Where Washington Students Lack Safe Walking Routes

In many rural and suburban Washington state communities, children who walk or bike to school don’t have access to safe, adequate pedestrian facilities.

1 minute read

February 22, 2023, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Adult holding small child and holding hand of older child walking across crosswalk

Newman Studio / Walking to school

Only 12 percent of Washington state’s K-8 students walk or bike to school, but of the students who do, many don’t have access to safe sidewalks, reports Mike Lindblom in The Seattle Times. 

As Lindblom explains, “U.S. schools are often built on the suburban fringe, where formerly rural roads aren’t next to housing, or aren’t equipped with sidewalks or trails. More parents drive, which adds traffic, which makes the area more hostile to pedestrians.” In Washington State, “Residential sprawl, along with the desire to place campuses on large, inexpensive parcels, tends to result in sites distant from neighborhoods, or along high-speed rural roads.”

The article describes several examples of neighborhoods where parents and school administrators have identified dangerous routes. According to Lindblom, “There’s no database of inadequate school zones, but one barometer is that 165 school projects applied for state grants.” A $35 million state school routes fund received $200 million worth of requests from local communities. “Move Ahead Washington, the $17 billion package passed last year by the Legislature, is supposed to double the school safe routes fund, by adding $290 million through 2037. Pedestrian safety of all kinds will receive $1.1 billion, primarily financed by carbon taxes.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 in The Seattle Times

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