Seattle Mayor Ed Murray just announced his Safe Streets Healthy Schools and Communities: 5-Year Action Plan. Parents, caregivers, and school neighbors all over Seattle are eager to put this plan into practice.
Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) offers Safe Routes to School mini-grants of up to $1000 that are easy to apply for with a letter of support from a school PTSA or Principal. (Deadlines April 30 and Oct 30). SDOT mini-grants can be used to do safe routes audits that help to put the Action Plan into action!
The Action Plan comes with a variety of thoughtful tools for making Walk Zones around Seattle schools safe for our kids. The tools include an engineering toolkit and a guide to managing school drop off and pick up.
Safe Walk Zones for our kids is a high priority for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. We recently teamed up to do a workshop with Brian Dougherty, Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) amazing Safe Routes to School Coordinator who explained the use of the SDOT toolkit and more.
Here is an expanded list of some well-tested tools to get you started doing Safe Routes to School Audits:
- Tips on Leading a Walk and Bike Audit
- A Guide to Starting a SRTS Campaign at Your School
- SRTS Engineering Toolkit
- School Drop off and Pick up Handbook
- Walkability checklist
- Bikeability checklist
- SDOT Schools ranked for crosswalk & walkway projects for 2015-16
Here is advice from SDOT Safe Routes to School Coordinator Brian Dougherty about doing school safety audits:
- Build Your Group
- Map out areas that you’d like to study (often places with near-misses or collisions)
- Walk proposed routes with one or two people before going out and doing a larger group audit
- Travel along routes with no more than five to eight people. Have a larger group? Split up to cover more area
- Do Your Walk Audit
- Make sure your walk isn’t too long — about an hour lets you focus on areas of greatest concern.
- Choose your walk time to coincide with arrival and departure times so you can watch how children enter and leave school. Kids use streets in ways you might not expect!
- Take photos and possibly video to study and include in reports
- Write Your Report to SDOT
- Focus on PROBLEMS, not on solutions. Let SDOT recommend great solutions based on experience
- Prioritize! Choose no more than five top priorities of street improvements that will need time and money to fix. Discuss and agree on these top five priorities with group consensus
- Observe and report what you think is little but important too – a malfunctioning traffic light, overgrown vegetation — report on Find-it Fix-it or jot it down in your report — and build some quick wins
- Make your report to SDOT short & sweet, a page or two at most
- Check in with SDOT (Brian Dougherty) before you apply for Small and Simple or Neighborhood Park and Street Fund funding
- Learn who is responsible for problem properties — for example, neighbors or a local business may have overgrown vegetation or Seattle Parks may control access that SDOT cannot address
Have fun and do good work as you build a safe way for our children to get to school. Thank you!