Circulate San Diego Programs Help Residents Live Healthier and More Active Lives

NEWS // July, 13 2018

Circulate San Diego Programs Help Residents Live Healthier and More Active Lives

Author: Catherine Thibault, Director of Programs, Circulate San Diego

An active partner of Live Well San Diego, Circulate San Diego is a non-profit whose mission is to create excellent mobility choices and vibrant, healthy neighborhoods. Circulate San Diego has contributed over the years to a healthier and safer San Diego. Some of the programs that have made a great impact across the San Diego region this past year:

During the 2017-2018 school year, Circulate San Diego staff reached 1,790 students during Walk This Way presentations as part of our Safe Routes to School education. We presented to 7 different schools predominantly in San Diego Unified School District, selected for their proximity to Vision Zero corridors and the Fatal 15 intersections, which are corridors and intersections with the highest pedestrian/car crash rates historically. The presentation taught students how to be safe on the street through a hands on 5-step lesson for crossing intersections safely.

The Captain Vision Zero female superhero, a Circulate San Diego original, was developed to provide fun pedestrian safety education for residents and students in particular. During the 2017-2018 school year, we reached 1,617 students, and are scheduled to present to 350 students during summer school for 2018. Similar to Walk This Way presentations, we presented to schools near Vision Zero corridors and the Fatal 15 intersections (e.g. Imperial Avenue corridor near Sherman Heights and Logan Heights). Students left the presentation excited to practice their 5-steps, and encourage others to do the same. Additionally, Captain VZ served to get students excited for Walk to School Days and Walking School Bus scheduled events at their schools, resulting in high participation rates for the events.

On October 29, 2017, several blocks in Downtown San Diego were closed off to cars, from Little Italy in the north to Barrio Logan in the southeast. Over 10,000 San Diego community members and visitors had the opportunity to walk, run, and ride in a car-free, care-free space for active transportation and recreation purposes. Spaces along the route were activated to encourage placemaking and celebration, including Circulate San Diego’s pop-up traffic calming demonstration and placemaking. Circulate staff was there to discuss how bulb-outs, artistic crosswalks, and placemaking help reduce car speeds, which in return help save lives, too. To activate our space, we brought out several extra-large games like Jenga and Connect-Four to engage those passing by.

Circulate San Diego has led several Walk+Bike programs over the years, including our most recent on one in the City of Carlsbad. In the last year, Circulate provided support to the City of Carlsbad’s Walk+Bike program by leading walks within the city’s boundaries. The effort was done to encourage community members and visitors to learn about the City’s trail connections (both urban and natural), and to foster an active lifestyle. In addition, these walks served as informal walk audits to review existing infrastructure for pedestrians; this information was then relayed to Carlsbad’s city staff to help them improve the infrastructure.

Circulate San Diego used to advertise the organized walks and maintain a followership that has now reached over 1,500 members. Approximately 240 people attended 15 organized walks between July 2017 and June 2018. These walks additionally proved to be an opportunity for community building and to encourage healthy lifestyles outside: a breath of fresh air during a stressful week.

“It gives me the opportunity to explore areas that I am not familiar with and meet people that I would otherwise not get to know," said Mary Amari, Carlsbad Walks Group Member. "I love the motivation it gives me to get out and walk!”

Circulate San Diego collaborated with the City of National City and the National School District in a partnership to support safer access and active transportation to school. Between January and March of 2017, Circulate staff worked with 10 project schools as part of a Safe Routes To School (SRTS) program implemented in collaboration with Rady Children’s Hospital. In total, 66 parents participated in the walk audits along with Circulate San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital; as a result of the observations made, a detailed map of opportunities and a table of issues with recommendations was created for each of the participating schools. Particular attention was made to the existing infrastructure, signage, and crosswalks conditions, in order to pass on the collected observations to City of National City for their review. The City plans to use the collected feedback and recommendations to prioritize planned improvements for infrastructure, signage, and crosswalks to improve SRTS for their community.

Peer Empowerment Program 4 Physical Activity (PEP4PA) is a program through UCSD’s Department of Family Medicine & Public Health. Circulate San Diego teamed up with PEP4PA on this project that aims to improve walking conditions for older residents of San Diego County. Between January 2016 and June 2018, approximately 100 seniors attended one of six training workshops in various sites, including Spring Valley, Lakeside, and Southeast San Diego. Trainings were aimed at empowering older adults to advocate for improved walking conditions around their buildings and in their communities.