Daily Camera - September 13, 2009
Grant program aims to improve sidewalks, bike paths leading to schools
By Rob Herman For the Camera
Flatirons Elementary students celebrate Earth Day and the Boulder Valley School District s Walk & Roll to School Day with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and parade down a new multi-use path in April. A joint project of the national Safe Routes to School and the city of Boulder, the new path and bike racks were built to make it easier for students to walk and bike to school. (Photo courtesy of Monique Cole, )
The city of Boulder is trying to get more Boulder Valley students to walk and bike to school next year and is asking the community for infrastructure improvement proposals.
Since its inception in 2005, the federally funded Colorado Safe Routes to School program has received grant money every year to fix paths children take to school.
"We have a funding source to advance projects that would likely not be implemented anytime soon," said Marni Ratzel, bicycle/pedestrian transportation planner for GO Boulder, the city's alternative-transportation program.
By working directly with the city and Boulder Valley School District, the Colorado Safe Routes to School program focuses on obstacles children face on the way to school, such as poorly maintained sidewalks and bike paths.
"In transportation terms, we are just making it more convenient," said program coordinator Landon Hilliard.
Flatiron and Foothill elementary schools have already benefited from the program, while Southern Hills Middle School and Bear Creek Elementary are scheduled for improvements in subsequent months.
To be eligible for a specific area to receive improvements, it must be within 2 miles of a Boulder Valley school and "illustrate an ability to accommodate and increase safe biking and walking access and connectivity along school routes," according to a news release.
All proposals must be submitted to GO Boulder by Oct. 7 to be considered for the next year's Colorado Department of Transportation's grant program.
GO Boulder is also launching a bicycle safety education program called Blast (Bicycle Lesson and Safety Training) by working with physical education teachers to promote proper helmet usage and overall safe bicycle riding.
"It's a challenge, but we're working with the schools, and the kids are really embracing it and wanting to participate," Ratzel said.