For Every Kid.
A car hit two teenage girls in Gresham this afternoon, one taken to a hospital by LifeFlight. Completely coincidentally, tomorrow, JPACT (a regional governing entity consisting of elected officials from Portland and it’s suburbs) is voting on where to allocate a set of federal money known as Regional Flexible Funds. The For Every Kid campaign (including folks from American Heart Association, BTA, Safe Routes to School, Community Alliance of Tenants, APANO, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Community Cycling Center, Upstream Public Health, Oregon Walks) have been pushing for TWO YEARS for this vote tomorrow; they collected thousands of signatures and ran a smart campaign asking Metro to consider allocating this federal money to making it safer for students to bike and walk to schools. Transportation funding is murky, but long story short: bike/ped advocates don’t have very many streams of revenue they can tap into for funding, and this is one of the very few funding streams that legally can be used for sidewalks, crosswalks, and improvements to make it easier for kids to get to school. Despite the hard work of all these groups and the tremendous support from around the region, the regional policymakers politely ignored the campaign, and intend to move forward tomorrow with a sliver of the funds necessary to ensure more kids can get physical activity every morning, more parents aren’t stuck driving their kids to school, and more kids don’t get hit by cars. I don’t have to tell you that “the right to walk to school safely” is one not enjoyed by a majority of the Title I schools around the region, but maybe I do, because right now, a Gresham teenager is being airlifted to a hospital for injuries sustained from getting hit by car on a Wednesday afternoon, and tomorrow a handful of elected officials are going to continue to perpetuate a status quo where we invest money in ways that don’t reflect the urgent need for healthier, more equitable, safer communities for kids to walk and bike to school.
If any of this upsets you, set your alarm, and join us at Metro (600 NE Grand) at 7:30am tomorrow before work when JPACT is meeting. Hopefully see you there.