Walking and Biking and (new) Seattle School Boundaries

Unless you’ve been successfully avoiding all local news and social media (and if so, congratulations), you’ll know the Seattle School District is in the process of redrawing neighborhood school attendance boundaries.

The changes are being driven by a number of real issues—overcrowding, bus routes & schedules, expected demographics, remodeling and construction plans, and so on. And some of these changes are positive, designed to provide relief to schools nearly bursting at the seams. However others are less positive and potentially could take kids away from a walkable neighborhood attendance area, requiring a bus or car trip to school instead.
For details on how these changes can impact walkable communities, make sure you check out Feet First‘s blog post calling the district add another criteria to their school zone plans: Walkability.
The Seattle School District is in the process of changing elementary and middle school boundaries to respond to capacity needs and demographic projections. To succeed in the important task of drawing school boundaries for the greatest benefit of students, Feet First joins a growing number of communities in insisting an additional factor be taken into consideration: walkability. – Feet First

SPS Growth Boundaries Survey

As an organization, Walk.Bike.Schools doesn’t have the staffing or resources to evaluate the plans and changes for each and every school and neighborhood. (In fact we have no staffing or organization, but that’s another post).
We do however, come down solidly on the side of any family who feels their the district is removing the opportunity to attend a local, walkable or bikeable school.
Therefore I urge you (and your friends and neighbors!) to review the district’s maps & proposals to make sure these changes work for you. And then please speak up if you find changes in the plan that would hinder the ability for a child or family to walk or bike to school!
For this issue, the district is recommending use of the survey for feedback. Please share this tool with friends, neighbors and school community members. The survey is open until Oct. 21. If you have questions about the plan you can contact GrowthBoundaries@

seattleschools.org or the board at schoolboard@seattleschools.org

 Next Steps
  • Provide Survey Feedback through Oct.21.
  • Revised recommendations will go to the School Board at the November 6, 2013, board meeting.
  • Board will vote on the recommended boundaries at its meeting on November 20, 2013.

Spring Walk.Bike.Schools Meeting 4/10 Salmon Bay K-8

bike to school sign-in table at early Bryant Bike to School kickoff

Parents and school-community members are invited to participate in the spring Walk.Bike.Schools meeting 7pm Wednesday April 10. We’re headed to Ballard again, this time the Salmon Bay K-8 library.

In addition to our normal information sharing and bike-program planning, we’re hoping to talk a little bit about strateegery. It’s been a year since we kicked off this “program” (using the term loosely here) and it makes sense to step back and see who or what the group wants to be when we grow up. Anne first broached this in a message to the WalkBikeSchools Google Group, but we didn’t get any discussion on the list. It was April Fool’s day, so maybe folks were so busy with hi-jinks like freezing bed sheets and putting “Wet-paint” signs on dry paint. In a nutshell, we came up with a rough outline about who we are (much of it based on what we were thinking when we launched the group), but still need the group to help decide what we want to do.

Who/What is Walk.Bike.Schools?

This is first and foremost a parent group. We invite any interested parent who cares about walking and biking to school to join and participate. We also welcome neighbors of a school to participate [and members of a school staff/faculty]. Schools and neighborhoods should work together to encourage walking and biking to school.

 This past year other groups have attended meetings and participated in the conversation surrounding walking and biking to school. From Bicycle Alliance, to SDOT, to Feet First, to Cascade Bicycle Club, to Undriving, to members of the Pedestrian Advisory Board and the Bicycle Advisory Board. Did I miss any? If you are a member of a group that cares about encouraging kids and families to walk and bike to school, you too are welcome. We will all likely have opportunities for collaboration.

We’ve added that to the “About” page here on the blog, but we’ve still got a bunch of decisions to make as a group. For example, are we happy just meeting every three or so times a year for general information sharing and bike and walk planning? Those are great activities and I think we can all agree it’s pretty helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off— especially if it’s someone from another school who’s already been through the startup phase!  We’re all busy, so maybe that’s enough. Fair enough.

But there’s also an opportunity to use our unique position as parents to demand  the city and SPS to do more to encourage active transportation. For example the district is making noises and passing resolutions about walking school buses. But so far, we haven’t seen much in the way of action beyond a survey. Does this group want to take a stand on things like that? Do we want to hold the district accountable to the safety and transportation issues we care about? As parents, I certainly feel we should, but whether we take an official group position is up to all of you.

That’s probably enough to chew on now. A brief agenda is below.  As always, you are welcome to contribute your ideas. If you have a program to share (or questions/comments about starting a program at your schools) please come to the meeting.

Walk Bike Schools Spring Meeting
Where: Salmon Bay library 1810 NW 65th St. • Seattle, WA  http://www.salmonbayschool.org/
Date: Wed, April 10th
Time: 7:00 – 8:30
 
Agenda
  1. Welcome and Intro (Anne)
  2. 1 year check-in for Walk.Bike.Schools. Who are we? Do we need a mission or direction? What does the group want our role to be (Tim)
  3. Walking and biking to school in Seattle. Are there specific issues Walk.Bike.Schools wants to take a position on? If so, which and how do we act? (Clint)
  4. Loyal Heights bike club info and update (Shannon)
  5. Salmon Bay – getting a new bike and walk to school program off the ground, challenges etc (Karen)
  6. SDOT mini grants, How to keep track of expenses for year-end reporting (Anne)
  7. General bike to school month discussion, program & event tips, etc. Bring your questions and ideas and make use of the group’s collective wisdom (all)

A reminder for future events: We love mixing up the location of meetings and sharing the walk.bike.love with communities all over the city. If you want to host, give us a shout!

A Great Kickoff Meeting for Walk.Bike.Schools!

First Walk.Bike.Schools Meeting

Frankly, we’re feeling pretty jazzed here at Walk.Bike.Schools! headquarters. When we started planning this “project,” we weren’t sure if we’d have 5, 10, or 20 of you who’d make the time to come a meeting. In fact, we had 35 or so parents, plus another 5 or so folks otherwise connected with the walk-and-bike-to-school movement in at least 14 schools.  All on a record-busy night for bike and ped meetings. Wow!

We experienced inspirational sharing of insights and ideas from participants. Some real winners included:

  • Make it fun for kids and they can motivate their parents!
  • Let’s develop Buddy Schools to match up existing programs to mentor new programs
  • Target preschools for early bike and walk involvement. That way kids and parents will already be converts when they hit elementary school
  • and many more!

Read more of this post

Seattle School Parents: Citywide Walk & Bike Planning Meeting April 12

Clogged Racks Hey parents! Do you dream of full bike racks on the playground and lots of helmet clad kids riding around the school yard? Or sidewalks filled with happy kids and parents walking to school? Are you interested in starting a walk and bike to school program at your kid’s school but don’t know where to start?

Let’s get together and share ideas about walking and biking to school!

Mark your calendars for the city-wide walk and bike to school meeting:

7:00 – 8:30 PM, April 12th in the Bryant Elementary library (3311 NE 60th Street) 

In an effort to reverse the worrisome  Decline of Walking and Biking to School in the US, a group of NE Seattle parents started walk and bike to school programs at Bryant elementary, Laurelhurst elementary and Eckstein middle school. Over the past 5 years, these programs have experienced considerable success and growth with the percentage of walkers and bikers increasing at Bryant and Laurelhurst. For example, According to family surveys SDOT conducted over a  5-year period (from 2007 – 2011),  Bryant had the highest percentage of kids biking to school (8% in 2011). Bryant also increased the percentage of kids walking and biking to school (from 11% in 2007 to 33% in 2011)

Even with this success, we still have a long way to go in order to get back to 1969 percentages.

From Safe Routes to School:

  • In 1969, 48 % of children 5 to 14 years of age walked or bicycled to school
  • In 2009, 13 % of children 5 to 14 years of age walked or bicycled to school
  • In 1969, 41 % of children in grades K–8 lived within one mile of school
    • 88 % of these children walked or bicycled to school
  • In 2009, 31 %of children in grades K–8 lived within one mile of school
    • 38 % of these children walked or bicycled to school

Let’s work together and get the percentage of children who walk and bike to school in Seattle back to 88%!

Bike to School Month Spoke Card

Join us on April 12th and get information on how to get a program started at your kid’s school. Meet other parents who also want to increase walking and biking to school.

Meeting goals:

  • Share information about walking and biking programs in schools
  • Get information about how to start a program at your school
  • Meet other parents who share the same goals
  • Build a network for information sharing throughout Seattle (blog, twitter, Facebook and Google Groups)

We hope to see you there!

Bike Repair for Middle Schoolers at Eckstein!

Keeping your bike in shape is easy, once you learn a few basics. Luckily, the Eckstein community can participate in a 7-week, afterschool bike repair class at Eckstein Community Learning Center. http://ecksteineagles.org/clc/ for details.

Taught by folks from Bike Works and students will fix up bikes that are then donated to kids that need them.

Sign on up and keep your bike running smooth and trouble free.!

Spokecards! The perfect bike to school accessory

Bike to School Spoke Cards 2011

Quick and easy, spoke cards are event "swag" that lasts for years.

Taking a page from the fixie crowd and alleycat racers, we’ve decided spokecards make great event participation prizes (swag). A stack of photocopied graphics of your design, plus an hour at Kinkos with their laminator and you’ve got an event keepsake kids (and parents), will keep on their bikes for year.

If there’s interest, we could produce a short how-to the next time we make a batch. Let us know in the comments. Any favorite ways to encourage participation at your school? Please share with us!

Wedgwood/Bryant Combined Doughnut Meet-up+Ride

Doughnuts from Top Pot for bike to school riders

Meet up with kid and parent riders from NE sister elementary schools Bryant and Wedgwood. Combined meet-ups are planned during the month of May.

Meet at Top Pot Doughnuts at 8:00 for a doughnut (and coffee for parents) before an in-street ride/parade to the respective schools.

NOTE: This shouldn’t need to be said, but just in case: All children should be comfortable riding in a crowd of other kids, (wobble -free steering and solid braking ability required!), and be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the doughnut event AND ride. Volunteers will help keep the crowd together and assist at crossings, but Parents are responsible for judging the ability of their children and are ultimately responsible for their child’s safe arrival at school. Participation in the event should be fun time, but is solely at your own risk.
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