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.
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:
- Don’t park cars across curb cuts in sidewalks.
- Sweep or rake leaves – don’t let them pile up on sidewalks.
- Make sure tree branches are at least 8 feet off the ground over sidewalks.
- Prune back any shrubs growing over sidewalks.
- Make sure that tree branches don’t block street lights from illuminating sidewalks after dark.
- 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.
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:
DOWNTOWN/ CENTRAL SEATTLE
- 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
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 email@example.com.
Visit the City of Seattle’s website for more information on SPAB.
Last week, someone drove their car into a historic building on Rainier Avenue, injuring seven people.
In response to this event, the Columbia City Business Association has scheduled a “walk-in” tomorrow near the location of the crash to encourage action from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). There have been several severe crashes on Rainier, including one just six months ago when someone drove over the curb and into a nail salon.
From 4:30 to 5:30 tomorrow, participants will cross Rainier Avenue at Ferdinand Street during each light cycle. All are welcome to join in, including latecomers.
Rainier is the “Main Street” for the Columbia City business district, however drivers often travel in excess of the posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour therefore discouraging pedestrians from walking in the area and crossing the street.
The Business Association is asking SDOT to take action, specifically by providing the following:
- Longer crossing times for pedestrians on Rainier.
- Red light cameras at intersections to reduce the number of cars speeding through red lights.
- A slower speed limit through our “main streets” and business districts.
- Roadway design changes to reduce hazardous driving.
One possible roadway design change for this stretch of Rainier could be a lane rechannelization or “road diet”, which would add a center turn lane and reduce lanes for through traffic. In other locations, lane rechannelizations have been effective at reducing vehicle speed and collisions without affecting roadway’s ability to accommodate traffic. SDOT considers 25,000 vehicles per day as a maximum volume for a four-lane roadway to receive a lane rechannelization and less than 20,000 vehicles appear to travel this stretch of Rainier daily.
The Association is looking for SDOT to take action quickly so as to not allow further and potentially more devastating collisions to occur.
Mayor Murray and new SDOT director Scott Kubly have set high expectations for action by quickly deploying of a protected bike lane on 2nd Ave downtown. Can they do the same for Rainier before something worse happens?
Seattle’s second annual Stairway Walks Day will be taking place Saturday, February 8, from 10:00 to noon. Guided walks led by Feet First Walking Ambassadors will begin simultaneously in 18 different locations across the region.
The walking routes are based on those in the walking guidebook Seattle Stairway Walks: An Up-And-Down Guide to City Neighborhoods by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo.
Participating is free but spots are limited and last year’s event filled up, so read more and be sure to sign up if you are interested.
The Seattle Roadway Death Dashboard published here last week combines different sources of data and presents the data through various chart types. This interactive analytical tool provides information on roadway fatalities that could be used to save lives.
Here are some examples of how you can interact with this tool to gain insight:
- During the daytime, people in their 80s and 90s are more likely to be killed in a traffic collision than any other age group. Together, this age group makes up 7% of the total population but accounts for 44% of the fatalities from 9am to 4pm.
Dashboard showing daytime fatalities between 9am to 4pm.
- Pedestrians 50 and older are disproportionately likely to be killed on Seattle roadways. Pedestrians younger than 50 count for fewer roadway fatalities than expected based on the city demographics. People aged 20-49 account for 58% of the city population but only 41% of its pedestrian fatalities.
Death dashboard showing pedestrians only by age and race.
- As a percentage of total fatalities, black drivers are more than three times as likely to be killed on the roadway than city demographics would suggest. This race accounts for 26% of driver fatalities but only 8% of the population.
Dashboard showing drivers only by age and race.
- Rainier Ave S is the deadliest city street with a speed limit from 20-35 mph by far, but there are several other streets where four or more people have died.
Death Dashboard showing fatalities on roadways with 20-35 mph speed limits.
- Pedestrian fatalities are fairly evenly distributed throughout the day, while driver and passenger fatalities occur predominantly late at night and in the very early morning.
Death Dashboards showing pedestrian fatalities by hour – fairly evenly distributed.
Death Dashboards showing driver and passenger fatalities by hour – mostly at night.
This is just a sampling of the type of analysis you can do with the dashboard. Please share any interesting results you’ve found in the comments.
This dashboard provides a visualization of 299 roadway fatalities that occurred in Seattle from 2002-2011.
A walker wonders:
Do your readers have the best route (least steep) from the ferry terminal to Westlake? What are the suggestions?
This is a route familiar to many tourists, or locals who have visitors. The vertical gain is over 120 feet between the waterfront, which is basically at sea level, and Westlake Center in the retail core. If you walk along the waterfront and then try to cut over at Pike, Union, or University, you’re faced with over 100 steps to climb. So, what’s a walker to do?
For those in the know, there are some elevators for parking garages near Pike Place Market that bring you from the waterfront up to Western Avenue. There’s still a hill there, or steps to climb, but the elevator cuts out half of the elevation gain.
However, my preference would be to make the uphill climb on foot. The ferry terminal exits to a walkway on Marion St, that will take you over Alaskan Way and Western Ave and straight to First Ave. First Avenue is one of the the best streets to walk along downtown in my opinion, based on the historical buildings, retail options, and its role in connecting Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square. The incline is very gradual on First and if you continue it eventually will take you to Pike or Pine from where the walk to Westlake will be relatively flat.
15-year-old Trevon Crease-Holden was struck on July 19th at Walden and MLK. The driver fled the scene has yet to come forward. As the teen continues to fight for his life, there will be a vigil walk this Monday, August 5 at 5:30 pm.
More information is available at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways:
The Rainier Valley community is gathering on Monday, August 5 at 5:30pm the QFC on Rainier, 2707 Rainier Ave S, and walking four blocks to the site of the tragedy at MLK and South Walden Street. Trevon’s mother, Quianna Holden and other community leaders intend to speak at the Walden collision site. Representatives from local advocacy organizations and the Seattle Mayor’s Office plan to attend.
Trevon was on his way home with his little brother from a late night open gym at a local community center when they entered a marked crosswalk at Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Walden Street. A vehicle travelling south on MLK struck Trevon and continued without stopping to provide information or render aid. Seattle Fire Department responded and Seattle Police continue to search for the hit-and-run driver.
Quianna Holden says she can forgive the driver for hitting her son, but she cannot forgive the driver for not coming forward. She went on KIRO TV to make a heartbreaking plea for the person responsible to come forward so she can at least have answers. His mother says Trevon is a good son, and a good athlete who hoped to start football this year at Franklin High School.