PBOT Safe Routes to School September 2023 Newsletter

Safe Routes to School in white text against an orange background with icons depicting a shoe, a scooter, a skateboard, a wheelchair, a bike and a bus.

Dear parents, caregivers, educators, and community,

By the end of this week, schools across the Portland area will welcome more than 60,000 students back to campuses — wow! As students return to schools and neighborhoods across the city become abuzz with activity, remember to drive at or below the speed limit and with extra caution and attention. Some kids are going to a new school and others are crossing busy streets along the way. We're encouraging everyone to travel safely and to be on the lookout for students of all ages walking, rolling, or taking transit to school.

In this month's newsletter, you'll find plenty of resources to help students and families travel safely to school. We're talking about information about how to participate in the increasingly popular walking and biking school buses and the $500 Metro grants you can apply for to support them, activity ideas and wellness programs for kindergarteners and 6th graders transitioning to new schools, incentives for International Walk + Roll to School Day on Oct. 4, a no-cost Portland Traffic and Transportation course at Portland State University, a new youth personal safety workshop, and more!

As always, we're here to help you walk, bike, and roll, so please reach out. And remember to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and tag us in your photos and videos!

With gratitude,
Safe Routes to School Team | Abra, Brittany, Dana, Gui, Janis, Josh, Lale, and Meaghan 

In this email:

  • Be a back-to-school leader: Connect with families to organize groups to walk, bike, or roll to school together!
  • Apply now for a Metro Safe Routes to School micro-grant!
  • SmartTrips to Kindergarten and Middle School
  • Mark your calendars: International Walk + Roll to School Day is coming!
  • Fixing Our Streets: New sidewalks and crosswalks coming to Centennial!
  • Transportation Academy: Traffic safety for high schoolers
  • Southwest Portland Sunday Parkways — Sept. 10
  • Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 17-23: Find the right car seat for your child
  • Register for Safe Routes Partnerships and Vision Zero webinar — Sept. 20
  • Submit your entries to Safe Routes to School art contest by Oct. 31
  • Keep on riding, Portland!
  • Even more safety and transportation opportunities!
  • What we're reading
  • Job and volunteer postings

Be a back-to-school leader: Connect with families to organize groups to walk, bike, or roll to school together!

Three young boys wearing helmets, backpacks, long sleeves, and riding bikes on grass on a fall day.

As students return to class, we encourage families to walk, bike, and roll to school to help build healthy, fun, and climate-friendly habits. It’s part of the back-to-school resources we're sharing with students and families to help them get to school safely and confidently. And also so that students and families build a solid routine in time for International Walk + Roll to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 4!  

We encourage you to connect with families and neighbors to organize groups to walk, bike, or roll to school together. Traveling as a group gives students and families the opportunity to spend fulfilling time together and make connections with your school community.  

Walking school bus

walking school bus is a group of students and families that walk to school together. Students and families choose to meet at a park or an intersection and then walk from there, usually along the same route. Some families may walk to the meeting spot, others may drive or take transit. For younger students, a parent or two will usually walk with the group to encourage safe behavior; in some cases, an older student may provide supervision. Some walking school bus groups choose one day a week or one day a month to organize; others walk every school day together. 

Get inspired and learn more about walking school buses in this video

Bike bus/train

bike bus/train is a variation of the walking school bus where a group of students ride their bikes to school, usually with adult supervision. It can be as simple as two families taking turns biking students to school or a structured program with routes, a schedule, and meeting locations. 


If you are getting to school by car, you can park one or two blocks away and walk the rest of the way to school with your child. For older students, stop one or two blocks away and they can walk to school on their own. A park-and-walk is a great option to help with school traffic and get in a few extra steps in the morning! Remember to drive carefully on your way to and from school and look out for kids crossing. 

No matter how your family gets to school, be mindful of your surroundings and take it slow as you travel.

For more information about back to school travel, visit our website!

Apply now for a Metro Safe Routes to School micro-grant!

Dozens of bicyclists, young and old, riding down a 20-mph street on a sunny day.

Metro is distributing 25 Safe Routes to School $500 micro-grants to individual schools and nonprofit school parent teacher organizations in the Portland metropolitan area. Metro will award micro-grant on a rolling basis. Applicants may submit their application at any time throughout the grant cycle (July 1, 2023 - June 30, 2024).  

Metro will prioritize applications that support:

Learn more and apply online today! 

SmartTrips to Kindergarten and Middle School

Students and families walk up a sidewalk through a neighborhood with parents on bike and foot. Text that reads, "SmartTrips to School! Free prizes! Activity ideas and wellness tips for kinder and 6th grade!"

SmartTrips to Kindergarten and SmartTrips to Middle School are programs that provide students and families with resources, transportation tips, and event info to help kids get ready to travel to school safely and confidently. 

Sign up for a chance to win fun prizes!

To participate, text the word KINDER or MIDDLE to 888-520-0526. Unable to text? No problem. Send an email to SafeRoutes@PortlandOregon.gov with the subject line KINDER or MIDDLE.

Once you’re signed-up, you will automatically be entered in a raffle to win fun prizes!

  • Kindergarteners are eligible to win a $20 Fred Meyer gift care or a Globber scooter
  • 6th graders could get their hands on a $20 Fred Meyer gift card or TriMet HOP card

Visit the website for more information. For questions, please contact SafeRoutes@PortlandOregon.gov or call 3-1-1 and ask for Safe Routes to School.  

Mark your calendars: International Walk + Roll to School Day is coming!

Bilingual International Walk + Roll to School Day collage promotion with kids walking, biking, and rolling in fall weather.

International Walk + Roll to School Day will be Wednesday, Oct. 4!

We encourage schools to plan events to encourage walking and rolling during the month of October. Visit the Oregon Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School's International Walk + Roll to School Day website to get resources (e.g., posters, toolkit, social media promotional content, etc.) to help guide your event planning. Join this Facebook group to share ideas and successes with other school champions from across Oregon.

Order your incentives by Sept. 26!

Incentive ordering is open! Please order your incentives online. Place your orders by Sept. 26 in order to receive them before International Walk + Roll to School Day on Oct. 4. Supplies are limited and include: 

  • Reflective and non-reflective stickers
  • Pencils
  • Reflective shoelaces
  • Bookmarks
  • Activity sheets
  • English and Spanish comics
  • English and Spanish coloring books
  • Handstamps
  • Shoe wings
  • Drawstring backpacks
  • Posters

International Walk + Roll to School Day is a global event

Communities from more than 40 countries will walk and roll to school on the same day! It began in 1997 as a one-day event. Over time, it's become part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school. Today, thousands of schools across America — from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico — participate every October.

Fixing Our Streets: New sidewalks and crosswalks coming to Centennial!

SE 174th Ave Sidewalk Infill project includes sidewalks, street trees, planting strip, ADA ramps, and marked crosswalks.

Another voter-approved Fixing Our Streets project will start construction in Portland's Centennial neighborhood in the coming fall and winter months! 

SE 174th Avenue Sidewalk Infill Project: SE Main to Stark Streets is set to improve how Portland families walk, bike, and roll to Alder Elementary School. Construction crews will build a new 10-foot concrete sidewalk with space for people walking and biking, curb ramps, marked crosswalks, and planting strips with street trees on SE 174th Avenue between Stark and Main streets. 

Students and families identified this segment of SE 174th Avenue as an important connection during a Safe Routes to School outreach process in 2017. 

The SE 174th Avenue Sidewalk Infill Project is funded by a $2 million Oregon Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School competitive infrastructure grant and a 20% match from Fixing Our Streets — Portland's 10-cent citywide voter-approved gas tax funding $13 million worth of engineering projects to improve how Portland families access schools. 

Visit our website to learn more about Fixing Our Streets and Safe Routes to School, understand how we collaboratively selected projects with the community, and view a map of funded locations.

Transportation Academy: Traffic safety for high schoolers

Parkrose High School students walk Shaver Elementary School students to a community event, teaching them pedestrian safety skills along the way.

This fall, we're beginning an exciting project with Portland high schools!

Historically, our education programs have focused on kindergarten through eighth grade. But that is changing with the expansion of our Transportation Academy program — a multi-disciplinary unit for grades nine through 12. It prepares youth to make safe decisions about transportation that align with their needs and values. Topics include skills for biking, walking, and taking transit; climate impacts of transportation and what needs to change; how youth can get involved with transportation-related issues in their community; and safe driving practices.

In the 2021-22 school year, we launched the Transportation Academy at Alliance High School. Students participated in six days of classroom instruction and then created individual projects. They dove deeper into topics that interested them and tied their learning to their own experiences. The following year, the program continued at Parkrose High School. Students in Parkrose’s Elevate Oregon program met guest speakers from various transportation professions and took on volunteer roles in their community. 

This year, with grant funding from Metro, we are bringing the program to a leadership classroom at Cleveland High School and an English Language Learner classroom at McDaniel High School. Interested students and teachers can participate in workgroups, refining the instructional content and breaking it into subject-specific modules for use by other educators. Teacher and youth feedback will be invaluable to ensure the unit meets the needs of our schools and communities.

If you want to learn more about our Transportation Academy program, check out our website or send us an email!

Southwest Portland Sunday Parkways — Sept. 10

Route map of the SW Portland Sunday Parkways scheduled for Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Portland Sunday Parkways presented by Kaiser Permanente will be visiting the Southwest Portland neighborhood on Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.!

Explore the Southwest neighborhood while walking, rolling, or playing on the open streets. Make sure to visit each featured stop along the route to experience free entertainment and activities, order delicious food and beverages, visit local businesses and community organizations at the vendor marketplace, and much more.

Let's make the last Sunday Parkways of the 2023 season one to remember! For more information, visit the event webpage.

Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 17-23: Find the right car seat for your child

A technician helps a father find the right booster seat for his daughter.

Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children one to 13. Research proves that the best way for parents and caregivers to keep children safe in vehicles is to correctly use the right car seat or seat belt for their child’s age and size. 

Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept.17-23, is the time to double-check that your children are as safe as possible when they’re riding in your vehicle. Make sure your kids are in the right seats and that they are installed correctly. It’s as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Are your children in the right types of seats for their age and size?
  2. Do the car seats fit your children properly?
  3. Are the seats correctly installed in your vehicle?

Most caregivers think they’re using their car seats correctly, but the reality is about half of them aren’t. A crash isn’t the time to find out.

Learn more on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration webpage

Register for Safe Routes Partnerships and Vision Zero webinar — Sept. 20

Adults and caregivers — one wearing a reflective Vision Zero safety vest — walk ahead of and behind a group of elementary students.

Join Safe Routes Partnerships on Sept. 20 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. for a webinar about how to apply Vision Zero's Safe System approach to school settings. 

Vision Zero is an international movement to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries. We still have a long way to go, but new approaches to Vision Zero are offering more opportunities for Safe Routes to School integration. Learn how the Vision Zero Safe System approach can be applied to school settings and explore tips for partnering with Vision Zero staff. Achieving Vision Zero will take cooperation from everyone, so let’s find ways to work better together! 

Learn more and register for the webinar today. 

Submit your entries to Safe Routes to School art contest by Oct. 31

An elementary-aged child in pigtails help paint a colorful mural.

Our friends at Oregon Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School are encouraging students to use their creativity to "walk and roll" for transportation and exercise in their Fall 2023 Art Contest!

Students should draw anything from their imaginations or experiences (wackiness and fantasy not only are allowed — but encouraged!) that follows one of the following themes:

  • Look out for kids
  • Always wear a helmet
  • Cross at crosswalks
  • When crossing: Heads up, phones down

The contest is open to students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade. Art may be hand or computer drawn. Email entries to walkrolloregon@gmail.com by Oct. 31 to qualify. Remember to include the student’s first name, grade, school, and city in submissions.

Learn more about the art contest online

Keep on riding, Portland!

Colorful infographic promoting bicycling through the four seasons — a person biycling in the center of a wheel showing a yellow sun for summer, a red leaf for fall, a set of blue rain drops for winter, and a green flower for spring.

Bike summer may be over, but our streets are open to bicycles year-round, 24/7. On Sept.1, Portland Bureau of Transportation is launching Ride Through the Seasons to encourage Portlanders to ride their bicycles beyond summer and into fall. Riding in the rain or cold is not only doable — it’s also fun!

PBOT will offer free workshops and bike rides throughout fall to help you prepare and keep riding through the seasons. You’ll also have the chance to win prizes along the way! Some of our events will include basic bike maintenance workshops, see and be seen bike ride, rainy rider photo contest, and more!

Keep riding and learn more on the website!

Even more safety and transportation opportunities!

Two elementary school aged girls walk across a crosswalk with a woman and a black dog on a sunny day.

Apply for Portland Traffic and Transportation class by Sept. 14

Get an inside look at the transportation history, projects, and policies that shape our city through this free Portland Bureau of Transportation and Portland State University Portland Traffic and Transportation course. Students will have weekly assignments, a field trip, and a final class presentation. Class size is limited to 30 students with seats held for Black, Indigenous, and people of color community members to ensure class diversity with representation from all geographic areas of Portland.  

Apply for the course online by Sept. 14. Contact Judge.Kemp@portlandoregon.gov to learn more. 

Register for Sept. 17 family anti-racism workshop

Showing Up for Racial Justice PDX is hosting an anti-racism workshop, "Families - Let's Talk Race," on Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Wild Lilac Child Development Community to help adults start conversations with young people. They will focus on white folks, but all are welcome. All donations from this workshop will go to Word Is Bond. The workshop hosts will provide childcare and snacks for up to 15 kids.

Register for the workshop online. Contact SURJFamilyAction.PDX@gmail.com to learn more.

New youth personal safety workshop, registration opens Oct. 3

Rose City Self-Defense is offering a free personal safety workshop for youth ages 10 through 13 that centers the experience of girls. The workshop is scheduled for Nov. 9 from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Mississippi/Albina neighborhood. Women-identifying adults may accompany their child to this event. Registration opens Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.

Register for the workshop online. Contact Toni.Fujiwara@portlandoregon.gov to learn more.

What we're reading

  • How I turned my errands into exercise (New York Times)
  • Sociability: Public spaces as an antidote to isolation (Project for Public Spaces)
  • It’s time to bring back the indoor playground (Next City)
  • Public schools rely on underpaid female labor. It’s not sustainable (EducationWeek)
  • U.S. cities are failing their female cyclists (Bloomberg CityLab)
  • It’s time to let cyclists use crosswalks (Mother Jones)
  • Why doesn’t Oregon make cyclists register their bikes and get a license plate? (Willamette Week)
  • Four ways to spot a bad e-bike article (Streetsblog)
  • Regulation: trapped under trucks (ProPublica)
  • The impossible paradox of car ownership (Vox)
  • Now is the time to speak up for safer vehicles (Streetsblog)
  • We need a Department of Sidewalks (Slate)
  • Unsafe streets: The dangers facing pedestrians (CBS News)

Job and volunteer postings

  1. Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Coordinator: This position will lead the development and implementation of projects across the city to support students and families traveling safely in Portland. Your work will directly influence reducing transportation climate impacts and mitigating congestion around schools. Closing 9/11. Job posting here.
  2. Office of Community and Civic Life Bureau Advisory Committee. This committee provides independent guidance to the Office of Community and Civic Life director and leadership team on the effective use of resources; reviews bureau goals, program priorities, and spending; informs participation in annual budget process, and act as ambassadors for the bureau and the city. Closing 9/5. Volunteer posting here.
  3. Office of Equity and Human Rights Bureau Advisory Committee. This committee provides leadership and expertise on issues impacting programs, policies, and budget; provides feedback on the impact of potential regulations and administration rules on equity; shares recommendations on community engagement and partnerships; monitors the application of equity-related policies and procedures for their effectiveness; and advises on other equity-related matters. Closing 9/17. Volunteer posting here

The City of Portland updates it's job opportunities list weekly. Make sure to check out those new positions every Monday!