Remember that feeling when summer vacation was over and it was time to go back to school?
We feel you, Smeagol!
The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost. – The Lord of the Rings Part I. The Fellowship of the Ring.
Dramatic much? YUP.
School. It’s back! In fact, it’s back in session for Seattle Public Schools, starting September 5, which means more people traveling the streets. Which means, it’s time for another public service reminder. Which means, we have helpful tips for you. It’s because we love you, Seattle, and we love our kids and we want everyone to think safety and be safe as the city prepares for the new school year.
Safety on your way to school.
Some kids will bus it to school and while others will either be dropped off, walk or bike. We can help you find the best way to walk or bike to school with our interactive Safe Routes to School Walking Maps. Our school walk and bike maps show walking and biking conditions to help you navigate the best and safest route. Our maps display streets with and without:
- Neighborhood greenways and trails
- Crossing guard and school patrol locations
- All-way stops
- Crossing beacons
- School crosswalks
- Traffic signals
- Neighborhood destinations
Safety around schools.
Slow it down. Like, way down. Be alert. And while you’re at it, put that cellphone somewhere out of sight so you’re not tempted.
School Zone Flashing Beacons
Did you know that we operate more than 70 sets of school zone flashing beacons in the city? They’re timed for school start and end times. Please slow it down to 20 mph or slower when driving through school zones. Children have a difficult time judging a car’s speed and distance. They’re still learning. Driving at or below 20 mph gives people driving and children walking more time to see each other and react, not to mention, the fine for speeding in an active school zone is $234!
The City of Seattle provides crossing guards to help children cross the street safely near schools. Adult crossing guards are typically at their post 30 minutes pre- school start and post end times. Use them! And while you’re at it, give them a high five. They’re some of the coolest people the greatest hearts!
While you were summer vacationing…
Over the summer, we’ve been busy making safety improvements along walking routes to school. Speed bumps were installed to reduce speeding, new sidewalks were built to provide safer and more comfortable places for families to walk, and crosswalks were remarked. See new sidewalks being built near Arbor Heights Elementary.
As part of our Safe Routes to School projects, we install speed humps and cushions proactively in school zones to reduce speeding, and evidence shows that they are very effective, especially considering their relatively low cost and ease of maintenance. They’re a great solution where we want to reduce speeding adjacent to all-day year-round child pedestrian generators (such as playgrounds, playfields, and community centers that are often adjacent to schools).
FACT: After we installed speed cushions at Rainier View, the percent of drivers exceeding 35 mph decreased by 77%. We saw similar results on 3rd Ave NW near Viewlands Elementary School where the percent of drivers traveling more than 35 mph decreased by 76%!
Connect with us:
Ashley Rhead, Safe Routes to School Program Manager
Safe Routes to School is a national movement to make it easier and safer for students to walk and bike to school.
Allison Schwartz, Vision Zero Advisor
While Seattle is one of the safest cities in the country, we still see more than 10,000 crashes a year, resulting in an average of 20 people losing their lives and over 150 people seriously injured. These are our friends, neighbors, and family members.
The thing is, traffic collisions aren’t accidents – they’re preventable through smarter street design, targeted enforcement, and thoughtful public engagement. Together, we can make Seattle’s streets safer for everyone.