Galax Safe Routes to School Program Receives 2016 Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (March 31, 2016) ─ The National Center for Safe Routes to School is pleased to announce the Galax Safe Routes to School Program as the 2016 recipient of the Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award, a national award for outstanding achievement in implementing a Safe Routes to School program. This year the award is being given in recognition of the 10 year anniversary of the Federal Safe Routes to School Program.

Galax Safe Routes to School Program demonstrated exemplary Safe Routes to School successes. The program has helped create safer pathways for students walking and biking in the rural mountain community of Galax, VA, through diverse activities and infrastructure improvements including: building new sidewalks and crosswalk infrastructure near the local elementary, middle and high schools; establishing a Bike Library where students and community members can borrow bicycles to ride around the community; implementing a successful daily walking mileage club; and creating strong partnerships with their city council, parks and recreation department, police department and school board. 

“By fostering local support the Galax Safe Routes to School Program has helped transform its town into one where walking and biking is a vibrant part of community culture,” said Nancy Pullen-Seufert, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. “We’re so happy to recognize their outstanding efforts and we hope Galax will inspire similar programs in other small town communities across the country.”

“On behalf of Galax City Public Schools we are grateful that the National Safe Routes to Schools program has recognized the hard work and accomplishment of all involved in our project.  I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and we walked or rode our bikes everywhere.  I am excited to see our young people today getting involved once again in walking and riding bikes, not only to school but in their everyday activities,” said Ray Kohl, Chairman of the School Board, Galax City Public Schools.

“This national recognition means a great deal to us in Galax,” said Linda Mock, the Galax Safe Routes to School Coordinator. “This program has truly been a community effort and we are so proud of the work we’ve done to help create a safer, healthier environment for our children. The Galax school students, staff and parents have worked hard and done much to win this award.”

The program received federal Safe Routes to School funding through the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in the amount of $571,850 to eliminate existing physical barriers to walking to school and for bicycling and safety education.
The official award presentation will take place at the upcoming Safe Routes to School National Conference in Columbus, Ohio on April 5. Last week, community members gathered at Galax Elementary School for the local award ceremony. The Mayor of Galax, local police officers, city officials, students, teachers and the public works employees who helped build the sidewalks among many others came together to celebrate Galax’s recognition.

The James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award is named for the late congressman to honor his dedication to American schoolchildren as the pioneer for the National Safe Routes to School Program. Chairman Oberstar sponsored the Safe Routes to School legislation with the purpose of creating safe settings to enable more parents and children to walk and bicycle to school.

For more information on the Award, visit http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/program-tools/success-stories/safe-routes-school-award.