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Streets to close for walkers, bikers as Seattle students return to schools

New marked crosswalk at Queen Anne Elementary School. (SDOT)

As many Seattle students return to in-person learning on Monday, the Seattle Department of Transportation is planning to close streets to cars and open them to families walking and biking to and from school. Additionally, school zone safety cameras will soon be switched back on.

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SDOT says it has built over 20 Safe Route to School projects since 2020, funded by Levy to Move Seattle tax dollars. The zones are similar to the city’s Stay Healthy Streets, with more space for social distancing and daily attestation at school pick-up and drop-off locations.

The School Streets include one or two blocks directly adjacent to schools, and are marked with “street closed” signs. The streets are closed to all pass-through traffic. Families dropping off and picking up students should also avoid driving or parking on those closed streets. People who live on the street or who need access to businesses on the street are still able to drive those streets, but use extreme caution. School buses and students with mobility needs also still have access to the streets.

Current School Street Locations

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and new return-to-school operations, schools will be operating on new schedules. Drivers in the area should expect to see students throughout the days from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — not just during the previous start and end times.

The speed limit near schools when children are present remains 20 mph. Seattle DOT says residential streets that don’t have a dividing center line also have a 20 mph speed limit. SDOT has lowered speed limits across the city in the past year.

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Additionally, the Seattle Police Department will be turning back on school zone safety cameras around the city in April. The system automatically sends tickets to drivers photographed while speeding. Flashing lights on posted signs warn drivers to slow down or receive a ticket in the mail.

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SDOT says it will support schools that have requested limitations to cars driving around school entrances and it also is offering $1,000 grants to school groups that want to encourage students and their families to walk and bike to campus.

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