Hood River — Hood River parents can help plan safer walking, rolling and biking routes to school at a Safety Routes to School “Walk Audit” event May 19-20. Parents and guardians of Hood River Middle School and May Street Elementary School are invited to participate in a live, COVID-safe event to engage with the team working identify potential improvements to routes students take to school.

The event begins at 7 a.m. May 19 at May Street Elementary, and at 7:40 a.m. May 20 at Hood River Middle School. Additional afternoon walk audits will be available for other community members. RSVP is required for both sessions. Online registration forms, in English and Spanish, are at cityofhoodriver.gov/srts-process-seeks-community-feedback, or RSVP by calling 541-387-5208.

Safe Routes To School was initiated last year with funding from Oregon Department of Transportation. The team this week is gathering suggestions from parents to improve safety for children as they travel to school. For those who can’t attend the walk audits, an interactive map is online, available for parents and students to identify problem areas along their routes. The online survey map is at odotsrtsprojectid.com.

Reports from earlier audits, surveys, and other community engagement indicate that between 75-95 percent of students had requested permission to walk or bike to school.

However, parents were hesitant because of road conditions, the absence or condition of sidewalks, and the safety of intersections and crossings.

The project team will continue gathering updated information through the summer, and possibly after school begins. A public comment period is set for Aug. 16 to Sept. 3. Once the plan is completed, the city will seek grants to complete improvements.

Safe route maps, and some recommended improvements to streets along those routes, will be completed in time for schools to open this fall, planners said.

Although no projects have been confirmed, these were among suggestions for improvements offered by participants in the survey map so far:

  • Crossings at 12th and 13th streets at May Street.
  • Crossings at Ninth, 10th and 17th streets at May, June and Pine.
  • Fixing sidewalk gaps on Ninth, 10th, 18th, and June.
  • Bike lanes on May Street and Belmont Avenue.
  • Improved sidewalks close to high-speed vehicle lanes.
  • Fix non-compliant wheelchair ramps.
  • Extended bike lanes on May Street.
  • A roundabout or curb extensions at May Street and 17th Street intersection.
  • Adding sidewalks and bike lanes on 18th Street.
  • Striping crosswalks at 13th and Sherman and Eugene.