Seattle announces Safe Routes to School action plan

Today Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle Public Schools, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and community partners unveiled Seattle’s inaugural Safe Routes to School Action Plan.

Safe Streets, Healthy Schools and Communities is a five-year action plan that guides investments for engineering improvements, education, encouragement, and enforcement around schools in Seattle. It is a first of its kind document for Seattle, developed by a coalition of public agencies, parents and safety advocates.

“With children now back in school, and as the fall rains come, drivers must do more to keep kids safe,” said Murray. “Seattle continues to invest in the sidewalks, crosswalks and speed cameras that improve pedestrian safety and reduce speeding around schools. All children must have a safe walking route to their neighborhood school.”

Today’s announcement was made at Sacajawea Elementary School in north Seattle, one of 12 locations where SDOT completed Safe Routes to School projects in 2015, which include new sidewalks and crossing improvements.

The Mayor’s proposed 2016 budget allocates $5.8 million to support Safe Route to School projects at another 9 schools.

Over the past ten years, more elementary students have been walking and biking to school, growing from 15 percent in 2005 to 24 percent in 2015.

As part of the action plan announced today, every third, fourth and fifth grade Seattle public elementary school student will receive walking and biking safety education through their physical education class. A new partnership between SDOT, Seattle Public Schools and Cascade Bicycle Club will deliver that opportunity beginning next year. Today, only half of Seattle public elementary schools receive bike safety education, and no formal pedestrian safety education program exists.

“I’m excited to grow our partnership with SDOT and Cascade Bicycle Club to expand walking and biking safety education to more children through our physical education program,” said Superintendent Larry Nyland. “Making sure our students have safe and healthy ways to get to school will help them be poised to learn and contribute in the classroom.”

Safe Routes to School is funded by fines from the school speed zone camera program, state and federal grants, and the Bridging the Gap transportation levy, which expires this year. Seattle’s school zone speed camera program has generated $16 million for the Safe Routes to School program since 2012.

To protect more children walking and biking to and from school, SDOT and the Seattle Police Department recently installed school zone speed cameras near six additional schools, bringing the total number of Seattle school zones covered by cameras to 14.

Drivers are becoming more aware of new cameras. Over the last two years, the average number of traffic violations per camera per day has dropped 64 percent and average speeds in these zones have decreased by four percent.

“Nine out of ten drivers who get a school zone speeding ticket don’t get a second one,” noted SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “The cameras are protecting children and funding safety improvements near schools, resulting in safer streets for everyone.”

Safe Routes to School is a core component of Seattle’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

Download the full Safe Routes to School Action Plan at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/saferoutes_actionplan.htm.

For more information about Vision Zero, visit www.seattle.gov/visionzero. #VisionZeroSEA