Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Grand Valley Receives Federal Safe Routes to School Funding

The City of Grand Junction in partnership with Grand Valley Bikes was awarded $44,000 recently by the Colorado Department of Transportation's Colorado Safe Routes to School program for comprehensive projects that will engage local school children to walk and bike safely to school.

The Colorado Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program creates a sustainable culture of walking and bicycling at each school by increasing the safety skill-set of all students as well as incorporating parents and guardians
to monitor routes to school. Tope Elementary will host SRTS November 7-11, 2011; Rocky Mountain Elementary SRTS program will be held for two weeks in the spring of 2012.
Children in physical education classes will participate in lessons that
prepare them for real-life scenarios while planting the seed for an active
lifestyle. “Studies show that kids who are regularly active tend to do better
in school and on tests because there is more oxygen going to the brain.” says
Josh Warinner, Tope Elementary School P.E. Teacher. He also noted that SRTS aligns with the Colorado State Physical Education Standard which identifies the importance of physical activities and learning many different life-long activities.

Numerous municipalities and organizations including the City
of Grand Junction; Grand Valley Bikes; Mesa County; City of Fruita; Bicycle
Colorado; The Riverfront Commission; Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail
Association (COPMOBA); Tope and Rocky Mountain Elementary School principals, PE
teachers, and PTAs have come forward to support this important program. The community partners intend to continue bicycle education and the positive effects it will have on this and coming
generations in the Grand Valley. “The City of Grand Junction is committed to accommodating all modes of transportation and believe programs that encourage children to walk and bike safely to school contribute to achieving our goal of ‘Becoming the Most Livable Community West of the Rockies’” says Kathy Portner, Neighborhood Services Manager for the City of Grand Junction and liaison to the SRTS program.

SRTS supports the mission of Grand Valley Bikes (GVB), which
is to improve safety and infrastructure for cyclists in the Grand Valley. The 501c3
bicycle advocacy organization formed from a group of concerned commuter and
recreational cyclists who believe that bicycling is a sustainable
transportation alternative with health, environmental, and community benefits. “Safe Routes to School program has been very successful in other parts of the state.
Grand Valley Bikes aims to have hundreds of school children become safe and
confident when commuting to school in the Grand Valley for years to come,” says
GVB president, Jason Wedemeyer. GVB plans to use the bicycle fleet in perpetuity and in accordance with SRTS objectives.

Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years while the number of children walking and biking to school has declined. According to the 2001
National Household Travel Survey, less than 16 percent of students between the
ages of 5 and 15 walked or biked to or from school, compared to 42 percent in

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