Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

On first day of school, politicos, police and PBOT raise safety message

Posted by on September 2nd, 2014 at 10:43 am

Bike to School Day in NoPo-13

Biking to school in north Portland.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s the first day of a new school year for the Portland Public School district. That means this morning about 47,000 students and their caregivers filled the streets around 85 school sites throughout the city.

This sudden influx of drivers, walkers, bus riders and bikers on the roads are nervous times for people who care about traffic safety. To help raise awareness, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is dedicating a new crossing treatment in east Portland today and the Portland Police Bureau has launched “Operation Safe Return” to encourage people to drive safely in school zones.

At a press conference planned later today, PBOT will join with several politicians for the opening of a new “pedestrian flashing beacon” at the intersection of SE Stark and 113th (adjacent to Ventura Park and Ventura Park Elementary School). Scheduled to appear at the event are: U.S. Congressional Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick, State Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson, PBOT Director Leah Treat, ODOT Interim Region 1 Manager Rian Windsheimer, Ventura Park Elementary School Principal Jakob Curtis, and Safe Routes to School volunteer Kathleen McDade (who we rode along with back in June during our East Portland Week coverage).

During the event, the PPB will conduct a crosswalk enforcement action that will focus on speeding, failure to yield, and other common infractions.

The beacon is being installed thanks to $1.9 in state funding that was secured with help from Rep. Fagan last spring. The money funds 18 beacons, six of which have already been installed and 12 more are set to go up in the next few months.

While not as effective as full traffic signals, “rapid-flash beacons” have become the go-to tool for PBOT because they’re less expensive and have less impact on auto traffic.

In addition to the focused enforcement around the new beacon, the PPB are launching a citywide “Back to School safety campaign” today. Here’s more on the campaign from a PPB statement:

“Dozens of officers, including Photo Radar Units, will be enforcing traffic laws in these zones to reduce the number of crashes in school zones and to create a safe environment for students returning to school.

There will be emphasis placed on traffic safety and traffic education for the students, bicyclists and drivers of motorized vehicles during the morning hours when students arrive at their schools and in the afternoon hours when the schools dismiss their students.”

To reduce congestion and improve safety, the PPB is encouraging parents to consider walking or biking to school.

Also as part of the campaign, the PPB has released a short “20 is plenty” video narrated by Police Chief Mike Reese.

How was back to school traffic in your neighborhood?

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  • Case September 2, 2014 at 11:02 am

    It was particularly congested and a little sketchy out there this morning. A couple of cars ignored the “Do Not Enter” sign on 52nd and Division, then followed up by doing 30 through the neighborhood. Lots of inattentive drivers racing to get their kids to school, which is just plain odd to me. I wonder if they would like people driving like that when their kids are on the street and not in a car.

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    • Randall S September 2, 2014 at 11:06 am

      I live right by that intersection, and it seems like about 30% of people ignore the sign. That said, it’s very poorly placed. The sign should be suspended from the light. I think once they paint the traffic arrows though, it’ll be a little more clear that you can’t enter 52nd.

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    • Dan September 2, 2014 at 11:06 am

      My kids are more important than your kids.

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      • Dan September 2, 2014 at 11:10 am

        Or rather, it’s more important that my kids get to school quickly than it is that your kids get to school safely.

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        • Chris I September 5, 2014 at 8:25 am

          And if a kid gets hit by a parent racing their kid to school, it’s either a “horrible tragedy” or “parental negligence”.

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  • Oliver September 2, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I decided to take transit today because of all the drivers starting school this morning.

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  • Patrick Barber September 2, 2014 at 11:08 am

    commute was weirdly quiet for us. Hollywood > downtown (Emerson School on the park blocks)

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  • John Lascurettes September 2, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Riding our kid from NE Fremont to Buckman was more pleasant than expected and people where generally overly courteous. We’ll see how things progress over time.

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  • shuppatsu September 2, 2014 at 11:45 am

    The bike racks at my son’s school were all full, with parents just leaning their bikes against the wall for the overflow. It made me proud.

    I think today was also a big day for bike commuting all around. SE Ladd looked like Sunday Parkways for the few minutes that I was on it.

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    • paikiala September 3, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      You can request more bike racks from 823-SAFE.

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  • Granpa September 2, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    In front of Cleveland High this AM there were lots of student commuters. They are not yet participating in the Cat 6 sprints from the Powell traffic light, so “real” cyclists should give them a little extra room until they get with the program.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu September 2, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    My son got driven to school today, because we’re expecting him to haul a big load of books home. Tomorrow I will ride with him to school, then leave work early and meet him at school to ride home.

    We test-rode a route to/from school together on Sunday and he spent some of Sunday riding his bike alone on alternative routes to/from school. He has been riding his bike to middle school, but that is less than a mile on residential streets. Now he will be riding about 5 miles, a bigger journey on some major streets.

    Over the summer we built him a new/used bike for school and got him a new helmet; over the coming month we’ll add fenders and more lights/reflectives.

    He is far better prepared for city biking than I was at his age. With two centuries under his belt, he is plenty fit. When we ride around town, I point out hazards – the right/left hook points, tricky crossings, streetcar tracks, dooring – and we talk about defensive riding in the city. And Portland is a safer place to ride than where I lived at his age (Los Angeles), no matter what Bicycling Magazine may think about us.

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    • KristenT September 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      Best Dad of the Year award goes to John Liu for awesome active parenting.

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  • Alex Reed September 2, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Although I don’t have kids yet, my route past the Franklin High School daily drop-off / parking rush got a little bit easier with the 50s Bikeway project! Thank you PBOT! Now I have a better option than temporarily-car-clogged Woodward through that section. Motorist compliance with the pedestrian crossing at SE 50th and Woodward also seemed improved.

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  • Eric in Seattle September 3, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Just to be clear, the safety problem is with cars and drivers. Cars because they take up so much space and are not really well suited for the task of urban transportation, and drivers because of the dangerous things they do.

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  • MaxD September 4, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Twenty is plenty fast to kill a kid

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