. Jane Ward, also joined them throughout the advocacy tour, and many additional riders rode on legs of the journey. All made it safely to their destinations. You can still donate to this effort with a visit to the Ride for Safe Routes fundraising page.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership sends a tremendous thank you and shout out to Jeanie and the Ride America for Safe Routes crew for embarking on this successful advocacy feat. We know that they touched the lives and hearts of tens of thousands of people on their journey and made people think “if they can ride their bikes across the entire country, then I can ride my bike to school, or to the store, or to...anywhere!”
(pictured from left to right) Lisa Cirill, Acting Chief, California Active Communities, CA DPH, Chelsea Ward-Waller, Jeanie Ward-Waller, Deb Hubsmith, Stephanie Palmer, Dawn Foster, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Caltrans