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Oregon kids on Bikes
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Why Oregon Stands Out

Back in 2013, the Oregon School District wanted to create a healthy school environment to help all students to be “ready to learn” everyday. Using the assessment tool from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, they identified and made changes at all six of their schools - such as “brain breaks” (structured physical activity in classroom learning), active recess, and a physical education curriculum that maximized time spent being active. These and many more healthy changes received such positive feedback from students, families and staff that other community partners began to take notice. A broader coalition joined with the school system, becoming the Oregon Area Wellness Coalition. Together, partners like the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce, Oregon Area Senior Center, Oregon Public Library, the Village of Oregon, business owners, Oregon Area Fire & EMS and Oregon Police make the ripple effect of the schools’ pioneering commitment more visible each day.

The Oregon Area Wellness Coalition partners offer free activities every month to get community members of all ages out and moving. The ‘Wednesday Walking Program’ gets people walking for 45 minutes along different routes in May through October; fall candlelight hikes introduce people to community parks; and Community Education hosts preschool open gyms for families, community walking and adult Pickleball just to name a few examples. Partners also address active transportation. The wellness coalition organizes a ‘bike train’ to school during the spring, while the Rotary Club of Oregon coordinates bike rodeos to teach students about bike safety and encourage biking to school. The Oregon School District Community Education Director, Amy Miller, notes, “We have added bike racks at 4 of our [school] buildings due to the increased numbers of children biking to school!” Years of collaboration in Oregon’s school and community settings is paying off, and building culture of walking and biking.

The timing is good for these positive changes in Oregon. As a growing community, partners understand the need for policy steps that will ensure a future of safe walking and biking. They work with neighboring Fitchburg, for example, to connect bike paths across community lines and integrate with regional trail systems. Local discussions about future school construction include consideration for walking, biking and affordability. And like many smaller towns in Wisconsin with a highway running through the downtown, partners see the importance of traffic safety. They are researching solutions and talking to other communities about strategies like complete streets designs and traffic calming. All told, the Oregon Area Wellness Coalition is moving Oregon in fun and new directions. Stay tuned to take part and help expand their local efforts!

Approach to Equity

The Village of Oregon is working to reduce barriers to physical activity and active transportation. They are beginning with social factors related to housing and education, recognizing the importance of affordable housing options and social worker family supports connected to schools. The growing community is already planning for 2 to 3 new housing developments in the future, and there are conversations about including affordable housing, walkable schools and connections to existing regional trail infrastructure in those developments.

On an individual level, the Oregon Area Wellness Coalition ensures that their activities are always free and offered at different locations across the community. Similarly, the Community Education Department and local youth sports organizations offer scholarships for kids and families to eliminate barriers for participation.

Strategy Action Snapshot

Local Action Strategies

  • One-time Community building walks or rides (e.g., Slow Roll, Bike Rendezvous, etc.)

  • ​Walk to School day/week (October)​

  • Safety education campaigns​

  • Regular weekly or monthly community building rides or walks​

  • Create simple community walking loops / trails with signage​

  • Installing bike racks and/or additional fix-it stations​

  • Place physical walking/biking route maps in the community​

Planning to do:

  • ​Bike week​

  • Bike to Work Day​

  • Bicycle benefits program with local retailers (e.g., bike bingo)​

  • “Stop for your Neighbor” walking education campaigns​

  • Place physical walking/biking route maps in the community

Community Engagement Strategies

  • Pop-up visible crosswalks

  • Pop-up traffic calming​

  • Walking meetings with municipal leaders/legislators or office hours on the bus​

  • Participatory public art​


Planning to do:

  • ​Create supporter email lists​

  • Grassroots education (potential topics: economic benefits, trips under 2 miles, Stop for your Neighbor)​

  • Collect walk/bike transit/transportation rider’s stories​

  • Participatory public art

Community Impact

Planning to do:

  • ​Apply for walk / bike friendly designation  ​

  • Establish a Bike/Ped Committee or Safe Routes to School Task Force​

  • Create a Safe Routes to School Plan  ​

  • Attend a statewide conference /summit on active transportation​

  • Connect trails across city or county lines in bicycle and pedestrian plans​

  • Support leadership development opportunities / leadership roles with individuals in underrepresented communities / those that lack access to active transportation​

  • Local Safe Routes to School policy / funding

How to Help

Where they would like support or resources

  • Expertise on traffic calming and options for supporting safe walking, running, and biking across an area highway

  • ​Funding to support complete streets

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