Monthly Archive for September, 2010

Most walkable convention centers

Following up on the ranking of most walkable football stadiums, has ranked the Walk Score for the biggest convention centers. They only considered convention centers with over 650,000 square feet, which excludes Seattle’s Washington State Convention & Trade Center. However, had they included it in this list, it would be among the most walkable convention centers with a Walk Score of 95. A convention held within walking distance from your hotel, restaurants, and nightlife sounds like a much better convention to go to than one that you have to drive to.


Mayor proposes additional funding for pedestrian projects

With the city facing a budget crisis, Mayor Mike McGinn has announced his budget, which includes quite a few cuts. The budget also includes additional funding for the pedestrian master plan, including more sidewalks, crosswalks, stairways, and pedestrian lighting. It also includes funding for more Summer Streets events.

Streets for All Seattle had been campaigning for more funding for the pedestrian master plan and it is no surprise that the mayor has supported that to an extent. However, in a year with service cuts, it may be hard to sell the city council and taxpayers on a budget that gives more money towards alternative transportation. PubliCola has additional coverage of these budget items here.


Neighborhood street project fund recipients announced

The city has announced which neighborhood projects would receive funding in the upcoming year. From the city’s press release:

Mayor Mike McGinn today announced 11 projects that will be constructed through the Neighborhood Street Fund Large Project program. Utilizing funds from the voter-approved Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation levy, the city will invest $4.7 million over the next three years in these new projects.

“The Neighborhood Street Fund is a great way for neighborhood leaders to identify and fund small projects that can make a big difference locally,” said McGinn. “Every neighborhood plan identifies safe and walkable streets as a high priority – this fund supports that priority.”

Here is the list of projects:

(Hat tip Seattle Transit Blog)


City selects lead waterfront designer

In a project that will impact our city’s waterfront and the pedestrian experience for generations to come, the city has selected its lead waterfront designer. There is some good coverage of this announcement at Publicola and Seattle Transit Blog.

Public reaction to the selection seems to be somewhat mixed. It sounds like there will be limited private development allowed, if any. Councilmember Sally Bagshaw says “I’ve heard many people ask, ‘Are you going to allow giant condominiums and hotels along the waterfront?’ The answer is, no.” There is some concern that this lack of development may result in a linear park that isn’t well used.

This editorial praises the city’s selection.

Hopefully the the right choice was made and we will see a waterfront that serves as a good public space and pedestrian environment, with the right balance of public space and private development.


Sidewalks for Ravenna Ave

Maple Leaf Life reports on some big changes to Ravenna Ave (hat tip to reader Nick):

A big announcement last night is setting up about $1 million worth of changes on Ravenna Ave between NE 85th and Lake City Way. That area is one of the projects selected to be paid for with the Large Neighborhood Street Fund. Many neighbors have complained about the lack of a sidewalk. This project will widen the roadway on the west side of the street to allow for a bike lane as well as a curb, planting strip and sidewalk. You can read more here.

View Ravenna Ave sidewalk construction in a larger map

This section of Ravenna Ave currently has no sidewalks and there had been some sidewalk construction in the area that was forcing pedestrians into the roadway. It sounds like there are quite a few problems with that stretch of roadway:

This is the only section of the major Montlake/25th Ave NE/Ravenna Ave NE north/south arterial that does not have a sidewalk. This affects the area socio-economically, cutting it off from safe access to the many public facilities available just south of 85th. There is no safe access to the 8 bus stops located on this stretch of road. Disabled access is completely unavailable. The nearby elementary schools cannot be accessed by foot and it is a bussing nightmare for the school transportation dispatch due to the high traffic and lack of safe pick-up/drop-offs for elementary aged children. At 83rd on this arterial is Dahl Field, Beth Ann Temple, University Prep, Wedgewood Pool and assess to Wedgwood Elementary school. Walking down to 85th where the sidewalk begins is simply unsafe. Because of the geographic area, this sidewalk will involve innovative drainage solutions. A plan is our major step towards linking this section of the community back in with others.

Ravenna Ave without sidewalks


Qwest Field rated 5th most walkable football stadium

Now that football season is underway again, Walkscore has ranked the walkability of all NFL stadiums. Appearing 5th on the list is Qwest Field, with a score of 85. Thanks to its location convenient to Pioneer Square and the International District, there are plenty of establishments within a walkable distance from the stadium. Qwest Field also gets a transit score of 100 being convenient to the transit tunnel and a lot of bus routes.

Being able to get to the stadium by transit (or by foot, if you live nearby in First Hill, the International District, or the Central District) is convenient. And, walking a few blocks to a bar or restaurant before or after a game certainly makes for a more enjoyable gameday experience.


Another Pedestrian hit on Aurora

A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle near Green Lake earlier in the week. My Green Lake has good coverage of the incident.

View Larger Map

There is a single crosswalk, however in this case the pedestrian was trying to cross just a block away from it. Apparently jaywalkers across this section of Aurora are pretty common. While others commenting on this incident are quick to blame the pedestrian for jaywalking, the fact that this roadway is such a common location for pedestrian accidents points to flaws in design.

With walking being such an important mode of transportation in Seattle, it’s important that the built environment enables that. There is certainly a lot of motor vehicle traffic that passes along highway 99, but it also interrupts the street grid and and acts as a barricade for anyone trying to get to the walking haven that is Green Lake.

In this specific case, it’s not necessarily clear that there should be more crosswalks across Aurora, but perhaps it would help reduce the incidence of pedestrian accidents.


City budget hearings

As some of you may know, Seattle has a Pedestrian Master Plan to make Seattle the most walkable city in the country. However, this plan won’t accomplish much until it is funded by the city. Conveniently, the Seattle City Council is currently considering its budget priorities for next year and the Pedestrian Master Plan might be something worth reminding them of.

Here are a couple things you can do, if you’re so inclined:

  1. Send an email to the City CouncilStreets for All Seattle has a form and a template to make it easier to share your thoughts with the City Council.
  2. Attend a public budget hearing – Scheduled for the evenings of Sept 29, Oct 13, and Oct 26, attend and encourage the council to fund the Pedestrian Master Plan.

SDOT releases Seattle Walking Map

SDOT has announced a city-wide walking map:

Planning to get out and walk for fun and/or exercise? Now SDOT has a map just for you! The Seattle Walking Map was designed to help you choose a walking route that best suits your interests and fitness level. Now there’s no reason not to get out and explore Seattle. Whether you are new to Seattle or have lived here forever, the map will help you view the city up close and personal.

The walking map shows various routes throughout the city, along with an estimated number of minutes it takes to walk each segment of each route. You can download and print PDFs to take with you, or pull up the site on your phone when you’re out and about.

Clip of SDOT's Walking Map

Clip of SDOT's Walking Map near Loyal Heights and Golden Gardens Park

At first glance, this appears to be a pretty good guide if you’re looking to explore another neighborhood or just want to try a new route to walk near home or work. Most areas of the city are covered well and the routes appear to be worth taking. Strangely, there are almost no routes in Magnolia, and the greatest density of walking options is in West Seattle.

Still, this seems to be another cool tool for people who like to walk in Seattle, in addition to walking routes on this blog and various books on the subject. What do you all think about this?


Putting peds on Pike/Pine

A couple months ago Sally Clark brought up the idea of closing Pike and Pine streets to vehicle traffic in the evenings to make for a more exciting and pedestrian-oriented nightlife environment.

There’s been some discussion of this at Capitol Hill Seattle. Sounds good for nightlife, possibly not so good for residents who live nearby, and maybe good for pedestrians, or maybe not.

Dan Bertolet says that removing cars from Pike St isn’t worth it:

One of the likely targets is Pike Street between Broadway and 12th, but the thing is that strip works just fine with cars in it. The striped crosswalks are fairly well respected by drivers. Because there is so much activity around the street, car speeds tend to be relatively slow. Cars and pedestrians and bikes all coexist to create a healthy urban street energy.

If the cars were removed, however, the space would be much too big, and all that energy would lose its punch because it would become too unfocused and diffuse. Pike is a wide street—about 80 feet from building face to building face—and that’s a formidable swath of empty pavement (check out the photo at the top).

I’m not sure if this idea will go anywhere, or if it should. The sidewalks are a little narrow along Pike, so having a whole street to walk in seems like it would be nice. And there’s not really a need to keep the road open for vehicular flow. There are some logistical issues that would need to be figured out, such as paying for additional clean-up. It does seem like it would be good for pedestrians, though, even if it’s not the most ideal pedestrian mall. The comments to the linked articles above have some more thoughts – most of them seem to be in opposition to this idea.