International “Walk + Bike to School Day” will be celebrated with a news event at Maplewood Elementary School in Southwest Portland at 7:40 a.m. Wednesday, October 9. More than 150 children are expected to meet up and walk or bike to school with City Commissioner Steve Novick, Transportation Director Leah Treat, Portland Timbers’ Timber Joey and community leaders. At the school, teachers, parents and community leaders will talk about the health and safety benefits of being active.
Thousands of other children from about 60 Portland schools will also walk and bike to their schools, showing that it’s easy and fun to walk and bike to school.
The event also celebrates Portland’s Safe Routes to School program, which now involves K-8 students in almost all Portland schools. It is one of the nation’s most effective programs of its kind: 42 percent of the trips to Portland elementary schools are now made on foot or by bike, a 35 percent increase since Safe Routes to School began in 2006. That is significantly higher than the national average of 12 percent.
WHEN: Wednesday, October 9, at 7:40 a.m.
WHERE: Maplewood Elementary School, 7452 SW 52nd Ave in Portland.
WHAT: Five “Walking School Buses” will depart from different locations throughout the neighborhood and convene at the school. Students will carry colorful Safe Routes to School banners.
Members of the media can report from the school as children arrive or may join Commissioner Novick, Director Treat, Timber Joey and Maplewood Principal Annie Tabshy in their walk to school at the intersection of SW 48th Avenue and SW Maplewood Road at 7:40am.
WHY: Experts say that children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Sadly, our kids aren’t getting it. While the rate of children walking and biking to school in America has dropped during the past few decades, the rate of children who are obese has soared. The October 9th event will celebrate eight years of work to reverse this trend with its Safe Routes to School program, one of the most effective in the nation. ###
The Rest of the Story
There is more to the story of getting children safely to Maplewood School, it involves a long process of getting the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Bureau of Transportation to work together to provide walkable shoulders as well as providing improved stormwater quality.
Here is my Don Baack quote,
“SWTrails has worked for more than 7 years to get walkable extended shoulders. Thanks to a strong focus on improving safety and accessibility, PBOT and BES have finally arrived at a solution that works for everyone. Studies have shown that extended shoulders provide 80% of the safety of sidewalks for a small fraction of the cost. Having walkable paved space on the side of the road with no parking on it to walk and bike is a big deal for SW and other parts of Portland,” said SWTrails chair Don Baack, who walked to school with his grandchildren. “We look forward to the construction of many more projects to provide safer walking, bicycling and wheelchair access on the 100 miles plus of our cities’ backlog of substandard arterials without sidewalks almost 50% of which are in SW Portland.”
There has been a lot of progress. One of the first BES projects featured solid large rocks in the ditch which was not walkable. The latest edition involving the cooperation between BES and PBOT shows what can happen when agencies cooperate and both bring funds to the table.