2008 James L. Oberstar Award

Bear Creek Elementary School in Boulder, Colorado, wins Oberstar Award
Read a Bear Creek Elementary School Case Study

CHAPEL HILL, NC — The National Center for Safe Routes to School announces that Bear Creek Elementary School in Boulder, Colo., is the recipient of the 2008 James L. Oberstar Award. The school’s Safe Routes to School program involves 70 percent of students in walking and bicycling activities throughout the year.

“All the applications were outstanding, but Bear Creek’s goals and achievements mirrored Congressman Oberstar’s intentions for sustained change in families’ travel habits when the Safe Routes to School legislation was passed,” said Lauren Marchetti, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

“We are trying to create a new culture of daily car-free habits in this young generation,” explains Vivian Kennedy, parent volunteer at Bear Creek Elementary. A City of Boulder study conducted during the first year of the school’s Car-Free Commute program (2007-2008) showed a 36 percent reduction in cars and corresponding traffic congestion. During the program’s second year, students accrued 4,800 miles from 6,600 Car-Free Commute trips in a single month (September 2008).

Bear Creek Elementary School, one of the first in the country to have walking school buses throughout the school year, keeps track of students’ travel through monthly tallies. Kent Cruger, principal at Bear Creek Elementary, challenges students daily with his own examples of car-free travel.

“We are grateful for the support of district personnel, the Safe Routes Program, the City of Boulder, and especially our parent community at Bear Creek,” said Principal Kent Cruger. “This team effort has had an incredibly positive impact on our students.”

"I am extremely proud of the Safe Routes to School program at Bear Creek Elementary,” says Congressman James L. Oberstar, after whom the award is named. “The students, parents, faculty, and staff have given us an outstanding example of how we can change the lifestyle habits of an entire generation. I heartily congratulate the Bear Creek community for its achievements and would like to see it become a model for Safe Routes to School programs across the country."

The award is named for Congressman Oberstar (D-MN) to honor his dedication to American school children as the pioneer for the National Safe Routes to School Program. Oberstar, current Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, sponsored the Safe Routes to School legislation that strives to create safe settings to enable more parents and children to walk and bicycle to school.

Organizations that promote pedestrian and bicycle safety offered their expertise in reviewing the applications received by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. America Walks, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Governors Highway Safety Association, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the National Center for Bicycling and Walking and Toole Design Group all were among the organizations that assisted the National Center for Safe Routes to School in the selection process.

The 2008 Oberstar Award sought to recognize outstanding achievement by a school or community in establishing a Safe Routes to School program with Federal funding. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs make it safer for children to walk and bicycle to school and encourage more children to do so. The Oberstar Award is given annually by the National Center for Safe Routes to School to an exemplary SRTS program in the United States.

In July 2005, Congress passed federal legislation that established a national Safe Routes to School program. The program dedicated a total of $612 million towards Safe Routes to School from 2005 to 2009. These funds are made available to individual States to develop and administer Safe Routes to School Programs through the Department of Transportation.

Established in May 2006 through funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the National Center for Safe Routes to School assists communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. The Center strives to equip Safe Routes to School programs with the knowledge and technical information to implement safe and successful strategies. The Center is located at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.

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