Streetfilms Portland Week: Safe Routes to School

As someone who lives in Brooklyn and pedals a two-year-old to daycare three days a week, I find the scenes depicted in this video to be completely incredible. There is no question in my mind that the future of New York City has to look something like this. –Editor


Portland’s Safe Routes to School
A Clarence Eckerson Streetfilm
Running time: 4:14
Download: 16.40 MB

The students and faculty of Sunnyside Environmental have an entire curriculum dedicated to bike safety and the use of non-motorized transportation between school and home. Children as young as second graders are able to ride their bicycles to school solo thanks to neighborhood traffic calming and an agressive Safe Routes to School program. Kids also arrive by foot, skateboard, and scooter. In the morning, it is just an incredible scene seeing scores of parents drop off their children by bike — some carrying as many as three children.

  • carol

    If New York City had the will to protect our neighborhoods, this could happen. It’s not that farfetched.

  • ken

    great films this week.

  • Lisa

    This kind of work isn’t being done by any other group anywhere. Thanks for continually enlightening the rest of the world as well as NY.


  • Everytime I see these great films, I think to myself, boy they have a lot of space there to do all those safety features while we have so many competing users in a more crowded space. But then I think, that’s EXACTLY why NYC needs to encourage biking more. We just don’t have room for cars to move around. And mass transit is already overcrowded beyond capacity in many places.

  • Greg Raisman


    Thanks for the comment. It’s interesting to me that our lower level of density jumps out at you that way. The one thing I’d say is that transportation decisions are ALWAYS about balancing multiple interests in the right-of-way.

    Even though we don’t have the density you do, we still have limited space in a few ways and numerous needs to meet within that space. For example, our blocks are small — 200 feet. Our roads are relatively narrow (thank goodness). Also, our density is intensifying.

    The biggest increases in density for us are the Pearl District (almost complete) and South Waterfront (largest development in the city’s history — just begun construction). These downtown neighborhoods are the most dense in our state. As our downtown becomes a much more dense place that is far more residential, our city is still working to balance those competing needs (e.g.: freight, cars, bikes, kids, seniors, blind people, people with mobility devices, other pedestrians, and trains of various kinds).

    Here’s an example of balancing needs: One of our neighborhoods has a ton of bicycle trips. The sidewalks there are narrow (8.5′). The sidewalks are narrow because it is an older neighborhood — old for us — and that’s how wide sidewalks were built 100 years ago.

    All the bicycle parking on the sidewalk was congesting the sidewalk. This congestion was a problem for pedestrians, especially blind people and people with mobility devices, as well as local businesses who wanted more tables and planters.

    To open space for all of these competing needs, we converted 1.5 on-street car parking spaces into 13 bicycle racks. The racks are installed right in the asphalt. By converting those 1.5 spaces, we helped the businesses and pedestrians. We also think this encourages more people to take walking and biking trips in their neighborhood which also helps with neighborhood traffic congestion.

    Two weeks after the installation of the facility, all of the businesses two blocks away asked for one to be installed in front of their shops.

    Clarence took some footage of this on-street bike parking facility that I believe will be made into a viewable form some time in the near future.

    Thanks again for the great comment.

    Greg Raisman
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    Portland Office of Transportation

  • Clarence

    I’d also say this, there are many parts of Brooklyn that are extremely similar to Portland in feel and maybe even density (though don’t hold me to that)

    We could make lots of livable/bikeable neighborhoods like Portland has in the outer boroughs.


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