Superior, Colorado: Safe routes activities encourage walking to school

Introduction

Eldorado K-8 School in Superior, CO has more than 1,000 students, and more than 950 of them living within two miles of the school. The number of students living in close proximity to school creates the potential for a large number of them to walk and bicycle to school.

The area around the school already has many important infrastructure components, such as sidewalks and street signs, but many of the parents perceive the area as dangerous for their children to walk or bicycle to school, or the parents are accustomed to driving their children.

To make parents comfortable with their children walking and bicycling, the SRTS coordinator works to create a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly community for all of its members.

In August 2007, Eldorado received approximately $12,000 in federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funds through the Colorado Department of Transportation for safe routes-related education and encouragement activities, which the SRTS coordinator and team have designed to benefit both the students and community of Superior.

The rest of the SRTS team is comprised of parent volunteers, the principal and PTO members.

Activities

Students from Eldorado K-8 received bicycle helmets and learned about bicycle safety.Because of the SRTS coordinator’s focus on sustainability, all SRTS events are open to Superior’s residents. The first SRTS activity of the fall 2007 school year was in August, during the first week of school. At this after-school event, about 300 students and some of their parents came to learn about the SRTS program and the upcoming school year’s SRTS activities. Local town representatives handed out trail maps, professional cycling athletes answered questions, and the Boulder County Sheriff Department gave away bicycle helmets.

Boulder County sheriff's deputy fixing a flat tire.In September 2007, Eldorado K-8 hosted a Safe Routes Scavenger Hunt during the weekend and invited the community to attend. As a result, 400 Eldorado students, along with Superior residents attended the event. The main tent was set up on the school field and served as the starting point for the hunt and as a distribution center for bicycle helmets for students and community members.

Along with inflatable obstacles set up in the field for the children to play on, there was a deejay, food and a raffle. For the scavenger hunt, children received small cloth backpacks and were told they needed to find three other tents, all less than one mile from the school, at which they would receive small prizes. Because the students did not know the tents’ locations, they were able to explore the area surrounding the school while practicing safe bicycle and pedestrian behaviors and skills.

There also was a celebratory fair in spring 2008 to serve as a public forum for pedestrians and bicyclists. The SRTS coordinator hired a mapping consultant to create maps for the school to be the centerpiece of a Safe Routes walk-bike brochure, as well as generate discussion about walking and bicycling. These maps showed pedestrian routes from the school to homes and emphasized the barriers that might prevent community members and their children from walking or bicycling. Case Study Students from Eldorado K-8 received bicycle helmets and learned about bicycle safety.

In cooperation with Y-Riders, the local YMCA bicycle program, the Boulder Valley School District developed a bicycle safety course to incorporate in its physical education curriculum. Known as BLAST, Bike Lesson and Safety Training, classes began in spring 2008.

International Walk to School Day has been a popular event at Eldorado since 2001. At the 2007 Walk to School Day event, 50 percent of the student population participated.. Although the number of students who participated in the fall 2007 Walk to School Day event was less than the numbers from previous events, the school staff is committed to encouraging its students to walk and bicycle with the goal of creating a sustainable community.

Milestones

On warm weather days throughout the school year, the bicycle racks have been filled beyond capacity, and the Boulder Valley School District applied for and was awarded additional SRTS funding for a Bike Rack Program, during which the placement and quality of bicycle parking facilities will be assessed and improved.

For the fall 2008 school year, parent volunteers have formed a Safe Routes Committee, and they want to continue their progress of creating a sustainable program by partnering with local businesses and using the remaining SRTS grant money.

Contact

Landon Hilliard
BVSD Transportation Department
TO School Program — Walking, Cycling, Bus Riding
Phone: 303-245-5931
Email: landon.hilliard@bvsd.org