Community Walks Recap: Rosa Parks Elementary

Healthy Travel Options to School - Community Walks! 

As part of The Healthy Travel Options to School Plan, we are partnering with Portland Public Schools and Safe Routes to School to lead 15 Community Walks to identify barriers to walking. We're focusing on addressing infrastructure equity gaps that directly impact the livelihood of historically underserved students and their families. This project aims to close infrastructure equity gaps, overcome cultural and physical barriers to walking or biking to school, reduce necessity for driving, and increase safety within the Portland Public Schools student active transportation network. Find out more about our work in this project here. 

Oregon Walks hosted our first community walk on Friday, March 10th at Rosa Parks Elementary School immediately following a weekly Parent Coffee session. Several parents who had planned on attending were unable to make it to the walk, but eight parents, four students, and three members of Rosa Parks staff did attend. A Spanish translator from Irco was also present.

To get a sense of students’ primary mode of getting to school, parents participated in a hand-raising activity that showed most kids usually walk to school (five parents raised their hands). Two rode the bus sometimes, while one parent reported dropping her child off.

During and after the walk several themes emerged, which were based around three main questions: 1) What are some challenges you or your students face in walking to school; 2) What would make it easier to walk to and from school?; and 3) Was there anything surprising or new you noticed on today’s walk? These are summarized below:

 

Community Challenges

  • High traffic speeds even in areas where there are existing speed humps (and lack of speed humps throughout the neighborhood)

  • Not enough street lighting, especially on N. Trenton Street

  • School Zone feels too small – ends right across from the school

  • Dangerous conditions unrelated to walking make walking feel unsafe (eg. shootings in McCoy Park)

  • Kids have gotten hit by cars even when there are crossing guards present; drivers don’t pay attention, or hurry through four-way stops

  • Difficult crossings are especially notable at N. Newman Avenue & N. Trenton Street, N. Woolsey Avenue & N. Trenton Street

  • Buses, delivery trucks, and summer activities add to congestion and traffic, making drivers impatient and drive more dangerously

 

Community Ideas for Solutions

  • Lower the speed limit (5 MPH!) throughout the neighborhood – since there are so many families in New Columbia, the entire neighborhood feels like a school zone and parents wanted it to be treated accordingly

  • Add automatic flashing lights to school zone signs at the beginning and end of the school day

  • Create and promote walking groups

  • Add better crossings all around McCoy Park since kids go there so often

 

Things that were Surprising

  • The school zone is very small and the nearby Rosemary Anderson School doesn’t even have a school zone

  • Stop signs seemed to be pointed the wrong way (eg. protecting traffic flow for cars on N. Trenton Street rather than stopping cars where people want to cross)

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