Editor’s note: This story originally stated the Safe Routes program was implemented in connection with a different program proposed by Mayor Ted Wheeler in August. The story has been clarified.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In an effort to further protect Portland students, city officials are establishing walking paths it deems safe for some local high schoolers.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation on Tuesday announced it would be extending the Safe Routes to School program to high schools, which is a program using data to build out and determine safer routes to schools for children, according to the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
The initiative initially targeted walking paths primarily used by Kindergarten to 8th grade students and families. It is now expanding to include increased safety for students at Parkrose High School.
“As students walk and roll to schools in Parkrose and across Portland, they encounter several barriers and hazards ranging from unsafe driver behavior, lack of knowledge about multimodal travel options like biking and walking, limited access to transit, and gun violence,” said Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “We must take a more holistic approach to traffic safety that includes the intersection of traffic and gun violence as we support our students traveling to, from, and around their schools.”
New grant funding from the Oregon Department of Transportation will allow city officials to expand the program. Using that funding, PBOT said Parkrose High School educators and mentors will lead a Transportation Academy meant to teach students about roadway safety. Additionally, the program aims to minimize the number of crashes.
Following a shooting near Jefferson High School, PBOT said it is also pushing the Community Crossroads Initiative to reduce traffic and gun violence near schools. As part of this initiative, PBOT engineers will reportedly evaluate street lights to ensure they meet current city standards.