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Coalition wins $3.5 Million for Safe Routes to School!

PORTLAND, OR – On Thursday, May 19th, the For Every Kid Coalition, representing 89 coalition partners, 9 school districts, 5 cities, and thousands of parents, youth, and residents of all ages- spanning all three counties of our region- won an unprecedented investment in Safe Routes to School: $3.5 million.

The For Every Kid Coalition showed up in force at the Metro Council’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) meeting to continue to demand dedicated funding for safe routes to school programming and street safety projects. At this meeting, For Every Kid Coalition members and supporters surrounded the regional decision-makers with yellow “Invest in Safe Routes” signs as they voted on the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) & Regional Flexible Fund Allocation (RFFA), one of the only sources of funding in the region that significantly invests in making streets safe for people who walk and bike.

The final vote dedicated $3.5 million for Safe Routes to School, including $1.5 million for a regional Safe Routes to School program and $2 million for street improvements near Title 1 (or low-income) schools and trails. After a two-year campaign, the For Every Kid Coalition is thrilled to see this win!

Austin Hecker, a 10 year old from John Wetten Elementary in Gladstone, spoke about his route to school to JPACT prior to their deliberation and vote. “People who are driving are in a rush to get to work and us kids are small and hard to see. I want to be safe and I want my friends to be safe too. Please dedicate funding for safe streets for kids. ” Metro Councilor Sam Chase spoke up in support of dedicating money to Safe Routes to School in this funding package. “By investing in active transportation, we’re creating an economic strategy. By cutting funding for active transportation we’re fighting against our own economic and freight strategy. We need to protect and keep active transportation funding for the future of our region.”

After an hour and a half of deliberation JPACT voted in favor of the proposal that increases investments that provide safety for people walking, bicycling, and accessing transit, especially near schools. Regional leaders passed a funding package that invests: $1.5 million for Safe Routes to School education/encouragement programs, $2 million to make streets safe around Title 1 schools and plan regional trails, and $25.76 million for safe walking and biking street safety projects.

The For Every Kid Coalition is also happy to see that this policy seeks to take every opportunity to de-federalize the funding for Safe Routes to School projects, thus helping dollars go twice as far, and favors projects that create safe access to schools. This dedication to Safe Routes to School is unprecedented on the regional level. It is an important investment in making safe streets for kids and will significantly contribute to healthier, more active communities!

 

For More Information, contact:  Sarah Newsum at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance:  (971) 302-8012, sarahn@btaoregon.org

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