(Nov. 2, 2022) The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) will expand its nationally recognized Safe Routes to School programming to high schools across Portland.
Portland’s Safe Routes to School program is a partnership between PBOT, schools, neighbors, community organizations, and agencies who are committed to increasing safety and improving health for students and their families. Traditionally, Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs have served Kindergarten through 8th grades. But recently, PBOT’s SRTS team has begun developing education and engagement programs for high school youth. Thanks to a grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), a new high school Transportation Academy will kick off shortly in the Parkrose School District.
The ODOT grant funding will go towards the implementation of a Transportation Academy as well as outreach and education efforts at Parkrose High School. PBOT Safe Routes to School staff will train Elevate Oregon’s high school teacher/mentors to lead the Transportation Academy on traffic safety. Elevate Oregon is an organization that builds relationships with at-risk youth to promote education, self-reliance, and leadership with Parkrose students. The partnership will encourage growth beyond the classroom and into students’ day-to-day lives. Additional topics covered in the program will include multimodal literacy, climate connections, transportation equity, civic engagement, and Safe Systems. These educational efforts for Parkrose students and their broader community are designed to increase pedestrian, bike, and driver safety, with the goal of reducing fatal and serious crashes.
“As students walk and roll to schools in Parkrose and across Portland, they encounter several barriers and hazards ranging from unsafe driver behavior, lack of knowledge about multimodal travel options like biking and walking, limited access to transit, and gun violence,” said Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “We must take a more holistic approach to traffic safety that includes the intersection of traffic and gun violence as we support our students traveling to, from, and around their schools.”
“Thanks to Fixing Our Streets, PBOT’s continued investment in our Safe Routes to School Primary Investment Routes is making it possible for more students to walk and roll to school,” said Transportation Director Chris Warner. “It’s crucial that we couple our infrastructure investments with educational programming to achieve our safety and climate goals.”
As Safe Routes to School expands it work into high schools around the city, it will also work in partnership with the Community Crossroads Initiative in collaboration with the Office of Community Safety. The Community Crossroads Initiative is a new program that engages with community using interventions like traffic slowing or traffic diversion to address immediate issues of traffic and gun violence. Following the recent shooting near Jefferson High School, PBOT engineers will be evaluating street light levels to see if they meet current city standards as well as exploring other street calming improvements. As Community Crossroads work continues in the Parkrose neighborhood, program leaders will identify engagement opportunities for youth in safety planning and education.
Beyond these new programming areas, families and educators work with PBOT’s Safe Routes to School team on a variety of issues, including:
- Trainings and lessons for bike and pedestrian safety education, personal security, and transit use.
- Supporting school staff on arrival and dismissal circulation concerns, including infrastructure, communications, and safety campaigns.
- Installing safety improvements to support student travel to and from school.
- Supporting school staff, parents, and/or caregivers to organize walking or biking groups.
- Supporting school staff, parents, and/or caregivers to organize events promoting and/or celebrating walking, biking, taking transit, carpooling, parking & walking.
- Collaborating with school districts to incorporate Safe Routes to School into district policy, education, and programming.
- Partnering with community-based organizations, including SUN, for learn to rides, organized bike rides, bike and pedestrian education.
- Communicating transportation resources and safety information to families and schools.
Learn more about PBOT’s Safe Routes to School program and sign up for email updates at www.portland.gov/safe-routes