Seattle Safe Routes to School: What Is It (And How Can It Help My Child)?

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More children in the Seattle area are choosing to walk to school. While walking has innumerable benefits, it also does have some risks. New programs like Safe Routes are trying to improve safety.

We have all heard the jokes about how kids have it easy now and the old folks used to have to walk 10 miles to school, uphill both ways. That was an exaggeration of course, but according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, in 1969 48 percent of children 5 to 14 years of age usually walked or bicycled to school.  Today vastly fewer kids walk to school, primary because their parents are afraid says a survey by the CDC.

Risks, Real & Perceived

So why has walking generally decreased so much? Parents cite one or more of these five major reasons: Distance to school (61.5 percent), Traffic-related danger (30.4 percent), Weather (18.6 percent), Crime danger (11.7 percent), Opposing school policy (6.0 percent).

According to the NHTSA in 2010 approximately 23,000 children in this same age group were injured while walking or bicycling in the US. This is a real risk, though the statistical risk is relatively small.

On the other hand, some may say worries of child kidnapping for instance are overstated. U.S. Department of Justice found in 2002 that only two percent of reported missing children were the result of non-family abductions.

See other causes of pedestrian accidents.

Walking in Seattle

In Seattle, the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program aims to create an easy and safe environment for children to walk and bicycle to school. The Safe Routes to School program is a national program that is also funded at the local level. The Seattle Department of Transportation supports the Safe Routes to School initiative, in the form of funding improvements to transportation infrastructure, as well as the implementation of education and awareness campaigns at both public and private schools across the city.

Seattle has seen an increase in the number of children walking and bicycling to school. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, between 2007 and 2013, there was an increase in walking and bicycling rate at approximately 26 out of the 28 schools that were evaluated in the city.

Bicycling and walking are not just healthier for children, but also serve another important purpose- they reduce traffic congestion on schools, caused by impatient parents dropping children off during rush hour. Those times have a heightened accident risk because of all of the vehicles and child pedestrians around, and encouraging bicycling and walking can help reduce those risks.

How Safe Routes to School Helps Child Pedestrians in Seattle

The Safe Routes to School program specifically targets engineering improvements to the existing infrastructure to make it safer for children to walk to school. Parents will not agree to let children walk to school unless it is safe for them to do so. To this end, Safe Routes to School is building new sidewalks, increasing the number of crosswalks, and improving safety at crosswalks. The program also promotes safe driving especially near school zones.

Safe Routes to School is involved with education programs for children, empowering them with enhanced pedestrian and bicycle safety skills. The program encourages parents to get more involved in their children's commutes to school and encourages better enforcement of traffic rules.

If your child was involved in an accident while walking to school, contact Seattle pedestrian accident lawyer Max Meyers about your compensation now.

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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.