Vagabond Shark

Ideas, Bikes, Art, Design, Architecture, Politics, Tech, Software

Safe Routes to School in Oregon

Posted by Peter W on July 2, 2007

It’s been six years since 2001, when HB3712 was passed, which says:

“City and county governing bodies shall work with school district personnel to identify barriers and hazards to children walking or bicycling to and from school. The cities, counties and districts may develop a plan for the funding of improvements designed to reduce the barriers and hazards identified.”

I’m curious what has been happening with Safe Routes to Schools since then and what the current status is.

I know that Portland is doing a lot of SR2S stuff (although probably not enough) – check out PDOT’s SR2S website. Under “My School’s Travel Environment”, they have maps tailored to each school in the city, although when you click on most of them it tells you that the school hasn’t completed the safe routes to school program, so the map doesn’t yet show much more than other city maps do. For now the Portland Neighborhood Bike Maps are probably the best bet for kids biking to school. The PDOT SR2S also has a learning page including lessons for teachers and students, and safety and health info for parents.

In 2005, HB2742 passed, which is allocating $2.1 million for 2007 to schools, nonprofits, and local governments for infrastructure or noninfrastructure (e.g. education, enforcement, or encouragement) programs to promote biking and walking to schools. Applications are on walknbike.org.

WalkNBike.org also has a useful survey and tally sheet schools can use, along with a bunch of other SR2S info. It’s a very helpful site put up by the BTA and the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition.

A big question I have is – what are the counties doing? I know Washington County realizes that they should do something – check out section 8.6 from their transportation plan:

“8.6 Work with school districts, including individual schools, to identify barriers and hazards to children walking and bicycling to and from school. Develop strategies for funding improvements designed to reduce these barriers and hazards and give priority to these improvements in the Washington County Operations and Maintenance Work Program and the Transportation Capital Improvement Program.”

But what have they actually done? As far as I know, the BTA is consulting with the city of Beaverton and some schools, but I haven’t heard anything about Washington County being involved. And Aloha High School recently built more parking spaces as did Mooberry Elementary School in Hillsboro, so it seems not all of the Beaverton School District or the Hillsboro School District is on board.

The other question – so what if school districts, cities, or counties don’t participate? Are there any penalties?

There are an average of 137 school traffic related fatalities per year, according to the NHTSA “Traffic Safety Facts”. Getting to school isn’t worth dying for, so hopefully safe routes to school in Oregon will take off in the next few years and can help prevent at least some of those deaths (along with reducing traffic, decreasing obesity, and decreasing air polution).

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2 Responses to “Safe Routes to School in Oregon”

  1. Jen said

    Dieing it’s “dying”.
    I enjoy reading your blog. 🙂

  2. vagabondshark said

    Oh right, thanks Jen… one of these day’s I’ll actually learn to spell. 😉

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