As a member of the Safe Kids Seattle Coalition, SDOT began working with Mercer Middle School in 2012. A traffic circulation plan was developed for the school, a pedestrian and bicycle safety workshop was held for parents and staff, students who walked and biked to school received prizes and were entered into a drawing for a new IPod Shuffle, and sidewalk improvements were completed that made it easier to walk and bike to school. Additional projects were also identified by staff and students that would make it easier and safer to walk and bike to school. As SDOT closed out the program at Mercer in 2012, we applied for a grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Safe Routes to School program and crossed our fingers that we would be able to return to Mercer in the future to complete some of those additional projects that the school community identified.
Recently, SDOT was awarded that grant from WSDOT which allowed us to return to Mercer Middle School with a second Safe Routes to School program. The campaign was kicked off in the fall of 2014 with our partners in the Seattle Safe Routes to School Partnership. A walk and bike audit was conducted where parents and children received disposable cameras and took notes to document their findings. A report is being produced to document those findings. Additionally, an after-school bike club is being formed; a 6-week bike safety program will be offered to all students and staff; and a one-hour assembly featuring bike arts and safety skills is planned.
There’s also funding to build one of the projects that was identified as a top priority during that first Safe Routes to School program in 2012. A new shared-use path will be constructed along Jefferson Park providing a safer, more direct connection for kids walking and biking between the school, the Beacon Food Forest and North Beacon Hill neighborhood. The project will improve safety by providing an off-street trail as an alternative to walking or biking along busy traffic on 15th Avenue S. The new path will also serve as a connection between two neighborhood greenways. The project will achieve 100% design in March with construction planned to begin in late 2015.
In addition to funding from WSDOT, this program is supported by local matching funds provided by the School Speed Zone Safety Camera revenue.
For more on Safe Routes to Mercer Middle School: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/SafeRoutesMercerMiddle.htm