Chagrin Falls, Ohio, recognized with 2012 Safe Routes to School Award

Annual award bestows highest honor on a U.S. SRTS program

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (August 22, 2012) – A Safe Routes to School program in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, has been awarded the annual James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award, the highest honor a Safe Routes to School program can receive.

Each year, the National Center for Safe Routes to School bestows the Award to a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program in the United States for its outstanding achievement in promoting safe walking and bicycling to school.

“The selection committee was very impressed with the breadth and depth of Chagrin Falls’ program,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. “They really did it all. Their creative approach spanned the “5 E’s” that are ideal for any SRTS program: engineering and infrastructure, enforcement, safety education, encouragement and evaluation.”

Although 66 percent of students in Chagrin Falls live within 2 miles of school, less than 17 percent of students walked or biked to school in 2009. Now, 26 percent of students regularly walk or bike to school, equivalent to an extra 70 students every day.

Program leaders surveyed parents and identified a lack of continuous sidewalks, dangerous street crossings, and personal safety as key obstacles to children walking and bicycling to school.

Using this information, the program:

  • Improved the safety of the most commonly-used routes to school by building sidewalks, improving snow removal, enforcing school zone speed limits and implementing a “no right on red” policy at key intersections during school hours
  • Employed volunteer crossing guards to guide students through intersections near the school
  • Provided creative safety education programs and assemblies for students using the local community theater and student-to-student outreach campaigns

Safe Routes to School Chagrin Falls received Federal SRTS funding to support the installation of new sidewalks and school paths, bike racks, school zone signage and pavement markings; safety assemblies and other student outreach programs; a new Safe Houses program that identified safe places for children who need to find an adult; equipment and training for crossing guards; promotional and educational materials; and support for encouragement programs like contests and Walk/Bike to School events.

The Award Selection Committee felt that three other programs deserved special recognition:

  • The City of Takoma Park, Maryland’s Safe Routes to School program has developed Safe Routes to School at five area schools by establishing an SRTS brand and school-based programming, and by promoting long-term program sustainability with funds raised through a year-long walking and running program that culminates in a city-wide 5K road race, 5K walk and youth and fun runs.
  • Brightwood Elementary School in Springfield, Mass., implemented a Walking School Bus program to successfully address challenges of childhood obesity, neighborhood safety, absenteeism and tardiness. The program, which has increased participation from 50 students to 130, has become a model for other area schools that want to make positive community changes with few resources.
  • Corrales Elementary School in the Village of Corrales, N.M., is bordered by a busy highway. The SRTS program addressed this infrastructure challenge with a unique approach that included the engagement of the entire community, raising the percentage of students regularly walking and biking to school from 5 percent to 25 percent.

2012 Award applicants were reviewed and selected by a committee comprised of representatives from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the National PTA, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Center for Safe Routes to School.


About the Safe Routes to School 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, passed in 2005 as part of the SAFETEA-LU bill, which strove to create safe settings to enable more children and parents to walk and bicycle to school. For more information, visit

About the National Center for Safe Routes to School

Established in May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School assists states and communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. The National Center serves as the information clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School program. The organization also provides technical support and resources and coordinates online registration efforts for Walk to School Day and Bike to School Day in the U.S.A. and facilitates worldwide promotion and participation in International Walk to School Day. The National Center is part of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. For more information, visit


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