We can create safe routes to school in Ashland

May 2023

The City of Ashland was recently awarded Safe Routes to School (SRTS) planning assistance from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Through this program, staff from City of Ashland, Ashland School District, and ODOT are working together to create a SRTS Plan that identifies street improvements near Ashland Middle School, Ashland High School, Walker Elementary School, TRAILS Outdoor School, Helman Elementary School and Bellview Elementary School to support students and families in walking and biking to school safely. The SRTS Plan will also recommend opportunities for education and engagement to promote walking and biking to school. Planners from Alta Planning + Design, an active transportation consulting firm, are guiding the planning process. 

The project team has been working to identify and prioritize safety needs within a mile of the school.  They have performed a walk audit to observe student arrival and dismissal. During this visit, the team and community members documented the walking and biking conditions around the school area.

Alta has provided draft recommendations, which Streets for Everyone has reviewed. We are recommending a number of changes.

The context: Oregon’s Transportation Planning Rules (OAR 660-012-000) guide municipal transportation system plans, and the City must follow these rules when it updates its Transportation System Plan. The rule states that transportation plans must be designed for all ages and abilities. 

The National Association for City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) 2023, Designing for All Ages and Abilities is the state-of-the-art guidebook for enhancing street safety for all users – particularly children. The guidelines are based on standardized, evidence-based, and seamless approaches. NACTO guidelines allow for meaningful and equitable changes to occur on our streets. 

NACTO principles should be consistently incorporated into the SRTS recommendations

In particular, in the SRTS Ashland context, we highlight the following priority recommendations:

Ashland High School

Item 1- We recommend giving or loaning students U-locks and provide education on how and why to use them. 

Item 6- South Mountain speed limit is <25 mph and 2021 average daily totals (ADT) for traffic volume was 2,681 (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021). However, NACTO recommends a protected bike lane in areas with “high curbside activity, frequent buses, motor vehicle congestion, or turning conflicts” (2023). As a school zone features all of these items at pick-up and drop off, a protected bike lane is necessary for the safety and comfort of students with a full range of abilities as well as motorists.

Ashland Middle School, TRAILS, and Walker Elementary

Item 2- We recommend that the second sentence be edited to remove the word “consider”; this change will create a strong active recommendation rather than passive. We also recommend adding a Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB) at the bike path crossing Walker, or assigning a crossing guard at this point during pick up and drop off.

Item 3- A protected bike lane, rather than a buffered bike lane is necessary here, due to high curbside activity, frequent buses, motor vehicle congestion, and turning conflicts. For reference, Walker’s speed limit is less than 25 mph, and 2021 ADT was 4,436 (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021).

Item 6- This recommendation seems beyond the purview of SRTS infrastructure changes. However – again, following NACTO’s 2023 guidelines – this street requires a protected bike lane along the entire length, due to an ADT of 8,781 and a posted speed limit of 40 mph along this section of E. Main (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021). A protected bike lane, rather than a separate and disconnected bike path along one segment of this street, will allow for a complete bicycle network within the city of Ashland.

Bellview Elementary

Item 2- We recommend protected bike lanes along Tolman, which has a 3,515 ADT, and high curbside activity and frequent buses, motor vehicle congestion, and turning conflicts (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021). We also recommend a protected bike lane on Siskiyou, which has a posted speed limit of 35 MPH between Harmony and Tolman Creek Road and ADT of 5,742 (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021).

Helman Elementary

Item 2- We recommend undertaking traffic calming measures along Nevada, such as speed humps or travel lane narrowing to reduce traffic speed. 

The Helman principal expressed concern that people do not stop at Laurel and Randy. This item is not listed in the recommendations. We would recommend painting high visibility cross/and bike walk paths across these streets to encourage people to stop. 

Willow Wind

Item 3- A protected bike lane, rather than a buffered bike lane is necessary here, due to ADT of 7,946 (Oregon Department of Transportation, 2021).

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide these recommendations. We’d be pleased to discuss these recommendations further with you. We can be reached at info@ashlandclimate.org.  We look forward to continuing to work with the City to create safe roads to schools and elsewhere!


Oregon Department of Transportation (2021). Oregon Traffic Monitoring System. Retrieved on 5/15/2023 from https://ordot.public.ms2soft.com/tcds/tsearch.asp?loc=Ordot&mod=TCDS

Oregon Planning; Department of Land Conservation and Development (2021). Goal 12: Transportation. Retrieved on 5/15/2023 from https://www.oregon.gov/lcd/OP/Pages/Goal-12.aspx

The National Association for Transportation Officials (2023). Designing for All Ages and Abilities. Retrieved on 5/15/2023 from https://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/designing-ages-abilities-new/

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