Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on January 21st, 2014 at 11:57 am
improvements from the Safe Routes to School program.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)
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.