Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director
On November 16th, the West Linn City Council joined the call for a region-wide “Safe Routes to School” initiative to serve every kid in Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah counties by unanimously passing a resolution calling on the Metro regional government to act.
This makes West Linn the fifth city in the Metro region and the second in Clackamas County to call for increased action to improve the health of kids by making communities safer for walking and biking. The city councils of Forest Grove, Tigard, Milwaukie, and Beaverton adopted similar resolutions in the spring.
The American Heart Association is a member of the For Every Kid coalition, comprised of over 60 organizations, school districts, and cities calling for healthier kids and safer streets.
Research shows that kids who most need opportunities for physical activity don’t have the necessary safe infrastructure—sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes—in their neighborhoods and around their schools to support a healthy childhood. Seventy percent of eighth grade students in Clackamas County say that they do not get the recommended amount of physical activity, according to the 2013 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey. By walking or biking to school, kids can get over half of their daily recommended exercise.
Metro Councilors, local mayors and commissioners have the opportunity in the coming year to allocate funding to create region-wide safe routes to school. Discussions with stakeholders are underway about creating an approach that will reach the communities that need it most.
Thousands of parents and community members are joined by public health experts, school districts, and local organizations in asking Metro to make Safe Routes to School investments that could make walking, biking, and transit safe for 150,000 kids in every school district in the Metro area.