Mayor emphasizes safe walks to school with $7M sidewalk plan

SEATTLE — Students from Beacon Hill International School walked to school Monday morning with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Blitz, the Seahawks mascot.  As part of the Walking School Bus program, they learn safety.  And it ties right in with part of how Mayor Murray plans to spend the $900 Million Move Seattle Levy that voters just passed.

Staff from Seattle Children's Hospital walk to and from Beacon Hill International School and two other elementary schools with students, teaching them safety and doing research.  One student told KIRO 7 she learned a new lesson.

“That you look left first, then right, then left again,” said Avellina Culacurcio.

The director of the program points out that 40 years ago, half of U.S. kids walked to school.

“Nowadays, it's only about 10 to 13 percent of kids, so it's a major missed opportunity for physical activity,” said Dr. Jay Mendoza.  “So what we're trying to do is bringing it back, go old school.”

The program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and it ties in well with how Mayor Murray plans to spend millions of tax dollars.  He told KIRO 7 Morning Anchor John Knicely that he wants safe sidewalks to all Seattle schools in the next year.

“All schools,” said Murray.  “That there'd be a safe route with sidewalks to all schools in Seattle, and that's not the case right now, particularly in the north end.”

The Safe Routes to School sidewalks are estimated to cost $7.2 million.  It's a part of the overall Safe Routes spending plan as part of the Move Seattle Levy.  It will tackle neighborhood, pedestrian and bicycle safety.  The total cost is estimated at $206.7 million.

As for making sure kids are safe on their walk, Mayor Murray says we all play a role.

“We just walked here and there were folks speeding by these kids,” said Murray.  “So we have to do a better job of making sure where there are sidewalks, those routes are also safe.  People need to slow down, look at signs, and acknowledge crosswalks.”

Comments on this article