Safe Routes to School Award

About the James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award

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 that strives to create safe settings to enable more children and parents to walk and bicycle to school.

Each year, the Safe Routes to School Award recognizes a particular type of accomplishment.

In 2012, the Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Safe Routes to School program earned the Oberstar Award for its broad, deep and creative approach spanning engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement and evaluation.  The program’s efforts have increased walking and biking to school from 17 percent of students in 2009 to 26 percent in 2011.  In addition, three programs received special recognition: Brightwood Elementary School in Springfield, Mass., Corrales Elementary School in the Village of Corrales, N.M.,  and the Takoma Park SRTS Program in Takoma Park, Md.  Read more.

In 2011, both Heatherwood Elementary School (Boulder, Colo.) and Omro Middle School (Omro, Wis.) received the Award.  Heatherwood took on ambitious infrastructure, education and encouragement activities that increased the percentage of students regularly walking and bicycling to school from 12 percent to 43 percent.  Omro integrated active commuting into its school culture using a variety of tactics, including developing an innovative cycling program using a fleet of 35+ bicycles maintained by the school’s “Young Mechanics.”

 In 2010, Alpine Elementary School (Alpine, Utah) received the Award in recognition for increasing the percentage of children who regularly walk and bicycle to school from 35 percent to 50 percent; for engaging students, parents and the community in the effort; and for using creative strategies to encourage families to shift habits to a less car-focused commute.

In 2009, Ben W. Murch Elementary School (Washington, D.C.) received the Award in recognition for excellence in building community support and infrastructure for safe walking and bicycling to school, as well as for overturning a school policy that discouraged walking and bicycling to school. 

In 2008, Bear Creek Elementary School (Boulder, Colo.) received the Award for its success in engaging 70 percent of the student population in walking and bicycling throughout the school year. 

In 2007, the Michigan Department of Transportation received the Award for its successful, expeditious implementation of a statewide Safe Routes to School program.