Biking and Safe Routes to School programs come up big in $2.5 million worth of regional grants

Posted by on November 30th, 2016 at 10:15 am

Bike to School Day in NoPo-17

About a quarter of the grants went to Safe Routes to School programs.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s some good news: Metro just announced grants to 17 agencies and organizations throughout the region that will make it easier to get around without driving alone. The grants are worth a total of $2.5 million — money that comes from the federal government and is doled out by Metro via their Regional Travel Options (RTO) program.

Metro spokesman Craig Beebe said, “This cycle’s awardees continue the program’s trend of focusing on youth and underserved communities.”

On that note, a $178,000 grant to the Community Cycling Center will allow the nonprofit to implement a “community centered” Safe Routes to School program at Title I schools (where students come from low-income families). And the Bicycle Transportation Alliance won $203,000 for an “Access to Bicycling initiative” that will include a continuation of their Women Bike program and hands-on bike repair and riding clinics at workplaces and in communities around the region. In Washington County, the Westside Transportation Alliance will use its $196,000 grant to encourage biking, walking and transit use in areas with a high percentage of low-wage and shift workers.

All but four of the funded programs include an element that specifically targets cycling (keep in mind these grants are for educational, marketing, and access-related programs, not physical infrastructure). One of the biggest winners are Safe Routes to School programs. Four projects totaling over $640,000 were funded. Metro also directed over $320,000 toward two projects that will help community colleges make cycling a more competitive and attractive transportation option. The largest single grant was awarded to the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation. They received $600,000 to implement their long-running and successful “SmartTrips” program — an individualized marketing approach that encourages Portlanders to walk, bike, and take transit. SmartTrips usually focuses on specific geographic sections of the city, but this grant will target new and relocating Portlanders (especially seniors and those with low-incomes).

Here is the complete list of winners in order of grant size (descriptions provided by Metro):

City of Portland: SmartTrips, Smart City ($600,482)

SmartTrips, Smart City is focused on connecting residents and commuters to the region’s active transportation network through a multi-step approach that increases awareness, changes attitudes, offers experiential opportunities, and combines active transportation to keystone community events and projects. Whether residents and others in the region come to a community celebration, receive a SmartTrips order form in the mail, or read about a community walk in their neighborhood newsletter, this project engages people at their point of interest and provide multiple additional opportunities to connect with the active transportation network. The project’s lasting impact comes from the power of community engagement partnered with technology and marketing. This project synchronizes PBOT’s extensive work in active transportation with community partnerships to connect with underserved communities across Portland. By focusing on key community events that attract people from all over the region and online tools and marketing that transcend physical boundaries, the project benefits the entire region.

SmartTrips, Smart City targets new and relocating Portland residents and low-income and senior populations. Additionally, the project focuses on four culturally and linguistically diverse communities with lower median income levels than the rest of the city. Specifically, the project will reach 70,000 new and relocating residents and reach an additional 20,000 Portlanders in the Lents neighborhood, the Jade District, New Columbia, the Cully neighborhood, and older adult communities of Portland.

Ride Connection: RideWise Urban Mobility Support and Training ($239,440)

Ride Connection provides one-on-one travel training services to older adults and people with disabilities traveling for work-related purposes. Travel training is an individualized course of instruction designed to teach older adults and people with disabilities to safely and independently use public transportation. Training includes interviews, barrier analysis, instructional plans and goal setting, field training and post-training follow-up evaluations. Through RideWise, Ride Connection also provides classroom trainings to assist low-income individuals in accessing fixed route transportation services and other travel options as an alternative to driving alone.

Bicycle Transportation Alliance: Access to Bicycling: Bike More Challenge, Women Bike, and Community Partnerships ($203,461)

The goal of Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Access to Bicycling Initiative is to make bicycling an option for the region’s residents no matter their neighborhood, workplace or employment status, gender, race, or cultural background. In order to reduce barriers and promote benefits for residents, the Access to Bicycling initiative will provide close to 100 clinics on site at workplaces and community spaces across the region that teach rules of the road, route-planning, how to conduct a basic bike safety check, and strategies for enjoying a safe and comfortable commute. BTA staff will lead more than forty rides across the region with bikes for those that need them and introduce people to their neighborhood biking infrastructure and route planning specific to their neighborhood destinations. These rides introduce participants to bike maps, online planning tools, bike share, multi-use paths, neighborhood greenways, bike lanes, and key network connections. BTA will continue work on the Women Bike Roll Model program links experienced bikers with other women in their neighborhoods and social networks, so women new to bicycling can benefit from friendly guidance from trusted peers. Similarly, each year’s Bike More Challenge engenders new workplace champions that exponentially multiply by bringing bike maps, bagels, bike parking, trophies, homemade cookies, route planning assistance, bike pumps, free bike maintenance help, door to door ride-alongs, and enthusiastic advice to tentative coworkers new to biking for transportation or previously intimidated at the thought of biking to work.

Multnomah County: East Multnomah County Regional Safe Routes to School Program ($200,000)

The East Multnomah County Safe Routes to School Program, led by Multnomah County, seeks to establish the framework and foundation to improve active transportation choices for kids to get to and from school in East Multnomah County, with a focus on kids and their families who attend public school in the cities of Fairview, Wood Village, Troutdale and Gresham. The project will enable a coordinated approach that will increase success of current program and give resources beyond what local agencies have been able to provide thus far. The project will track a newly developed safe walking and bicycling curriculum for grades K-2 in the Reynolds School District through a full-time limited duration Safe Routes to School Coordinator position for two years through Multnomah County. The Coordinator will develop an annual Safe Routes to School work plan in coordination with partner agency staff, including prioritizing schools to focus Safe Routes to School investments on and conducting culturally-specific community outreach methods for encouragement events and provide ongoing support for schools in the area to implement Safe Routes to School programming. Unique to the program is up to three Open Streets Demonstration Projects on school routes in East Multnomah County.

Westside Transportation Alliance: Increasing Transportation Options in Washington County ($196,000)

The Westside Transportation Alliance is the only transportation management association in Washington County, providing services to member businesses to help their employees reduce their rate of single-occupant vehicle travel. WTA will continue to work with employers to increase awareness of travel options, advocate for transportation options through our involvement in both local and regional planning processes. In addition to the need currently met by WTA services, unmet needs have been identified for parts of the county with higher percentages of low-wage and shift workers, in addition to small employers. By expanding their limited staff, WTA will be able to fulfill those needs through this project.


Portland Community College: Expanding Commuting Options through Individualized Marketing and Bike Rental Development ($191,000)

A new Transportation Specialist will plan for the expansion of PCC’s bicycle rental program to westside campuses, where the bicycle infrastructure is not as robust, pointing students and staff to existing resources, distributing maps, safety tips, and practical information such as how to load a bicycle onto a TriMet bicycle rack. Staff will reach out to both PCC faculty and staff to craft individualized transportation plans, with an emphasis on those who are new to the college. Additionally, the bicycle rental program at Cascade Campus will partner with Legacy Emanuel Trauma Nurses to provide low-cost helmets to students, as well as operating a helmet exchange program where students can exchange damaged helmets for new ones at no cost. Grant funds will also create 24 secure bike parking spaces (either lockers or a cage) to be utilized by commuters and bike program participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, grant funds will pay for secure storage for a fleet of 48 rental bicycles at PCC’s Cascade campus.

City of Tigard/Tigard-Tualatin School District: Safe Routes to School ($186,000)

Tigard is not unusual in having schools near arterials and collectors that are difficult to cross, and local streets around schools with inadequate sidewalks, signage, pedestrian and bicycle safety devices, or bike parking. Continuing the school district’s Safe Routes to School program builds on work accomplished over the past two years and continues their commitment to providing families safe options to get to school. This project will fund a full-time Safe Routes to School coordinator position in Tigard. The coordinator will be the hub of citywide and Tigard-Tualatin School District efforts to promote walking and bicycling for school and other trips. By working directly with individual schools, Tigard SRTS will reinforce the city’s commitment to being “the most walkable community in the Pacific Northwest, where people of all ages and abilities enjoy healthy and interconnected lives.”

Community Cycling Center: Community Centered Safe Routes to School ($178,080)

The Community Cycling Center is focused on transportation equity as a vehicle for change, is poised to remove barriers between youth and their ability to access education. Through the Community Centered Safe Routes to School project youth and families at Title I schools will have greater access to healthy, reliable, and fun transportation to and from school, work, and around their neighborhoods. A key component of the project is the deployment of youth and adult bicycles from CCC’s Community Bicycle Library to deliver in-school bicycle programming for every family that identifies it as need.

This Community-Based SRTS program will increase the safety and usage of existing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, as well as identify priority locations for future safety improvements through outreach to families and stakeholders, a student transportation options and barriers assessment, events and increased information and resources about walking, biking and transit in their community.

Explore Washington Park: Washington Park Travel Options Initiative Phase I ($149,200)

TriMet’s Red and Blue MAX lines stop at Washington Park between downtown Portland and Beaverton, yet currently only approximately 16 percent of park visitors travel via transit. This project will
leverage existing investment in the MAX light rail and regional park-and-ride facilities such as Sunset Transit Center, by promoting transit to the 53,800 households that make up between 27-32 percent of annual Washington Park visits. Other investments within the Park will include intra-park shuttles, improved transit stops in the park, and customer service staff to guide people around the park via transit. The project complements TriMet’s plan for a major renovation of the Washington Park MAX station after almost 20 years of operation, to be completed in the spring of 2017.

Clackamas Community College: Expanding Access to Education ($130,000)

Clackamas Community College is continuing their efforts across their three locations to decrease the number of students and faculty driving alone to campuses. CCC will increase awareness of their Xpress shuttle service through a marketing campaign. Additionally, CCC will continue to manage a discounted TriMet pass program, and the carpool incentive program and online carpooling matching service
Working to increase the number of people biking to campus, the college will implement a study to identify student barriers to biking, which will be used to launch a bike program pilot and ultimately develop a plan to initiate a permanent bike program. Lastly, making it easier for student and staff to navigate on campus by foot and bike, CCC will oversee the development and implementation of a wayfinding system to increase student awareness of walking and biking routes to key destinations including CCC buildings, transit stops, and employment centers.

Oregon Walks: Oregon Walkways: Reducing barriers and access to Open Streets ($99,208)

Oregon Walks will lead this project to galvanize community support around new funding for pedestrian safety infrastructure improvements in East Portland through Portland’s new Fixing our Streets program and Vision Zero program. East Portland sees the most fatal crashes per capita and is home to the city’s most dangerous corridors, as well as having some of the poorest connectivity of the pedestrian network. However, thanks to new programs East Portland residents will see an influx of resources dedicated to making their streets safer. Oregon Walkways events will serve as an opportunity for residents to experience what a safe and connected community can look like, by creating conditions on our streets that allow people to feel comfortable using them for walking. Oregon Walks will engage community to create the routes for the events with an eye toward identifying areas of need that can help the City of Portland in how they prioritize projects, as well as highlighting areas that are already slated to see improvements, such as the Gateway Business District and Jade District. The project will fill a necessary gap in how the public learns about, engages with, and provides feedback on infrastructure aimed at making them feel safer and thus, more comfortable walking, biking, and accessing transit.

Beaverton School District: Safe Routes to School Program (Amount awarded: $75,000)

Nearly all of Beaverton School District’s students live close enough to their school to walk or bike, or are offered bus service. This project highlights the active transportation needs in the areas where families can, but choose not to walk, bike or use the bus service provided due to existing infrastructure and non-infrastructure based barriers. The project will identify the best routes, prioritize infrastructure needs and the community will be educated and encouraged to walk, bike and bus to school safely while understanding the importance of respecting all road users. The program will result in more people knowing they have options available to get to school and throughout the community and use alternatives to single passenger trips more often. Beaverton School District will continue to collaborate with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership on their region-wide planning project to create a Regional Safe Routes to School Framework, and will use data and prioritization of schools most in need, to support their SRTS efforts in their own school communities.

Clackamas County: Active Transportation Counting Devices ($15,909)

Collecting accurate data is essential to building long-term support for walking and cycling, and improving the conditions for those who choose travel options. Clackamas County will purchase and install two fixed-location devices and one mobile active transportation counting devices that measure frequency, direction of travel and time of day of bicyclists and pedestrians in urban, unincorporated Clackamas County. Following installation, the County will prepare a reporting system for easy input of data downloaded from each device. Staff will prepare annual count data reports for departmental use as well as viewing on the county’s active transportation webpage. This project will allow Clackamas County to understand the needs in the community and prioritize where to invest more resources and increase the public’s use of travel options.

City of Milwaukie: Downtown Milwaukie Wayfinding ($15,000)

As the first phase of Milwaukie’s Wayfinding Systems Plan, the City of Milwaukie will install a total of six vehicular directional signs, eight pedestrian directional signs and one pedestrian kiosk in and around the downtown area. In addition to directing people in a safe and efficient way, good wayfinding has the ability to add to a sense of place and tie a community together. With the recent opening of the Main Street Station of the Orange Line and redevelopment of Riverfront Park along the Willamette River, Downtown Milwaukie has attracted regional attention and is making Downtown Milwaukie increasingly popular to visitors, businesses, and residents alike. A wayfinding system will better connect the existing Downtown Milwaukie assets such as businesses, parks, public parking, and other attractions and destinations.

South Waterfront Community Relations: South Waterfront Wayfinding ($13,640)

This project will place 20 bicycle wayfinding signs in the South Waterfront district. Currently there are no wayfinding signs in the district. With new walking and biking infrastructure (Moody separated bicycle lanes, Tilikum Crossing, Hooley Pedestrian Bridge, and in-street bike lanes), simple bike wayfinding signs displaying distance and time to key destinations will help current and would-be riders to understand bicycle accessibility to and from the South Waterfront. The signs will be strategically placed at intersections throughout the district , with the southernmost signs encouraging riders to venture to Willamette Park along the rail trail, and the northernmost sign displaying information to ride to Downtown and the Pearl District. Additional signs will direct travelers to the Hooley Bridge, Lair Hill access, and the Tilikum Crossing and access to the Central Eastside.

Hillsboro Parks and Recreation: Rock Creek Trail Counters ($4,760)

Hillsboro Parks & Recreation will install eight trail counters at all the accesses of the Rock Creek Regional Trail to complement two previously installed counters at Cornell Crossing. One of the greatest challenges facing bicycle and pedestrian professionals and advocates is the lack of documentation on usage and demand of infrastructure. Without accurate and consistent data, it is difficult to measure the positive benefits of investments in these modes, especially when compared to the other transportation modes such as the private automobile. The additional counters will supplement the data collection already underway, and provide a more detailed view of the overall use of this portion of the regional system, helping to better understand the accesses dynamics, improve maintenance, amenities, infrastructure, lighting and user safety.

Hillsboro Parks and Recreation: Rock Creek Trail Access Video ($3,000)

Hillsboro Parks and Recreation will create an overview video for the Rock Creek Trail that will inform people of different abilities, interests and backgrounds about the activities, facilities and challenges expected along the trail. The video will help provide context and reveal possible challenges and experiences for various groups, and be a tool for groups to gain confidence to utilize the trail.

Regional Travel Options grants are awarded every two years and the latest awards will fund projects from 2017 to 2019. Learn more about the program at

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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Dan ARobert PingDavid HampstenSpiffyAdam H. Recent comment authors
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Robert Ping

Wow, this is exciting! Great to see Metro investing in Safe Routes to School and bicycling, especially in suburban areas and in the eastern parts of Portland and Multnomah County.


Washington Park greatly needs TriMet bus 56 to travel north / south on Scholls to Sylvan and then east to the Zoo and/or SW Jefferson.

Kate Walker
Kate Walker

Thanks for the nice recap and shoutout, Jonathan!


And how much of this money is being spent on education efforts for drivers on how to safely operate a vehicle around people walking and cycling?


SmartTrips helped me when I started cycling in Portland… it was that little extra bit of help I needed to do it more often… I think I need a bit more help now cuz I’ve spent too much time on the bus and not enough on 2 wheels…


that we even need a Safe Routes to School program is a testament to the failure of our road system’s safety… the city/state should receive some money specifically for making infrastructure around schools safer…

Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy

They do Spiffy! Unfortunately they spend it on bike lane removal and more school busses.
Personally I think the fastest and easiest way to enhance safe school access, would be to eliminate school busses except for class field trips. Also any parking near to the schools with the exception of teaching staff and handicapped pickup and dropoff.


So nearly everyone would feel compelled to drive their kid to school? What about just eliminating “parent drop off zones”? I’m fine with buses… just wish they were in the form of 15 Passenger Sprinter Vans.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten

Yellow buses are necessary in East Portland, since Trimet service there is so poor and spotty. Portland Public Schools, which has very few yellow buses, serves very little of East Portland (mostly in Lents only). The other East Portland school districts – David Douglas, Reynolds, Centennial, Parkrose, and North Clackamas – schools are usually miles from where students live, and Trimet doesn’t connect them to the schools. Sidewalks, safe crossings at busy streets, and bike infrastructure in East Portland is nearly nil.

Dan A
Dan A

The school districts love to cut buses in the same of saving money. That’s the only reason they do it. If it was to encourage walking & biking, they would invest all of the money they saved on buses in paying for walking chaperones, driver education, infrastructure, etc.


This is going to be seem pedantic but here me out. Does the phrasing of grants being “awarded” seem to subtly delegitimize the project / cause the money is going towards in anyone else’s perspective?

The verd “award” technically fits here as it does include the terms payment or compensation in it’s definition… BUT it can also mean giving a prize and the noun “award” is nearly exclusively used for describing a prize or some type of “extra” recognition. When we hear the word “award” we usually think more along the lines of “prize” of “reward” than we do “payment” or “funding”. To me this conveys that you are “awarded” for something that is above and beyond a basic level of expected behavior. Earned payment for standard / expected behavior isn’t really what I think of as an “award” in current culture.

Where I’m going with this is that by saying these projects are being awarded money it conveys the idea that these projects are above and beyond what we should expect as normal or standard… that these projects are “extra”. To me the majority of these projects shouldn’t be “nice to have” extras but instead be seen as basic needs that deserve “funding”… not a “prize”. EXTRA freeway lanes should be seen as “nice to haves”. (I wish driving itself was seen more as a privilege and convenience than as a right or necessity but I digress..)

I know projects like these and many others rely on receiving grants and a local government can’t budget based on expecting to receive federal grants but I would love even the subtle things to convey the legitimacy and equality that these projects should have compared to other types of public planning and infrastructure spending. I hate that projects like these feel like they have to compete to get awarded money Not criticizing the use of it here in anyway, just critiquing the system / culture.



judges award restitution… so maybe this is a way of saying “we’re sorry, here’s something to make up for us being stupid”…

David Hampsten
David Hampsten

“Award” is governmentese for “subsidy”. Public agencies have very high administrative overhead costs, so to “get a bigger bang for the buck” in using public funds, they subsidize the budgets of nonprofits, who can then do what government should be doing, for a lot less money.