When Biking to School Is Cool

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The kids at Bear Creek Elementary in Boulder, Colorado, are some of the most hardcore green commuters in the land. Seventy percent of the students there walk or bike to school, we learned on the website Commute by Bike–an achievement that earned the school the 2008 James Oberstar Award for excellence in the federal Safe Routes program.

Only 25 percent of the students walked or biked when the program began two years ago, which shows that a little encouragement can go a long way. A little wackiness doesn’t hurt, either. Principal Kent Cruger has helped inspire students by arriving at school on wheeled transport including a foot-powered scooter, a skateboard, and a unicycle. And the school’s “Walking Schoolbus” program promotes walking routes with names that are anything but pedestrian, like Darley Dart, Vassar Vroom, and Sooper Shuttle.

“We are trying to create a new culture of daily car-free habits in this young generation,” says Vivian Kennedy, a parent volunteer at Bear Creek, according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School. “A parent’s perception is a dominant factor in molding a child’s thinking, [but ] it’s now a matter of honor and pride for the students.”

In other words, it’s cool.

Sources: Commute by Bike, Safe Routes, Safe Routes Bear Creek Case Study, James L. Oberstar Award

Image by Dan Burden, courtesy of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.

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