Foothill Elementary School in Boulder, CO, had been participating in International Walk to School Day for several years before a group of parents joined forces to increase pedestrian and bicycle efforts using Safe Routes to School (SRTS) principles. Although the parents had different motivations, from a desire to build the community to a wish to outgrow the car culture, the group’s work increased the numbers of students walking and bicycling to Foothill Elementary.
The root of the group’s success at Foothill Elementary was the monthly Walk and Wheel Wednesdays, a pedestrian and bicycle encouragement program that the group developed. The group began its efforts without any funding until fall 2005, when it received a $1000 mini-grant from Bicycle Colorado, the City of Boulder and the Boulder Valley School District for non-infrastructure activities at the school. Even with minimum funding, the group created encouragement programs that increased the number of students walking and bicycling to school.
Because of the success of the Walk and Wheel Wednesdays, the group created a “Freiker” (Frequent Biker) program in December 2006 to augment its bicycle encouragement activities. To keep track of the students participating in the Freiker program, Foothill Elementary uses the “Freikometer.” A solar-powered tool developed by parent volunteers, the Freikometer counts bicyclists and uploads the data to a computer. Students bicycle under the device (see photo), and it counts the students, who have radio frequency identifier tags on their bicycle helmets. The device plays a sound, so the students know they have been counted. The device will play a song randomly after a student is counted, indicating that student has won a prize.
In 2007, Foothill Elementary received additional funding from two SRTS grants. The first grant for $73,000 was distributed among the six schools in the district for education and encouragement programs. At Foothill Elementary, the money went toward increasing the frequency of Walk and Wheel Wednesdays and promoting the event. The second grant, which totaled $150,000, was shared with another school for infrastructure improvements to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety. Foothill Elementary applied this money to building a bulb-out on a shared use path and constructing a connecting sidewalk between the path and the school. Case Study The ‘Freikometer’ at Foothill Elementary School. Since the inception of the SRTS program at Foothill Elementary School, walking and bicycling to school have become very popular.
Foothill Elementary has increased enthusiasm for walking and bicycling to school as a result of the SRTS program. Before the program began, the school had one bicycle rack that was not used often. Now the school has numerous bicycle racks, and they are full most of the time. Between November and May of the 2006 to 2007 school year, the number of students walking and bicycling to school increased by eight percent. A final tally will be taken in May 2008 to assess the results of pedestrian and bicycle efforts during the 2007 to 2008 school year.
Student Transportation Coordinator
Boulder Valley School District (BVSD)
Phone: (303) 245-5931