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Seattle Votes Yes for Safe Routes to School


On Election Day, voters in Seattle, Washington came out in favor of a tax (59%), known at the ballots as Proposition 1, which will levy $930 million over nine years, 40 percent ($207 million) will go towards sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic signals and speed humps near every school in Seattle. The City will certify ballot election results by November 24th but with a good margin ahead in the ballot results (59 to 41), advocates began celebrating election night.

According to advocates at Let’s Move Seattle, funding will go towards programing and projects at every public school, but a focus will be on high-crash areas and initial investments at twelve schools. These schools have the highest enrollment rates in the free and reduced lunch program, a proxy used for identifying low-income and high need communities. This focus helps level the playing field for students who currently do not have safe routes to school, ensuring greater equity achieved across the school system.  Ultimately, the funding is expected to build out 150 blocks of sidewalk and 60 miles of neighborhood greenways.

The American Heart Association and dozens of other organizations supported the ballot initiative as part of their strategy to increase physical activity among children. Mayor Ed Murray, also a proponent of getting Seattleites to move more, applauded voters for saying ‘yes’ even when the nation says ‘no,” adding “We can be a livable city and an affordable city. Seattle can move forward,” according to the Seattle Times post-election story.

According to Active Living Research, kids are more active when walking and biking are safe. In fact, with the programs and projects in place expected in Seattle, research shows potential for a 45 percent increase in walking and 44 percent reduction in injuries. An average of 16 minutes of physical activity can be achieved by walking or biking to school, helping kids to achieve the recommended daily dose of 60 minutes a day.