Walkable Sacramento #10: schools

Schools, and the children that attend them, deserve special consideration. The design of our streets and societal trends towards cars-only have left students trapped in the back seats of their parents cars, or for some, trapped in the front seat of their own car once they get their license. The leading cause of death for children 4-14 (some statistics say 1 to 19) is motor vehicle crashes, and most of those occur in their own parent’s vehicles. Better to get students out of vehicles, and vehicles away from schools so that once again children feel safe and welcomed to walk and bicycle (and skateboard and scooter).


  • Schools will never be sited unless all neighborhood students can safely walk to school. Though schools have often been sited in the past based only on economics or developer preference, the city must insist that walkability is the primary criteria.
  • Existing schools where neighborhood students cannot safely walk to school will be prioritized for walking improvements, with low-income schools at the highest priority. 
  • The city will fund pedestrian education in every school at one grade level. Additional education and other transportation modes will be the responsibility of the school districts. 
  • The city will proactively work with school districts to consider reduced speed limits on neighborhood streets and in school zones, and closed, restricted or one-way school-adjacent streets during arrival and dismissal times. State law allows cities and counties to set school zone speeds at 20 mph or 15 mph, but no place is the Sacramento region has yet done so. Many places in Europe and a few in the United States close school streets during arrival and dismissal, or for the whole school day (addressing air quality concerns as well as safety concerns). When drivers do not behave, they do not belong around schools, and we must keep them away.

Legislation I’d like to see

In all my spare time, which means while commuting to work on my bike, I think about state legislation I’d like to see. Here is my list of the moment. Feel free to add suggestions.


  • Remove far-to-the-right bike lane provisions, CVC 21202
  • Flip parking in bike lanes from permissible unless posted to prohibited unless posted
  • Require that all signals detect bicycles within two years
  • Be explicit in CVC that placing waste containers in bike lanes is the same violation as leaving any material in a travel lane
  • Require that all waste containers be inscribed with ‘do not place in bike lane’, and have reflective stripes on the sides of the container
  • Implement ‘Idaho stop law’ (yield as stop) for stop sign controlled intersections


  • Require full traffic studies for the removal or crosswalks or prohibition of crossing, with the default position being that crosswalks will not be removed and prohibitions will not be created or continued
  • Remove the prohibition on pedestrians crossing the street between signalized intersections on all streets 30 mph or less


  • Change the prima facie speed limit for residential and commercial streets (local) from 25 mph to 20 mph; change to 20 mph or less for posted school zones
  • Set the maximum speed allowable on collector streets to 30 mph; set the maximum allowable speed on arterial streets to 40 mph
  • Allow automated speed enforcement everywhere


  • Require law enforcement to send incident reports involving children going to or from school to school districts within 24 hours of completion, and investigations within 72 hours of completion
  • Prohibit U-turns within school zones
  • K-12 school districts and colleges/university would be required to have transportation demand management programs, since school-related traffic is a significant portion or overall traffic


  • Shift the burden of proof to the motor vehicle driver for all collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists involving fatality or severe injury
  • Allow any citizen to challenge the professional license of an engineer who is aware of a traffic safety hazard and fails to request funding to mitigate that hazard
  • Decriminalize transit fare evasion
  • Allow conversion of any and all freeway lanes to toll