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Daylight savings is coming! Pull out those walking shoes and get ready for longer days!

As we move from winter to spring and the days get longer folks are looking forward to getting outside and getting active once again.  It’s a great time of year, with warmer and sometimes sunnier days, for kids to walk or bike to school.   Thanks to Bridging the Gap (BTG), 30 elementary schools around Seattle have gained new and improved walking routes since the program began in 2007 through the Safe Routes to School Program. This program works closely with school staff, students and parents to identify barriers and solutions to make walking and biking safer and more accessible.

Families enjoy using new crosswalk installed in Highland Park as part of the Safe Routes to School Program.

The safety program improvements can include the installation of new curb ramps, marked crosswalks, sidewalk repairs, new sidewalks and speed cushions.  Over the first six years of the program Sanislo Elementary, Dearborn Park Elementary, Bailey Gatzert Elementary, Concord Elementary, Northgate Elementary, Kimball Elementary and Cleveland High schools were recipients of funding from the   program. 

In 2012, Highland Park Elementary received three new marked crosswalks, two new curb bulbs, speed cushions, and a new all-way stop for their walking and biking routes to school; the Mayor led a walk-to-school day event; Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) participated in pickup and drop-off observations and traffic circulation changes were implemented making it safer for kids to reach the school.

What NE 130th Street, near Olympic Hills Elementary School, looks like today – check back in six months to see the transformation!

One key project in 2013 will be the addition of needed improvements around Olympic Hills Elementary School.  Late last year, the SDOT led a community open house to discuss school traffic safety and the department is participating in a formal assessment of the pickup and drop-off procedures; organizing a walk and bike to school campaign; and building a new sidewalk on NE 130th Street to improve the connection between the school and the Lake City urban village including the neighborhood library.

The Safe Routes to School projects for 2013 are still being finalized. We expect to have the final list in a few weeks and we will be updating this blog post when the list is complete.  For additional information on the Safe Routes to School Program please visit their webpage and for information about the BTG Program please visit its webpage.