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 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.

Get Involved: Oregon Public Transportation Plan

Public transportation connects many communities in Oregon, provides options for travelers, and often serves as the only way for people to get where they need to go. The Oregon Public Transportation Plan (OPTP) will provide a statewide vision and policy foundation for decisions about public transportation in and between Oregon communities. This plan will not identify projects or local investments, but it will set priorities and policies to guide future decisions and investments by state and local agencies.

odotODOT is inviting public transportation providers, local government staff and officials, interest groups, the general public, and other interested parties to discuss challenges and opportunities for public transportation at meetings around the state in September and October or by participating in an online open house. Learn more here.

Portland: October 13, 201610:00 AM to noon       Register here

Salem: October 18, 20161:00 to 3:00 PM       Register here

Online: through October 28, 2016      Participate here

Access a printable OPTP factsheet here and information about public involvement here.

Portland SRTS Film Screening

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In Japan, 98 percent of children walk to school.

In the U.S., 13 percent of children walk to school.

It’s time for a change.

Please join us on 10/4 in Portland for a special screening of the documentary The Slow Way Home, which looks at why so few kids in the U.S. walk to school, and what we can do about it. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmwriter and local parents who were featured in the film.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Clinton Street Theater | 2522 SE Clinton Street, Portland
Doors open at 6:30pm
Screening & panel discussion begins at 7:00pm

This event is free. We ask that you support Safe Routes to School efforts in Oregon to increase the number of kids who can safely walk or roll to school, by giving as you can.

RSVP on Facebook or Eventbrite

Transportation for Oregon’s Future: Speak out for Safe Streets

In Oregon, momentum is building toward a major transportation funding package of policies and investments in the 2017 Oregon Legislature. In order to be a success for Oregonians, and successful for our future transportation needs, that package must incorporate three key goals:
  • Fix-It First
  • Invest in Transit
  • Make our Streets Safe
Unfortunately, any transportation package likely won’t incorporate the above goals unless our local and state elected leaders hear from us that these issues are important. Next week there are two great opportunities to testify to our elected leaders about transportation issues.
Help us fill the room with Oregonians who support safe streets!
  • Hillsboro: September 19, 5:00 p.m.  RSVP
    Shirley Huffman Auditorium, Hillsboro Civic Center, 150 E. Main Street, Hillsboro
  • Salem: September 22, 5:15 p.m.  RSVP
    Hearing Room F, Oregon State Capitol, 900 Court Street NE, Salem

Our friends at the For Every Kid Coalition have some great talking points on Safe Routes to School that you can use as a guide.

On safety and driving…

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is shocked and saddened by the news that, across the nation, traffic crash injuries and fatalities are up significantly this year. By disturbing comparison, in the first half of 2016, the number of people killed by traffic crashes in the US equals

  • Half the population of Keizer, OR; or
  • All but 1,000 people who make Milwaukie, OR their home; or
  • Every single person living in Battleground, WA; or
  • Full capacity Portland Timbers’ Providence Park stadium.
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source: Bike PGH

In the Pacific Northwest region, our hearts are broken and we stand with the families and communities that have recently felt this too close to home, with several youth involved in serious and fatal traffic crashes this month alone.

It is critical that our communities provide students in all communities with safe routes to walk and bicycle to school. This means creating safe environments and teaching safety skills to people who walk, bicycle, and drive.

The National Partnership, together with our community partners, recommends the following improvements and policy changes to increase safety for students walking and bicycling, both short and long term:

  • Sidewalks and bicycle-paths that connect homes with schools
  • Student-friendly opportunities to cross streets – such as the presence of adult crossing guards, raised medians, traffic and pedestrian signals, and/or pathways that are safe, convenient, and accessible for students of all abilities
  • Slow vehicle speeds and yielding to pedestrians and bicyclists, accomplished through roadway safety measures (traffic calming), speed limit reductions, and/or police enforcement operations

Every day, millions of people and children safely walk and bike to school or other destinations in communities across the country. Walking and biking are important activities that bring countless benefits to individuals and communities as a whole — through increased physical activity, better health, longer lifespans, and stronger economies. Our work and the work of our community partners brings an urgent and immediate need to address conditions that can put students at risk as they are walking or rolling to school.

We are committed to continuing to work with the City of Portland and Safe Routes to School advocates in the region, through Vision Zero and other important policy, funding, and community-building work, to ensure safety for people bicycling and walking, everywhere and especially on the streets known to be dangerous and at high risk for crashes.

Walk to School Day is October 5!

Now is the time to start planning your event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, October 5! Here are three ideas for building momentum in your community this fall leading up to Walk to School Day:

  • Register your event at walkbiketoschool.org to ensure your activities are counted as part of the nationwide movement for walking and bicycling.
  • Coordinate your event with the USDOT’s Mayor’s Challenge. Invite your mayor or elected official to join a walk to school on October 5 and show their support for safe streets and healthy, active kids!
  • Join the Office of the Surgeon General’s Walking Challenge. This two week challenge kicks off on October 5 and commemorates the one-year anniversary of Step It Up, the Surgeon General’s call to action on walking and walkability. More information coming soon!

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Celebrate Walk to School Day and Earn Cash for your School with Fire Up Your Feet!
Is your school participating in Walk to School Day? Track your school’s participation with Fire Up Your Feet on October 5th for a chance to win the $500 Walk to School Day Award! This award will go to the school in each region with the highest percentage of parents, students and school staff that participate in Walk to School Day on October 5th. All entries must be submitted by Friday, October 7th. Register and track today!

Youth engagement, partnership, empowerment

Youth support for policy change, program development and community planning is powerful and can be the catalyst to success: When kids speak up, adults listen.

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Youth-led campaigns, such as the #YouthPass4All campaign in Portland have a big impact and show how the voice of youth helps to change policies that affect them. OPAL Environmental Justice’s Youth Environmental Justice Alliance (YEJA) develops low-income youth and youth of color leaders through political education, campaign organizing, and skill-building to address issues of Environmental Justice. The leadership program creates a space for marginalized youth to take action on the issues that directly impact them and their communities.

Youth Pass provides a free transit pass to high school students in lieu of yellow bus service, but of course an all-access transit pass does so much more for high schoolers — from extracurricular activities to life-supporting jobs. Currently, Youth Pass only serves Portland Public Schools high school students; YEJA’s report on the need for Youth Pass programs in all of Portland features new data on student transportation needs and transit barriers in East Portland, and startling statistics including:

  • 41% of the students at David Douglas High School have missed class due to missing the school bus and not having other transportation.
  • 70% of students at Parkrose said having a free transit pass would make it easier for them to attend school.

Over the summer, OPAL ran a youth training program, Serve the People, with robust curriculum on environmental justice, transit justice and a variety of other topics relevant to training emerging youth leaders to lead their peers when they head back to school.

As we all head back into the school year, it will serve us well to consider ways to incorporate youth perspectives, voices, and leadership into our work. Below are more opportunities coming up — learn more and get plugged in.

August 17 – Participate in the #MoveEquity tweetchat to discuss youth organizing and leadership in low-income communities and communities of color, and engaging youth in getting to school safely.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016 – 10:00-11:00am PT

August 24 – Join the National Partnership’s webinar and learn about youth engagement at the local, regional and state level, how kids of all ages are influencing their community in positive ways, and how your community can engage youth, participate in meaningful dialog, and share ideas with decision makers and community members to make a difference for safety in their community.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016 – 10:00-11:00am PT
More information and registration

Funding Opportunity: Metro Regional Travel Options (RTO) Grants — $2.5M Available

Metro regional government has released a call for proposals for the 2017-2019 Regional Travel Options (RTO) Grants, and $2.5 million is available to government agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations in the Portland Metro region, to 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.

Grant proposals due September 23, 2016

“It’s not enough just to build a transportation system with options to walk, bike, take transit or ride share. People need to know how to access those options and understand the benefits. That’s where Metro’s Regional Travel Options program comes in.”

Many Travel Options projects benefit youth and families, providing safe and healthy opportunities for active travel in communities around the region, and Safe Routes to School projects are a great fit for this grant opportunity. In the last grantmaking round:

  • Living Cully was a grant recipient to support their work incorporating a long-term, community-based and collaborative strategy to address multiple disparities in health, income, education, community engagement and natural resources; in doing so, Living Cully is helping children and families overcome barriers to travel options in their neighborhood.
  • The Beaverton School District received funding to reignite its Safe Routes to School program. For the past year, BSD provided school-appropriate programs and training to help communities and students reduce reliance on private auto travel and help them find and choose non-drive alone options, also helping reduce reliance on busing students to these schools.
  • Portland Public School District received funding for a project intended to close infrastructure equity gaps, overcome cultural barriers to walking or biking to school, reduce school site vehicle trip generation and increase safety within the Portland Public Schools student active transportation network.
  • The City of Tigard received a grant to initiate a Safe Routes to School program that acknowledged the work that needs to be done and made a commitment to do it. The city is successfully engaging schools, government agencies, parents and kids to make walking and biking to school a practical and fun activity through a city-wide Safe Routes to School Program.

Safe Routes to School National Partnership, working in the Pacific Northwest, is here to help support your efforts in the Metro region to create a balanced, comprehensive multimodal transportation system for students and school-based staff through discussion of project ideas, providing feedback on your application, or via a formal partnership as a co-applicant.

The National Partnership encourages partners who are interested in applying for RTO funds for a Safe Routes to School-focused project, to get in touch with us. We can help provide technical assistance on your application, match you up with other appropriate regional partners who wish to apply, and answer questions about the RTO grants and how a Safe Routes to School project would work in your School District or town. Contact the Safe Routes to School Pacific Northwest Regional Policy Manager, Kari Schlosshauer, at kari@saferoutespartnership.org for more information.

Read on to find out who’s eligible to apply, how much is available for a project, when you need to apply, and how to get more information and help.

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