Oregon’s New Transportation Bill Includes Ongoing Dedicated Funding for Safe Routes to School

We’re beyond pleased to announce that the 2017 Oregon Legislature passed a state transportation funding plan that invests in a cleaner, healthier transportation system to provide safer options for Oregonians, however they travel. We applaud our Oregon leaders for making adjustments to the bill that allowed the Legislature to approve it and move Oregon forward with a transportation plan that will create more affordable and healthy travel options for Oregonians across the state.

In addition to a massive investment in transit and trails of more than $100 million each year, and a sensible focus on “fix-it-first” maintenance funding for our roadways and bridges, new funding from the bill will provide $10 million annual investment for Safe Routes to School street safety improvements – bumping up to $15 million annual investment in perpetuity starting in 2022. This funding is for safety projects to improve safety for people walking and biking in the 1-mile radius of schools (commonly known as the “walk zone”). This level of ongoing, dedicated investment for school travel safety — and the positive impacts it will have on the health and safety of our communities — is unprecedented in Oregon, and will ensure more and more youth in Oregon can safely walk and roll to school and in their communities.

This is a big step in the right direction for the hundreds of thousands of students in Oregon who currently live within their school’s 1-mile walk zone. These students do not typically have a school bus pick them up, and many also do not currently have a safe walking route to their school. We know that lower income communities tend to also be the communities that are under-invested in transportation safety; these communities are at risk from traffic exposure on a daily basis. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership advocated for outright prioritization of these communities for funding during the legislative session, and though we did not see that in the final bill, we are still glad to see Title I schools have been prioritized for street safety investments with a lower matching funds requirement (20% vs 40%), which may result in a de facto prioritization.

SR2S_INFOGRAPHIC_sidewalks2 Continue reading

Our analysis: Oregon ‘Transportation Package’ misses the crosswalk on Safe Routes to School funding

Last week, the Oregon Legislature released the long-awaited transportation package in bill form, as House Bill (HB) 2017 (note: 298 pages!). We are pleased to see the Oregon Legislature dedicate funding in HB 2017 to ensure more youth in Oregon can safely walk and roll to school. This is a step in the right direction for the hundreds of thousands of students in Oregon who currently live within their school’s 1-mile walk zone but do not have a safe route to their school, nor a program to support and encourage their safe and active school transportation.

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Oregon Safe Routes to School

However, as HB 2017’s Section 123, the section that deals with Safe Routes to School funding, is currently written, we are gravely concerned that:

  • The youth who need a safe route to school the most will be prevented from receiving one at all. Low-Income, Title I schools do not have the funds to match 40% — or even 25% — of a safety improvement project, and not all cities or towns have policies in place that prioritize those low-income schools that typically have the most street safety needs.
  • If only 1/4-mile infrastructure improvements are made, we will continue to see unsafe road situations on primary walking routes around schools. School ‘walk zones’ for elementary students are one mile from school — these students have no yellow school bus and often no additional transportation support from the school.
  • Schools with improved walking routes will not realize the full potential travel mode shift because there is no funding in this bill to support the related Safe Routes to School education and encouragement programming.
  • When the funding sunsets in 10 years, only a fraction of schools will have received any safety benefits, and those that do will only see partial (1/4) benefit. Related traffic safety, air quality, and youth obesity and health concerns will continue, as high numbers of students who live within walking distance are likely to continue to be driven in a private vehicle — until schools and families see true safety investments in place.

We are disappointed to see the language in HB 2017 for Safe Routes to School is significantly weaker than that of HB 3230 (PDF), which already passed out of the House Committee on Transportation earlier this session.

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Public Comment: Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

Salem Keizer Area Transportation Study (SKATS) invites you to review and comment on the FY 2018-2023 TIP – how transportation dollars can be spent over the next six years on transit, roadways, and bike and pedestrian facilities.

Comments on the TIP will be accepted until April 11, 2017. A public hearing is scheduled on April 25, 2017. 

Public Hearing for the SKATS Draft FY 2018-2023 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and Air Quality Conformity Determination (AQCD).

Date: April 25, 2017
Time: Noon
Where: 100 High Street SE, Suite 200, Salem, OR 97301

Send comments to: Karen Odenthal 503-540-1608 or kodenthal@mwvcog.org

More information, including an interactive map, and the opportunity to comment online, can be found on the MWVCOG website.

Below are the proposed Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects for the 2018-2023 TIP: Continue reading

How should Portland spend $8M to improve safe access around schools?

Provide input on Safe Routes to School in March & April to have your say

Fixing Our Streets is a locally-funded street repair and traffic safety initiative that will bring much needed street improvement and safety projects to neighborhoods across Portland. It is expected to provide approximately $8 million for school neighborhood improvements along walking and biking routes to school — around $500,000 dedicated to each High School cluster (including the elementary and middle schools that feed into a particular high school).

(c) Jonathan Maus, BikePortland

Tell them what you think needs to happen around the schools to make walking and rolling to school safer and easier. Portland’s robust Safe Routes to School team hasn’t ever had this much money to spend on safety projects around schools, and now is the time to weigh in — especially if you access a school in the Portland Public (PPS), Parkrose, David Douglas, Reynolds, or Centennial School Districts.

If your student attends a PPS or Parkrose school, you can attend an Open House event to provide input (see schedule below). For David Douglas, Centennial, and Reynolds schools within Portland city limits, Portland’s Safe Routes to School staff will be organizing engagement opportunities at your schools – learn more: bit.ly/OpenHouseSRTS.

HOW TO GET YOUR VOICE HEARD

  • Attend a SRTS Fixing Our Streets Open House (see dates below)
  • Attend a Walk Audit with SRTS (specific schools in Wilson Cluster only)
  • Attend a Walk Audit with Oregon Walks (specific Title I schools in PPS only)
    ‐ visit OregonWalks.org/HealthyTravel2School for details
  • Submit specific concerns at saferoutespdx.org (for PPS schools only)
  • Host a pop‐up open house at your school to collect comments from parents
    (SRTS will provide the materials!)

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Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s annual grant solicitation

Washington state is building traffic safety partnerships throughout the state to align priorities and leverage resources to improve traffic safety. The Target Zero Plan is the result of this work and represents Washington’s strategic roadmap for eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by the year 2030. The Target Zero Plan provides a comprehensive framework with specific priorities, goals, and strategies.

Successful grant proposals are aligned with the Target Zero priorities and utilize its proven strategies or consist of innovative strategies with an accompanying evaluation plan. Typically, grants range in amounts from $5,000 to $150,000.

Proposals for FFY2018 are due on February 10, 2017.

More information (PDF)

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!