Locals garner $62K to get kids to walk or bike to school | PostIndependent.com

Locals garner $62K to get kids to walk or bike to school

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Despite what grandparents have said, nobody in the past walked to school uphill both ways through the snow. But they probably did walk to school.That’s a good thing, say Larry Heinrichs and Cathy Tuttle, since childhood obesity is growing faster than a fast-food-eater’s waistline and traffic backs up when many people drive their kids to school. Kids today are walking or biking to school far less than ever before, they said. Heinrichs served on the Glenwood Springs Traffic Calming Committee and Transportation Commission. Tuttle works for the New Century Transportation Foundation.Reducing childhood obesity, traffic and pollution by getting kids walking and biking to school are the main goals behind Heinrichs and Tuttle’s drive to get city and school officials to help plan safe routes to school in the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 and Aspen School District.According to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Web site, recent legislation, including a safe routes to school program, makes $612 million in federal funds available over five fiscal years. Each state receives a portion of the funds based on its percentage of the national total of school-aged children in kindergarten through eighth grade, but not less than $1 million each year.Tuttle said the effort locally has been awarded $62,000 in grant money for 2007 for Glenwood, Carbondale, Basalt and Aspen.Heinrichs and Tuttle said surveys have been conducted to study habits of transportation to school locally and figure out why kids are not walking. The most common answer, people responded, is that it’s not safe. But there are alternatives such as the “walking school bus,” where kids in a certain area could meet and walk with a parent. Part of the process is educating students and parents about walking or biking to school. The other part is planning improvements and designating routes.In a safe routes to school program, “parents and administrators at the school work along with other community groups and agencies to build new sidewalks, improve pedestrian crossings, teach children safer biking and walking skills and promote healthier, more active lifestyles,” a safe routes to school handbook created by Heinrichs says.Coming up are more surveys and site audits where Tuttle, Heinrichs and others will look at schools during morning or afternoon peak traffic hours. Observations and solutions will be discussed at a subsequent meeting and design workshops. For more information, or to attend the meetings, call Cathy Tuttle at 274-1875 or Larry Heinrichs at 274-0132.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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