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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Oregon announces Safe Routes to School Non-Infrastructure Awards

 

Congratulations!

Oregon’s Safe Routes to School program is pleased to announce the 2017 SRTS Non-Infrastructure (programmatic) awards. We are excited to have new school districts and communities involved and look forward to sharing their successes and strategies used to get more people walking and biking to and from school. Most programs have funding for three years, but funding each year is contingent upon successful programming in prior year.

Here are the awardees:

City of Gresham: Completion and implementation of Gresham-Barlow School District SRTS Action Plan, including pedestrian and bike safety instruction, crosswalk enforcement and data collection of student travel.

City of Hillsboro: SRTS Coordinator position to focus on Title 1 schools in Hillsboro School District to develop and implement SRTS program including creating Action Plans, auditing infrastructure needs and hosting encouragement/education events.

City of Portland: SRTS Coordinator to be shared between PBOT and David Douglas School District to enhance and expand program and identify needs to increase program success.

Clackamas County: SRTS Outreach Coordinator to implement SRTS activities at four schools per year in the North Clackamas School District including creating Action Plans and coordination of SRTS programs within Clackamas County.

Jackson County: SRTS Coordinator position to work with three school districts to develop and implement SRTS programs including creating Action Plans, auditing infrastructure needs and hosting encouragement and education events.

Lane Transit District: SRTS Coordinator position for Springfield Public School District’s transportation office, responsible for planning and implementation of comprehensive SRTS program and developing nine school Action Plans.

Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments: Coordinate SRTS program implementation in five target Oregon communities: Sweet Home, Lebanon, Albany, Jefferson and Harrisburg.

Commute Options of Central Oregon: SRTS Coordinator to implement strategies to increase walking and biking and collect data that can support advocacy efforts in Bend-La Pine School District.

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.

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.

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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OR: $300K/yr SRTS Program grant funding available

The Oregon Department of Transportation has released a call for applications for Safe Routes to School program grants. Applications are due June 15, 2016.

$300,000 is available per year for (non-infrastructure) SRTS Programs beginning FY2017 (October 1, 2016). This is a competitive call for applications; apply for up to $50,000 per year, for up to 3 years. There is a 12% match requirement.

The goals of a SRTS Program are to increase the ability and opportunity for K-8 students to walk, bicycle, and roll safely to and from school; promote a culture of walking and bicycling to/from school and encourage a healthy and active lifestyle; and facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution within two miles of the school.

Who should apply?

  • School districts or schools
  • City, county, regional government agency, transit district or other unit of local government
  • A non-profit organization in partnership with a school district or schools

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May is Bike Month

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National Bike to School Day is Wednesday, May 4 – is your school signed up? It’s not too late!

The Fire Up your Feet Spring Activity Challenge has arrived in Oregon & SW Washington, and runs from May 1-31. Make sure you are ready to jump into your favorite activities and earn cash awards for your school at the same time. Make the most of your time online so you can spend more time outside being active! One activity tracker does it all, so parents, teachers, and coordinators can all use the same tracker.

In Oregon, the Walk + Bike Challenge is a friendly competition aimed at encouraging more kids and families to walk and bike to and from school and throughout their neighborhoods.

In Washington, Cascade Bicycle Club hosts friendly statewide Bike to School competitions for elementary, middle and high school students who can track their bike riding during May and earn prizes along the way.

Not a student anymore? Then Bike Everywhere & Bike More.