Safe Routes to School in the Pacific Northwest

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To advance safe walking and bicycling to and from schools, to improve the health and well-being of kids of all races, income levels, and abilities; and to foster the creation of healthy communities for everyone.

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 areas, 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.

Metro Regional Safe Routes to School Framework now available for download

Now available! Metro Regional Safe Routes to School Framework, a project that collected data about current and historic funding and programming for school travel initiatives; identified the schools with the greatest need for safety improvements, the greatest potential impact, and equity needs; produced School Area Maps for each school in the Portland Metro region; identified best practices for regional Safe Routes to School programs; and proposed next steps for Metro regional government to support local jurisdictions’ efforts around Safe Routes to School and school transportation.

The final report, as well as School Area Maps for each district, can be found and downloaded here.

Metro RFFA Award Recommendations

Oregon Metro, the Portland area’s regional government, is currently finalizing funding recommendations for the active transportation and freight project applications to the Regional Flexible Fund Allocation (RFFA). RFFA is money from the federal government that can be used for a wide range of transportation projects across the Portland region – considered “flexible” because the funds are not restricted to projects on highways. In this round, $33 million is available for transportation projects, including walking, bicycling, access to schools and transit, with a quarter of the funds directed to freight-specific projects:

  • $25.81 million for active transportation/complete streets projects that make it safer and easier for people to walk, ride bicycles or get to transit and other destinations such as school and work.
  • $7.34 million for regional freight investments, projects that improve access to freight hubs and industrial areas and improve safety on freight routes.

Thirty-two projects were submitted to this 2019-21 RFFA cycle from cities and counties across the region, including 27 projects to the Active Transportation/Complete Streets funding stream. Total funding requested across all projects totaled more than $100 million, far exceeding the amount available. The vast majority of the funding requests were for Active Transportation/Complete Streets projects, totaling approximately $93 million and demonstrating a significant need for more funding for walking and bicycling projects in this region. Continue reading

Metro regional funding builds support for access to schools

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 and needs.

(c) Jonathan Maus, BikePortland

The most recent RTO grant cycle, which runs from July 2017 through June 2019, just announced 17 grant awards worth $2.5 million.This grant cycle attracted an overwhelming number of strong applicants, requesting a total of $3.5 million – over a million dollars more than the program was able to fund. Across the region, applicants were awarded grants for projects to make it easier for people to walk, bike, take transit or carpool; Safe Routes to School projects made up nearly a quarter of those award funds, through four projects across the region:

  • Beaverton Safe Routes & Beaverton School District will continue their Safe Routes to School program that started with an RTO grant in 2015, strengthening and expanding work focused on students and families living within the walk zone.
  • City of Tigard will continue their successful Tigard Safe Routes to School program that started with an RTO grant in 2015, focusing on all Tigard schools in Tigard-Tualatin School District.
  • Multnomah County will expand their Safe Routes to School program that has existed in the past based on state and county funds, focusing on schools in East Multnomah County.
  • Community Cycling Center will build a community-based Safe Routes to School program in North Portland.

Congratulations all!

Announcement: Inter-generational Safe Streets Challenge recipients selected

AARP Oregon and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership are working together to bring Oregonians an Inter-generational Safe Streets Challenge. Youth and older adults have similar needs when it comes to navigating our streets on foot. Whether a second grader is walking to school, their grandfather is walking to the corner store with their shopping trolley, or their aunt is walking to the park to socialize – we need accessible destinations, continuous paths, and safe crossings.

We’re pleased to announce the following recipients have been selected for the Inter-generational Safe Streets Challenge:

Just Walk Salem Keizer: Conduct an intergenerational walk audit
Just Walk Salem Keizer & Stephens Middle School (Salem-Keizer School District)
Just Walk Salem Keizer (a grassroots network of neighborhood walking groups) will engage at least two groups of middle school students and older adults in working together to develop at least 1 walking route each that highlights the points of health in their neighborhood. The groups will cross-check the routes by conducting the Walkable America ‘walkability checklist’. Once finalized, the walking routes will be included in a full-color “WanderWalks” pocket map printed by our transit provider, Cherriots, and distributed to neighbors through community partners. This project aims to foster healthy neighborhoods through identifying safe and enjoyable places to walk together.

Age Friendly Gilbert Park Partnership
Ride Connection & Gilbert Park Elementary School (David Douglas School District)
Older adults will volunteer to serve as “Coaches” for school age crossing guards. Gilbert Park students must use one of two busy arterials to access their school and frequently encounter speeding cars. The school age crossing guards are often at risk if they fail to gauge car speeds and distance and enter the street too late. Older adults can be part of the solution by “coaching” the school age children to make safer decisions about when to enter the street to signal for crossing. In addition, these volunteers can be engaged in further Safe Routes projects and programming as the overall Safe Routes project for this school site is developed.

Crooked River Walking School Buses
Crook County Public Health & Crooked River Elementary School (Crook County School District)
This fall, Crooked River Elementary School had its first successful Walk to School Day, with nine official volunteers and more than 70 students participating. We hope to build on this success by offering walking school buses each week this spring. We will be partnering with the local Soroptimist Senior Center in order to foster relationships between our community’s older adults and younger families, create a sustainable volunteer base for the walking school bus program, and promote a larger community conversation about walkability for everyone in our rural town. This grant would be used towards promotional materials, healthy snacks, and incentives.

Read more about the challenge rules, and watch this space for updates as these projects are planned and unveiled in 2017!

Step by Step: How to Create a Walking School Bus At Your School

Step by Step: How to Create a Walking School Bus At Your School is a new toolkit developed by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, with support from the California Department of Public Health, that offers step-by-step guidelines, tips, and tools for planning and implementing a walking school bus program. Learn how to recruit adult volunteers, develop routes, promote the program, and ensure students have fun and stay safe along the way, with downloadable templates and worksheets to give you a fast and easy start.

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$33 million for walking, biking and moving freight in the Portland region: VOTE

Help decide how $33m will be spent on projects to improve walking, biking and moving freight. Could part of it be spent near you to improve ways of getting around for your family?

Cities from across the Portland region have submitted projects to compete for these federal funds, and submitted project proposals requesting more than three times as much as is available. This is where you come in: review project proposals & use the interactive comment map at oregonmetro.gov/rffa – and then tell Metro what you think and help them prioritize and give feedback on the projects.

Things to consider:

  • Is a painted bike lane safe enough for an eight year old to travel to school along a 40 mph freight corridor, or should it be sent back to be re-worked as a separated bike facility?
  • Should an investment in Safe Routes to School access projects around one of the region’s greatest need school districts, David Douglas, be given a higher priority so that the largest high school in the state can provide safer access on foot and bike?
  • Which proposed pedestrian/bicycle bridge gets your vote for best project?

Comment now through Monday, November 7! (And remember to vote on November 8!)

There will be a public hearing, 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, at Metro Regional Center, 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland. Public testimony will be welcomed!

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WA: Grant Funding for School Districts Currently Available

School Districts in Washington, take note. Cascade Bicycle Club and Feet First are offering a mini grant program to get more kids moving more. Let them support your efforts to increase the number of children bicycling and walking to school — funding is available to 25 schools or school districts across WA toward this goal.

Applications Due: currently accepting applications on a rolling basis. (Note work must be completed by June 1, 2017.)

Recipient Eligibility: Public schools grades 5th-8th in Washington State are eligible for funding, however only one award will be made per district. Single schools can apply OR a district can apply if it is confident that it can serve more than one school and fulfill the program requirements. Highest priority will be given to eligible schools who have not already received Safe Routes to School funding.

Funding may be used for:
● Safety Equipment (e.g. flags, vests, reflectors, bike bells, etc.)
● Stipends for walking school bus or bike train coordinator (Only eligible if your school/ district has a higher rate of free and reduced lunch recipients than the state average. In 2016 the state average is 44%.)
● Outreach and Awareness (advertisements, posters, mailings, fliers)
● Bike Helmets

Don’t miss this great opportunity to boost safety, outreach, and awareness of safe school travel! Read the full eligibility criteria and download the application (pdf).

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