In the $930 million Move Seattle Levy, $7 million has been allocated for Safe Routes to School. That $7 million is simply not enough to address safe routes for kids in all 97 Seattle Public Schools (and many private schools). We believe the Levy should provide $40 million for Safe Routes to School. Let me explain why in more detail.
When this young boy leaves this school, he’ll need to walk home somewhere within this School Walk Zone.
Thanks to previous wise investments by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), some of his walk will be safe and more pleasant. But he’ll still face many gaps on his way home – missing sidewalks, faded crosswalks, traffic signals, speed bumps & tables, and stop signs to slow inattentive drivers. I’ve walked this Walk Zone and there are places I don’t feel comfortable as an adult crossing the street.
We need to invest money in our Levy to get this young boy home safely.
With the help of transportation experts, we’ve calculated about $40 million can fill some of the biggest gaps at 28 elementary schools where half or more of the kids qualify for free lunch.
SDOT already invests a lot in Safe Routes to School. 20mph speed cameras next to a few schools bring in more than $5 million a year that we’ll need to keep investing in a backlog of hazardous road conditions in the Walk Zones of all 97 Seattle Public Schools.
Where’s the $40 million going to come from?
Well, there is $930 million in the proposed Levy. Most large engineering projects – big repaving, bus corridors, bridge repairs – need to leverage big state and federal money. We believe these mega-projects can leverage a little more.
Unfortunately the fine-grained careful investments that give this boy a safer walk home qualify for almost no outside matching monies. Small neighborhood-scale investments for our most vulnerable are what cities are expected to make, what transformative levies are intended address, and what compassionate voters approve. Unlike big paving and bridge projects, money for safety improvements for walking in our neighborhoods is never going to come from state or federal transportation packages (and if you believe it is, you haven’t been following the news lately).
It is truly up to us to decide to provide $40 million to Move Seattle for Our Kids.
The Move Seattle Levy is a once in a generation opportunity to change course and decide to invest in our most vulnerable and valuable. Let’s invest in our kids.