Heatherwood Elementary in Boulder has recently won the James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award for their efforts in getting more kids walking and biking to school. Only one elementary school in the US wins it every year and this year it returns to Boulder, Bear Creek Elementary won it in 2008.
The James Oberstar Award
The James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award is given annually for outstanding achievement in implementing a Safe Routes to School program in the United States. The award is named for James L. Oberstar, former chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (2007-2011) and former U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 8th Congressional District (1975-2011), to honor his dedication to American schoolchildren as the pioneer for the federal Safe Routes to School Program. Mr. Oberstar sponsored the Safe Routes to School legislation that strives to create safe settings to enable more children and parents to walk and
bicycle to school.
In some ways Heatherwood had the perfect setup to succeed, with 90% of its students living within 2 miles of the school, with an active community where many parents are avid athletes, and it's in a community with wide streets and sidewalks. Yet in some ways it is no different than any other car-centric suburban or urban school. It has a rural commuter highway that bisects the community leaving only the extremely brave to cross it even with their parents. But with a grant from Safe Routes to Schools and some hard work by Boulder County officials, the bisected community has been joined by a new cross walk along with other safety infrastructure. With these safety improvements and an active campaign of encouraging biking and walking, Heatherwood has increased its number of children who regularly walk and bike to school from 12% to 43%, in three short years. Hopefully Heatherwood can serve as an example to other schools and communities that it is possible to reclaim neighborhoods to a walking and biking lifestyle.
- Helping kids with special needs ride bikes at Heatherwood