From September to June, mornings in greater Portland’s neighborhoods see a common pageant. Around hundreds of elementary, middle and high schools across the region, kids fill sidewalks and bike routes, or spill out of buses and parents’ cars, trying to get inside before the bell rings.
But that pageant isn’t the same at every school.
In some communities, many students walk or bike. But not every kid has a sidewalk or safe bike route to class. Still others don’t walk or bike because parents and educators are understandably concerned about their safety.
How kids get to school matters. Kids that can’t or don’t walk or bike are missing out on what could be a great opportunity for physical activity. Studies also show they can perform better in school. Meanwhile, car drop-offs can snarl traffic for blocks, adding to growing congestion and creating more hazards for everyone.
Safe Routes to School will soon take on a new regional shine in greater Portland. Last year, after a concerted campaign by advocates, educators, parents and students, the Metro Council and Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation directed Metro staff to begin work on a regional Safe Routes to School education and encouragement program. They reserved $1.5 million in federal transportation dollars over two years to set up the program.
The program will partner with communities and school districts around the region to help more kids get to school by foot, bike and bus safely. It will begin in earnest in 2019 when federal funding is expected. But Metro is already preparing.
Metro recently worked with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Alta Planning & Design on a report assessing the state of Safe Routes in greater Portland today.
From education and encouragement, to engineering and enforcement, Safe Routes has many faces. Through videos, interviews and stories, get a glimpse of Safe Routes in action in Troutdale, Beaverton, Clackamas and Portland in Metro’s new series.
More stories are coming soon.
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