Safe walk

Washington Elementary School students take part in a National Walk to School Day. Safe Routes to School Walk Audits and Community Meetings, a cooperative project between Umatilla County, the city of Pendleton and the Pendleton School District, will take place the week of Oct. 7.

PENDLETON — A handful of schools in Pendleton are participating in an initiative to increase safety as students walk and ride bicycles to school.

A special program is designed to identify how to improve streets in the area to support kids in getting to school safely. Safe Routes to School Walk Audits and Community Meetings are featured the week of Oct. 7 as part of the project. The effort is a cooperative project between Umatilla County, the city of Pendleton and the Pendleton School District.

Pendleton recently received funding from the Oregon Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School Project Identification Process. The funding is for creating a Safe Routes to School Plan, which will also outline opportunities for education and encouragement events to promote walking and biking to school. Planners from Alta Planning + Design will lead the planning process.

The Walk Audits and Community Meetings will identify walking and biking opportunities and challenges around the school area. Alta planners, school leadership, roadway authority representatives and family members will document conditions that may discourage walking and biking to school, and work to identify solutions to these challenges.

All Walk Audits will begin at the flagpole in front of each school. Students, parents, teachers and community members are invited to participate. The schedule is:

•Pendleton Early Learning Center, Monday, Oct. 7: Walk, 2:15 p.m.; Meeting, 3:15 p.m.

•Pendleton High School & Hawthorne School, Tuesday, Oct. 8: Walk, 7:30 a.m.; Meeting, 8:30 a.m.

•McKay Creek Elementary School, Tuesday, Oct. 8: Walk, 2:30 p.m.; Meeting, 3:30 p.m.

•Sherwood Heights Elementary School, Wednesday, Oct. 9: Walk, 7:45 a.m.; Meeting, 8:45 a.m.

•Sunridge Middle School, Wednesday, Oct. 9: Walk, 2:15 p.m.; Meeting, 3:15 p.m.

•Washington Elementary School, Thursday, Oct. 10: Walk, 7:45 a.m.; Meeting, 8:45 a.m.

Following each Walk Audit, there will be a Community Meeting to brainstorm improvements for walking and biking to school and discuss opportunities for Safe Routes education and encouragement. Also, ODOT asks families to share feedback using an interactive input tool at www.odotsrtsprojectid.com.

For more information about the Walk Audits and Community Meetings, contact district superintendent Chris Fritsch at cfritsch@pendletonsd.org, 541-276-6711 or visit www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Programs/Pages/SRTS.aspx.

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Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

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