FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2011
Mark Lear - Portland Bureau of Transportation
More than 40 percent of Portland Safe Routes to School students walk or bike to school
Walking and bicycling are great ways to be physically active, and Portland Safe Routes to School students walk and bike to school at a rate more than twice the national average. That is important because, nationally, 61 percent of children aged 9 – 13 do not participate in any physical activity during non-school hours. Locally, physical education currently is not a daily practice in schools in Portland.
More than 40 percent of students at Safe Routes partner schools walk or bicycle to school. That is significantly higher than the national average of 11 percent active trips to school (National Household Travel Survey 2009). It is also a local increase, up from 31 percent when the program began collecting data in the fall of 2006.
Prescott Elementary, in Parkrose School District, was one of the first schools to join Safe Routes and has had remarkable success with the program. “Safe Routes to School provides significant benefits for Parkrose students and families,” said Parkrose Superintendent Karen Gray. “We’re proud of the fact that thanks to our partnership, every Parkrose student enters middle school having learned how to safely cross the street and navigate their neighborhood on bike.”
Students at Bridlemile School in SW Portland and Boise Eliot in NE Portland will be the first of thousands at 40 schools throughout the city to receive bicycle and pedestrian safety instruction this year provided through Portland Safe Routes to School. Helmets and bicycles from the Safe Routes fleet are rotated to different schools throughout the year.
Safe Routes has worked to make the streets around schools safer in an effort to reduce the number of parents driving their students to school. Walking and biking also reduces congestion during the busy morning commute and gives our young people needed physical activity. Since its start in 2005, Safe Routes has completed safety projects at 28 elementary and K-8 schools across the city. This summer, the program completed dozens of projects including pedestrian crossing and traffic calming improvements.
In addition to these localized improvements, Safe Routes has also worked on building a safe and family-friendly network in partnership with the Transportation Bureau’s Neighborhood Greenway program. More than 30 miles of neighborhood greenways have been constructed the past two years. By January 2012, 50 percent of Portland households will be within a half mile of a neighborhood greenway, greatly increasing students’ options for walking and biking to school.
During this back to school season, the Safe Routes program asks motorists to drive with additional caution and obey the 20 MPH speed limit in school zones. To further ensure student safety on the trip to school, Safe Routes partners with Portland Police on a citywide school safety mission. Running from Sept. 6 every weekday through Sept. 16, dozens of officers from across the Portland Police Bureau are placing special emphasis on enforcing traffic laws in school zones, bus zones, and crosswalks. Fines for speeding in a school zone could be as high as $251.00 for as little as ten miles over the posted speed. Media interested in observing this mission should contact PPB Sgt. Peter Simpson at 503-823-0830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Portland Safe Routes to School is a partnership of the City of Portland, schools, neighborhoods, community organizations and agencies that advocates for and implements programs that make walking and biking around our neighborhoods and schools fun, easy, safe and healthy for all students and families. Learn more about Safe Routes to School by visiting www.SafeRoutesPortland.org.