Safe Routes Snapshots: Corvallis and Philomath, OR

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In 2003, Patricia Parsons, a health promotion specialist for Chronic Disease Prevention at the Benton County Health Department, decided to implement a sustainable program to help prevent childhood obesity. With the creation of two local Safe Routes to School task forces two years later, Parsons and the respectively urban and suburban towns of Corvallis and Philomath in Benton County, Oregon, have implemented strategic SRTS programs to increase safety and encouragement activities for the various elementary and middle schools' bicyclists and pedestrians. These policy and environmental efforts encourage physical activity and healthy eating, thereby working toward the ultimate goal of decreasing childhood obesity.

The SRTS task force members in Corvallis and Philomath are the school district assistant superintendent, the principals, city and county Transportation Departments the school district planning consultant, council members, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the Corvallis and Philomath Police Departments. Together, the task forces strive to incorporate four E's — encouragement, enforcement, engineering and education — into the SRTS programs.

Before the task forces' establishment, there was not a centralized way for parents to voice traffic safety concerns regarding their children walking and bicycling. With the task force, all necessary officials gather together to discuss how to improve safety, which resolves issues more easily. In addition to advocating for parents, the task force advocates for students and for community-wide policy changes to aid in improving conditions for walking and bicycling.

At the school level, seven of the eight elementary schools in Corvallis and the two elementary and one middle school in Philomath have participated in various SRTS activities for the past four years. The SRTS programs throughout the two towns vary in nature, but they still have helped and encouraged children to walk or bicycle safely to school.

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