The street configurations immediately surrounding Bailey Gatzert Elementary School in the Central District/Little Saigon neighborhood have long been unsafe, dominated by higher-speed car traffic over an area of clashing geometries. CSG has been supportive of implementing Safe Routes to School (SRTS) practices at this particular neighborhood cornerstone for years, and in 2019, we began to tackle some more tensions surrounding the nature of commuting to/from/through those blocks.
The jump-off point for our interest in this area was multi-fold: biking, pedestrian, and streetcar facilities were and are competing too harshly with car traffic for anyone–let alone the children at BGES–to comfortably or intuitively navigate the area. The stretch of 12th Ave from Yesler Way to Jackson St & beyond across the Jose Rizal Bridge is identified as a missing link, as it pertains to the current state of the Basic Bike Network. Yesler Way & Boren Ave both still feed high-speed (>30 mph) car traffic through the area, despite city-wide lowering of speed limits for arterial roads to 20 mph. Bike signage weaves and merges with cars and streetcar rails throughout two-lane-wide car traffic in both north- and southbound travel–on 12th Ave, on Rainier Ave, and on Jackson St.
In 2019, CSG began to plan a play street for the area with SDOT, in order to create space for students to re-engage with the street. Other goals involved in the play street are to involve the friends and family of Bailey Gatzert students in a day of play, and to temporarily reshape a chosen bordering street to demonstrate a shared community vision of a street that can be enjoyed–not feared or avoided.
The play street is currently planned for the late spring of 2020.
In addition to the physical landscape, gang activity has been reported in 2019 by the BGES community–parents, administrators, and neighbors. The reported behavior concerned students of the elementary school who walked to school. In response to this concern, in fall of 2019 CSG began establishing relationships specifically around this activity with the Seattle Police Dept, the principal of Bailey Gatzert, SDOT, and parents of the students. What has resulted as of early 2020 is the following:
- Walking school bus routes (initially four proposed, upon launch ten in operation) led by volunteer parents who have been safety-trained by this initiative’s piloting CSG member, Brie Gyncild
- A contract between SDOT, CSG, and the volunteer parents to provide equipment (hi-visibility tools, literature, trip logging) and compensation for the route-runners
- A plan to incorporate this walking school bus initiative into the larger scope of Seattle Public School planning upon its renewal cycle, to introduce a transportation safety coordinator position
- Ongoing dialogue with SDOT that has provided an opportunity for data analysis of business outreach feedback from the diverse communities geographically and educationally tied to Bailey Gatzert. This outreach will also serve as experience for a University of Washington graduate Urban Planning course in the Spring 2020 quarter
This workgroup is ongoing, and meets according to the availability of its members. If you would like to contribute to this effort and become a member, please contact Brie Gyncild at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Seater at email@example.com.