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43.6 percent of trips to school in Portland are on foot or by bike
(Oct. 7, 2015) – On Wednesday, October 7, Commissioner Steve Novick, Portland Public Schools Board Member Mike Rosen, Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat and other local dignitaries joined students and staff from Lent K-8 School in celebration of International Walk and Bike to School Day. Participants also celebrated ten years of PBOT’s Safe Routes to School program successfully making walking and biking to school safer and easier for Portland students and families.
Since its inception in 2005, the Portland Safe Routes program has made impressive gains in increasing the number of students walking and biking to school. Starting with eight elementary partner schools in its first year, the program now serves over 100 elementary, K-8 and middle schools across 5 school districts and reaches over 40,000 students. The program will pilot its first high school programs this year.
Today 43.6 percent of trips to school in Portland are on foot or by bike, an increase of 35 percent from when the program began ten years ago. Thanks to the Safe Routes program, 33 percent of students walk to school, 9 percent bike and 1.6 percent roll. Nationally, the numbers are much lower with 12 percent of students walking and 1 percent biking.
“Thanks to our community partnerships, we have a created a nationally recognized Safe Routes to School Program that has inspired thousands of Portland students and families to regularly bike, walk and roll to school,” said Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick. “Though we’re exceeding national Safe Routes participation rates, we know that biking and walking to school is not a viable option in neighborhoods without sidewalks, bikeways and improved crossings. I’ll continue to work hard to secure the resources to make needed infrastructure improvements so that families can safely walk and bike throughout all Portland neighborhoods.”
“PPS loves Portland’s Safe Routes to Schools Program because it guarantees that every student that wants to walk or ride their bike to school can get there safely,” said Portland School Board Member Mike Rosen, “That makes for healthier kids and a healthier planet. We very much appreciate the Bureau of Transportation’s wise and generous investment in our kids. Lent K-8 is a school that takes the health of our students and the planet very seriously. Whether they and their community volunteers are growing food for the school and community to eat in their on campus garden or they are providing free weekly bike repairs to all students, this community gets the connection between a healthy school and a healthy neighborhood.”
“We’re here to celebrate the incredible successes of Safe Routes to School, but there is still much more we are working to accomplish,” said Transportation Bureau Director Leah Treat, “In the next ten years, we want to increase the number of Portland area students getting to school by foot, bike or bus to 75 percent. We want to engage our city’s high school students as leaders on school transportation issues affecting youth. And we want all students across Portland have the opportunity to learn to navigate safely around their neighborhoods by bike.”
Lent K-8 School has been a long-standing partner of the Portland Safe Routes to School program, joining the effort in 2007. The Safe Routes program teaches Lent 2nd graders pedestrian safety skills every winter and provides 10 hours of hands-on bike safety instruction to 4th and 5th graders each spring. The school has been the recipient of federal grant funds administered by ODOT, which have improved pedestrian crossings to the school. Lent is a Title 1 school and has a diverse student body, with the majority of students representing communities of color.
In addition to Lent K-8 School, 70 Portland area schools representing 33,000 students will be holding events today in celebration of International Walk and Bike to School Day. International Walk and Bike to School Day is a global event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day. Started in 1997, the event has become part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration – with record breaking participation – each October.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation. To learn more about PBOT’s efforts to encourage bicycle use and make safer routes for bicycling, see the bureau’s Active Transportation web site.