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Faced with fewer children walking or bicycling to school, governments and other groups have sought to reverse this decline. Even when there's money to address the issue, however, local governments and school districts don’t know how best to spend it to get more children on foot or bicycle.
OTREC researchers Lynn Weigand and Noreen McDonald stepped into this void with their project, “Evaluation of Safe Routes to School Programs: Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Parental Decision-Making.” Their final report is now available.
Existing research only scratches the surface of how parents decide which mode their grade school-aged children take to school. Weigand and McDonald explored the decision-making process with focus groups and tested a new Web-based survey to supplement the limited information gained from existing paper surveys.
Focus groups, in particular, can explain motivations more richly than can survey questions, Weigand said. Parents might select a single survey response, for example, to mean drastically different things.
“Parents cite ‘convenience,’ but that means different things to different parents,” Weigand said. “For some, it means it’s more convenient to plop the kid in the car and drive to school.
Despite some major strides in safety on Portland’s streets, the city has a lot of work remaining to make the city safe for all forms of transportation. At the fifth Transportation Safety Summit, held Feb. 8 at Marshall High School in southeast Portland, speakers stressed the importance of a multipronged approach to safety.
Sponsored by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, or PBOT, the summit also featured speakers from the Portland Police Bureau, the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet and Mayor Sam Adams.
Tom Miller, the incoming PBOT director, and Susan Keil, the outgoing director, said the bureau is focusing safety efforts on 10 high-crash corridors. Improving safety there will require an approach they called the “Three E’s”: engineering, education and enforcement. That is, transportation systems have to be designed for all users’ safety, the users need to know how to navigate the systems and mechanisms must be put in place to make sure people follow the rules. The city will issue annual performance reports to assess the safety of trouble spots.
According to PBOT records, citywide traffic fatalities dropped in 2010, compared to 2009. This reflects an overall trend toward fewer traffic fatalities over the last 15 years.
One worrisome point is the increase in pedestrian fatalities. The number of people killed while walking rose for the second straight year, to 15 in 2010. That’s more than the combined number of motorists, motorcyclists...Read more
The Second Safe Routes to School National Conference (SRTS) National Conference convened on August 19-21 in Portland, OR. Sylvan Cambier (UO student) presented a poster on designBridge - Student Led Community Design Build. Dr. Marc Schlossberg (OTREC Associate Director and UO Associate Professor) and Dr. Lynn Weigand, (Director of the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation and OTREC-Affiliate faculty) were part of the SRTS Steering Committee. SRTS research and activities relate to the intersection of OTREC’s theme of healthy communities and integration of land use and transportation.