In 1969 roughly half of all children walked or biked to school. Today, only about 15 percent walk or bike. In an effort to address this, federal legislation established the National Safe Routes to School Program. Locally, Multnomah County Transportation Planning staff is working with the Reynolds School District to encourage biking and walking to schools serving Fairview, Troutdale and Wood Village elementary and middle school students. Gresham and Portland sponsor Safe Routes to Schools programs within their cities.
Troutdale Elementary School was selected for the County’s first Safe Routes to School Action Plan. Developing an Action Plan is a necessary step in identifying priority activities and projects that the school, the community, and the county and city can advance to promote safe walking and bicycling to school. As part of this process, a School Team was assembled that includes parents,community members, and staff from the Reynolds School District, City of Troutdale Engineering Department and Police. The team has been hard at work interviewing Troutdale School parents on how their kids arrive to school, their concerns about allowing their kids to walk/bike to school, and assessing walking and bike routes to the school. From this information, the team has been able to identify problems and barriers to students walking and biking to school, and in working with city and county staff have been working on putting together a list of possible solutions. Identified problems/barriers include lack of striped sidewalks at identified key crossings, and the lack of an education program to encourage safe walking and biking.
This information and recommendations will be incorporated in the Action Plan. With the school year coming to a close, the team will finalize the plan, and focus on implementing the recommendations during the next school year. With the Action Plan in place, the School’s program will be eligible to compete for state funding. And in the next school year, County Transportation Planning staff will begin work with other schools to develop their action plans, expanding the program to support walking and biking to school for more Multnomah County students.