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New Safe Routes to School annual report highlights investments in Seattle students biking, walking, and rolling!

Starting the day with a bike ride is a positive and healthy way to go. Photo: SDOT.

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At a Glance:

  • Seattle’s Safe Routes to School program is a partnership between SDOT and Seattle Public Schools, investing in safety upgrades and programming to make walking and biking an easy choice.
  • The program also invests in programs to help thousands of students learn to bike with confidence.
  • Read more in this blog post or check out our new annual report that highlights accomplishments and activities during the 2022-2023 academic year throughout Seattle with a focus on high-equity need schools.

Safe Routes to School is a national movement to make it easier and safer to walk, bike, and roll to school to build community, support students to get exercise, improve safety, and reduce pollution. Seattle’s Safe Routes to School program builds walking and biking infrastructure and funds programming that supports schools, families, and students.

The new annual report documents progress toward our Safe Routes to School 5-Year Action Plan and findings from the program’s Racial Equity Analysis. Adapted from the national movement, we use the 7 E’s (Equity, Environment, Education, Empowerment, Encouragement, Engineering, and Evaluation) as a guiding framework.

Graphic showing people approaching a school via bike and walking on a sunny day. The graphic evokes ways to bike and walk to school and includes adults helping guide the students.
Safe Routes to School graphic designed by Seattle Public Schools in collaboration with the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Here are some of the top highlights from our program during the 2022-2023 school year.

Graphic highlighting a range of accomplishments and activities as part of the Safe Routes to School program in Seattle. Blue background with yellow icons and text.
Infographic highlighting some of the top accomplishments during the 2022-2023 school year. Graphic: SDOT

Safer infrastructure: New sidewalk on Kenyon Way S by Wing Luke Elementary

Here’s just one example of new safer infrastructure installed along Kenyon Way S, near Wing Luke Elementary school in South Beacon Hill. The new sidewalk and bike connection was the largest capital investment of the year from the Safe Routes to School program. Based on community engagement, the project not only includes a sidewalk but also lighting, art designed by students, seating, and traffic calming.

One adult man and two young children smile at the camera while walking along a wide path, with green shrubbery in the background.
A parent, Jay, with his three kids. They live close by and were very appreciative of the new connection to the school and Chief Sealth Trail. Photo: SDOT.
Photo of a street with green grass and buildings in the background on a cloudy day.
Photo of an improved crossing with a marked crosswalk and signs, and a road closed sign on a sunny day. People have just finished crossing the street.
Before (top) and after (bottom) photos of Kenyon Way S. Photos: SDOT

Travel safety and infrastructure investments all across the city

We’re investing in upgrades to streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, signage, and much more, all across the city, as shown on the map below. For a detailed list of the 31 improvements shown on the map, please see pages 14-19 of our new annual report.

Map showing the locations of Safe Routes to School safety and infrastructure improvements all across the city of Seattle at 31 locations. Blue dots show where the locations are.
As shown on this map, safety and infrastructure investments near schools spanned all across the city of Seattle over the past school year. Graphic: SDOT

An award-winning program

Vision Zero for Youth Award

In 2022, Seattle received the Vision Zero for Youth Leadership Award from the National Center for Safe Routes to School. The award committee noted our work creating a racial equity vision specific to the Safe Routes to School program, our use of School Streets and Healthy Streets that prioritize people rather than cars, and assuring that every elementary and middle school student receives walking and biking safety education through the Let’s Go and Let’s Go Further programs. Read more in this previous blog post.

Photo of Mayor Bruce Harrell, SDOT Director Greg Spotts, and education leaders in Seattle and at the national level. Several kids smile at the camera on a sunny day.
Mayor Bruce Harrell with SDOT Director Greg Spotts, SPS Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones, National Center for Safe Routes to School Director Nancy Pullen-Seufert, and Dunlap students and staff for Walk to School Day in October 2022. Photo: Seattle Mayor’s Office.

Let’s Go safety education program in schools

Since 2015, we have funded the Let’s Go safety education program at Seattle Public Schools. This program delivers walking and biking safety curriculum through Physical Education classes for every 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade public school student, including students with disabilities. For some students, it’s their first time on a bike. For others, it’s a way to hone their skills and learn the rules of the road. This program has reached thousands of kids since it first launched.

We’re working with our partners, Seattle Public Schools, Cascade Bicycle Club, and Outdoors for All, to expand the program to middle school to provide 6 consecutive years of safety education for every public school student. In the 2022-23 school year, the team brought Let’s Go Further to 5 middle schools. Outdoors for All provided adaptive bikes for 36 schools and got 169 students with disabilities on bikes.

Photo of students riding bikes inside a gym with adults helping support their efforts.
Outdoors for All provides adaptive bikes like this one to include all students in Let’s Go and Let’s Go Further. Photo: SDOT.

Engagement through art

In April 2023, we worked with school art teachers on a contest for students at Dunlap Elementary School and South Shore K-8, challenging them to create fun and inspiring designs for bicycle sharrows that will be installed on the street.

Twelve winners will see their designs permanently installed along the neighborhood greenway in Rainier Beach, guiding students and families to “Bike to Books” from the Othello Playground through the school campuses and ending at the Rainier Beach Branch of the Seattle Public Library. We’ll digitize and install the art in 2024.

Image of artwork by Seattle students, showing animals and creatures riding colorful bikes with labels of the title and artist for each.
A sample of the student designs that we’ll install in the street in 2024. Art by Seattle students.

In conclusion

Thank you for your interest and support in helping our young people get to school safely, and build a lifelong passion for getting active by biking, walking, and rolling to school and in their daily lives. We look forward to sharing more updates in 2024 about our progress.

Photo of many students riding their bikes to school in Seattle on a partly sunny day. The school building and trees are in the background.
South Shore PK-8 and Dunlap Elementary’s bike bus to school along a Healthy Street. Photo: SDOT.