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. Our efforts to improve policies and leverage support for Safe Routes to School in the Pacific Northwest are generously supported by Kaiser Permanente.

Contract work: Outreach Specialist sought

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership seeks an outreach specialist to work under contract to ensure that the National Partnership’s Fire Up Your Feet program engages schools (students, school staff and parents) in Oregon and four counties in Southwest Washington during the fall 2015.

Read full request for proposals here (pdf).

National Partnership Mourns Passing Of Its Founder, Deb Hubsmith

It is with a heavy heart and wonderful memories that the Safe Routes to School National Partnership mourns the passing of its founder, Deb Hubsmith. Deb passed on August 18, 2015 after a hard fought battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Deb dedicated her life to advancing Safe Routes to School, bicycling, and walking at the national, state, regional, and local levels, starting in her home of Marin County, California. We will remember Deb always and celebrate the legacy of her life as the bold, visionary leader of the Safe Routes to School movement.

Our board chair, Risa Wilkerson, has shared a beautiful tribute to Deb’s many accomplishments, here.

The National Partnership appreciates the outpouring of tributes, support, and memories shared about Deb, from many partners and friends.

Getting Fired Up for Autumn

In August, our focus turns to the remaining vacation days we have yet to take… and what too-quickly arrives: the bustle of back to school.

Though the cool days of autumn seem far from us now, we have much to look forward to when it comes to keeping our kids active and healthy. As school schedules settle down, October is an exciting month for keeping routines for walking and biking to school, and getting physical activity throughout the day. Here are two great ways to keep moving in Oregon & SW Washington:

  • Fire Up Your Feet Fall Challenge — October 1-31: Celebrate all forms of physical activity to school and throughout the community. Cash awards based on school participation & staying active during the month-long challenge.
  • Walk+Bike to School Day — Wednesday, October 7: Celebrate this special day with thousands of schools internationally. Can your school reach 100% participation on this day?

In Oregon? Get started with registration here — the first 250 schools to register will receive a package of free incentives, while getting automatically signed up for both the Fire Up Your Feet Challenge and Walk+Bike to School Day.

In SW Washington? Get started here.

Everyone! Check out these & these encouragement ideas for assemblies, poster contests, bike rodeos, and more!

Two new National Partnership reports explore equity & violence prevention

We all need transportation to get to school and work, buy food, find housing, and live our daily lives. But low-income people and people of color in the United States face transportation hurdles, based on historical and ongoing inequities in transportation and community investments, that can mean that just accessing basic needs is time consuming, dangerous, and almost impossible – and that can include the trip to school.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has released two new reports that explore the issues that arise when social inequities and the threat of violence create barriers to active transportation and opportunity for low-income communities and people of color. These publications were made possible through a cooperative agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Public Health Association.

At the Intersection of Active Transportation and Equity: Joining Forces to Make Communities Healthier and Fairer (pdf) explores the complexities of equitable active transportation and the issues that arise at the junction of efforts to advance walking and bicycling and work to increase health, fairness, and opportunity for all communities.

Taking Back the Streets and Sidewalks: How Safe Routes to School and Community Safety Initiatives Can Overcome Violence and Crime (pdf) provides a primer for Safe Routes to School professionals looking to address community safety threats that may discourage or endanger students walking or bicycling to school, explains the relevance of Safe Routes to School to violence prevention proponents, and sets out strategies for collaborating to reduce violence and crime, and increase safety and health for children and youth.

Portlanders unite around safer streets for everyone

In the wake of a series of tragic crashes, injuries, and fatalities to people on foot and bike in the Portland region, now is the time to act. The unfortunate reality is that serious injuries and fatalities are happening on our roads on a regular basis. This is impacting vulnerable users at a much higher rate, with pedestrians making up over half of the fatalities on our roads last year. There is no one fix to our unsafe roads, but there are many things that we can, and must, do now. In 2014, there were 28 deaths in Portland due to traffic crashes and there have been 10 so far this year.

On June 2, Kari Schlosshauer, the National Partnership’s Pacific Northwest regional policy manager, joined our partners Oregon Walks, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and Community Cycling Center, for a meeting with Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick, and other stakeholders, where we called on the City of Portland to embrace Vision Zero, broadly, publicly, and immediately. Immediately following the meeting, Mayor Hales did so during a press conference and in a media release.

source: Bike PGH

source: Bike PGH

Here’s a great primer on what Vision Zero is, from the Vision Zero Network.

Our community-based organizations called for action on immediate steps the City can take to improve safety on our streets, including:

  • Reduce speed limits citywide – Transportation Director Treat recently made a formal request to the Oregon Speed Zone Control Board seeking to expedite the process for setting speeds on city streets, allowing the city to take into account how and when pedestrians and cyclists use the road.
    • Speed matters: at 40mph, only 1 out of 10 pedestrians survive, but at 30mph half do, and when speed limits drop to 20mph, 9 out of 10 pedestrians survive.
    • Other innovative ideas could include “neighborhood slow zones” or “play streets” such as those recently piloted in Seattle. Play Streets include both school-organized and community-led play streets, and offer an opportunity to expand the use of our streets and provide more places for people.
  • Launch a broad-based public education campaign on Vision Zero
    • We must frame speeding in the same context as drunk driving and seat belt use. A sustained public dialogue is necessary, via signs on buildings, in buses, on our computers and televisions, enclosed in our utility bills, and more, that stresses the danger of what driving even five mph over the posted speed limit can do to a struck pedestrian or person riding a bicycle.
  • Ensure greater enforcement of laws that protect people walking and riding bicycles – we were pleased to see the Portland Police Bureau at the table, and look forward to their continued engagement both at the table and on the streets.
    • Examine and document all crashes and injuries on our roads, and work to determine a root cause analysis of what goes wrong on our streets and intersections, and why these crashes are happening.
    • Ensure that enforcement is equitable and does not disproportionately impact communities of color, the demographic most likely to be injured while walking or bicycling.
  •  Prioritize our limited safety funding on engineering improvements 
    • Fix our highest crash locations and ensure routes to high-use destinations, such as schools and transit stops, are truly safe. We must focus our limited safety funding on engineering improvements along High Crash Corridors, our most dangerous intersections, and high-use destinations, especially in those areas that are historically under-served or that serve our most vulnerable populations, such as older adults and youth.
    • Implement Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) and Leading Bicycle Interval (LBI) signals near schools, on high-use bikeways and pedestrian crossings, and in any location with vulnerable users, such as older adults and children. These signals allow pedestrians and bicyclists to get out in front of vehicle traffic, be more visible to drivers, and reduce turning movement conflicts.
    • Other innovative ideas could include “daylighting” intersection corners. State law (http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.550) prohibits parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection, yet this law is not enforced in Portland. Vehicles parked at intersections block sight lines for pedestrians as well as turning vehicles, including cars and bicycles, and contribute to unsafe intersection situations.

      “And what’s not to like about providing parking for 10 customers where there used to be parking for just one?” – Joseph Rose, Oregonian

Most fatal crashes in Portland happen on just 10 streets, which the Portland Bureau of Transportation have designated High Crash Corridors. Though they represent only 3 percent of the roads in Portland, they account for 51 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.

Students from 36 elementary schools in Portland, in PPS, David Douglas, Centennial, Reynolds & Parkrose School Districts, must cross or travel along a “High Crash Corridor” to get to their school.

Vision Zero has the goal of providing a safe, multi-modal transportation system where no one is killed or seriously injured on our streets. We are pleased that the City of Portland has embraced the concept of Vision Zero, but like so many multifaceted problems, it’s not clear how it will be implemented. While there is no one fix to our unsafe roads, there are many things that we must start to do now.

We look forward to long term and sustained support for safety for everyone on our streets.

Download our full media release here (pdf).

Take Action: Help Reduce Speeding on Portland’s High Crash Corridors

Students from 36 elementary schools in Portland, in PPS, David Douglas, Centennial, Reynolds & Parkrose School Districts, must cross or travel along a “High Crash Corridor” to get to their school.

These roadways, just 3% of Portland’s road network, account for more than 50% of the city’s pedestrian fatalities. This is unacceptable.

Speeding and aggressive driving are the top contributing factors to serious crashes. Currently in the Oregon Legislature, HB 2621 would authorize piloting fixed speed cameras on Portland’s most dangerous roads. Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that over the eight year pilot period HB 2621 would:

  • prevent the loss of 16 lives
  • prevent more than 2,000 people from being injured in traffic crashes
  • save ~$71 million in wage and productivity losses, damage, and medical expenses

Please join us in supporting HB 2621 in the Oregon Legislature. This bill will allow the installation of clearly marked speeding traffic cameras on high crash corridors — making it safer for our children to walk, bike, and roll to school. Whether you live in Portland or elsewhere in the state, this bill provides an opportunity to make our streets safer.

Please write or call your state senator and representative today and urge them to support HB 2621.

The Oregonian Editorial Board supports HB 2621: “It’s clear that speeders continue to pose unaccountable risk to other drivers, and most of all pedestrians… Unmanned photo radar would simply be a cost-efficient, not to mention racial-profiling-proof, method of detecting and punishing drivers whose indifference to life poses threat.”

One death on our streets is too many. Traffic fatalities and injuries are not inevitable, and can be prevented through smart policy and system design. Read more about Vision Zero initiatives in Portland and Oregon.

APPLY! Two great Safe Routes to School jobs: Tigard & Beaverton

Two great jobs posted this week for Safe Routes to School work in Tigard and Beaverton! These positions both come from funding from Metro’s Regional Travel Options (RTO) grants, and this is the first time RTO has funded a school-focused project. Check out the descriptions and links below, but move quickly because these applications close soon!

Beaverton School District (proposals due June 5)

Beaverton School District (BSD) was awarded a Federal Transit Administration grant from Metro’s Regional Travel Options program (Federal Grant). The grant is a two year grant to start July 1, 2015. The objective of BSD’s grant proposal is to establish a long term plan, policy and programs for the district’s Safe Routes to School program. BSD is presently seeking a consultant to staff this project.
Read the BSD request for consultant description and project goals here.

City of Tigard (applications due June 10)

The City of Tigard is currently recruiting for a Program Coordinator (Safe Routes to School) position. This position will be responsible for development, coordination, and implementation of the Safe Routes to School program for the City. This includes program development/planning, program administration, marketing/outreach, education and training, event promotion, volunteer coordination, and program evaluation. This is a grant funded two year limited duration position.
Read the Tigard position description and apply here.