The City recognizes that walking, biking, and riding the bus to school not only benefits children’s physical and social health but also improves circulation and safety in and around schools.
School enrollments are up 26% throughout the Lake Washington School District throughout the last 10 years, and projections suggest that these trends will continue to increase, with an additional 2,000 students expected by 2022. Due to this regional growth, more traffic is converging on schools at arrival and pick-up times. This leads to poor traffic circulation, congestion, inadequate parking and often unsafe conditions.
To address these issues, the City Council adopted the development of a “Safer Routes to School Action Plan” for each neighborhood in Kirkland as a part of the City’s 2019-2020 Work Program. The City Manager directed staff to work in partnership with the Lake Washington School District, law enforcement, design professionals, students, parents and neighborhoods to identify key steps to make walking, biking and riding the bus to school safer, more convenient and fun. In short, staff needs your input.
The Safer Routes to School Action Plans include the following elements.
- Engagement: engagement means listening to students, families, school administrators, and community throughout the decision-making process to ensure the public’s concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered.
- Equity: equity is about fair and equitable distribution of resources and ensuring safe, healthy, and fair outcomes for low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities.
- Education: in cooperation with the Lake Washington School District, the education element improves safe walking and bicycling skills for all students and community members.
- Encouragement: encouragement strategies are about having fun and getting more students walking and biking to and from school. Encouragement also embraces and promotes riding the bus and carpooling as simple, safe, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly options.
- Enforcement: enforcement activities increase the safety of students walking and biking to school by targeting unsafe driving behavior.Such behavior includes speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists, illegal parking, and illegal turns in school areas.
- Engineering: engineering is the design and implementation of traffic control devices and physical improvements to making walking, biking and busing to school safer and more convenient and comfortable.
- Evaluation: evaluation includes collecting information and tracking data over time to measure the effectiveness of methods and practices in the Safer Routes to School Action Plans.
Capital Improvement Program:
The 2021-2026 Capital Improvement Program includes ongoing funding for implementing Safer Routes to School Action Plans (project Number NMC 08700). This project will complete priority improvements in the Action Plans. The Action Plans include 134 improvements, with 59 being enhanced crossings and 75 being new or improvement sidewalk segments. Additional improvements may be added to the Action Plans as determined in the future.
In addition, the Neighborhood Safety Program has funded four projects in 2020 (removed from the Action Plans) that will be completed in 2021. Two other projects are funded separately in the Capital Improvement Program: 1) scope and design of non-motorized improvements on NE 131st Way/90th Avenue NE north of NE 97th Avenue NE (project number NMC 08720); and 2) scope and design of pedestrian crossing improvements on Juanita Drive at NE 132nd Street (project number STC 08900).
This project is expected to leverage funding with State and Federal grants as well as private development.
Capital Projects Recently Completed:
Elementary School Walk Route Enhancements
- SANDBURG: Northeast 132nd Street (north side), from 84th to 87th avenues northeast
- MARK TWAIN: Northeast 104th Street (south side), from 132nd to 126th avenues northeast
- MARK TWAIN: 126th Avenue Northeast (west side), from Northeast 90th to Northeast 94th streets
- PETER KIRK: Northeast 95th Street (north side), from 116th to 112th avenues northeast
- PETER KIRK: 111th Avenue Northeast (east side), from Northeast 100th to 104th streets
124th Avenue Northeast Improvements
- MARK TWAIN: 124th Avenue Northeast (west side), Northeast 90th Street to approximately Northeast 113th street