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Fixing Our Streets and Safe Routes to School

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A wrench standing upright entwined with a rose encompassed by a white hexagon. Title says Fixing Our Streets Your Dime at Work over a salmon pink background.
Learn how the voter-approved Fixing Our Streets program funded $14 million worth of engineering projects to improve how Portland families access schools. Understand how projects were selected and view a map of funded locations.
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Prioritizing new investments

In May 2016, Portland voters passed Measure 26-173, approving a new $0.10 per gallon gas tax for repairing streets. That same month, Portland City Council passed a Heavy Vehicle Use Tax on companies operating trucks over 13 tons. Combined, those funds resulted in approximately $64 million for road maintenance and street safety projects across Portland The Fixing Our Streets program dedicated $8 million to make routes safer and more convenient for kids to walk, bike, and roll to school.

In May 2020, Portlanders resoundingly approved Measure 26-209, a four-year renewal of Fixing Our Streets. In February 2020, Portland City Council renewed the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax. Six million has been dedicated to school-specific safety and access projects, resulting in $14 million in investments for Portland's youth since 2016. 

The original $8 million allocated for school improvements in 2016 was not identified for specific projects. With over 100 schools throughout the city, the need for street improvements to support safe travel to school is greater than the Fixing Our Streets funds available. Fixing Our Streets tasked Safe Routes to School to find out what changes Portlanders would like to see around their schools, and develop a process to target and prioritize safety investments. 

Creating safe, active communities

Portland's Safe Routes to School program works to improve conditions for walking, biking, and rolling around schools. Housed within the City of Portland's Bureau of Transportation, Safe Routes to School uses infrastructure improvements (such as crosswalks) and educational campaigns to improve safety, reduce congestion, and encourage physical activity.

Safe Routes envisions a future where all students and families can choose active transportation as a safe, convenient, accessible and desirable option for getting to and from school and around their neighborhoods. The ability to walk and bike to school and throughout neighborhoods not only benefits students and families, but the entire community.

Our project focus

The Safe Routes to School team worked with school communities to identify opportunities to make efficient investments that support students and families in walking to school in neighborhoods throughout the city. 

The goals of this project planning included:

  1. Identify Primary Investment Routes leading to every permanent public elementary, K-8, and middle school campus in the city of Portland
  2. Develop a prioritized list of infrastructure projects to improve safety and walking access along the Primary Investment Routes
  3. Prioritize projects to be built in the near term with current funds available through Fixing Our Streets

Creating a project list and map

First, we went out to school communities and asked about their walking routes to school and how they could be improved. We gathered feedback through open houses, an online survey, community walks, school events, engagement activities in classrooms, and six years of traffic-related comments from Safe Routes to School parent travel surveys.

Based on community input and a computer model, we drafted the Primary Investment Routes, then again reached out to schools for confirmation that they made sense for the school community.

Once Primary Investment Routes were confirmed, they were reviewed to assess whether existing infrastructure provided support and comfort for children and families walking the routes to school. Speed, number of vehicles, and the number of travel lanes were considered. When gaps were found, additional project recommendations were made. 

Over 1,200 projects identified by this process were prioritized for current funding with guidance from our Stakeholder Advisory Committee. Equity, safety, and student/route density were the data values used to prioritize the project lists.

Beginning in the summer of 2018, approximately 88 safety and improvement projects began to be built with the original $8 million in funding from Fixing Our Streets. Projects not funded by Fixing Our Streets will be built by other planned city improvements or will need additional funding to be implemented.

In addition, over the next year, we will be adding routes and projects for schools that were not open or scheduled to be built when the project started. An example is Kellogg Middle School, which was approved for a rebuild in the Portland Public Schools May 2017 Health, Safety and Modernization Bond.  

Families want safer crossings

Safe Routes hosted nine open houses in 2017 (one in every Portland Public Schools high school cluster and one for the Parkrose district) and engaged families and schools in the David Douglas, Centennial, and Reynolds School Districts. The most important information gathered was the walking routes families are taking to school and barriers they face in getting there safely.  An online survey was also available in Spanish and Vietnamese.

Safe Routes hosted nine open houses in 2017 (one in every Portland Public Schools high school cluster and one for the Parkrose district) and engaged families and schools in the David Douglas, Centennial, and Reynolds School Districts. The most important information gathered was the walking routes families are taking to school and barriers they face in getting there safely.  An online survey was also available in Spanish and Vietnamese.

Oregon Walks, a non-profit pedestrian advocacy organization, led 12 community walks at Portland Public Schools Title I schools through the Healthy Travel Options to School partnership. On the walks, families and students provided feedback about their walking routes.

Safe Routes to School staff attended events on school campuses, including meetings with principals and school leaders, classroom activities, community walks, and parent group meetings. Staff and volunteers also reviewed the past six years of parent traffic safety concerns from the annual Safe Routes to School travel survey. 

Safer crossings, sidewalks, and lower speeds, please

Across Portland, the top concern was unsafe crossings. Missing sidewalks and traffic speed were also major safety issues.

Students and families consistently said they prefer not to walk more than one or two blocks out of their way to use a better route or crossing. Street crossings are the biggest barriers students face walking to school. 

Parents preferred different types of streets for their children in different parts of the city. Some prefer their children to walk on quiet back streets; in other neighborhoods, parents prefer their children walk on streets where more people are around. In areas where there are already sidewalks and good access, the most stressful part of getting to school is interacting with parents dropping students off by car. 

Overall, families want to see more emphasis on safety at arrival and dismissal times.  


Safe Routes to School project map

This interactive map displays the located of funded (either through Fixing Our Streets or other projects) and unfunded Safe Routes to School projects, Primary Investment Routes, and schools.

Projects marked in this map include improve crossing, mark or update crosswalk, evaluate traffic signals, construct walkway, construct shared use path, and slow traffic speeds.

View the Safe Routes to School project map here

Note on accessibility

This is a map showing funded and unfunded Safe Routes to School projects, Primary Investment Routes, and schools. Portland Bureau of Transportation understands that this map may not be accessible for users of assistive technology. Due to the complexity of the information the map provides and the currently available map platforms at the city, it will take some time to make adjustments. We thank you for your patience while we work on a technology-based solution. As we work toward providing accessibility, please contact the Safe Routes to School email address, saferoutes@portlandoregon.gov,  or dial 3-1-1 to reach staff who can assist you to get the data you need from the map. You can also contact Portland Bureau of Transportation's ADA Coordinator at Lisa.Strader@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-5703.

Again, thank you for your understanding and patience.


Frequently asked questions

What is Safe Routes to School?

The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program helps kids and their families walk, bike, and roll to and from school and around their neighborhoods. Through education and infrastructure improvements, we promote safe travel, reduce congestion, encourage physical activity, and much more.

We believe student safety is everyone's responsibility, whether you are driving, biking or walking. 

Safe Routes to School currently serves more than 100 elementary, K-8, middle school, and high schools in Portland.

What is Fixing Our Streets?

Fixing Our Streets is Portland’s locally funded street repair and traffic safety program that will bring much needed street improvement and safety projects to neighborhoods across Portland. In May 2016, Portland voters passed Measure 26-173, approving a 10-cent gas tax and Heavy Vehicle Use Tax.

Expected to raise $64 million between 2017-2021, 56% of the money will fund street maintenance and 44% will fund safety improvements. Safe Routes to School will receive $13to S million of the safety funds.

How was $13 million in Fixing Our Streets money split between  districts?

Measure 26-173 split the $13 million dedicated to Safe Routes to School geographically into five school districts. The largest district, Portland Public Schools, was split by high school cluster. 

Dividing by school district ensured projects were funded across the city. Measure 26-173 prioritized school clusters with higher percentages of students of color, students receiving free and reduced lunch, and limited English proficiency households. 

How did you identify these projects?

There were three main steps in the process used to identify projects:

  1. Gather feedback from parents, students, and school administration about current walking routes to school and barriers that families face in getting there safely.
  2. Identify primary walking routes for each school. These will be the Primary Investment Routes where PBOT will focus improvements. For most schools, there are four to six routes that most students will use when getting school. We are working to invest in these routes to support families and neighborhoods.
  3. Identify and prioritize traffic safety projects along the Primary Investment Routes. These will be built first with the Fixing Our Streets Safe Routes to School funds.

This process created a prioritized list that will move projects forward faster as funding becomes available. 

How was the community involved?

Safe Routes to School hosted nine open houses in 2017 (one in every Portland Public Schools high school cluster and one for the Parkrose district) and engaged families and schools in the David Douglas, Centennial, and Reynolds School Districts. The most important information gathered was the walking routes families are taking to school and barriers they face in getting there safely. 

Language interpreters were provided for each open house. An online survey was also available in Spanish and Vietnamese.

Oregon Walks, a non-profit pedestrian advocacy organization, led 12 community walks at PPS Title I schools through the Healthy Travel Options to School partnership. On the walks, families and students provided feedback about their walking routes. 

Safe Routes to School staff attended events on school campuses, including meetings with principals and school leaders, classroom activities, community walks, and parent group meetings. 

Staff and volunteers also reviewed the past six years of parent traffic safety concerns from the annual Safe Routes to School travel survey. 

What did you hear from the community?

Across Portland, the top concern was unsafe crossings. Missing sidewalks and traffic speed were also major safety issues.

Students and families consistently said they prefer not to walk more than one or two blocks out of their way to use a better route or crossing. Street crossings are the biggest barriers students face when trying to walk to school.

Parents preferred different types of streets for their children in different parts of the city. Some prefer their children walk on quiet back streets; in other neighborhoods, parents prefer their children walk on streets where more people are around. In areas where there are already sidewalks and good access, the most stressful part of getting to school was interacting with parents dropping students off by car.

Overall, families want to see more emphasis on safety at arrival and dismissal times.

What is a Primary Investment Route?

Primary Investment Routes are streets likely to have the most students walking on them to access a school. They were selected by using a computer model and community input by open houses, parent surveys, and review with school leaders. 

PBOT will focus projects on these streets to create complete, connected routes to school throughout the entire “walkshed” of a school. A walkshed is the area within a 1-mile walking distance from elementary and middle schools and 1.5 miles from high schools.

How were the Primary Investment Routes selected?

Safe Routes to School consultants, with recommendations from the PBOT Technical Advisory Committee, developed a computer model to identify the best and most direct routes for schools.

The computer model considered:

  • Residential density - preference was given to routes serving the most students and considered where students currently live or may live in the future, including multi-family apartment buildings
  • Existing infrastructure - Preference was given to routes with enhanced crossings, lower speeds, and fewer lanes; neighborhood greenway routes were also prioritized where possible
  • Minimizing detours - Routes were not allowed to go more than one block off the most direct route. This means some routes use crossings that are not suitable today, but those locations are where PBOT identified the need for a project
  • School communities provided key recommendations when the computer model identified equal but parallel Primary Investment Routes

Once Primary Investment Routes were confirmed, they were reviewed to assess whether existing infrastructure provided support and comfort for children and families walking the routes to school. Speed, number of cars, and the number of travel lanes were considered. When gaps were found, additional project recommendations were made.

How did you decide which projects to build first?

Safe Routes to School formed a Stakeholder Advisory Committee of schools, government agencies, and community partners to help guide investment priorities. 

Stakeholder Advisory Committee members chose to use the following values:

During the prioritization process, the Stakeholder Advisory Committee provided clear guidance that equity should be a primary factor when scoring projects (60%). Prioritizing equity values helps identify areas of Portland that may need extra investment. 

The Stakeholder Advisory Committee placed the next greatest priority on factors measuring the safety impact of a project (30%). Where equity scores were similar across districts and clusters, safety was the most important component of prioritization.

A project with the opportunity to serve more than one school or located where a higher percentage of students live within walking distance would receive points for student/route density (10%). 

A few high-scoring projects were not identified for Fixing Our Streets funding because they are already funded through other sources and will be completed within three years.

Why isn’t the project I want on the list?

Your project may not be on the list because:

  • It is not on a Primary Investment Route.
  • It is not a walking improvement. 

Bicycling and vehicle specific access improvements were not included in this planning process as the need for basic walking improvements is extensive and a priority for school communities. However, neighborhood greenways were included on Primary Investment Routes where possible and projects may improve conditions for people bicycling as well.

We need speed humps! Why are there so few traffic calming projects on the list?

Most traffic calming projects like speed humps will be determined later, ideally connected with the installation of other projects that may alter traffic patterns.  

Safe Routes to School will work with schools in the coming years to identify locations that would benefit from further traffic calming. In addition, in spring 2018, the speed limit on residential streets dropped from 25 to 20 MPH.

What are the typical projects you will be installing?

  • Improve crossing - An intersection project that goes beyond painting a crosswalk. This may include a median island, curb extension, flashing beacons, or traffic signal.

  • Mark or update crosswalk - Paints a crosswalk where none exists, or improves an existing crosswalk.

  • Evaluate traffic signals - Reviews an existing intersection with a traffic signal on a major street to identify changes that may improve safety, such as signal timing.

  • Construct walkway - Builds a sidewalk or other type of path along the roadway to separate people walking from cars. 

  • Construct shared use path - Builds a path for people to walk or bike on that is not necessarily along a street, similar to the Springwater Corridor or Marine Drive path.

  • Slow traffic speeds - Installs speed humps or changes street design to slow traffic through residential areas.  

How and when will the rest of these projects be built?

Construction of Fixing Our Streets projects will begin in the summer of 2018 and should be completed by 2021.

Some projects identified by this process are already planned and funded by PBOT or other bureaus. These projects will be built within three years, but are not funded by Fixing Our Streets.

The rest of the projects are unfunded, though ranked by the same criteria. Having this list will help PBOT pursue additional funding. The Safe Routes to School team has committed to look for additional funding to get all these important projects completed. As new sources of funding are identified for projects we will update the project map to share potential construction years of projects.

Are there opportunities for feedback or changes?

Projects funded by Fixing Our Streets are moving forward in the near term. Any additional feedback on these projects will happen during project delivery if there is immediate impact to nearby properties. 

When money becomes available for unfunded projects, Safe Routes to School staff and PBOT will meet with school communities and leadership to ensure the project is still a high priority for their school. If changes are requested by the school community, we will work to find a solution. 

In addition, over the next year, we will be adding routes and projects for schools that were not open or scheduled to be built when the project started. An example is Kellogg Middle School, which was approved for a rebuild in the Portland Public Schools May 2017 Healthy, Safety and Modernization Bond.  


Safe Routes to School Stakeholder Advisory Committee 

Safe Routes to School wishes to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our Stakeholder Advisory Committee:

The Stakeholder Advisory Committee met six times between February 2017 and March 2018. They played an integral part in helping guide how investments will be prioritized through this process and in the future. Members also provided advice and direction to inform creation of the 5-year Safe Routes to School  Strategic Plan.