1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204
October 8, 2014-- I was so pleased to participate in International Bike and Walk to School Day with Principal Joyner and the students, family and faculty at Hosford Middle School. Along with 60 other Portland schools and many other schools around the world, Hosford students celebrated their commitment to living healthful and active lives by taking advantage of the beautiful fall morning and walking to school together.
Portland's Safe Routes to School program provides “Education, Encouragement, Engineering, Enforcement and Evaluation in an Equitable manner” to support the efforts of students, parents and teachers in creating an active partnership between schools and the communities they serve.
Since we started our partnership with the Safe Routes to School initiative in 2005, 42% of trips taken by Portland elementary school students are on foot or on bike—up from just 7% nine years ago.
Despite our progress, there are still neighborhoods in Portland where walking or biking to school isn’t a viable option because the students don’t have access to sidewalks, bikeways and safe pedestrian crossings. We have already made great strides, but it is our hope that the program will continue to grow through prioritized funding to safety projects.
It was impressive to see so many enthusiastic students with their families come together this morning at Hosford. And it wasn’t just students and families. Safe Routes to School helps build strong and connected communities. In fact, we were joined by Rob Sadowsky from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance who helped students make pedal-powered smoothies; Cory Poole from NW Skate Coalition who teaches skate safety in local middle schools; and active transportation advocate extraordinaire, Noel Mickelberry from Oregon Walks.
It is my hope that through the Safe Routes to School Program, schools around Portland will follow Hosford’s example and continue to make active transportation accessible and enjoyable for all children in their neighborhoods.
After holding a news conference on SE Stark Street and 113th Avenue, U.S. Rep Earl Blumenauer crosses at the new pedestrian safety beacon along with Leah Treat, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, City Commissioner Steve Novick and ODOT Region 1 Interim Manager Rian Windsheimer. At the same time, Portland Police held a crosswalk enforcement action at the crossing to highlight back to school safety. Photo credit: Felicity J. Mackay, Portland Bureau of Transportation
September 2, 2014-- As efforts continue to increase funding for longstanding transportation safety and maintenance needs throughout Portland, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer joined local and state officials and community partners today to celebrate the installation of new pedestrian flashing beacons at five busy East Portland intersections.
The five new beacons, which flash yellow when a pedestrian pushes a button, give a needed safety boost to the intersections, all of which cross multi-lane busy streets in East Portland. These pedestrian safety improvements, part of a package of 18 new beacons, were made possible by state funding secured last spring by East Portland Legislators.
“These safety improvements are effective and affordable solutions,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer. “I commend the hard work of officials at both the City of Portland and the State of Oregon for working together for the common goal of transportation safety.”
“Standing here at SE 113th and Stark, it’s clear that this busy, multilane street will now be safer and easier to cross for everyone, especially kids going to and from Ventura Park Elementary School and to Ventura Park,” said City Commissioner Steve Novick as he gathered with Congressman Blumenauer, State Rep. Vega Pederson and other officials and community members.
Community members have long identified these intersections as needing improvements. The Portland Bureau of Transportation committed to installing the first five by the start of the school year.In addition to SE 113th Ave. and Stark Street, the four other beacons activated at busy intersections are at: SE 120th Ave. and Foster Road, NE 141st Ave. and Glisan Street, SE 122nd Ave. and Stephens Street and SE 122nd Ave. and Oregon Street. The State of Oregon has also installed a beacon on US Route 26 at SE Powell Boulevard and 168th Avenue. The others will be installed over the next few months.
“These improvements are significant. A motorist is five times more likely to stop for a pedestrian at crossings with beacons than one without,” Novick added. “That can be a matter of life and death on a busy, wide street. I appreciate the collaborative effort with the state and federal government to make these needed infrastructure improvements throughout the city.”
"It's a strong step forward for East Portland to have more ways for kids to travel safely to school,” said Oregon State Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson. “There's more work to be done, but this is a great example of a partnership that should and must continue. The entire East Portland delegation and I will continue to advocate for safety improvements in East Portland."
Novick and Leah Treat, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, also pointed to a map of Portland showing the new beacon locations as well as many more intersections in need of safety improvements.
“As a mother of four kids, I care deeply about safe crossings and want to make sure all kids can walk and bike to school safely,” Treat said. “These safety beacons are an important tool and support our philosophy that any road fatality is one too many.”
“The beacon you see today, along with 17 others throughout the city that have been or will be installed were paid for with $1.9 million in ODOT transportation funds,” said ODOT Region 1 Interim Manager Rian Windsheimer. “I want to thank our East Portland legislators and Commissioner Novick for their leadership and commitment to transportation safety. It will take all of us, working together, to improve safety for all modes.”
As officials dedicate the new rapid flash beacons, Portland Police and the Portland Bureau of Transportation held a crosswalk enforcement action to highlight pedestrian safety at the crossing. Portland Police and PBOT will hold another crosswalk enforcement action on Friday morning at NE 22nd Avenue and Killingsworth Street in which Treat will be the designated pedestrian.
A few weeks ago, we didn’t have our usual City Council session, so I had some unscheduled time. I decided to spend a couple of hours touring a couple of safety projects currently underway in East Portland.
I spend a lot of time hearing about and talking about and trying to do something about the gaps in our pedestrian network; I decided it would be nice to see some of the work that the Bureau of Transportation has been able to do with the limited resources it has. While out looking at a couple of locations, some neighbors stopped me to say what a difference the safety improvement have made in the community.
I was very, very glad that I had the chance to spend a couple of hours that way, and would like to take a look at a few more locations that are in need of maintenance and safety improvements.
PBOT Staff is helping to organize a tour on August 19 that will include a stop at safety improvement needs in East and Southwest Portland and a maintenance need in the Central City. I invite you to come out to the following locations and to have a discussion about our transportation needs:
Join neighborhood advocates, PBOT staff, and myself to either (or all!) of these locations to get a firsthand look at some of the many transportation needs throughout our City.
The City of Portland is currently going through an assessment to determine the feasibility of implementing a more centralized Customer Relationship Management system and 311 Call Center. This assessment involves taking a look at how the City currently interacts with customers and how it delivers services, including intake and processing of service requests as well as the handling of information requests.
To this end we want to collect information about how community members currently use City services, how they feel about their current experiences and their opinions on the potential of a 311 system for the City of Portland. To gather this type of information we are asking for community volunteers to participate in a 2 hour focus group session with our 311 Assessment Project team. 4 focus group sessions are planned:
If you are interested in volunteering to participate in any of these focus groups please contact 311 Project Manager Laura Wolfe at 503-823-4762, firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday August 18th with your preferred session.
By Zach Cross in collaboration with Matt Lim
Last summer, Commissioner Novick launched an initiative to encourage regular, physical activity to counter prolonged sitting throughout the workday. The initiative, which he brought to City Council and declared “War on Chairs,” underscores the documented health impacts of a predominately sedentary lifestyle. Studies have shown that even light physical activity once or twice a day for a short period of time can improve health outcomes. This year, Commissioner Novick’s summer interns carried the “War on Chairs” torch to encourage daily physical activity.
Chairs may not seem very harmful, but they are harming our bodies in ways that we can barely imagine. Sitting and other sedentary in the same position for multiple hour’s increases the chance of chronic health conditions such as obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar or excessive body fat. The more we move, the healthier we become.
Recent studies have shown that something as simple as walking for 30 minutes a day reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 31%, death by 32%, coronary disease artery disease by 18%, heart attacks by 35% and risk of stroke by 34%.
During our internship this summer, Matt Lim and I have taken on the planning and implementation of a pilot program within our office to encourage physical activity during the work day. We’re calling it the Summer Wellness Challenge.
The goal of this challenge is to disrupt prolonged sitting at least once per day. However, we needed to design the program to be flexible enough as to not order to not disrupt the productivity of the office. We also incorporated surveys of staff so that we can share experiences with this Summer Wellness Challenge to other City offices.
The plan that Matt and I ultimately developed encourages participation in a positive and enjoyable way by using a baton to be shared amongst staff. Our baton for this pilot project was pretty randomly chosen, and we decided to use a rubber chicken that we nick-named “#FitnessChicken.” Once a staffer completes a personally chosen activity, the baton is passed to a colleague and encourage physical activity.
At the end of each week, Matt and I conducted an anonymous online survey of staff to collect feedback that can be incorporated in the development of future fitness initiatives. Through this campaign Matt and I have concluded that positive encouragement is the key. When encouraged, staff was more likely to participate in the fitness challenge. We also found that a buddy system increases participation.
Overall, Matt and I found the pilot Summer Wellness challenge to be a great learning opportunity and we found that nearly any type of increased daily movement can be beneficial to health outcomes. It doesn’t take too much to encourage increased daily activity either; even a rubber chicken can do the trick. It’s all about getting up, being active, having fun and staying healthy!