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Walking just got safer in Lake City thanks to Olympic Hills Elementary parents


Last week, drivers in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood had little to slow them down on 30th Avenue NE. After passing the street light at NE 143rd Street, drivers heading south encounter no traffic calming until a marked crosswalk and stop sign on NE 130th. Neighbors complain that traffic moves fast and it is difficult to get drivers to stop for or even see people as they try to cross.


But things are better today, thanks to a group of dedicated Walking School Bus leaders, the Olympic Hills Comic Book Club and Safe Routes to School funding. Earlier this week, neighbors worked with Feet First to install safety flags and flag buckets at the intersection of 30th Avenue NE and NE 137th Street. The buckets are attached to poles on either side of 30th Avenue, and are stocked with bright orange flags that pedestrians use to increase their visibility when crossing the road.


Studies show that between eighty-one and ninety-two percent of drivers stop for people holding orange safety flags, compared to just twenty percent when flags are not used. This is particularly important on 30th Avenue, because it lies between the densely populated Little Brook community and the local elementary school. This is also the location of Metro and yellow school bus stops that bring dozens of school-age children and other residents to the intersection every day.


School BusEnrique       4 Flags - OH




The bright orange flags, with a strip of reflective tape, were decorated by the Olympic Hills Comic Book Club led by kindergarten teacher Jeremy Whiting. Flags feature people walking, cars, dinosaurs and ghosts and provide safety messages like “stop cars! what are you doing?” and “look left, right and left again!” Parents helped out by labeling the flags in both Spanish and English. The decorations and labels will both increase flag use and help people know where to return the flags if they are found elsewhere.


Key to sustaining the safety flags is Walking School Bus leader Jose Perez, an OHE parent who will maintain the safety flag bucket and replenish flags as needed. Feet First has found that a stash of fifty flags is enough to stock a typical intersection for about two years. Instructions for making safety flag buckets are online and require little more than some PVC pipe and zip ties.


This crossing will soon get even safer thanks to the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Traffic Safety Engineer Dongho Chang and Senior Transportation Planner Brian Dougherty joined our Walking School Bus earlier this school year and determined that a marked crosswalk would improve the safety of this intersection. SDOT has approved a work order and projects that this crossing and an additional crossing a few blocks south will be painted by the end of January 2014!


Contact us for more information about this and other Safe Routes to School projects.


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put on neighborhood walks and provide walking resources

raise awareness throughout Washington about the benefits of walkable communities and rights of the pedestrians

host events and programs focused on improving walkability