When students in the Bellevue School District start the 2018-2019 school year on Thursday, Aug. 30, there will be some new traffic patterns to accompany the district’s first brand new – non-replacement – school in 46 years. But the message remains the same from Bellevue Police and Transportation officials, who work with the school district. They want to make sure students, parents and commuters get to their destinations safely.
The new facility is Wilburton Elementary, located at 12300 Main St., near both Wilburton Hill Park and the Bellevue Botanical Garden. The last non-replacement school built was Somerset Elementary School in 1972. Work on some streets and sidewalks is still wrapping up, so adults and children traveling near Wilburton need to be extra cautious. With the new facility comes a new 20 mile per hour school speed zone on 124th Avenue NE as well as Main Street in front of the school. Motorists should be prepared to slow to 20 miles per hour when the school speed zone lights are flashing.
Also of transportation note is BellevueSchoolPool, now in its third year. The program is an effort to reduce traffic congestion around district schools by facilitating carpooling, biking and walking to school. It’s a partnership between the district, city, King County and TransManage, the Bellevue Downtown Association’s transportation arm.
Bellevue Police remind motorists that when yellow lights are flashing in school speed zones, the speed limit is reduced to 20 mph. In other school zones, the 20-mph limit is in effect when children are present, so be prepared to slow down and watch out for students. Also, remember to stop for school buses when lights are flashing or the stop sign is out — or be prepared to pay a substantial fine. The city’s photo enforcement cameras will operate during times lights are flashing at Odle Middle School, Lake Hills Elementary School and Sunset Elementary School.
Here are some safety tips for drivers and pedestrians from the Bellevue Police Department:
- Slow down in school zones. The stopping distance of a vehicle traveling 30 mph is nearly twice the stopping distance of a vehicle traveling 20 mph.
- Pay attention while driving. Washington’s distracted driving law makes it illegal to use a handheld personal electronic device while driving, even when stopped at a traffic sign or signal or stuck in traffic. Fines are moving violations that are reported to insurance companies.
- Watch for pedestrians when entering a school driveway or turning a corner.
- Stop for children and other pedestrians getting on and off school buses. It’s unlawful to pass a school bus when the red lights are flashing.
- Stop behind the crosswalk at intersections to allow room for pedestrians. Pedestrians should use crosswalks and cross with the crossing sign or light.
- If your kids walk to school, make sure they know the rules of the road and your expectations.