Teaching Children to Walk and Bicycle Safely

Hoover encourages families to walk, bike, or use other foot-powered wheeled devices as often as possible. 

  • Getting physical activity in the morning helps students perform better academically and reduces stress.
  • Walking/biking to school is a regular opportunity to practice and develop essential traffic safety skills to prepare children for future independence.
  • Walking/biking to school reduces traffic congestion and improves safety on Hoover’s campus and our school routes

School route and campus traffic during peak travel times is greatly exacerbated by parents driving children to school. Congestion has been identified as one of our top community problems in Palo Alto. Most car trips to school are less than two miles—an easy distance to bike. Our temperate climate allows year-round walking and biking. To help students learn the rules of the road, our school offers the Hoover Walk & Roll Route Map as well as in-school pedestrian and bicycle safety education for every grade level (except 4th), including a PTA-sponsored Bicycle Life Skills three-lesson curriculum for the 3rd grade, which includes an on-bike component where students practice essential bike handling and safety skills.

We encourage parents to be good role models. Try to walk or bike to school at least once a week, starting in kindergarten. You may be surprised to learn that walking or biking can be faster than driving.

If you must drive, a very safe and generally congestion-free option is to park your car in the Mitchell Park lot and walk the park path to Hoover. Enter campus through the Mitchell Park gate. This will make pick-up and drop-off more convenient, and students can take advantage of the 5-minute walk to get exercise and fresh air for a strong start to their school day.

Even in the rainy season students should walk, bike, ride a bus or shuttle, or participate in a rainy day carpool whenever possible. Warm, waterproof and lighting and/or reflective clothing is the key to successful walking a bicycling during the winter months.

Remember, every active trip to school provides the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with your child and demonstrate civic responsibility. We are the traffic, let’s make smart and safer transportation choices for our children.

Walking & Using other Foot-Powered Wheeled Devices

It is recommended that a family member or older student walk the route with children under 10 years old until they are developmentally ready to walk or scooter etc. the route independently. At any age, walking with a buddy or group of friends is recommended for fun and safety. Hoover offers in-school pedestrian safety assemblies in grades K-2. Daily school commutes are an opportunity to practice these skills and enjoy quality time with your child. Each trip is a learning experience and good practice for young children. Students should take the same route every day and avoid shortcuts. Review, the Safe Routes to School Tips, for safety tips for bicyclists, drivers, and pedestrians.

Choose the safest route and walk it with your child. Find the best route to school on Hoover’s Walk & Roll map.  

  • From Charleston Road traveling east, please walk into campus using the Waverley bike path and walk or ride to the Kindergarten crosswalk to enter campus.
  • From Charleston traveling west, please use the sidewalk next to the portables and enter through the Kindergarten gate.
  • From the direction of East Meadow, please walk through the Kids Club campus to the crosswalk near the Kindergarten playground.
  • From Mitchell Park, use the crosswalk nearest to the office to enter campus. Use the walkway along the sport field fence and cross only at the designated crossings.
  • Helmets are required for children under 18 years of age when scootering on public streets and sidewalks.

Children on scooters and skateboards should follow the rules of the road as if they are pedestrians. Learn How to Fit a Helmet Safely.

Bicycling to School

It is recommended that a family member or older student bike the route with children under 10 years old or until they are developmentally ready and have the skills to bike by themselves or in a group.

To help ensure students know the rules of the road, our school offers a Hoover PTA-sponsored Bicycle Life Skills three- lesson curriculum for 3rd graders, including on-bike training. Daily school commutes are an opportunity to practice these skills and enjoy quality time with your child. Bike behind your student so you can observe their skills and provide instruction. Each trip is a learning experience and good practice for young bicyclists! Students should bike the same route every day and avoid shortcuts.

Choose the safest route and bike it with children. Find the best route to school on Hoover’s Walk & Roll map. Review, the Safe Routes to School Tips, for safety tips for bicyclists, drivers, and pedestrians.

  • Helmets are required for children under 18 years of age when bicycling on public streets and sidewalks. 

    Learn How to Fit a Helmet Safely.
  • The bicycle racks are located between the Administration Building and Room 8.
  • We recommend that students use metal U-shaped locks for the best security. Cable locks are easy to cut and therefore are not deterrents to bike thieves. Be sure to lock both the frame and tires to the rack. One way to do this is to use a U-lock to attach the bike frame and front tire to the rack and use a cable lock to attach the other tire to the rack.
  • Always walk your bicycle on the campus.
  • During winter months when it gets dark early, at a minimum be sure your bicycle has a front-facing white flashing light and rear red reflector as required by law.
  • Avoid riding bicycles on the field, blacktop, or corridors between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on school days, unless a special event, such as the 3rd Grade Bike Rodeo, is scheduled.
  • If you have questions about safe bicycling to Hoover and beyond, please contact the City of Palo Alto’s Safe Routes to School Program at (650) 329-2157, or email saferoutes@cityofopaloalto.org for more learn-to-ride resources.

Carpooling to School

Carpooling is a type of ride-sharing that allows busy people to take turns with other parents. Carpooling helps:

  • Save time and money
  • Minimize the wear and tear on your car
  • Reduce traffic during peak hours, especially during the winter rainy season
  • Demonstrates civic responsibility and a commitment to a sustainable community and planet
  • Gives parents a chance to connect with other parents and community members
  • Gives your child more social time with friends.

Share the idea of carpooling with parents also interested in participating. A number of apps are currently available to help parents consider carpooling with other parents, or you may want to post a note for other families using your local parent network. Once you have developed a carpool:

  • Keep the phone number and address of each parent in case of emergencies.
  • Leave your house early, with enough time to pick up children.
  • Have children under age 13 sit in the back seat, and make sure they wear their seatbelts. Children younger than 8 years old must ride in a booster or car safety seat.
  • Before driving to school, make sure that all the car doors are closed properly and use the child safety locks if your car has them.
  • Never leave children alone in the car, not even for a minute.

Driving to and from School

  • Parents who must drop off their children or who need to go north or east toward Middlefield are encouraged to park at the Mitchell Park Library or Mitchell Park parking lot. Not only will pick-up and drop-off be faster, but students can take advantage of the short walk across the park to get exercise and fresh air that they need to succeed.
  • The Hoover School auto entrance is on the west border of campus on East Charleston Road. Drivers may only enter the school driveway by driving west on Charleston (from Middlefield). Turning left turn into campus from going east on Charleston (coming from Alma Street) is illegal. If youare going east on Charleston, consider dropping your child off at Mitchell Park.
  • Do not drop off or pick up students on the campus Charleston frontage. This blocks the active bike lane and interferes with cars entering and exiting the campus safely and efficiently. If you must park on the other side of Charleston Road, make sure your child crosses the street ONLY at the guarded crosswalks. Make sure children exit the car on the sidewalk side of the car, not the street side.
  • It is illegal to make U-turns on Carlson during morning and afternoon peak traffic times and periodic enforcement of this corner does occur.
  • As indicated by the current signage, it is illegal make a left turn leaving the campus in the morning. If you need to go east toward Middlefield, please drop students off in the Mitchell Park Library or Mitchell Park parking lot.
  • It is our school’s intention to be a good neighbor. Please avoid turning onto side streets to make U-turns, as this can be dangerous for students who walk and bicycle to school on these streets. Instead, use the main transportation arteries (Middlefield Road using the Mitchell Park Library entrance, Alma Street, El Camino Real, East Meadow Street using the Mitchell Park entrance and westbound on East Charleston Road when transporting children to and from school. Do not cut through or park in the neighborhoods, if possible.
  • Please do not drive through the JLS Middle School parking lot to drop off Hoover students, or use private lots at Stevenson House or the church to drop off/turn round. Let’s model respect for neighbors and good citizenship.
  • At the end of their school day students who are being picked up in vehicles can be picked up at the loading zone in front of classrooms 1-8, or at a designated location near Mitchell Park or Mitchell Park Library.
  • In the afternoon, please form two lines as you enter the campus to keep traffic off Charleston.
  • Please pull all the way forward or close to the last car in line against the right curb. Never let children in on the second lane from the curb.
  • If you wish to park, you must pull forward to the parking spaces to the left of the drop-off lane or by the Child Care Building. If your student passengers are not in the pick-up waiting area, either park or exit and circle through again.
  • Be aware of school commute routes illustrated on Hoover’s Walk & Roll map. Watch for young bicyclists and pedestrians on the roadway from sidewalks. These ‘early walkers and rollers’ may still be learning the rules of the road. Please show them patience, understanding and respect.
  • If you do not pick up or drop off your children yourself, please inform your driver of our traffic safety rules above.
  • Observe the speed limit in school zones at all times. Our campus speed limit is 5mph.
  • Be alert for young children.
  • Obey “No Right Turn on Red” signs where posted at intersections near schools. This allows children to cross safely without cars turning through the crosswalk. Where adult crossing guards are posted, obey their instructions.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Always use child safety seats and safety belts correctly every time you and your children ride. Remain buckled up until car has been turned off. 
  • Try to carpool whenever possible to help reduce congestion around our school.
  • Please ensure children exit the car on the passenger side, in the lane closest to the curb. Never double- park, block access to ramps, drop off in the passing lane or stop where prohibited, as these are ticketable offenses.
  • DON’T RUSH. Leave home a few minutes earlier instead. Those few minutes will help to keep us all safer.
  • When waiting to drop off or pick up your child after school, please turn off your engine to help reduce carbon emissions around the school. Exposure to exhaust can increase a child’s risk of developing asthma, the most common chronic illness among children and one of the top reasons for absenteeism. More info.

Taking the Bus to School

If your child will be taking a bus to school, please review the following information.

  • Student must arrive 5 minutes prior to their bus pick up time.
  • Wait safely in the designated area at the bus stop.
  • Keep head, hands, and feet inside the bus.
  • Follow the bus driver’s directions. Please note that the driver may not let anyone off at a stop different from his or her regular stop without a dated note signed by the parent.

Bus schedules and bus rules are mailed to the parents of all children who ride the bus prior to the opening of school. If you have a question or problem related to buses, please call the Transportation Department at 650-329-3747.

Crossing Guards

Adult crossing guards will be on duty approximately one-half hour before and after school at the intersections of Middlefield/Charleston, Charleston/Nelson, and Charleston/Carlton and other intersections that serve Hoover students. Find locations on Hoover’s Walk & Roll map (link). Plan school commute routes with these protected corners in mind. Please report any crossing-guard absence immediately to the non-emergency number of PAPD 650-329-2413.

Kindergarten Drop-Off

One of the best ways for children to learn how to be safe and responsible bicyclists and pedestrians is to walk and bike with their parents, starting in kindergarten. Children who regularly practice safe walking and biking with their parents are likely to make safer choices when they begin commuting independently at about age 9 or 10. If you must drive, and especially during peak commute times or if you are going east toward Middlefield, a very safe and generally congestion free option is to park your car in the Mitchell Park spaces and walk across the park to enter the campus through the Mitchell Park gate. It’s a 5-minute walk to Hoover and a great way to start or wind down your Kindergartener’s day.

The Kindergarten vehicle drop-off is between the portables and Kindergarten classrooms. It's for Kindergartners only, though all children in a car with the Kindergarten child may unload to avoid a second unloading event. Traffic monitors will be helping children out of the cars and into the schoolyard. Please pull all the way forward or close to the last car in line against the right curb. Do not let children out in the second lane from the curb.

Safe Routes to School Volunteer Opportunities

With some of the highest percentages of students walking and bicycling to school in the nation, Palo Alto’s Safe Routes to School Partnership is a great way to help make a difference at Hoover. Interested in addressing traffic congestion, helping out with our yearly bike rodeo, and encouraging more families to use active transportation to get to school? If so, you may want to consider volunteering as a PTA Safe Routes to School Champion (SRC). Each PAUSD school has one or more SRC’s that work in partnership with the city and school district to improve school commute route conditions, support traffic safety education and encouragement of alternatives to driving solo to school. Visit the PTA Council Safe Routes to School website for the volunteer opportunities.

Reporting Problems, Collisions and Near-Misses

Report any collisions involving a student to the PAPD at 650-329-2413 even if there are no injuries. Also, contact your school office to fill out the PAUSD incident report form. These reports help the city and school district improve the safety of our streets and school campus environment.

For more traffic safety information, please check the PTA Council Safe Routes to School website.