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.
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.
The rally tonight will take place at the Rosewood Initiative, a community development organization located over three miles east of I-205. Here’s more about the event from a BTA press release:
Multicultural Families to Call for Safer Streets in East Multnomah County – Communities will speak up in seven languages for health and safety of their kid
… Multicultural community members and elected officials from East Portland, Gresham, Fairview, and Troutdale will discuss concerns around the disproportionately worse street-level safety and community health in their neighborhoods.
… Too many families in East Multnomah County don’t have the necessary safe infrastructure—sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes—in their communities to support healthy activity for their families…
Community members who usually struggle to advocate for their children because of a language barrier will participate using translators speaking Spanish, Nepali, Karen, Vietnamese, Russian, and Burmese.
It’s a significant event for reasons far beyond simply winning much-needed funding for safer streets.
Part of the event will focus on empowering a broader segment of people in our region to speak up about this issue. There will be “Community testimony training” prior to a panel discussion and organizers say we can expect to see “passionate parents learning to advocate for the health and safety of their children.”
This event also highlights a growing effort by the BTA and other active transportation advocacy groups to expand their coalition beyond the usual suspects. The Community Alliance of Tenants, for instance, is a statewide tenant-rights organization that develops leadership skills for low-income renters so they can speak up against unfair treatment. We highlighted testimony from CAT’s leader Jusin Buri in a post last month.
Learn more about this effort at OurHealthyStreets.org.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org