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Metro proposal rejects Safe Routes to School, spends more on freight routes

by on March 31st, 2016 at 10:53 am

A Safe Routes to School event in 2010. The Metro regional government is proposing to start supporting the program in suburban schools, but not to increase funding for accompanying street improvements near those schools.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

A two-year campaign for regional funding of better biking and walking near schools, backed by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and other advocacy groups, is in tatters.

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Counting votes at Metro: Will the region invest in walking and biking near schools?

by on March 9th, 2016 at 10:53 am

Beach Elem. School encourages biking and walking-2
Biking to school in North Portland.
(All photos by Jonathan Maus unless otherwise noted)

With Portland’s locally funded Safe Routes to School program seeming to pay clear dividends — biking, walking and rolling to primary school became more popular than driving in 2010 and have kept rising — the case for bringing the idea to other cities may seem strong.

But the For Every Kid Coalition that’s been lobbying the regional government Metro to put $15 million into a regional Safe Routes to Schools program is competing for cash with two major forces: public transit and private freight. As Metro continues to accept public comments on the subject, we wanted to share what its councilors are thinking.

So we called all of them.

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For Every Kid coalition takes $15 million ‘safe routes’ funding push straight to regional leaders

by on February 18th, 2016 at 12:02 pm

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Rally outside Metro headquarters this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

For Every Kid, a regional coalition that wants more money for biking and walking infrastructure around schools, made their strongest statement yet when they brought their message to Metro’s regional headquarters this morning.

At their monthly meeting in April, Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) will decide how to spend an estimated $125 million in regional flexible funds. This coalition — which includes the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, the American Heart Association, the Community Alliance of Tenants, the Community Cycling Center, Oregon Walks, Upstream Public Health, and others — is asking JPACT to allocate $15 million of those funds to spread the Safe Routes to School program across the region.

The $15 million ask is a bold move because competition for these flexible funds (so named because they come from federal sources not tied the Highway Trust Fund and can therefore be spent on anything) is fierce. The For Every Kid coalition has support from several state legislators and hundreds of families and kids from all over the region. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has made expansion of the Safe Routes program one of their five main advocacy campaigns and they’ve tapped into partnerships at schools throughout Portland for support.
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Driving to school hits a new low in Portland after 15 years of ‘Safe Routes’

by on February 18th, 2016 at 8:37 am

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(Graphs: Portland Bureau of Transportation)

Portland pupils keep riding cars to school less, and walking and biking more.

Survey data released by the city Wednesday show a continuing upward climb in active transportation to school. Among Portlanders in kindergarten through fifth grade, walking, biking and otherwise rolling to school became more common than traveling in the family vehicle sometime around 2010 and has more or less kept climbing since.

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New BTA policy looks to make its biking advocacy more racially equitable

by on November 12th, 2015 at 9:08 am

diego hernandez
Diego Hernandez, a Reynolds School District board member running for the state legislature, speaks at a BTA event Tuesday advocating for Metro to fund safer streets in East Multnomah County through a regional Safe Routes to School program.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Portland’s largest biking advocacy group has, for the first time, created a written policy to help it fight racial disparities in transportation.

“The reality of Portland is that while we are one of the whitest cities in America, it’s not going to be a white city forever.”
— Rob Sadowsky, BTA

As the most bikeable areas of Portland grow even whiter and many less bikeable areas grow even more diverse, the group says it needs to focus more on building “a community where everyone from all racial backgrounds has access to safe, healthy, and affordable transportation options.”

“The reality of Portland is that while we are one of the whitest cities in America, it’s not going to be a white city forever,” Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said Wednesday. “Over half of Portland Public Schools students already are students of color.”

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Safe routes to school coalition takes message to east county tonight

by on November 10th, 2015 at 1:16 pm

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The flyer for the event was written in four languages.

Tonight in eastern Multnomah County an unusual cast of characters will gather to speak out in support of safer routes to school. I say unusual because biking and walking advocacy doesn’t often happen east of I-205.

The event tonight is being organized by the For Every Kid Coalition in partnership with the Community Alliance of Tenants.

This coalition is pressuring regional politicians and policymakers to dedicated more funding toward Safe Routes to School. Specifically, they want $15 million in federal “flexible funds” to go toward the program. The effort is one of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s five main advocacy campaigns that emerged after federal set-asides for the Safe Routes program have all but dried up.
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Safe routes coalition: Too many kids unable to join Walk and Bike to School Day

by on October 12th, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Ride Along with the Stedman Family-5
Safer infrastructure would shift this traffic equation.
(Photo @ J. Maus/BikePortland)

By a scan of headlines and social media feeds, last week’s International Walk and Bike to School Day was a big success. But the full picture reveals a more sobering truth: The vast majority of kids didn’t walk or bike to school.
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Legislators’ letter urges Metro to fund regional Safe Routes to School program

by on October 8th, 2015 at 3:58 pm

saferoutes
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Eight state legislators are chiming in their support of regional government Metro creating a regional Safe Routes to School program.

The proposal, which comes from a coalition of local transportation, health and justice advocacy groups, already has formal backing from the cities of Beaverton, Tigard, Milwaukie and Forest Grove, as well as the Beaverton School Board. It’s currently on track to become a major public issue next spring.

The idea is to dedicate some of the increasingly flexible federal transportation money that flows through Metro to giving elementary schools throughout the region an option to get a few classes in safe biking and walking, and to focus money for better crosswalks, sidewalks and bikeways around the same schools.

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PBOT: School relocation will mean more auto traffic on North Flint

by on August 25th, 2015 at 9:03 am

Wheeler Ave traffic and meeting-8
Traffic on Flint at Broadway.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A popular route for bicycling will change a lot when school starts later this week.

On Thursday the currently vacant school on North Flint Avenue just south of Russell will become the temporary home for Faubion School. Faubion (which serves kindergarten through eighth grade) will move from their northeast Portland location while their school is rebuilt over the course of the next two years.

Flint is a popular connection between the bike lanes N Vancouver Ave and N Broadway. The move means that what used to be a quiet backstreet for thousands of bike riders each day will see a lot more auto traffic. (more…)

Milwaukie and Tigard call for regional Safe Routes to School funding

by on March 30th, 2015 at 10:57 am

saferoutes
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s campaign to get walking and biking education and infrastructure to public schools across the Portland metro area got two strong boosts this month.

In successive unanimous council resolutions, the suburban cities of Milwaukie and Tigard voted on March 17 and 24 to ask the Metro regional government to dedicate funding to programs like the ones currently enjoyed by many Portland elementary and middle schools.

“Our goal is for Tigard to be the most walkable community in the Pacific Northwest where people of all ages and abilities live healthy, interconnected lives,” Tigard Mayor John Cook said in a BTA news release. “Providing a safe route to school for every kid is essential to the health and safety of our community.”

Various Milwaukie and Tigard residents had more to say in the BTA’s release: (more…)