South East Washington Safe Routes to School Study

The purpose of this plan is to provide guided Safe Routes to School recommendations for each of the 23 participating elementary and middle schools in Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, and Whitman counties. These recommendations will guide active transportation improvements near schools, increasing safety around schools and children’s health through exercise.

What is Safe Routes to School?

(Click here for a brief Powerpoint Presentation)

To better understand the needs of each individual school and community, each elementary and middle school in the Palouse Regional Planning Organization’s boundaries was evaluated for its school access conditions related to walking and bicycling. Several tools were used to identify existing strengths and weaknesses within a 1-mile radius of schools. Phase I of this project involved one-on-one discussions with district superintendents and school principals, and analyzing the area around schools using aerial photography. The locations of the following facilities were documented at each school: • Marked crosswalks (standard double parallel white lines) • High visibility crossings (“zebra” stripes) • Crossing guard locations • Designated school walk/bike routes • Shared use path facilities • School Zone traffic signage A public open house, held in Colfax, further refined known issues at individual schools and filled in important gaps in knowledge about local conditions and existing encouragement programs. During Phase II, the larger community was asked, via an online survey and interactive mapping tool, to identify where problems exist on school routes—issues such as missing sidewalks, difficult crossings, and/or speeding traffic. Through this outreach, the unique challenges to this rural region were clarified, including highway and railroad freight transportation, state highways and other traffic safety concerns that represent barriers to safe walking and bicycling by children, who might in the absence of these hazards live within walking distance to school. Opportunities to connect schools with essential community services provided at parks, libraries, and locations where meals are served before the school day were also highlighted.

South East Washington School Walk Study (final report)

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Serving Asotin, Columbia, Garfield and Whitman Counties