Portland to Host 2nd Safe Routes to School National Conference

CHAPEL HILL, NC — The city of Portland, Ore., recognized nationally for its walking and bicycling programs, was selected through a competitive application process to host the 2nd Safe Routes to School National Conference in 2009. The conference site was announced today by the National Center for Safe Routes to School and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

“We’re excited to have Portland host this important conference,” said Lauren Marchetti, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. “Portland has been praised for encouraging its children and adults to walk and bicycle as viable transportation alternatives. Their proposal to host the conference included creative partnerships and an emphasis on scholarships that will increase attendance and set the stage for another successful SRTS conference,” added Marchetti.

The conference is planned for the summer or autumn of 2009. The 1st Safe Routes to School National Conference, held in Dearborn, Michigan, in November 2007, exceeded expectations with more than 400 participants including program representatives, state transportation administrators, engineers, planners, elected officials, parents and community members.

"We're very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and their team in Portland to plan the 2nd Safe Routes to School National Conference. It's going to be an exciting event in a great location," said Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

“Oregon is a wonderful place for families to enjoy bicycling and walking,” said Scott Bricker, Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in Portland. “Each year more and more families bicycle and walk to school, to run errands, and to get to fun destinations like our parks and shopping. In Portland, bicycling is growing at exponential rates, and each day it becomes safer and more pleasant for children, seniors, and families to ride. For the last three years, the Portland Safe Routes to School program has served 25 schools to promote, educate, and create safer bicycling and walking conditions,” added Bricker.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has trained more than 45,000 children in Oregon through its Walk + Bike education program. The statewide organization has more than 5,000 members and it has enlisted Kaiser Permanente as a partner to host the SRTS conference.

The Safe Routes to School National Conference provides an opportunity for individuals and organizations interested and involved with Safe Routes to School to network, engage in educational opportunities and form partnerships to enhance their Safe Routes to School work. Up to 600 participants can be accommodated to participate in the conference in Portland. For more information on the first conference, please visit www.saferoutesmichigan.org/nationalconference.htm.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School assists communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bike to school. Established in May 2006, the Center is maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. For more information, please visit www.saferoutesinfo.org.

Launched in August 2005, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership is a fast-growing network of hundreds of organizations, government agencies and professional groups working to set goals, share best practices, secure funding, and provide educational materials to agencies that implement Safe Routes to School programs. For more information, please visit www.saferoutespartnership.org.

For more information on the SRTS conference, please contact Raquel Rivas at the National Center for Safe Routes to School (919) 962-5835, rivas@hsrc.unc.edu.

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