Dear Safe Routes Champions and Supporters,
Our Portland Safe Routes to School program has been collaborating with Portland schools and families for over 14 years. To keep up with our changing city and growing population, we have updated our program goals and strategies to achieve them.
We have many new things happening this year and into the future. Our updated strategic plan is already guiding our work, we have made exciting changes to our education programs, and Fixing Our Streets improvement projects continue to be built.
1) Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan
Our work to improve and expand our program will be guided by four principles:
Equitable - Our programming will prioritize underserved communities.
Grounded in Partnership - We will collaborate and build strong relationships with schools, parents, other agencies and community organizations.
Flexible & Inclusive - Our programs will:
- Respond to those served by them,
- Meet the needs of a variety of schools and families, and
- Provide activities to engage groups in different ways.
Create Culture Change - Our programs will inspire and empower parents, students and school personnel to be champions for safety and active youth.
Our programming and strategic priorities will help us reach our high-level goals:
- No child is involved in a serious crash accessing school or school programs,
- Every child who wants to walk, roll or take transit to school knows how to do safely, and
- Community members understand how Safe Routes to School programs are connected to congestion relief and climate change mitigation.
2) Safety Education Programs
We are working to make our overall program more sustainable. One of our goals is to develop a K-12 transportation education program to reach students at each grade level. Starting this year, we are transitioning our Bike Safety Education from 4th and 5th grades into middle school.
We are shifting bike safety from elementary to middle schools for a few reasons:
- Our previous program model could only serve 40 schools each year. Because there are over 100 schools in Portland, only a small percentage of Portland students received this education.
- Our previous program taught 4th and 5th graders during a regular class period, not PE. Taking time away from core subjects didn’t work for many schools, especially those with lower academic test scores.
- Middle school students are closer to an age where they can use skills learned during the class to travel independently.
- The opportunity to reach students twice in one year (through both PE and health classes) for the entirety of their middle school career is a great way to help them learn and retain information.
- Recent Senate Bill 4 amended ORS 329.496, requiring that students in grades 6-8 receive 225 minutes of PE per week for the entire school year. We also heard that many Title I School PE program teachers need more resources for their classes. Our fleet of bikes and lesson plan are a great response to these needs.
This fall, with our partner, The Street Trust, we began training middle school PE teachers to teach a 10-day bike safety skills course to their students. We are also providing health teachers a 3-day class unit about the benefits of active transportation, personal security in the right-of-way, laws to follow when walking and biking, and how to access transit. These pilot programs are currently in six middle schools across three school districts.
This winter we are also planning to offer a pedestrian education train-the-trainer course for K-5 grade teachers. Working closely with schools, we will develop other tools for K-5 teachers around traffic safety skills.
3) Upcoming Fixing Our Streets infrastructure projects
In May 2016, Portland voters passed Measure 26-173, Portland’s first local funding source dedicated to fixing our streets for people of all ages and abilities. Fixing Our Streets allocated $8 million for school improvements. Safe Routes to School staff, guided by community input and a Stakeholder Advisory Committee, created a prioritized list of safety projects to build in each of Portland’s five school districts. This resulted in a narrowed list of 88 projects. You can read more about the process and see a map of funded and unfunded projects at SafeRoutesProjects.com.
Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has already installed 32 of the 88 projects and will be hard at work building more between now and 2021. We are expecting to complete the following projects by the end of 2019:
- Median island, curb ramps, and a marked crosswalk at NW Miller Rd and Miller Hill Dr
- Median island, curb ramps, and a marked crosswalk at NW Miller Rd and Spencer St
- Two medians, curb ramps, and crosswalks at NE Killingsworth and 9th Ave
- Upgraded island where the Springwater Corridor trail crosses SE 92nd Ave
- Median island and a marked crosswalk at SE Henry St and 46th Ave
- Pedestrian pathway and a marked crosswalk where SW Pedestrian Trail meets Shattuck Rd
- A marked crosswalk and pedestrian signage at N Willis Blvd and Haven Ave
4) Safe Routes to School Street Design Toolkit
Sometimes understanding why a certain type of infrastructure can or can’t be installed is a bit confusing for those of us who are not engineers. As we continue to build more projects through Fixing Our Streets, and to assist schools and families with questions, we have developed an engineering toolkit to explain the purpose and use of different infrastructure.
Here's to the future of our Portland students!
The Safe Routes to School Team