City of Lincoln School Zone Standards

The streets near schools, as well as those along the primary walking routes to and from any school, are critical public infrastructure where safety of children and other users of the facility is paramount. Lincoln Transportation and Utilities (LTU) announced school zone safety enhancement recommendations will take effect beginning in August 2020. The multi-year implementation project will improve the safety and function of school zones and walking routes for students and pedestrians at all public and private schools in Lincoln and enhance traffic consistency for drivers citywide. There are more than 80 schools in Lincoln.

Results from the Lincoln School Zone Study initiated in November 2018, showed a variety of ways to evaluate and improve safety and traffic flow in school zones, and meet national standards and best practices. The study assessed street design, traffic control devices and traffic-calming measures to increase the safety of all users. From this study and through additional public feedback, recommendations were made that will be applied to all elementary, middle and high schools in Lincoln.

Read the full report 

Videos

Project Presentation

  • YouTube video (13:53)

PSAs

  • YouTube video Primary Walking Routes for Schools (:30)
  • YouTube video 20 MPH School Zones Project (:29)
  • YouTube video School Zone Study and Signs (:33)
  • YouTube video Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) (:38)

Lincoln School Zones Enhancement Project Common Questions

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What is the definition of a school?

School shall mean a public, private, denominational or parochial school which meets the requirements for accreditation or approval prescribed by the State of Nebraska, pursuant to Nebraska Revised Statute Chapter 79, and which has or includes any or all grades kindergarten through 12th grade.

What is going to happen to the school zones near my house?

Enhancements to school zones and walking routes will be evaluated at each school in the city. Some enhancements that have, or will be considered include:

  • Signs that inform motorists they are approaching a school zone and the need for them to reduce their speed.
  • The establishment of primary school walking routes along which pedestrian crossing treatments may be included (i.e., signed and marking crosswalks, Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB)).
  • Accessible curb ramps to provide access between the sidewalk and street for people using wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, hand carts, bicycles and for pedestrians who have trouble stepping up and down high curbs.
Related
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB)

Why will it take multiple years for Lincoln Transportation and Utilities (LTU) to complete the School Zones Standards project?

With more than 80 schools to implement school zones standards at, it will take LTU multiple years to complete all of them. We have identified a few schools for implementation for the fall of 2020 and are looking at others for 2021 and on. LTU will complete as many school zone enhancements (both public and private) as our staffing and funding allow each year until we have reached all the schools in Lincoln.

Why are you removing an existing reduced speed zone?

The streets in which LTU will be reducing speeds are those immediately adjacent to schools where there is greater pedestrian activity, and thus greater exposure and greater potential for pedestrian/vehicle crashes. By reducing speeds, we reduce the severity of these crashes, should they occur.

Can you reduce the speed on ___ Street?

The new standards call for reduced speeds within the school zone, which is identified as the school property boundary and all streets and intersections adjacent to the school property. This area is unique in that there is a heavy mix of pedestrian activity with vehicles traveling to and from the school during a narrow window of time.

Reducing the speed on a street that is not adjacent to a school is proven to be less effective in slowing vehicles. Because of this, a mix of vehicles traveling at speeds that are significantly different in speeds from one another creates an increase in safety issues as compared to streets where all vehicles travel at speeds in close magnitude to each other.

I prefer not to have signs installed in front of my house. What can be done about this?

The City of Lincoln is required to follow the guidance of The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which is recognized as the national standard for all traffic signs, markings and signals. The MUTCD and the School Zone Standards provide guidance as to where signs are placed in advance of a crosswalk or school zone. LTU will do its best to place signing on existing posts and utility poles and will attempt to locate on shared property lines between two adjacent lots, but this may not always be possible to conform to the documents referenced and LTU will need to put up additional signage to continue offering safe communication for pedestrians and drivers.

Can you install a crosswalk or a crossing treatment at ____ location?

There are a lot of details, mapping and planning that go into installing a crosswalk. Our standards provide guidance as to what kind of treatments need to be installed based on the conditions of the street being crossed. We look at the posted speed limit, traffic volumes and number of lanes being crossed. The higher those numbers are, the more safety features (such as Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon’s (RRFB) or traffic signals) are required. As LTU evaluates each school, we will assess all of the crossings along the Primary Walking Route to ensure they meet our standards.

Related
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB)

Will shrinking some school zones have an adverse effect on keeping students safe while walking to school?

The new standards do emphasize safety within the school zone, which is identified as the school property boundary and all streets and intersections adjacent to the school property. These standards meet national standards regarding identifying school zones. As LTU evaluates each school, we are assessing every crossing location along the primary walking route. We want to maintain safety not only in the school zone, but along these routes that serve the greatest number of students. A good reference for you is to watch our presentation on School Zones Standards.

Was there public input regarding these school zones changes?

The School Zone Standards are the result of a study that was conducted alongside a citizen panel that provided input and feedback during its development. Additionally, LTU will give a recorded presentation to each school to learn about the project and refer back to. LTU will reach out to each school for comments and offer further communication prior to implementing any changes.