In Clackamas County, where diverse geography and demographics present unique transportation challenges, our Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is at the forefront, offering customized solutions with a strong focus on equity.
Our SRTS work in Clackamas County includes infrastructure safety assessment and evaluation, community engagement through events, education programming, a K-8 art poster contest, and creating action plans alongside communities. These initiatives empower students, families, and communities to recommend vital projects and activities, ensuring the safety and equity of all students, regardless of their background or location.
The driving force behind this program is Nicole Perry, our dedicated Clackamas County Safe Routes to School Coordinator.
A Personal Journey for a Safer Community
Nicole’s personal journey within the Clackamas County Safe Routes to School program began when her eldest child started kindergarten. They intentionally moved to be within walking distance of their local school. However, she soon realized that while she had a relatively complete pathway system for her kids, some neighbors on the other side of the school did not. This prompted Nicole to work alongside Safe Routes to School advocates, securing grants, creating action plans, and organizing encouragement events at Linwood Elementary/Sojourner School in Milwaukie.
Advocacy That Creates Lasting Impact
Nicole continued her involvement in Clackamas Safe Routes to School as a Confluence AmeriCorps member, serving Clackamas County. Her advocacy efforts focused on House Bill 2017, which played a crucial role in securing cyclical grant funding crucial to sustain the program and support the Linwood Ave Improvement project. This project stands as Nicole’s proudest accomplishment, as it had a profound impact on her community.
“The Linwood connection is the proudest one for me as it is literally my community. I live in the neighborhood. The improvements were completed well after my children went to school there, but my neighbors are using them with their kids and the entire community benefits, including my dog!”“I believe that everyone deserves safe, reliable access to the places they want to go, and that we need more options to make this a reality. When someone can’t access work, community or recreation, just because they can’t drive or don’t have a car, it has countless ripple effects on their health and well-being.”
Impact on Safety, Participation, and Community Engagement
Over the years, Nicole has seen her efforts lead to increased community involvement and higher participation of kids in active transportation, all while raising safety awareness. Her motivation to continue stems from the program’s increasing longevity and the growing interest from school districts and cities in collaborating on solutions to transportation challenges. Nicole is passionate about teaching kids how to safely navigate their communities and is optimistic about the revitalization of programs that encourage active transportation choices.
“There are so many ways kids can get to school and around their community, and there needs to be resources to teach them how to do so safely. Clackamas County is considering multiple modes of transportation. By prioritizing pedestrians, bicyclists, and other wheel-operated contraptions, the awareness of all users grows. I envision my role as a conduit of information and opportunities for people to grow their knowledge and put forth action toward more active transportation choices.”
A Promising Future
Looking ahead, Nicole envisions a promising future for the Clackamas Safe Routes to School program. Today, she supports the program full time as a staff member of The Street Trust. She is hopeful for the resurgence of programs like Safety Town and crossing guard initiatives, and anticipates additional pedestrian and bicycle education opportunities. The program’s focus on multiple modes of transportation in Clackamas County is set to raise awareness among all users, encouraging active transportation choices.
To learn more about the Clackamas Safe Routes to School program visit: https://www.clackamas.us/engineering/srts.html
To learn more about how you can support Safe Routes to School, contact [email protected].