Safe Routes to School in Southeast Seattle

Students learned to repair their bikes.

Students learned to repair their bikes.

Over the past year, SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program has focused on schools in southeast Seattle. AmeriCorps VISTA ‘s Laura Ruchinskas has led these targeted outreach efforts, centered on Aki Kurose Middle School in the Rainier Valley. Laura created partnerships between SDOT, Bike Works and the Seattle Police Department. She obtained sponsorships and donations from Raleigh, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and the EMP Museum to fund incentives for walking and biking campaigns. At Aki Kurose, Laura led two after-school bike clubs focusing on bike safety and maintenance. The second program allowed students to repair and ultimately take home a new BMX bike.

Students participated in a "walking audit."

Students participated in a “walking audit.”

Laura also coordinated a school walking audit to hear school traffic safety concerns. Over 20 students participated, asking for safer crossings, more signs and additional visibility of the school. As a result, SDOT is constructing a new curb bulb, remarking crosswalks, and installing additional school signs. Laura also worked with Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs to have artwork installed in the right-of-way near the school. This 12-foot artwork will feature peace cranes, the school mascot, and reinforce the school presence on S Graham Street.

A contest was also held to provide an incentive to students learning about bike repairs and maintenance.

A contest was also held to provide an incentive to students learning about bike repairs and maintenance.

Laura has also worked at Graham Hill Elementary, Dearborn Park Elementary, Hawthorne Elementary and Mercer Middle School, collaborating on walk and bike to school campaigns with Feet First and Cascade Bicycle Club. Although Laura’s term of service is coming to an end, SDOT will continue to work with these schools with bike to school campaigns in May and walk to school campaigns next October.

Visit SDOT’s updated Safe Routes to School webpage for information about how SDOT is making it safer and easier for kids to walk and bike to school in Seattle.