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City of Seattle

City to make road safety improvements near Seattle schools

Mayor McGinn today announced details of a new School Road Safety Initiative. First announced in McGinn’s State of the City address in February 2013, the School Road Safety Initiative will analyze conditions near Seattle schools and develop an action plan to make improvements to address road safety issues. A School Road Safety Task Force and agency partners have been assembled to advise the City in implementing the plan.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rafael Regan, high school student and Seattle Youth Commissioner, speaks about the importance of road safety

“I’ve heard from parents, teachers, and neighbors that roads near our schools need to be safer. And recent tragedies in our city remind us of the urgency of this work,” said McGinn. “We will address school road safety through physical improvements and enforcement, while encouraging more people to look out for each other on our roads.”

The School Road Safety Initiative will include:

  • A traffic safety analysis of streets near schools and a prioritization framework for improvements
  • Creation of a safety education toolbox that can be used at all schools, building on the “Be Super Safe” road safety outreach campaign
  • A plan for installing more traffic school zone speed cameras and other potential enforcement programs
  • A review of existing legislation and policies related to school traffic safety

In the last year, school zone speed cameras were installed at four schools in Seattle, and Safe Routes to Schools investments were made at six other schools. The Road Safety Action Plan and a “Be Super Safe” outreach campaign were also launched.

“A road safety plan for schools on a citywide scale will be a big boost to Safe Routes to Schools efforts”, said Lisa Quinn, director of the pedestrian advocacy organization Feet First.

“Encouraging active travel routines when children are young helps establish lifelong healthy habits. But Seattle’s neighborhood streets should be safer, making it easier for children to get around,” said Julie Salathé of the Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation. “This initiative is a significant opportunity for people to work together to make our neighborhoods safer for our children and all families that want to walk and bike more.”

The Mayor’s Office and the City of Seattle are working with Seattle Public Schools to examine road safety at schools across the city. In addition to forming a School Road Safety Task Force, the City will be reaching out to school communities across the City and developing a network of school road safety liaisons that can provide local input on the schools they know best.

“Getting to school by walking and biking is fun – and research shows it improves children’s grades, keeps them fit, and happier during the school day. Let’s do more to protect our kids and give them the freedom to safely walk or bike to school”, said Cathy Tuttle, director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

This planning effort will result in a product for each school that can be a guide for the City, School District, and school communities to help increase safety near schools.

This initiative was announced before the recent tragedy near Nathan Eckstein Middle School. Since that collision, caused by an allegedly impaired driver, the Seattle Department of Transportation has continued implementing safety enhancements on Northeast 75th Street and has started working with the community to examine long-term physical changes to the street. The School Road Safety Initiative envisions similar work near schools across the city.

Photo by: Lauren Othon

Posted by: April Thomas


Comment from Robert Campbell
Time May 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Although some school zone speed camera installations probably do serve a legitimate purpose, others may not and exist only for political theatre and revenue generation purposes. The school zone on 35th Ave SW near Highpoint is a case in point. I never EVER see children on 35th, I suspect all children at this private school are bussed or driven by parents. This school zone on a major arterial clearly is serving no safety purpose but rather is a lucrative cash machine for the city. Our neighborhood is harmed by this kind of predatory enforcement without evidence based public benefit. I’m all for safety, but not empty pretenses at safety with ulterior motives.

Comment from Carla
Time May 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

As a parent of a school aged child, I am so happy to see an emphasis on road safety. We are in a walking zone for our school, but because we have to cross an arterial with the cross walk at the crest of a hill going around a corner, it makes it very unsafe and we must drive every day. I hope to have a voice in making improvements in our area.

Comment from Susanne Kromberg
Time May 17, 2013 at 11:56 am

I am glad this matter is getting attention, and I just filled out a survey for my children. My question now is about the purpose is of all the self-identification questions of the person filling out the survey. I can see that gender is important – but I think the gender of the child would be a more important matter than the gender of the person filling out the form. Also, why on earth would you offer 1. Male, 2. Female, 3. Transgender, and 4. Other than male, female or transgender? How does knowing this about parents affect traffic safety measures?

Comment from Donna Kawakubo
Time May 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm

My daughter is currently a student at Nova, and I think conditions there are fine. However, we live on 38th Avenue South, a secondary arterial which the students at the very large Hawthorne Elementary use and which those who drive here to avoid Rainier Avenue South’s stoplights treat as if it is the Indy 500. Recently a reader board that tells people how fast they are traveling (it’s down hill) was erected, apparently temporarily, and I would like to see one of them go up permanently, as it has helped a great deal. I also have concerns about elementary aged children being expected to walk to school when it involves crossing main streets like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rainier Av South. No child should be assigned to their “closest” school and expected to cross there. A yellow bus should be provided, or they should be assigned to a school where there is no major thoroughfare to cross. Children in K-5 need that basic protection. Some have working parents, and the day care provider can get them to their bus stop, but not walk them to and from school, so this is basic good sense.

Comment from Allan Waite
Time May 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I have a few comments on pedestrian/cyclist safety that I feel are important; we live near the site where the family was hit by the drink driver on 75th St. near Eckstein Middle School.
1. Wider streets make for higher auto speeds and dangerous opportunities. It is unclear along 75th st. if the street is two, three, or four lanes wide. My wife personally witnessed a young woman pedestrian getting hit on 75th st in front of Eckstein (ca. 1999 or 2000) on 75th. The driver of the car couldn’t see what was up ahead, and the width of 75th St at this point allowed her to pass a line of stopped card on the right, accelerating as she went. The driver was not impaired, rather she assumed a car weas stopped ahead of her for a left turn. Had the street been narrower at this point, the driver would have been forced to wait behind the other cars. My second point is regarding alcohol and distilled spirits being more easily available. There seems to be some bewilderment recently, why all of a sudden so many high profile alcohol related traffic deaths? To me, the cause is clear – the increased availability of distilled spirits….this level of alcohol related traffic deeaths is hte new normal in our state. I would endorse better enforcement of auto lockout devices for repeat offenders, and a lowering of the blood alchohol limit for DUIs to .05 from .08. Thank you for offering this forum for comments; my small children preclude me from attending any meetings on the topic.

Comment from Matt K.
Time May 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm

I’m happy to hear that the plan includes “A traffic safety analysis of streets near schools and a prioritization framework for improvements.” My daughter attends Sanislo Elementary in West Seattle. The primary entry point to the school is just past a traffic circle intersection at 18th and Myrtle. There is a high volume of car- and foot-traffic. 5th-graders act as crossing guards, at times with no concept of personal safety, simply marching out into traffic, flourishing their orange flags. (I don’t think children should be crossing guards, but perhaps that’s a different issue.) After 8 years as a parent there, I’m AMAZED there have been no injuries to the guards or the pedestrians. I would welcome a safety analysis of our area with plans for improvement!

Time May 17, 2013 at 2:08 pm



Comment from PC Yasutake
Time May 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm

School zones should be in place whether someone sees children or not. Our 5 year children are walking neighborhoods with criminal activity, dogs running loose, predatory people cruising and looking for children. We send 5 year old babies out into the streets to get to school on their own because a parent is either at work or with smaller babies at home. It is not safe not at all.

Comment from Florie
Time May 19, 2013 at 9:36 am

I am so thankful we have government officials who put the safety of our kids and citizens first! There are two big schools on 34th Avenue SW, one private and one public. They both mainly use 34th streets for loading and unloading. Few parents used 35th Avenue SW entrance and exit. There are many parents at both schools where children are transported by parents. The private school does not own buses or vans. So children are not transported by bus. I know there are very low income parents who walk their kids to the private school by walking long distance. Regardless if the kids go to private or public schools, it is our moral obligation as adults that all kids are safe. I am happy the city is concern about the streets near the schools too! 🙂 Also they are very proactive in addressing the safety issues for our children and citizens. The bike lanes in many neighborhoods have helped with pedestrian safety, bicyclist safety and traffic moves faster. This is a fact. I personally got a ticket on 35th SW. I drove at 31 MPH during school time and zone instead of 20 MPH. I did not care about the ticket. This is a reminder for me that I need to pay attention and to follow the law around school zone (private or public).

Comment from Jalair Box
Time May 22, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I’m a parent of a student at Adams in Ballard. I would be curious how many parents drive their children less than 1/2 mile to school each day. This seems like low hanging fruit: to encourage parents to confront their time management habits and find a way to build less carbon and more exercise into their day. Fewer cars around schools during transition times=fewer chances of collisions. Who drives to the schools each day? Parents.

Comment from Jem
Time May 23, 2013 at 11:43 am

As a close resident to a West Seattle elementary school, I can tell you that the parents are the worst violators of traffic and parking laws. They use unimproved alleys that are marked local access at excessive rates of speed, park in or blocking alleys, park in handicapped and bus zones… When politely asked to move, their excuss is that they’re just dropping off childeren. A few have threatened physical violence or to burn down neighbors homes. Most parents are mindful of the community but quite a few make it downright miserable and dangerous to live near this school in northern West Seattle. In the past MedicOne has had a very difficult time trying to get to one of the homes. The delay could have resulted in death. All because parents seem unable to obey parking and traffic laws.

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Comment from Bill Barnes
Time May 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I grew up walking to school. Although I did not have to cross a busy intersection, I never was driven to school. If I was late, I paid the price. Too many cars to transport kids when they could walk. My own children walked to school from first grade on and have to cross two busy streets. I agree with Jalair Box.

Comment from Priscilla in Magnolia
Time May 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm

How about putting crosswalks outside Senior Centers? The Ballard Senior Center has worked for literally decades trying to get this safety issue address. It is shameful.

How about a 20 mph zone in all nieighborhood business districts to encourage walking and pedestrians. It is not safe crossing the streets in Ballard and Magnolia with all the people racing around so fast and using their cars as phone booths!

Comment from Ron
Time May 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm

We live near Sacajewea Elementary school and have a lot of cars going way too fast – unfortunately many are parents rushing their kids to school with disregard for the neighborhood and pedestrians.

Comment from Liz Brostrom
Time May 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Whitman Middle school needs a camera. I drop my carpool kids off daily. Heavy traffic, lots of school busses and Metro on that street. The crosswalks are marked clearly, but i see drivers run through them regularly. I did not know that several students had been hit this year, but I certainly cannot say that I’m surprised.

Comment from Solaris DaWay
Time May 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I believe that the rediculous rules regarding smoking but completely ignores the true smoke that actually kills humans afters a mere 15 minutes is allowed !
If one wants to have schools safety then there would never be students allowed 25ft near any exhaust pipe… But that would mean we truly care about the safety and health of the children.
We simply do not care enough to actually solve any issues but simply move and shift things to make ourselves feel ok about not having to make any changes that involve our comfy lazy lives….

Comment from George Ropbertson
Time May 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Why do the lives of school kids start to matter when the Mayor is running for re-election but not nearly so much the rest of the time?
How about leaving the speed limits alone, and just enforcing the law about motorists yielding to pedestrians in the street at intersections vigorously,and making the fines for failure to yield different in different parts of the city, no fine downtown where pedestrians have the upper hand already but much higher outside downtown, with a penalty for multiple failures to yield, suspension of the drivers license. for violations within a school .zone or on arterial streets

Comment from bruce
Time May 23, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Connecting and surrounding schools with greenways would be great. I support lowering the speed zone in greenways, adding more signals at arterials, and increasing signage to alert drivers.

the Phinney Neighborhood Center needs to be included because it hosts a number of pre-schools and senior classes. In front on Phinney Ave N, I have twice had cars run the red light while I was in the crosswalk with my daughter. Right now, the croswalk paint is worn away and the light creates a false sense of security. Let’s not wait till someone is killed.

Comment from Chris
Time May 24, 2013 at 10:19 am

My son feels safe in school. Traffic safety is generally maintained outside his school. Someone was shot 40 yards from the front door during school hours. Communication regarding this incident was minimal from SPD and the Mayor’s office. (I sent emails and asked for a response.) I also reported ongoing drug selling AT the site of the shooting shortly after the shooting including descriptions, license plates, hours of operation but was told by community policing that it was low priority. I think we have bigger problems in our neighborhood… not just traffic and coal dust.

Comment from William Berko
Time May 24, 2013 at 4:47 pm

It’s sad that it takes a tragedy of this magnitude to have our elected officials given an appearance that they care about the safety of our streets. But, it’s not just about school zones. The city has been blatantly irresponsible by neglecting road safety. Yes, we need stronger enforcement of our DUI laws. We also need attentive enforcement of our speed limits. The city puts enormous resources into enforcing parking limits which has ZERO safety return, while neglecting enforcement of speed limits in our residential neighborhoods.

Years of complaining to SDOT, SPD and the mayor’s office yielded two witnessed motorcycle patrols on Sunset Hill. 32nd Ave NW is a veritable speedway at times, and yet the response I’ve received is the same: From Luke Korpi, Senior Civil Engineer, SDOT (5/6/2010) “SDOT has recently evaluated 32nd Avenue NW for the feasibility of traffic calming measures, and have conducted recent speed studies on the street. Traffic speeds are about 35 mph. Although this is higher than the posted speed limit, these speeds are fairly consistent with similar arterial streets in the city, and there are no immediate plans for calming measures for the street.” I argue: The posted speed limit is 30. If the average is 35, this means that 1/2 of the traffic is exceeding 35. Gretchen Conrad (SDOT) told me that 32nd Ave. NW is not a priority for traffic calming for the same reasons.

Clearly, the mayor and police make a great pretense of caring when tragedy strikes, but unfortunately it takes a horrible tragedy before any meaningful action is taken. Even then, the city is doing nothing about truly making our roads safer, which takes enforcement of existing laws. They do, however, take parking enforcement seriously.

Comment from C Werp
Time May 25, 2013 at 7:45 am

I am very upset with the Broadview-Thomson Principal, Wyeth Jessee, and your decision to install red light cameras in OUR neighborhoods.

According to Komo News per Wyeth’s request a red light camera in front of the school starts more then an hour before the school even starts. There wasn’t a single kid or individual walking on the street at the time I received a ticket.

This a ridiculous shake down of tax paying Seattle residents and this program needs to stop immediately! I am a safe driver and over the last few years it is very apparent that the SPD is handing out tickets for no other reason then to bring in money.

I have 2 young kids myself, and feel strongly this has nothing to do with protecting students. If you really wanted to protect kids you would increase the signage in front of schools. Instead there is just enough to make it seem like you are warning drivers but in fact it’s just a money trap.

There are surly more individuals upset by this program and if you need money: tax us fairly, don’t rob us!

Comment from Hugh Poling
Time May 25, 2013 at 8:37 am

Similar to Robert Campbell’s observation, there is a school on my way to work in Everett that is located on a straight arterial road with good visibility. It seems so useless to plod through the school zone with absolutely no kids in sight. On the other hand, I do see traffic enforcement activity there regularly. What’s the benefit?

Comment from Kimberly Sims
Time May 27, 2013 at 9:53 am

A sidewalk between NE 95th and NE 90th on 30th Ave NE would provide children who walk to Wedgwood Elementary a safe place to walk. Currently there is no sidewalk on either side and the street is heavily used by school-bound cars and buses.

Comment from David G
Time May 28, 2013 at 11:14 am

Elementary school areas take into account major arterials, but many families choose to go to schools that are closer, but across arterials. Access planning should look at 1/4 – 1/3 mile REGARDLESS of the official service area. For example, we’re over a mile from our reference school Adams (across 2 arterials), but only 1/4 (but across 15th Ave NW) mile from the school we chose. 1th Ave has too few safe crossing and the waits are incredibly long. NW 75th and 15th could be made to be a much safer crossing for kids and parents walking and on bike.

Comment from Piper Henry
Time May 29, 2013 at 8:02 am

Thank-you Mayor for doing all you can to keep school zones safe. I’m in favor of cameras, patrols, speed traps, whatever it takes for people to wake up and slow down around our schools and children. Signs alone don’t work, if they did, we wouldn’t have this problem and it is a problem. Keep up the good work, the parents and children of Seattle really appreciate their safety mattering to an elected official.

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