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Three-year grant could fund better biking to Portland middle schools

Posted by on January 21st, 2014 at 11:57 am

Mayor Adams at Safe Routes to School ride-4
Elementary schools already get bike education and
improvements from the Safe Routes to School program.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

After seeing substantial success at getting more elementary schoolers to bike and walk to class, the City of Portland’s Safe Routes to School program is moving up the age ladder.

A three-year state grant will expand the program to several middle schools, said Safe Routes program manager Gabe Graff in an interview last week.

“We’ve done a lot of work to educate second graders, fourth graders, fifth graders, about walking and biking to school,” Graff explained. “Then the student heads to middle school and it’s kind of like, ‘Good luck!’”

Graff said there’s reason to think a focus on middle school will help reach families who the elementary programs fail to woo.

“We just know from our work with adults that when people have a new job, there’s a transition period, and there’s an ability to influence how people get around,” he said.

Late middle school is also a time when girls in particular often become alienated from biking, fresh Portland travel data has shown. And unlike neighborhood elementary schools, Graff noted, Portland’s middle schools often fall in the sweet spot for comfortable bike trips: one to two miles from home.

“There are fewer middle schools and they tend to be further away,” he said.

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  • mran1984 January 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    “Then the student heads to middle school and it’s kind of like, ‘Good luck!’” This sums up the middle school experience in Portland with unintended accuracy.

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