(March 31, 2021) After a year at home, students have begun returning to classrooms in Portland. But this year, “back to school” may look different for families.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Safe Routes to School team is ready to support students and their caregivers as they make this transition with travel tips, new safety infrastructure, and a message for all Portlanders on the importance of safe driving everywhere you go.
Construction on safety improvements on Portland’s designated school routes has continued over the past year. High visibility crosswalks, speed bumps, ADA curb ramps, updated signage and median islands are among the variety of improvements installed at 27 different locations across the city -- an investment of approximately $737,000 in safer streets for our youth. Funding for these projects comes primarily from PBOT's Fixing Our Streets program and the 2012 Portland Public Schools bond.
“Children across Portland deserve safe options to get to school,” said Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “I am proud of the work that the Safe Routes to School team has done to make our streets safer for children to get to school. When we make our streets safer for children, we make them safer for all Portlanders to use. These improvements mean that students returning to their classrooms can do so safely, regardless of whether they walk, bike, roll, take transit, or drive.”
As families start planning their trips to school, here are some tips to keep in mind from the Safe Routes to School team:
- Walking? Biking? Rolling?
- Consider a park and walk! Avoid the school traffic jam and get some steps in! Reducing traffic near school makes the area safer for all families. Pick a spot a few blocks from school, drive there, then walk! Make sure to look both ways when crossing streets.
- Consider a walking group! Being outside has better ventilation than being in a car, helping reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission. What a breath of fresh air. Walking with students in a shared cohort provides time to socialize and exercise. It's easy! Connect with a family in your student's cohort, pick a time and place to meet, and GO!
- Taking transit?
- Kids can ride for free or reduced fare. TriMet buses and MAX trains are cleaned frequently and ventilated. You can avoid the stress of driving and let a professional handle the traffic. Tip: Make sure to wear a mask and sanitize your hands.
- Consider a pod-pool, a carpool with your pod! Check out the CDC’s guidance COVID-19 carpool safety here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community/organizations/carpooling-fs.pdf
- Leave early and drive slowly. Watch for families and kids walking, biking and rolling.
- School buses are going to be out and about - remember to stop when they are loading/unloading and don't go around them. It’s the law.
- School zones are active! Follow the speed limit, pay attention to the flashing beacons and signage at schools, and look out for school crossings.
As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, PBOT’s Safe Routes to School and Metro have partnered to build a new campaign to remind drivers that although in-person school may not look the same this year, our kids are still biking, walking and playing in our neighborhoods as well as traveling to and from schools for hybrid learning, school lunches and materials. The campaign’s core message, “Kids are everywhere. Drive like it.”, is supported by safety data, local research, and focus groups to remind drivers that our kids are still walking, biking and playing in-and-around our streets. The campaign is online and is available in 5 languages in addition to English: Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Russian and Vietnamese. Download graphics and materials for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, virtual meeting backgrounds, social media captions and more by visiting: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/kidseverywhere. PBOT invites you to download and share any of the materials with friends, colleagues and networks. You can also follow #DriveLikeIt on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and reshare posts from PBOT’s Safe Routes to School Facebook page.
Discover additional activities and resources on the PBOT Safe Routes to School website at https://www.portland.gov/transportation/safe-routes-school
For more information about the City of Portland’s response to COVID-19, see the City’s Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 website. Multnomah County is the City’s primary resource for public health information. Get public health information and guidance, resources, and updates regarding COVID-19 from the County’s website.
Learn more about vaccines from the Oregon Health Authority's Get Vaccinated Oregon website.