Go safely back to school

It’s back-to-school time! Wouldn’t it be great if more kids in Oregon could easily take the bus or put on their bike helmets and backpacks to bike or walk to school?

Getting to school should be safe, healthy and reflect our environmental values.

Transit is critically important for kids who live more than two miles from school or have no safe routes. In Portland, Bus Riders United is working to ensure affordable transit. OEC is also working to clean up old diesel engines, including school buses, so that kids can breathe easy. And active transportation allies across the state are working to secure student transit passes and increased transit options for youth in the coming legislative session.

For kids who live close enough to school to bicycle or walk, the number of students getting to school by people-power is half what it was a generation ago. We can improve health, independence, traffic and air quality by encouraging walking and biking.

The good news is that Oregon has some great programs. Whether or not you have kids, there’s a way to support active, safe and practical ways to get to school.

Parents: Get safe route maps and tips for first-time bikers and walkers.

Parents: Take a walk before school starts! Use this checklist to ensure that routes are safe. Spot a hazard? Report it. Also check out the “Active Schools” initiative to see whether your school offers other opportunities to get out and move!

Organizers: Get great tips on how to organize a walking school bus or a “bike train in your neighborhood.

Organizers: Meet your local Safe Routes to School program coordinator.

Neighbors: Make a commitment to safe routes to school and get a yard sign. You can also purchase a yard sign online at “Drive like your kids live here.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 10.21.13 AMDrivers: Driving the speed limit and following traffic rules can go a long way in keeping kids safe. The likelihood of death or serious injury for a pedestrian when hit by a car going 20 MPH? 10%. The likelihood when hit by a car going 40 MPH? 80%.

Check out what it takes to brake when a child is in the road.

All Oregonians: In the next legislative session, Oregon is poised to make some big decisions about how we spend money on transportation, including a proposal to significantly increase funding for Safe Routes to School. You can weigh in by submitting comments today.

In addition, the last Oregon Public Transportation Plan is 20 years old, and it is time for the Oregon Department of Transportation to write a new one. OEC is on the advisory committee, but planners also need to hear from you. Weigh in on what a safe and healthy transit system means to you.

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