Esplanade closure begins February 1st

PBOT director co-stars in Safe Routes Streetfilm

Posted by on November 18th, 2013 at 9:12 am

The best cure for gloominess about the progress of active transportation in Portland is Safe Routes to School.

As the newest Streetsfilm shows, the program has been a huge success here. One in ten Portland youngsters bike to school (ten times the national average) and three in ten walk (three times the average).

Better still, those numbers are up 25 percent since 2006.

It’s especially heartening to see Leah Treat, the woman who runs our transportation bureau, talk about her own children’s experience riding to school on her husband’s Xtracycle.

Another highlight: the bike-loving Kaufman family explains why they prefer walking to school over biking.

“Kids that walk to school, they’ve already started the motor,” says Ben Keefer, principal at George Middle School. “So they come to school and tend to be pretty ready to learn.”

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  • paikikala November 18, 2013 at 9:37 am


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  • Erinne November 18, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Wow. I was beginning to think Leah Treat is some mysterious chimera. For all the hoopla about a national search and her hiring process, we haven’t heard a peep from her since she started. Glad to see she isn’t just a phantom.

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    • PDX Dave November 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      ***portion of comment deleted****. Leah did a Q&A at the BTA annual members meeting, she attended the 1,000,000th bike on the Hawthorne morning breakfast event and in general can be seen riding her bike around town with her cute family. I am getting tired of the snakyness of some on this board.

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  • Erinne November 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I can be seen riding my bike around town with my cute family, too. But that doesn’t make me an effective director of a large city’s transportation bureau. I’m glad to hear she spoke at a BTA event, but I haven’t seen any public statements from Ms. Treat (who I’m sure is a fine human being) about our city’s transportation actions or priorities. That’s fishy (not snakey), is all I’m saying.

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  • Barbara Stedman November 18, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Wow, we live in a great biking city! That is if you happen to live on the inner east side… We don’t even have sidewalks around our school in SW Portland. But at least we have a bike shelter. And the five racks are usually full…

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  • Barbara Stedman November 18, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Also interesting that they show mostly kids that are taken to school by their parents compared to walking or biking alone. Many of the kids shown are not even riding their own bikes but sit on their parent’s bike. Now, that’s a vast improvement over sitting in the back of a car, but it doesn’t give the kids more exercise. Or the benefit of becoming independent by walking or biking alone. You would think a kid living 7 blocks from school could walk alone. People do what they think is the social norm, so pictures like this convey the message that walking or biking alone is inherently unsafe (even on these beautiful car-free and seemingly safe roads shown in the film).

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  • JerryW November 19, 2013 at 11:30 am

    After reading Barbara Stedman’s comments I looked at the video again. As I count there are MANY more kids on single bikes than riding on the parents bikes. Most of the kids on the parents bikes are very young, so I can see them in training mode. I also see this video as some what staged for effect of getting the message across, so I can cut a them bit of slack. It’s refreshing to see Leah featured in this kind of info video, she seems to be on the right side of this issue, that’s a good thing as I see it.

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  • Suzanne November 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    It is great to see a story about biking to school that also includes a few middle school students. I look forward to the day when a film like this highlights successes with getting older students (including high school students) on bikes. I am hoping that Safe Routes to School will go after funding and promote programs and innovative ideas to keep these young riders on bikes as they mature into adulthood.

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