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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: Going Back to School – Safely!

9/2/2014  4:15:00 PM

Going Back to School – Safely!
School year beginning with traffic safety campaigns and physical street improvements

SEATTLE – Through its Safe Routes to School program, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is kicking off this school year with the launch of school traffic safety education campaigns that will reach nearly half of all schools throughout the city:

  • At Bailey Gatzert Elementary, SDOT is sponsoring a pedestrian and bicycle safety campaign focused on streetcar safety to coincide with the launch of the First Hill Streetcar.
  • At Mercer Middle School, Greenwood Elementary, Wedgwood Elementary, and South Shore K-8, SDOT and partners Feet First, Cascade Bicycle Club, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Harborview Injury Prevention Center will lead rigorous walk and bike to school education and encouragement campaigns throughout the entire school year.
  • Mini Grants of up to $1,000 will be available this fall for 20 school and community-based campaigns to encourage more walking and biking, and to make it safer for kids walking and biking to school.
  • Traffic safety yard signs will be posted in school zones at 40 schools throughout the city, reminding drivers to travel 20 m.p.h. in a school zone, stop for pedestrians and keep kids safe.    

Dearborn Park Elementary Principal Angela Bogan, where a similar campaign was held last school year, stated, “The program has been an even greater success than I could have imagined. Kids long for the early morning activity; parents appreciate the opportunity to build a stronger community with their neighbors. Even teachers have noticed an improvement in classroom participation and energy on mornings when the walking school bus runs.”

In addition to these education efforts, SDOT has made safety improvements in nearly every school zone in the city this year, including:

  • New sidewalks at two schools
  • Curb ramps at four schools
  • Speed bumps at six schools
  • School crosswalk sign improvements at more than 100 schools
  • School crosswalks re-marked for 60 schools
  • New flashing beacons at ten schools

Beginning next month, construction will begin on a major school safety improvement near Beacon Hill International School, building new sidewalk, curb ramps and crossing improvements for families walking and biking to school.

“Through education and improvements SDOT is working to ensure that students across Seattle can travel to and from school safely,” said Acting SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “But we need your help to ensure that every child arrives safely at their destination.”

As students head back to school, SDOT reminds everyone to follow these traffic safety tips:

When driving:

  • Be patient during school arrival and dismissal
  • Obey the 20 m.p.h. speed limit in school zones (speeding in a school zone is a $189 ticket)
  • Do not park in school load zones
  • Stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks; pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections, whether in a marked crosswalk or not
  • Stop and wait for school buses when their red lights are flashing

When walking:

  • Walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic
  • Wear bright colored clothing to increase visibility
  • Cross only at intersections or marked crosswalks, not in the middle of a block
  • Stop at the curb or the edge of the road
  • Look left, then right, then left again, before you step into the street

When biking:

  • Wear a helmet
  • Use a white front light (visible for 500 feet) and a red rear reflector or light at night
  • Use hand signals (and look) before turning
  • Obey stop signs and traffic signals
  • Always look for cars before crossing a street
  • Give right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks and on sidewalks

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