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.

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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Funding Opportunity: Metro’s RFFA project funding now open

In May, Metro, the greater-Portland-area’s regional government, passed policy that metro_newfocuses investments in Safe Routes to School programming and street safety improvements near schools.

Metro has now announced the Call for Projects for the Regional Flexible Funds Allocation (RFFA). The application deadline is Friday, August 26, 2016. Approximately $33 million is available.

Eligible agencies can submit project applications for the two funding categories — active transportation/complete streets projects, and regional freight investments. The 25 cities and three counties of the Portland metropolitan area, along with transit agencies, parks and recreation districts, the Port of Portland and the Oregon Department of Transportation are eligible to apply for funds to support projects in their jurisdictions.

Jurisdictions interested in funding street safety improvements that will allow more students to walk or roll to school should take note: TriMet and Metro have committed to work together on means to swap a portion of these federal regional flexible funds for local funds. Local funds are often better suited to build Safe Routes to School-supportive infrastructure due to the lower level of requirements attached to their use. More details will become available (prior to the application deadline in August) as the two agencies develop this agreement.

For program guidelines, application forms, and other details regarding this Call for Projects, please visit Metro’s Regional Flexible Funds applicant’s page. If you have any questions, please contact regional flexible funds allocation project manager Dan Kaempff at daniel.kaempff@oregonmetro.gov or 503-813-7559.

Vision Zero + Safe Routes to School – Stronger Together

Vision Zero shares many goals with Safe Routes to School. Vision Zero originated from Sweden in 1997 with the assertion that all traffic deaths and severe injuries are preventable. Sweden’s Vision Zero work was based on an old philosophy with a new twist: “it should no longer be the child that should adapt to traffic conditions, but the traffic conditions that should be adapted – as far as possible – to children.”

At their core, each one is a comprehensive campaign using a mix of education, improved engineering and targeted enforcement tailored to its specific environment to improve the safety of transportation users. These two efforts share goals and should work in harmony to enhance the safety for transportation users, particularly with one of the more vulnerable demographics – our youth.

Children are considered vulnerable transportation users as they are disproportionately injured or killed in traffic-related crashes:

  • Being struck by a vehicle is the leading cause of injury-related deaths for youth under 14[1]
  • In 2013, children under 15 accounted for seven percent of bicycle fatalities and 11 percent of injuries[2]
  • Youth under 15 accounted for five percent of all pedestrian fatalities and nearly 15 percent of injuries in 2013[3]

The statistics are even worse for disadvantaged communities. Nationally, pedestrian fatality rates in low-income metro areas are almost twice that of more affluent neighborhoods[4]. Safe Routes to School and Vision Zero have important roles in improving these statistics.

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As the number of small and large towns and cities pursuing Vision Zero policy grows, it becomes clear that Vision Zero and Safe Routes to School are stronger together. Kari Schlosshauer, PNW Regional Policy Manager, holds a seat on the City of Portland’s Vision Zero Task Force, where she’s been participating in the process to create a set of actions for the city and its partners. The Oregon Safe Routes to School Conference held in June in Eugene, provided insight from Seattle, Portland & Eugene on how Safe Routes to School and Vision Zero efforts are working in tandem to boost successes. Here are some takeaways from the conference, and updates on what’s happening from our perspective on Portland’s Vision Zero Task Force.

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SRTS Coordinator Job in Tigard, OR

The City of Tigard seeks to become the most walkable community in the Pacific Northwest where people of all ages and abilities enjoy healthy and interconnected lives.

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 SRTS program for the City. This includes program development/planning, program administration, marketing/outreach, education and training, event promotion, volunteer coordination, and program evaluation.

Please note: This is a grant funded one year limited duration position.

Posting closes on 7/11/16 at 5:00pm. Find the full job post here.

SRTS Job at Clackamas County

Clackamas County Transportation, in Partnership with the Confluence Environmental Center, has advertised a Safe Routes to Schools Program Outreach and Encouragement Coordinator to focus on education and outreach of the health, safety, and environmental benefits of youth walking and bicycling to school throughout the diverse communities in the North Clackamas School District (Clackamas, Sunnyside, Happy Valley, Milwaukie).

This position is a new AmeriCorps position and it will conduct outreach and serve as an encouragement resource to three to four schools in North Clackamas School District, and engage with North Clackamas School District and the Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO’s) to better understand the barriers to more diverse, low‐income schools in participating in Safe Routes to Schools programs, and how what unique programs can be developed to take advantage of opportunities to better serve these schools.

Read the full job description (PDF). The position closes at the end of July.