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Do you know who your child’s Safe Routes to School coordinator is?

Posted by on January 6th, 2017 at 11:50 am

(Graphic: City of Portland)

If you are new to Portland or new to taking care of a little one, you might not realize how awesome our city’s Safe Routes to School program is. Working with partner nonprofits like The Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance), the Community Cycling Center, Oregon Walks, and others, the program serves 180 schools citywide. And it works.

The schools with the best programs are the ones where caregivers, parents, and teachers have built a relationship with staff from city’s transportation bureau. PBOT is the place that can set you up with maps and lots of other resources that will get more of your school biking, walking, and rolling to school. But many people aren’t sure where to begin and don’t know who to talk to to get things rolling.

PBOT has just made that much easier.


Their latest Safe Routes to School newsletter includes a map of all the school districts in Portland along with the names and contact information of the corresponding city staff member who can answer your questions and help you plug into the program. The current team of Janis McDonald, Lale Santelices (a fluent Spanish speaker), and Xao Xiong (fluent in Hmong), are ready to help get Safe Routes going at your kids’ school.

Now is a great time to get involved with Safe Routes. In the coming months and years the new gas tax will fund 11 infrastructure projects around schools valued at over $8 million.

Add your school’s coordinator to your contact list and don’t be a stranger!

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Todd Boulanger January 6, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    MAN!…Janis is all over the map!!!! 😉

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    • Dick Button January 6, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Xao has one serious game of Risk ahead of her.

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    • David Hampsten January 6, 2017 at 9:37 pm

      Janis is the most experienced staff person and seems to have the most complicated areas, dealing with other cities that happen to share high schools with Portland. PPS Wilson also serves part of Lake O and some Beaverton students. Parkrose School District also serves the tiny City of Maywood Park. About 20% of the Reynolds School District are in Portland, the rest in Gresham and Troutdale. While the Centennial High School is in Gresham, about 70% of its students are in Portland. Only the David Douglas School District is entirely within Portland, with the largest high school in the state, very high poverty, over 92 languages spoken, yet has a 73% graduation rate. My guess is that Xao is the newest staff person.

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  • rick January 6, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Thanks bikeportland.
    I think I have the lady’s name from Beaverton. However, the paper street of SW Vermont Street is still not maintained on the public right-of-way. It is one of the busiest public trails adjacent to a Beaverton school district school.

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  • B. Carfree January 6, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Does SRTS work? Looking at the graphs provided in the link, four times as many students are driven or drive to school as ride bikes.

    Sure, when you add in those who walk the driving becomes less than a majority choice, but considering how many students live just a few blocks from their schools, where driving would be not only ridiculous (of course it’s almost always ridiculous in the sense of wasteful and unnecessary), but would take longer than walking, it looks like the penetration of SRTS is somewhat shallow.

    I’m not dissing the people who are working hard to re-establish the former norm that children go to school without cars, but I am questioning whether we should be making grand claims of success.

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    • Spiffy January 6, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      the goal doesn’t really seem to be getting people to stop driving… that’s not even in the name…

      but by providing more safe routes for alternative/active transportation you get the side effect of less people driving their kids to school…

      I think it’s working, and the side effect of less cars is just a bonus…

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      • B. Carfree January 6, 2017 at 3:17 pm

        In my experience, the main danger, perceived and actual, en route to schools is the cars going to those schools, sadly including those driven by staff. I really don’t see how the roads around a school can be made adequately safe without reducing the driving to those schools. If this isn’t the point of SRTS, then I question what it is doing.

        As to the walking, my point was that those students who are walking were walking all along, as also shown in the graphs, and aren’t a result of the SRTS program. I am assuming that it is their proximity to the school that has caused them to walk.

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        • Todd Boulanger January 6, 2017 at 8:01 pm

          Yes – this is the same finding we experienced in all of our school zone inspections when called out to fix the safety issue…sadly its the parents/ caregivers.

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    • David Hampsten January 6, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      “…but considering how many students live just a few blocks from their schools…” is only true for a limited number of elementary schools, mostly in inner Portland. For most middle schools and nearly all high schools, as well as most David Douglas and Centennial elementary schools, the average walk is well over a half mile, and as long as 1.5 miles for Ventura and Cherry Park elementary schools (DDSD). The yellow bus program is still necessary in areas without good TriMet connections, such as in East Portland and the SW Hills. Add to that the lack of basic infrastructure in such areas and the recent deaths of pedestrians along Division, and you might be a bit more sympathetic to the PBOT SR2S program.

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  • Spiffy January 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    curious to know how the Milwaukie effort is proceeding…

    is there a follow-up for that one?

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  • Dan A January 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Funny story regarding the Beaverton School District:

    A couple of years ago they determined that it was now safe for kids to walk across Bethany BLVD to get to Oak Hills Elementary, so they published a new walking route and cut buses for ~300 kids. This new route featured a path through the Oak Hills HOA’s private property, and a path on the school’s property that is owned by the district . As more kids started walking on this path, it was quickly realized that this path was substandard, with large portions of the path underwater, and the adjacent grass completely fouled up with deep mud.

    We brought this issue to the HOA and to the school district, and asked for them to make repairs. We got a rough estimate for the path improvement at around $25K, if I remember right. That would have been suitable for the HOA, and the cost of the repairs would have been shared with the district. However, the district decided that instead of splitting the cost of the path, they would change the published walking route to go another way, and bring back buses for the kids who are the furthest away (~30 kids). So instead of improving walking conditions for 300 kids at a one-time cost of $15K, they decided to add a bus for 30 kids at a cost of….$35K a year forever? More?

    We really do need Safe Routes To School. The school districts are doing nothing on their own to improve walking conditions or to encourage kids to walk to school without SRTS prodding.

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    • Todd Boulanger January 6, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      Yes this is perverse…its informally been called the “school-bus industrial complex” for a long time (thanks Ike)… most if not all states have rules long developed to support school transport (namely buses) due to the historical strength of these private businesses and the combo of post 80s fear of abduction + school desegregation busing/white flight to unwalkable new schools.

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  • Eric Leifsdad January 6, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Who do I call about the cars parked in the bike lane next to the school?

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    • Tom Hardy January 6, 2017 at 5:13 pm

      The local non emergency PB number can help, if not make a stink about it with the school principle.

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    • Todd Boulanger January 6, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      You may need to also check if its a school administrative policy issue pushing parking off of the school property (assuming there is ample off street parking supply) – such as:
      – school volunteers without visitor parking OR
      – staff who seek to avoid smoke free campuses by parking in the public right of way.

      Perverse yes…but I have experienced these issues in my past review of such traffic safety complaints.

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  • J_R January 6, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    I was having a discussion recently with a neighbor who has a middle school student. He was complaining about the lack of good parking for picking up his child at school. His solution for getting good parking is to arrive at the school 45 minutes before dismissal. Otherwise, he claims, one has to park 6 blocks away.

    PPS runs buses from our neighborhood to the school. The walk to the bus stop is 4 blocks and the bus ride is about 30 minutes.

    I rather expect the child will not grow up to be a user of alternative modes of travel. Most likely she’ll get a car for her 16th birthday. Is there a problem here?

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    • rick January 9, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Which school?

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  • Phil Richman January 7, 2017 at 9:08 am

    ODOT (in spite of PBOT’s efforts) has no interest in SR2S in the Wilson Cluster as evidenced by their failure to provide safe walking/biking facilities along Barbur Blvd (aka, the backbone of SW Portland travel). The Jackson MS feeder schools in particular (Capitol Hill & Markham) suffer tremendously as a result. At Capitol Hill with help from Janice, Greg Raisman and our Principal Joy Williams we have taken some baby steps building covered bike shelters (that barely get used after 2 years), removing parking along Spring Garden for bus parking (took a year) to provide a safer environment for kids walking and to stop busses from winding through sidewalkless streets close to the school where kids can now more safely walk and bike.

    Most importantly at CH we reinstated the Street Trust’s (formerly BTA) one-week bike safety education program (for 5th graders). There is a noticeable difference with my 5th grade son and his friends around the idea of riding their bikes (safely) around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, their enthusiasm will come to a halt when they reach Jackson MS, where it is almost no safe route exists. PBOT could make some low-cost changes by adding bike lanes along SW 35th Ave, but evidently on-street parking for neighbors and parents takes priority in spite of the fact the school has a pretty big parking lot on the school grounds.

    Along Vermont, next to Wilson HS, the wide bike lanes are nice but get parked in on school days and during the Hillsdale Farmers Market on Sundays. What can we do better to get the city to enforce parking rules for bike lanes? I see the same problem along SW Broadway southbound near PSU.

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    • paikiala January 8, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      There are a limited number of parking enforcement officers, but a request about a recurring problem (time of day, day of week), can usually result in scheduled enforcement efforts.

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      • Eric Leifsdad January 9, 2017 at 7:16 pm

        How many recurring requests should there be about a recurring problem?

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    • rick January 9, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      The Falley-Balmer trail needs a new bridge over Tyron Creek.

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