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Back to School 2023: Prepare for another year of walking, biking, and rolling with Safe Routes to School!

Students at Wing Luke Elementary cross the street with help from the School Patrol. Credit: SDOT

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  • Seattle’s Safe Routes to School program grew this past school year, with more and more students getting to and from their schools by walking, biking, and rolling! 
  • Now, we’re getting ready for another new school year: Prepare for safe travel to and from your school with our educational resources, walking and biking maps, and incentive packages.  
  • The Safe Routes to School Program continues to grow! Check out how we’ve been working this summer to improve routes to school through important safety and mobility projects. 
  • Get involved: You can help raise safety awareness and improve your route to school. Learn more about starting your own Safe Routes to School Campaign, requesting a School Street, and improving your school’s arrival/departure procedures. 
  • Slow the Flock Down! Keeping kids safe is a community effort. Respect the speed limit as well as street closures for School Streets and Healthy Streets. Encourage others to do the same by picking up free Slow the Flock Down yard signs. 

Over the last year, we’ve been expanding the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program in Seattle and making important safety upgrades around schools to ensure our youngest community members feel safe walking, rolling and playing in their neighborhoods.

We have been so excited to watch our SRTS program grow during the 2022-2023 school year and over this summer with the support and participation of our communities.

We’ve had more and more Seattle schools request their own School Streets, which are blocks outside of schools that are open to people walking, rolling, and biking but closed to pass-through traffic. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of students choosing to walk and bike to school! Our Travel Tally shows many students and their families are choosing car-free travel – like South Shore PK-8 and Dunlap Elementary’s popular Bike Bus and Greenwood Elementary’s impressive rate of 59% getting to school by walking or rolling.

Each Wednesday in May and June, students at South Shore PK-8 and Dunlap Elementary walked and rolled together with the Bike Bus and walk group in Rainier Beach.  Photo credit: Anna Zivarts 

It’s our goal for Seattle’s school children to start their day by having fun, strengthening connections to their communities, improving physical and mental health, and arriving to school in time for breakfast and ready to learn.

Getting ready for the new school year

We can’t wait to see how many more students will be walking and biking in the 2023-2024 academic year. Are you and your family interested in participating?

If you’re wondering where to start, first make sure your student understands how to get around your neighborhood safely by multiple modes! Whether you’re a parent or school staff, check out some of the educational resources below to jump start the return to school:

Kids at Bailey Gatzert Elementary practice pedestrian safety through the Safe Routes to School Program. Credit: SDOT 

Also, remember that public transit is free for all youth 18 and under! You can learn more about this statewide program here.

Check out these tips from Seattle Public Schools on riding transit to get to school. 

Graphic Credit: ORCA

Want to encourage walking and biking to school this year?

We’re also now offering updated Walking and Biking Packages that schools and PTAs can request to encourage safe walking and biking to school this fall and beyond — like safety gear for a walking school bus or bike train and fun incentives. This is in addition to our mini grants, which fund larger events and activities.

All public and private K-12 schools and PTAs within the City of Seattle and other nonprofit groups can apply for mini grants on a rolling basis. Learn more about the application process and what we fund on our website.

Check out what we’ve included in our updated Walking and Biking Packages and how you can request one. 

Students at Green Lake Elementary select free snacks from a table as part of a Bike to School Day event. Credit: SDOT

Safe Routes to School Improvement Projects

We’re always working to make getting around neighborhoods safer and easier for children of all abilities. Many of our projects also benefit the entire community, making it more enjoyable for people of all ages to walk and roll together.

This year, to calm driver speeds in areas around schools, we installed (or are installing) all-way stops at least 20 schools, including:

  • Adams Elementary School 
  • BF Day Elementary 
  • Franz Coe Elementary School 
  • Interagency at Columbia High School 
  • John Muir Elementary 
  • Lafayette Elementary 
  • Laurelhurst Elementary 
  • Lawton Elementary 
  • Licton Springs @ Webster Elementary 
  • Louisa Boren K-8 
  • Lowell Elementary 
  • Maple Elementary 
  • McClure Middle School 
  • North Beach Elementary 
  • Northgate Elementary  
  • Pathfinder K-8 
  • Seattle Area German American School 
  • TOPS K-8 
  • Wedgwood Elementary 
  • West Woodland Elementary 
  • Wing Luke Elementary 

We also installed (or are installing) new speed humps at 9 schools:

  • Beacon Hill International Elementary  
  • Chief Sealth High School/Denny Middle School 
  • Dearborn Park International Elementary 
  • Dunlap Elementary/South Shore PK-8/Rainier Beach High School 
  • Ingraham High School 
  • Rising Star Elementary 
  • Genesee Hill Elementary   
  • Thurgood Marshall Elementary 
  • Wing Luke Elementary

According to studies we’ve been conducting since 2009, speed humps are proven safety features that dramatically reduce dangerous speeding (10+ miles over the speed limit) near schools by more than 80%.

This summer, we also completed installation of the Kenyon Way S Sidewalk Project, which includes artwork designed by five Wing Luke Elementary students as well as wider sidewalks, traffic-calming speed humps, new pedestrian lighting, a handrail for better accessibility walking up or down the steep hill, and two seating areas for people to rest and enjoy the view.

A photo of the wide sidewalk and new speed humps installed along Kenyon Way S. Credit: SDOT 
Our crews installing one student’s artwork, a dragon, on the Kenyon Way S sidewalk. Credit: SDOT 
Wing Luke Elementary Student Zelie, whose artwork was chosen for the Kenyon Way S sidewalk, sits in one of the two new seating areas installed as part of the project. Credit: SDOT

Get involved in making trips to or from schools safer for all

Want to help raise safety awareness in your neighborhood or encourage safe walking and rolling to and around your school? We’ve got more great SRTS resources to help you get started:

Be a good neighbor: Slow the Flock Down!

Keeping kids safe around schools isn’t just a job for parents and teachers. If you’re driving near a school or through a residential neighborhood, respect “street closed” signs for both School Streets and Healthy Streets, which are important safety resources for kids not only when traveling to and from school, but while playing in their neighborhoods outside of school hours.

And as always, #SlowtheFlockDown to 20 miles per hour! Speeding tickets in school zones are now $237.

Speed is a factor in hundreds of collisions on our streets each year and higher speeds contribute to more severe crashes. You can help keep students safe and contribute to Seattle’s Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by observing the school zone speed limit of 20 miles per hour when yellow beacons are flashing, or when children are present.

You can encourage drivers to slow down with free Slow the Flock Down yard signs.

An SDOT staff member handing out free Slow the Flock Down yard signs at the Lake City Farmer’s Market. Credit: SDOT 

Thank you for helping us keep our youngest community members safe! We wish everyone a happy, healthy 2023-2024 school year.