Watch Where You’re Walking!

This is a guest post by Billy Johnson.

As announced earlier this year by our readers – Seattle’s most dangerous intersection is Denny Way and Terry. While we have been active in promoting safer streets and pedestrian-friendly projects through advocacy with the City Council – today we’d like to offer a gentle reminder about our own behavior than can keep us safe.

It’s not easy to multi-task — at least, not to do it well. Nowhere is that more evident these days than when people are using technology while walking. The National Safety Council reports over 1,000 pedestrian injuries each year due to technology distraction. It only takes a few seconds to become distracted, but the consequences can last a lifetime.

Legislators and safety organizations have been working to raise awareness about how dangerous it can be to use a mobile device while walking. Many of us are familiar with Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP) – – which is working to make Seattle one of the most walkable cities in the nation.

On September 2, 2015, the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB) reviewed an updated presentation regarding the Pedestrian Master Plan that places an INCREASED emphasis on safety. In consideration of the most recent data available, they felt it necessary to adjust strategies to place even greater focus on those improvements that result in improved pedestrian safety. You can view the updated presentation here:

But we have to do our part as attentive walkers. You may think this doesn’t apply to you or that you are always cautious while crossing an intersection. Are you really? What about that time your phone rang and in attempts to answer you narrowly escaped a close call?

For example, a study of over 34,000 students crossing the street in a school zone found that one in five high school kids and one in eight middle school kids crossed the street while distracted: 39 percent of them were distracted because they were texting, another 39 percent were distracted because they were wearing headphones, 20 percent were using their phones and 2 percent were playing on gaming devices. In fact, older teens now account for 50 percent of all pedestrian deaths among kids age 19 and under.

“Look Up!” Other communities across the country are also looking at ways to improve pedestrian safety by expanding both enforcement and advocacy initiatives. Several months ago, Fort Lee, New Jersey, police began ticketing $85 for careless walking. As students have arrived back at Universities this Fall, Kentucky legislators are working on new legislation to better protect pedestrians. Delaware tried to get people’s attention by placing 100 large stickers with the words “LOOK UP” on sidewalks near intersections in three cities.

The National Safety Council (NSC) considers distracted walking a “significant safety threat” and notes one study that found there were more than 11,000 distracted-walking injuries involving mobile phones between the years 2000 and 2011. Some of the resulting dislocations, broken bones, strains, sprains, concussions and contusions were serious enough to require visits to the emergency room. Almost 70 percent of those injured are women, and 54 percent are people ages 40 or younger. While cell phone distracted walking injuries were most common among women and those ages 40 and younger, the study found the issue is impacting all age groups.

Many who think they can avoid obstacles by using their peripheral vision neglect to notice the dangerous right in front of them.

Putting your head up and your cell phone down is an easy way to help reduce pedestrian injuries in Seattle. While it’s anticipated that our dependence on smart phones isn’t going to wane any time soon, safety is everyone’s responsibility. Remember, when teaching your kids to look both ways before crossing the street, also tell them to put their devices down – and lead by example. No message or status update is worth your health… which is one important reason we’re working hard for safer streets in the Seattle community.


@WalkingSeattle Twitter Feed

WALKTOBER IS HERE!! Walk Your World during WALKTOBER!… #WalkYourWorld Retweeted by Walking in Seattle

Wow, look how Play Streets have taken off in Seattle!... Retweeted by Walking in Seattle

Lane widths & the width of vehicles that use our streets. Why is this important? Width controls speed. #VisionZero Retweeted by Walking in Seattle

Read this recap of successful pop-up protected intersections and bike lanes in Rainier, Ballard, Ravenna & Bryant. Retweeted by Walking in Seattle

Found "adventure course" @seattledot. This is indeed what I experience on downtown streets! #seabikes @WalkingSeattle Retweeted by Walking in Seattle

Twitter Media

Happy Park(ing) Day! 50+ new parks popping up in Seattle for one day only! Find one near you… Retweeted by Walking in Seattle

It's @parkingdaySEA! Come visit us at 219 Pine from 10-7. We've got a sausage cart, popcorn, yard games & more! Retweeted by Walking in Seattle

Twitter Media

Friday's Park(ing) Day will be Seattle's biggest yet: Over 50 pop-up parks planned #SEAbikes Retweeted by Walking in Seattle

Twitter Media

Ahead of public hearing, a couple ways to make the 520 Bridge plans better…… Retweeted by Walking in Seattle

Twitter Media

5. What's the single, most important thing we can do to improve walking conditions in Seattle?

4. How comfortable would U feel on residential streets with these types of walking paths? (alternatives for streets without sidewalks today)

3. What types of walking improvements should we (SDOT) build first?

Follow @WalkingSeattle on Twitter.

2015 Worst Intersection in Seattle: Denny & Terry

This is the third time we have asked you to select the worst intersection in the city and this has been the most popular and tightly contested race. Five options received over 15% of the vote and it’s clear that many people have a strong opinion about the bad intersections in the city.

Once voting started, Montlake and 520 surged to an early lead, bolstered by support from yours truly. However, over time, the top choices emerged as 1) Terry and Denny and 2) NE 40th St and 7th Ave NE.

In the end, among many bad options, there can be only one worst. As the vote count climbed, Denny and Terry pulled away.

A mere quarter mile from previous winner 5th and Denny, Denny and Terry is one of many high-conflict intersections along Denny Way, a street with few redeeming qualities. With the emergence of South Lake Union as a major employment center, there are many more people walking at Denny & Terry than in years before.

Denny is often completely gridlocked, making it hard for pedestrians and drivers alike to enter from Terry. At other times, eastbound traffic flies quickly downhill, giving pedestrians and drivers mere moments to cross Denny.

Terry is also one of the few intersections along Denny where turning left isn’t expressly prohibited. These left turns across a busy street threaten pedestrians walking along Denny.

And, while people can legally walk across Denny along Terry, it never feels completely safe to do so. Also, people walking along Terry north of Denny will find themselves feeling completely out of place walking in a parking lot masquerading as a road.

Denny is a critical transportation link that too many people rely on. It’s one of the worst roads in the city for drivers, riders of bus number 8, and as this poll shows us again, pedestrians.


Vote for Seattle’s Worst Intersection in 2015

Due to the recent coverage on and the close competition, the poll deadline has been extended through Wednesday, May 20.

The nominations are in and it’s time to vote. Vote for one of these these unsafe, complicated, and downright disappointing Seattle intersections as the worst pedestrian intersection in Seattle!

  • I-90 offramp at Rainier Ave

    Plenty of distance for drivers to build up speed

    I-90 & Rainier Ave – Commenter Al Dimond suggests this one: “On both sides of Rainier the interaction with traffic entering from I-90 is OK but the interaction with traffic exiting from Rainier is right in the middle of an onramp whose design encourages drivers to accelerate! It’s also somewhat timely because the Rainier safety project doesn’t extend quite far enough north to cover it.”

  • Terry Ave & Denny Way – Just half a mile from the last “winner”, 5th and Denny, Ryan Packer nominates Denny and Terry: “Impossible to cross Denny here, and getting more and more dangerous to even cross Terry. With a 40 story tower about to be constructed here, this one’s only going to get worse.”

  • 24th & Madison & John

    Turning left? Watch for pedestrians!

    24th Ave E & Madison St (& John) – A gigantic intersection on the east side of Capitol Hill where left-turning drivers often don’t notice pedestrians crossing due to the long distance across this intersection on a steep hill.
  • NE 40th St  & 7th Ave NE

    Complicated intersection at NE 40th St & 7th Ave NE

    NE 40th St & 7th Ave NE – A bad intersection for people on foot, on bikes, and in cars! Skylar says: “My nomination would be NE 40th St and 7th Ave NE come together, on the west side of the U-District and a block east of the Ship Canal Bridge. This is a five-way intersection involving four (4!) different branches of NE 40th St (upper and lower forks that split, come together, split, and come together at various points), the Burke-Gilman Trail, and a poorly-thought-out cycle track that just dumps westbound cyclists into the intersection going the wrong way, with no visibility at all from the upper fork of 40th. The cycle track isn’t marked well so often drivers will continue on it east, forcing cyclists to take evasive action.”
  • 15th Ave NW & NW Leary Way

    Concrete pillars and shadows make pedestrians vulnerable at 15th Ave NW & NW Leary Way

    15th Ave NW & Leary Ave NW – Liz says: “The Ballard Bridge makes visibility awful, and turning cars rarely look out for pedestrians. Moreover, the push-button activated walk signals don’t last long enough to get one all the way across 15th Ave NW. With bus stops for east/west and north/south lines on nearly every corner, it’s a recipe for encouraging peds to cross against the light. This intersection is the worst!”
  • Montlake Blvd E & WA 520 – Narrow sidewalks, tons of traffic, and limited pedestrian crosswalks. If you’ve ever transferred buses here you know it can take 2-3 light cycles to get to where you need to go. A tip to avoid the lights is to take the stairs down to the freeway level, cross Montlake underneath, and then take the stairs back up. But, to be completely honest, any intersection that needs tips in order to be navigated effectively is a lousy intersection.

What is the worst intersection in Seattle?

  • Terry Ave & Denny Way (24%, 28 Votes)
  • NE 40th St & 7th Ave NE (22%, 25 Votes)
  • I-90 & Rainier Ave (18%, 21 Votes)
  • 15th Ave NW & Leary Ave NW (17%, 19 Votes)
  • Montlake Blvd E & WA 520 (16%, 18 Votes)
  • 24th Ave E & Madison St (& John) (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 115

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Access to Nature through Sidewalks and Trails

This is a guest post from Thanakorn W., a student at the University of Washington majoring in landscape architecture.

One way to tell if a city is successful in providing people’s good quality of life is to look at the city’s walkability and the connection with nature. As a college student studying in the fields of built environments (landscape architecture) and sustainable urban developments, Seattle has been doing a great job providing both components. Over the period of two years since I’ve moved to the city, I learn that Seattle is progressive in encouraging the establishment of attractive, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and trails.

I usually get around places on foot and sometimes use public transit. Walking is a fascinating means of transportation as it is the most convenient for me and costs nothing. One of the benefits is that I have become more observant of the surroundings. I begin looking at things more carefully and appreciate the fact that Seattle has a lot to offer. From the eye level, walking is a great way to explore the city in depth because it creates new experience in a journey; it offers more than just getting from one point to another. The journey itself can be as impressive as the destination.

Based on my interest in landscape and plants, I’d like to share my impressions on a few routes I took to and in the parks. I believe that to be able to experience nature, walking into it is the best way, and of course, walking doesn’t leave out those in wheelchairs so long as we can get close to nature and experience it through our senses.

Ravenna Park
Strolling to Ravenna Park is one of my favorite activities. I love to walk to the park through the neighborhoods after busy school days, especially when the sun is still up in the summer. Because of its tranquility, Ravenna Park is perfect for people who look for a place of refuge. It is a quiet neighborhood park with a trail that runs along a shallow stream and is flanked by a variety of vegetation. Every once in a while, I see joggers and people walking their dogs.

Magnuson Park
Magnuson Park was once a Seattle’s Navy airfield and has transformed into an urban park that serves both social and ecological functions. It is a place for leisure where various activities take place and is a restorative marshland. In one late afternoon on a nice day in the winter, my friend and I started our trip from UW. We arrived in the park and walked past a few sport fields.

We continued venturing on and off the trails into the ecological wetland until we reached the Lake Shore Promenade that overlooks the spectacular views of Lake Washington. Just before sunset, the sky was cloudless so we could see Mt. Rainier in the background while the orange and blue colors of the sky were changing gradients at the mountain ridges. It sure is a great place to relax and enjoy the sunset.

Washington Park Arboretum and Foster Island, Union Bay
Because spring is coming once again—a season we look forward to, it is a good opportunity to mention the Washington Park Arboretum. The arboretum is home to a variety of plant species and absolutely a pride of Seattle. It is accessible to the public year round and particularly a remarkable place when the flowers are blooming and the leaves growing. It was where I learned about plants and visited quite a number of times. One can also walk to the arboretum through Foster Island on the wooden Arboretum Waterfront Trail on Union Bay. Being on the trail gives you such a feeling as if you could walk on the water.

I would encourage those who can spare some of their valuable time to have a stroll in public parks and walk more as an alternative to driving. To give back to the city, we can continue to improve and maintain its walkability by making sure that our sidewalks and trails are safe and clean because they are the interdependent infrastructure that serves us as a social and environmental network. They actually reflect our quality of life.


Nominate Seattle’s worst intersection for 2015

Pine St & Boren Ave near Capitol Hill / First Hill

It’s time again to select the worst pedestrian intersection in the city.

After a two-year hiatus, you will have the opportunity to choose the worst intersection in the city. In 2011, voters chose Aurora and its interrupted cross-streets in South Lake Union as the worst. A year later and a quarter-mile away, 5th & Denny (also known as the 5th Avenue onramp) took top honors.

To kick things off, we’ve already nominated Montlake and SR-520:

But is it the worst? Or is there somewhere else you have in mind? Feel free to nominate more than one. The top 10 most-frequently nominated intersections will be selected to advance to the voting round. Submit your worst intersection here or comment in support of others’ nominees. Passion is a tie-breaker so tell us how you really feel!

Accepting nominations through Sunday, May 3


Road Diet Data: Studies show projects lead to safer roadways

The Seattle Department of Transportation has been performing road diets or road rechannelizations for decades and argues that these projects bring about safer streets without affecting traffic volumes. SDOT collects data on traffic volume, vehicle speeds, and collisions both before and after each project. In a joint effort with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, I’ve reviewed the studies and found SDOT’s claims to be true as you can see in the key data presented below.

Looking at the numbers, there is some change in roadway volume after the projects, but no consistent pattern that would suggest roadway capacity is being unduly limited. On the positive side, there are significant reductions in aggressive speeding (drivers going 10 miles per hour above the speed limit), including a 93% decrease from the Nickerson St road rechannelization. All collisions are down as a result of these projects and injury collisions have been decreased even further, ranging from a 17% to a 75% decrease.

In short, road diets are a powerful tool the city has to work towards the newly-announced Vision Zero plan.


Appreciate and care for our sidewalks!

This is a guest post by Marjorie, a Seattle bus rider and pedestrian.

I’m living with my elderly mother in the house my parents bought in the 50s, and when the sidewalks were installed in the 60s my parents were assessed on their property taxes for 10 years to pay for these.

If the city is now giving people sidewalks without the property owners having to pay, then the city should reimburse (with interest) those who had to pay for their own sidewalks. I might make an exception for arterials. Arterials should always have sidewalks, but ironically many Seattle arterials don’t have these.

And property owners need to be reminded that they are responsible for maintaining their sidewalks. I spend many, many hours every year digging up the weeds that grow through the cracks. Otherwise the sidewalks will buckle and break and become unsafe for pedestrians.

How many people holler for sidewalks but then neglect them once installed? I have little patience with property owners who don’t accept the responsibility that goes with having sidewalks:

  1. Don’t park cars across curb cuts in sidewalks.
  2. Sweep or rake leaves – don’t let them pile up on sidewalks.
  3. Make sure tree branches are at least 8 feet off the ground over sidewalks.
  4. Prune back any shrubs growing over sidewalks.
  5. Make sure that tree branches don’t block street lights from illuminating sidewalks after dark.
  6. Don’t use parking strips (a.k.a. planting strips) for growing anything over about a foot high. It can obstruct the view of drivers and could lead to tragic accidents. Grow your veggies and flowers in your yard. Public safety should not be compromised.

And the government should not allow developers to block sidewalks for construction projects. This is unfair to pedestrians and can lead to bus riders missing bus connections at transfer points.


3rd Annual Stairway Walks Day tomorrow

There will be 14 different guided walks up and down Seattle stairways as part of Stairway Walks Day, tomorrow from 10 am to noon. The event, which is organized by Feet First, features walks from the book Seattle Stairway Walks: An Up-and-Down Guide to City Neighborhoods by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo. Enjoy your Saturday morning by exploring neighborhoods from high and low as you ascend up and descend down our city’s unique stairway infrastructure.

The event is open to everyone, and this year Feet First is asking for donations to support their mission to make all Washington neighborhoods walkable. For more information, visit Feet First or sign up online at Brown Paper Tickets.

The walks include the following locations:


  • Magnolia Tour
  • Queen Anne Tour
  • The Olmstead Vision Tour
  • Downtown Tour
  • Eastlake/ N. Capitol Hill
  • Madrona/ Leschi


  • Fremont Tour
  • Ravenna Tour
  • University of Washington Tour


  • Alki from Above Tour
  • Fauntleroy and Morgan Junction Tour
  • Longfellow/Pigeon Point Tour


  • Deadhorse Canyon Tour
  • Mount Baker Tour

Pedestrian Advisory Board seeks new member

Seattle’s Pedestrian Advisory Board is seeking a new member to serve the remainder of the current term, through April 1, 2015. At that time the member will have the opportunity to be re-appointed to serve a full two-year term.

If you’re interested in serving, submit a resume and cover letter explaining your interest to

Visit the City of Seattle’s website for more information on SPAB.