We ♥ Seattle students! With your help, SDOT made it easier and safer for students to get to school in 2021.

Our vision for Seattle students is to start their day experiencing the benefits of walking, rolling, and biking to school: having fun, feeling safe, strengthening connections to their communities, arriving to school ready to learn, and improved physical and mental health.

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In 2021, we completed projects benefiting almost 30 different schools.  The Levy to Move Seattle funds many of the projects we complete near schools through the Safe Routes to School program.

Safe Routes to School projects encourage safe walking, rolling, and biking to school with improvements like raised crosswalks, flashing lights/beacons at crossings, walkways, and signage. 

A map showing projects SDOT completed near schools in 2021.
Arbor Heights Elementary -Speed cushions/humps 
Bagley Elementary School - Crossing improvements 
Catharine Blain K-8 - Crossing improvement 
Chief Sealth HS -Arterial traffic calming 
Dearborn Park International Elementary, walkway
Decatur Elementary School -Flashing beacons 
Eckstein Middle School -Crossing improvement 
Garfield High School, Crossing improvement 
Genesee Hill Elementary -Crossing improvement 
Grover Cleveland STEM High School, walkway
Highland Park Elementary School, Neighborhood Greenway
Ingraham High School -Walkway 
Ingraham High School, walkway
Laurel Academy, Flashing beacons 
Laurelhurst Elementary School -Flashing beacons 
Leschi Elementary School, Crossing improvement 
Loyal Heights Elementary -Crossing improvement 
Mercer Middle School -Crossing improvement 
Queen Anne Elementary -Crossing improvements 
Rainier Beach High School -Curb ramps 
Rainier Beach High School- Lighting 
Roosevelt High School, Curb bulbs and RRFBs (Rectangular rapid flashing beacons)
Sacajawea Elementary, walkway
Salish Sea Charter School, School zone signage 
St Matthew School - Flashing beacons 
Thornton Creek Elementary School- Flashing beacons 
Webster Building/Licton Springs K-8 -School zone signage 
Westside School- Speed humps 
Whitman Middle School, walkway
Wing Luke Elementary Neighborhood Greenway

The Seattle Transit Measure (Proposition 1) funds the ORCA Opportunity Program. Through the program, the City of Seattle provides 12-month, fully-subsidized ORCA cards to all Seattle Public middle and high school students and Seattle Promise Scholars.   

We were thrilled to provide even more students with ORCA cards this year. The Mayor’s Climate Action Executive Order in 2021 expanded the ORCA Opportunity Program to middle schoolers attending Seattle Public Schools. 

In total, we distributed ORCA cards to 16,917 middle and high school students in 2021. This is about 63% of all middle and high school students in Seattle Public Schools. 

Here’s some of what we’ve heard from students and parents so far:  

  • One Roosevelt student mentioned that he and his friends were most looking forward to riding the Link light rail to the International District for lunch! He said it was the highlight of his senior year and that the opening of the Roosevelt station in combination with the ORCA Opportunity program was something he was really excited for. 
  • A middle school parent explained, “Thank you so much for including all middle schoolers in the ORCA Opportunity program. It has been so helpful, and now my 13-year-old son can use his card to get to the store, soccer practice and friends’ houses.“  
  • A mother of two said, “We’re excited about teaching them to use the public transit system now that they have ORCA cards!”  

Did you know that we also have a program to teach youth leaders about public transit options, and to mobilize youth to become transit ambassadors in their community?  

2021 was the second year of our Youth Ambassadors program. We work with two local organizations, Red Eagle Soaring and We.APP. These organizations have created incredible videos about the experiences of youth using transportation! Watch them below:

We. APP short film. Video Credit: We.APP.
Red Eagle Soaring short film. Video Credit: Red Eagle Soaring & Sky Bear Media.

We also hosted monthly classes with speakers from different transit agencies and non-profits, who shared what they do and discussed topics like micro-mobility and mobility justice. 

Here are some of the other highlights of 2021. 

As part of the Let’s Go program, students rode bikes at one of the first bike drop-offs of 2021. Photo Credit: Seattle Public Schools. 

April

We opened new “School Streets,” which are closed to most cars and open to families walking, biking, and rolling to school. These new School Streets are similar to Stay Healthy Streets and provide more space for social distancing at school pick-up and drop-off.   

August

Together, we celebrated the fourth school year of the ORCA Opportunity Program – Seattle’s commitment to free transit for public high school and middle school students.  

September

Can you think of something that would make it safer for you to walk, roll, or bike to school? In late summer, we began offering Safe Routes to School Mini Grants on a rolling basis. The grants are for small projects like bicycle helmets, lights, pedestrian crossing flags, Walking School Buses, and more. Nonprofits, Seattle schools, and community organizations can apply for a grant any time of year.

School zone safety cameras came back on starting September 1. We set the flashing beacon schedule based on when students arrive and leave school grounds. To determine what school zones require a safety camera, SDOT considers criteria such as vehicle speed, traffic counts, and geographical balance. We activated new school zone safety cameras at Whittier Elementary and Our Lady of Guadalupe School.  

November

The Mayor’s Climate Action Executive Order expanded the ORCA Opportunity Program to middle schoolers attending Seattle Public Schools. 

Let’s Go, the nation’s largest public school bicycling and walking safety curriculum, resumed in-person lessons in Seattle following a 19-month pause due to COVID-19! The program will teach bicycling and walking safety skills to about 10,000 elementary and middle school students during the school year and will reach up to 25,000 students in 2024-2025.  

December

SDOT released the Safe Routes to School Action Plan. (Got a minute? Take a look at an overview of the plan.) 

Thank you for supporting Seattle students through the Levy to Move Seattle and the Seattle Transit Measure. You are directly affecting the experiences of our youngest Seattleites as they travel around the city!