Boulder Valley School District Transportation Dept. is an Innovative Leader in Safe Routes to School

The Boulder Valley School District's Transportation Department is working hard to reduce the number of car trips to and from school. From starting a bicycle education program in P.E. classes for 5th and 6th graders, called BLAST, to inventing the Trip Tracker program that rewards students for using alternative transportation to school, including biking, walking, taking the bus and carpooling, by giving them trip tracker dollars (redeemable at several local businesses) for every trip to and from school that does not involve a single family in one car. They are also producing interactive maps for participating schools, to help parents organize car pools, bike pools, and walking school buses in their neighborhoods. BVSD is also working hard to get faculty and staff members involved with its Eco Pass program, so they can take the bus to and from work.

BVSD is certainly on the cutting edge of the alternative transportation movement and has been a huge supporter of the Safe Routes to School initiatives. In fact, two of its elementary schools, Heatherwood and Bear Creek, received the James L. Oberstar award for Excellence in SRTS. This award has only been given out six times across the nation and BVSD has won it twice. Kris and Amy Thompson of 303Cycling, have worked extensively with Peter Hurst, Landon Hilliard and Julie Ireland of the BVSD transportation department in developing the award-winning program at Heatherwood and can truly say their vision and enthusiasm is excellent. In fact, Heatherwood would never have had a SRTS program had the BVSD not directly approached the school to start one. On that note, is district level support key to successful SRTS programs at individual schools? Dave Cowan, of the National Partnership for Safe Routes to School addresses that very question in his recent blog where Dave shares his thoughts on the critical relationship between individual schools at their districts:

Institutionalizing Safe Routes to School must include close partnerships with both the district and individual schools. It is our role as advocates to help align supportive messaging and improve policies regarding walking and bicycling to school between district, school and the rest of the community. Today would be a good day to find out where your district stands – your expertise might just be what will tip the scale.

Read more about BVSD in the Daily Camera

Fifth- and sixth-graders at 20 Boulder Valley schools will learn how to perform basic bike safety checks and signal turns through a new bike training program.

The three-hour curriculum was written by Boulder Valley School District educators and will be taught over four physical education classes. Students will spend about two-thirds of the time on their bikes.

Peter Hurst, the district's alternative transportation specialist, said the bike training program is one of several efforts this year designed to get more students out of cars and walking, biking or riding a bus to school. For students who live too far to walk or bike, he's encouraging carpools for younger students and public transportation for older ones.

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