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Eighth graders present bike safety ideas at City Hall

Posted by on May 11th, 2011 at 10:50 am

Project Citizen presentation-2-1

Laurelhurst School students at City Hall last night.
(Photos © J. Maus)

In City Hall last night, Portland’s bicycle transportation leaders heard from a group of kids that will likely replace them someday.

Six students from Laurelhurst School in Northeast Portland came to the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting to present a class project devoted to bicycle safety policy.

The students were part of a “Project Citizen” class where they were tasked with fixing a community problem. They chose to focus on bike safety, “since biking is such a huge part of Portland.”

They came up with three policy alternatives for further evaluation: raising the mandatory helmet use age to 21 (it’s currently under 16); to require bike lights on the front and rear (current law requires a front light but only a rear reflector); and to use colored thermoplastic on bike lanes at certain intersections, to “make them much more visible to cyclists and drivers.”

Project Citizen presentation-3-2

Project Citizen presentation-4-3

The students then conducted a survey of 125 of their classmates to find out which of the three policies was most important. The survey showed that more visible bike lanes was the winner with 88 percent of respondents rating it 3 or above (on a scale of 1-5) and 49 percent saying it was the most important of the three.

With direction from the survey, the students delved more deeply into the colored bike lane idea. They researched locations “with a history of accidents” or intersections the City has previously identified (and yes, they were told during a Q & A to use the word “crashes” or “collisions” instead).

“Our goal,” wrote the students in a handout passed around to members of the BAC, “is that this will increase the visibility to bikers and drivers so that there will be fewer accidents and fatalities including bikers.”

They also concluded through research that it would only cost $2,500 (including labor and materials) to treat each intersection.

“Our policy is not complicated… It does not require buying more property or tearing up streets… This is very simple and cheap compared to other projects that are going on in the city.”

Yep. Bike safety policy is sometimes that simple.

Congrats to the students for an impressive presentaiton. I have a feeling I might be meeting some of them again a few years down the road.

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Todd EdelmankerryDSteve BJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) Recent comment authors
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Pretty interesting, way to go students. I might be showing my ignorance, but I thought lights on bikes were required by law (at least a rear one) after dusk. Am I mistaken? Or were they considering a benefit if we use lights in the day?

Steve B

I can’t help but look at this and see future PBOT staff. Nicely done, Laurelhurst 8th grade youth!


I hope they’re not talking about adding more thermoplastic to the roads. That stuff is slippery when wet.


OT and angry cat lady-ish but doesn’t anyone dress for anything any more? I shudder to think what my mom would’ve said if I showed up for a presentation at city hall looking like that…

And get off my lawn!

ON topic I thinks it’s nifty that they have a civics class.

Todd Edelman

Great that the kids are getting involved! Grups ain’t got sole right to speak for ’em! But I hope they learn that a good way to get people to drive instead of cycle is by raising the mandatory helmet age. Boys in particular aged 16 to 20 are some of the biggest killers on the roads, equipped as they are with a machine which most have not the maturity to fully handle.