Here at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, we believe that every child deserves to be able to walk or bike to school safely and comfortably.
Click here to Join the Campaign! Send a note to your elected leaders in support of Safe Routes to School, and keep updated on the citywide campaign!
What’s the Issue?
58% of students in the Seattle Public School District live within the school walk zone, and are not served by school bus routes, yet only 30% of them walk and bike.
Particularly in schools with dangerous streets nearby, many parents who have the means to do so make the decision to drive their kids to school every day. The increase in vehicle traffic around the school leaves those kids who do not have the option, disproportionately low-income kids and people of color, in even more dangerous conditions.
What is Safe Routes to School?
Safe Routes to School is a City of Seattle program that seeks to 1) encourage more kids to walk and bike to school, and 2) improve safety in areas around schools for kids who walk and bike.
- Equity: Kids walking and biking because they don’t have another choice, often those from low-income or single-parent families, are left in the most unsafe conditions. This has racial impacts as well: Nationwide, African-American children are twice as likely to be killed while walking and Latino children are 40% more likely than white children.
- Public Health: Kids who walk and bike arrive at school better able to concentrate and over time develop a stronger sense of their own independence, mobility, and community connections.
- Climate: More kids walking and biking to school means less pollution in general, but especially right in front of schools. A study in the UK found toxic levels of air pollution immediately surrounding schools, particularly problematic when school playgrounds are situated next to where parents are pulling in and out in cars and idling.
- Traffic Reduction: More kids walking and biking equals less people driving cars and dropping off near schools. This means in less impatient or dangerous maneuvers happening as people driving get frustrated.
What is Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Doing?:
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has worked with individual school communities for years, identifying safety concerns and solutions. But Seattle has 100 public schools, and working school by school isn’t fast enough. We’re now looking for systemic solutions to help the Seattle Public School District (SPSD) and Seattle Dept. of Transportation (SDOT) improve the situation citywide, including:
- Increase funding for safe streets near schools (crosswalks, sidewalks, speed humps, etc.)
- Reform transportation planning when schools are refurbished or rebuilt
- Improve programs such as the School Crossing Guard program, which currently has vacant positions at one in three schools, and Walking School Bus and Biking School Bus programs
- Champion community-identified priorities
What Can I Do?:
- Sign up here to receive updates on the campaign.
- Share information with families and community members at your children’s school with this one-pager. Get your local PTSA, community council, or other organizing body to sign onto our letter to the Seattle School Board.
- Send an email to the Seattle City Council asking them to support funding for Safe Routes to School in the City of Seattle budget.
- Send an email to the Seattle School Board, telling them that you care about Safe Routes to School. Find your director here. Several of the School Board Directors are up for re-election this fall — make sure that the candidates know that you care about making sure kids are safe when walking and biking to school.
- Spread the word about vacant School Crossing Guard positions in your neighborhood. These positions are paid, neighborhood-based, green jobs, perfect for those seeking local, part-time work.
- Start a Walking or Biking School Bus in your neighborhood.