SALEM — The day began with observations. Watch middle school students and their parents, walking, on bicycles, getting out of cars and off buses… see what barriers they face as they make their way to school. Then convene to document and discuss. The group pored over maps and talked about the ramps, traffic signals, sidewalks – or lack thereof – that they had just walked on or witnessed. In the afternoon, they observed again, this time watching as elementary-age students left a school, on foot or two-wheels, in buses and cars. They watched intersections, traffic patterns, bike paths and more.
At the end of the day, they gathered all their observations and started brainstorming solutions. The group included representatives from the Oregon Trail School District in Sandy, Alta Planning + Design, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), the city of Sandy and others interested in creating safe routes for children to and from area schools. The effort was called a “safe routes to school audit” and the focus was on the areas around Sandy Grade School and Cedar Ridge Middle School.
With all this first-hand information, the safety advocates for this community are ready to start making a difference. It’s part of the new Safe Routes to School program passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2017, and this audit, and others like it, are helping pave the way to safety for young Oregonians.