MAPMAKER, MAPMAKER MAKE ME A MAP ... As Palo Alto rushes to become America's top bicycling destination, its students and school volunteers continue to lead the way. On Aug. 23, school officials were delighted to count 878 Gunn High School students riding their bikes to school — up from 768 on the same date last year, according to Penny Ellson, a leader of the Safe Routes to School team. "This news makes my heart sing," Ellson wrote in an email to city and school leaders. Other hearts quickly joined the happy chorus. Councilwoman Karen Holman called the latest count "unbelievably awesome"; school board member Camille Townsend wrote back, "Fantastic!"; and school district Superintendent Kevin Skelly issued a hearty congratulations to the volunteers who made the high numbers possible. The number is "super-impressive," Skelly said, particularly because Gunn's enrollment this year is within 15 students of last year. He also pointed to another welcome side effect of this trend: more open parking. "I know that it makes the hearts of Gunn administrators sing to have plenty of parking," Skelly wrote. "As we all know, nothing makes people (including teachers and students) more upset than not having enough parking. Smile." Even with the recent success, school volunteers and city officials continuing to push the the biking program into higher gear. On Monday, the City Council is set to approve a set of detailed "Walk and Roll" maps developed by the Safe Routes to School program for 10 public schools: Addison, Walter Hays, Palo Verde, Ohlone, Barron Park, Briones, Escondido, Duveneck, Terman Middle School and Gunn. Each map showcases recommended paths, current stop signs and traffic signals, parking spaces, crossing guards and estimated times for walking and biking (they are available www.cityofpaloalto.org/saferoutes). Maps for other schools are scheduled to be completed before the end of the school year. The project was aided by a $528,000 grant from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.
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