(Oct. 11, 2022) This Wednesday, Oct. 12, students across Portland will celebrate International Walk + Roll to School Day and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is encouraging families to join the fun! Students heading to school on Wednesday will be greeted by dry and crisp autumn air. By walking or rolling to class, instead of being driven to school in a car, students will be able to take in that fresh fall air while improving the air quality near campus for their classmates.
International Walk + Roll to School Day is celebrating its 25th anniversary across the world. Bringing this global event to Portland is a priority for PBOT's Safe Routes to School program, which encourages families to make more climate-friendly choices by choosing to walk, bike, or roll to school. Walking buses and bike trains have been a part of Portland's culture for years. This fall, PBOT's Safe Routes to School program provided supplies and incentives to 21 schools across the city to make International Walk + Roll to School Day a success.
"Nothing brings a smile to my face like seeing Portland students geared up on their way to school. International Walk + Roll to School Day is a tremendous opportunity for Portland families to come together and build community through the simple act of walking or rolling to school together," said PBOT Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. "PBOT continues to make data-driven decisions to improve infrastructure and street crossings near Portland's approximately 120 schools to get drivers to slow down and encourage more families to come together as they walk and roll to school."
"I'm immensely proud of the work our Safe Routes to School team has accomplished by working with schools and families to get more kids walking or biking to class," said PBOT Director Chris Warner. "In our family, walking and rolling with our children to school when they were young was a delightful daily ritual. I'm excited to see so many schools across our area have planned events to commemorate the day. It's amazing to see Portland families developing the habit of biking, walking, and rolling during their morning commute to school."
As days get shorter, PBOT reminds drivers to slow down, watch out for students, school routes are everywhere!
While the annual fall rain hasn't come to the Rose City yet, the fall foliage on trees that line our streets are good reminder to drivers that the days are getting shorter and weather conditions could soon cut down on visibility during their commutes. That's why this International Walk + Roll to School Day serves as an important reminder that people driving should exercise caution, regardless of whether they’re near a school or not.
There are more than 120 elementary, middle, and high schools in Portland. People moving about the city, on average, pass a school or cross a school route every half-mile. Also, car crashes are most common between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., a time when students are being let out from school for the day.
To help keep students safe, PBOT advises people driving to always:
- Drive 20 mph or less in school zones.
- Stop for school buses, never try to pass them.
- Pay attention for students around transit stops. Students ride TriMet all across the city.
- Keep your focus on the road. Distracted driving is serious and can be costly. A quick glance at a cell phone can cause a driver to miss a student approaching a crosswalk. Distracted driving comes with a maximum fine of $1,000 and double for a second offense.
- Watch for crossing guards and others helping students cross the street. Every intersection is a crosswalk under Oregon law. Watch this video on pedestrian safety created by PBOT’s Vision Zero team. It reminds drivers to slow down, stop for people crossing the street, and never pass another vehicle that’s stopped at a crosswalk.
To reinforce the need for extra care, PBOT's Safe Routes to School program partnered with Metro and ODOT on the statewide Drive Like It campaign. With the tagline, "School routes are everywhere. Drive Like It," the campaign reminds drivers to travel slowly because the routes kids take to school are everywhere.
Find your route to school using PBOT's Bike and Walk maps
Free bike and walk maps produced by PBOT include the Citywide bike map, five neighborhood bike and walk maps, the online Portland Bike Map, and maps for suggested bike rides around Portland and the metro area. Not sure how to use PBOT's Bike and Walk maps? This PortlandBikeMap.com explainer video will help you learn how to find the best route near your home.
If walking or biking the full distance to school isn't an option, parents who drive their child to school can avoid the school traffic jam by parking a block or two away, and then walking or rolling into class from there. It’s a win-win, parents will save a bit of money on gas and students get the benefit of some light exercise before class begins.
Apply for a Metro mini-grant and keep the spirit of International Walk + Roll to School Day going year-round
PBOT's regional partner Metro is excited to offer 25 $500 mini-grants, which are available to public K-12 schools (or nonprofit school PTOs) in the Portland Metro area to implement Safe Routes Back-to-School strategies that supports kids and families as they return to school this fall. If you are interested in this grant for your community, please work with your school. This is a great opportunity to help celebrate walking & rolling to school all year round!
The eligible strategies include:
- Walking School Bus or Bike Train: An organized group of students who walk or bike to school together with adult supervision, following a designated route with stops where students join the group.
- Park & Walk: Developing an off-site location for parents to drop their children off and walk to the school site to reduce idling, congestion, and increase student physical activity
- School site amenities: Examples include: temporary traffic playground, additional bike/scooter storage, other ‘tactical urbanism’ on school site to enhance safety for walking/rolling
- School choice!: Requires review by Metro SRTS Coordinator for eligibility, but Metro encourages unique and creative ideas to support kids in walking and rolling to school safely.