Safe Routes to School in the Pacific Northwest

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The Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s mission is to advocate for safe walking and bicycling to and from school, and in daily life, to improve the health and well-being of America’s children and to foster the creation of livable, sustainable communities.

Working in the Pacific Northwest, this regional network brings together community members of all ages, including advocates, school officials and teachers, and those interested in or working on health, transportation and planning. Together, around the greater Portland, Vancouver, and Salem regions, we support walking and bicycling policies and funding within communities, to create a place where walking and bicycling are safe and convenient.

Now is the time to speak up for Washington state’s kids

In Washington state’s 2015 legislative session, state House and Senate transportation leaders have worked for many months to craft transportation revenue proposals that include critical safe biking and walking investments. Both the Senate and House transportation proposals made important contributions and forward progress, with the House transportation proposal setting a foundation for new walking and biking investments at approximately $236 million over a 16-year timeframe.

These investment increases are significant and worth supporting.

Please thank your legislators today for their work to date on the transportation package and ask them for more school safety investments.

Eighty-four percent of Washington state voters think funding for Safe Routes to School should be prioritized in the transportation budget. More can be done to invest in the state’s Safe Routes to School grant program. Currently only 1 in 4 school safety projects are getting funded. With a modest increase from the House funding levels, we can enable even more locally driven school safety projects to reach completion.

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Now is the time to ask legislators to support the House proposal’s initial investment levels for biking and walking, and to remind the legislature that their work is not done. We are so close to making more school safety projects a reality. Our partners at Washington Bikes have posted a great write up on the revenue package with a link to send a letter to your legislators to thank them for their work to date and to ask for more needed school safety investments.

Thank you for taking the time to thank our state legislators for investing in our children, and remind them that every child in Washington state deserves the chance to safely walk and roll to school.

Please send a note to your Washington state legislator today. Click here now.

Thanks for your support of safe and healthy routes to school for all of Washington’s kids!

$3000 grants available to write or update School Actions Plans

Whether your school is in Keizer or Tualatin, a current School Action Plan is a great way to continue or re-start down the path of Safe Routes to School.

While not a requirement of the Enhance application process by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) for sidewalk and bicycle facilities projects, the selection committees of ODOT’s Area Commissions on Transportation (ACTs) suggest that Action Plans are often very persuasive evidence of the need for the project in enhancing the safety of students walking to the school site.

While we cannot guarantee the funding picture for the future of Oregon Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure grants to fund Safe Routes to School programs and coordinators, we are hopeful for another round for fiscal year 2017 (starts Oct 2016). To apply for these, your school or district will need a current action plan.

If your school, PTA, neighborhood, or town wants to take a closer look at barriers and opportunities to increase walking and bicycling to school and throughout the community, now is a great time to start.

Mini-Grants for School Action Plans are currently available, and these can be used to update outdated Action Plans (those older than 5 years) — Applications with budgets up to $3000 due April 13, 2015.

Read more about School Action Plans, get in touch with Lynne if you have questions, and be sure to apply soon!

Milwaukie & Tigard Lead the Call for Healthy Kids and Safe Streets

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is pleased to support the For Every Kid Coalition in the Pacific Northwest region. For Every Kid is a growing coalition calling for Safe Routes to School for every kid in the Metro-area; vocal support from cities and school districts is an outcome of key partners coming together to promote the benefits and work with communities and we have been an active part of the leadership of this effort.

Local leaders agree: creating safe options to walk, bike, or ride the bus to school is critical to improving the health of kids.

In March, in unanimous votes, Milwaukie and Tigard City Councils became the first cities to pass resolutions calling on the Metro Regional Government to meaningfully invest in a region-wide “Safe Routes to School” initiative.

“The ability to walk and bike safely is critical to school kids,” said Milwaukie City Councilor Mark Gamba. “The measure of any community is the safety and well-being of its children. I intend to see Milwaukie build the necessary infrastructure to create safe routes to school and move towards the eventual goal of being an utterly walkable and bikeable city.”

Families at Linwood Elementary took action to make walking and bicycling to school safer.

Families at Linwood Elementary took action to make walking and bicycling to school safer.

Efforts in Milwaukie kicked off in 2014 when local residents attended our Clackamas County meet & greet event to learn more about how they could make their communities safer for kids walking and bicycling while improving healthy transportation options. Parents at Linwood Elementary didn’t wait to jump on board for their kids’ safety, and the interest in Safe Routes to School has spread like wildfire throughout the City of Milwaukie and Clackamas County.

Following the passage of Milwaukie’s resolution on March 17th, Tigard City Council and Tigard Mayor John Cook joined the call, passing their own resolution on Tuesday. Continue reading

Leaders to Learn From

Know an excellent school district leader? Is someone in your school district doing great things around health, student travel, or the like? Each year, Education Week shines a spotlight on some of the nation’s most outstanding school district leaders in its Leaders To Learn From special report.(Check out the Leaders for 2015.)

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Help shine a spotlight on some of the nation’s most outstanding school district leaders by nominating individuals who are leading the way on health and physical activity in our schools.

Education Week wants your input for a special report profiling school district leaders who have brought fresh, successful ideas to their school communities. Submit your school district leaders for 2016. Nominations due by August 1, 2015.

Public Hearing 3/18: Clackamas County Active Transportation Plan

Clackamas County Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing at 9:30am on Wednesday, March 18th at the County’s Development Services Building, 2051 Kaen Road, Oregon City, to consider the Clackamas County Active Transportation Plan (ATP).

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The purpose of the ATP project is to identify principal active transportation (PAT) routes that connect destinations and communities in Clackamas County.  In both the urban and rural areas of the county, 24 PAT routes have been identified through county and public input, to provide access to services such as transit, schools, shopping and employment centers, and to recreation and exercise.

Support for this important project for Clackamas County needs to be heard. Please write your County Commissioners about the ATP, and plan to attend the Public Hearing on 3/18 if you’re able.

Some important themes that emerged during the year-long project include:

  • The importance of providing access to schools and other significant destinations.  Several schools are located along these routes and facility improvements to and from these institutions will be beneficial to everyone.
  • Positive impact on health of providing infrastructure that allows people to safely walk or bicycle for utilitarian trips and commuting as well as for recreation. Many parts of the County lack safe infrastructure for people to walk and bike. Providing choices is an important aspect to a well-rounded and equitable transportation system.

Support the future of safe, healthy, and equitable choice in transportation for Clackamas County by letting County Commissioners hear why a plan for safe walking and bicycling routes — including access to schools, town centers, and transit for jobs — is important for residents of Clackamas County.

Speak up in support of Clackamas County’s ATP. Please attend the Public Hearing on Wednesday, March 18, at 9:30am.

For more information, the ATP Executive Summary can be found here (pdf).

March brings a pair of Active Transportation Summits to the Pacific Northwest

March 16-17 | Olympia, Washington

The Washington Bike Summit will host advocates and professionals for the two-day conference that includes a mix of professional workshops and advocate trainings, plus the Summit will host a legislative reception on the evening of March 16, and Transportation Advocacy Day at the capitol on March 17.

More info including full agenda & registration. Note, the full summit is sold out but there are options to attend certain days or events.


March 30-31 | Portland, Oregon

2015 Oregon Active Transportation Summit: Creating Healthy, Vibrant Communities

The Oregon Active Transportation Summit brings great Safe Routes content!
The full agenda is now rolling for the 2015 Oregon Active Transportation Summit featuring Keynote speakers Paul Steely-White of New York’s Transportation Alternatives, and Melissa R. Wells of PolicyLink in Washington, D.C.

Featuring the Cool School Bike Parking mobile workshop; plus a great selection of panels including: Making Active Transportation Viable to Middle and High School Students; Grappling with the Complexity of Equity and Walkability; Safe Routes to School: New Partnerships for Regional Health Equity; How Large Institutions’ Decisions Affect Active Transportation; and more.

More info, including Full Agenda (pdf) & registration (closes 3/23).

Don’t miss the Oregon Safe Routes to School Network Annual Meeting during the AT Summit: Tuesday, March 31, 1-3pm RSVP

Regional funding looks at students’ travel needs

Arguably, transportation investments made for one part of a community can benefit others — such as a street to a new development, which serves people driving to and from their homes and service deliveries, but also serves older adults who walk for health, exercise, and to maintain social connections, as well as youth walking or bicycling to and from school, the library, or their local playground.

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Roadway infrastructure investments are relatively clear cut, but the often understated and “softer” side of transportation — what’s typically referred to as travel options — involves a focus on the education and encouragement of specific populations toward their travel options, and why and how they should use them.

In the Portland Metro region, Regional Travel Options (RTO) grants fund projects that help improve the transportation system through education and encouragement of travel choices to and from work or school, such as carpooling, riding transit, walking, and bicycling. These programs help the region in numerous ways by both improving mobility and reducing pollution from car trips. While this funding opportunity has traditionally focused on employer-based, commuting, and adult needs for travel options, there is a very real need for our youth to also be the recipient of education and encouragement focused on their unique travel options.

Continue reading