Monthly Archive for March, 2011

Mayor asked about pedestrian issues in Maple Leaf

Mayor Mike McGinn joined residents in a walk through Maple Leaf, passing by Thornton Creek and area parks. The walk ended with a question and answer session, which addressed some pedestrian concerns, according to Maple Leaf Life:

Many of those attending were interested in pedestrian safety and the lack of sidewalks in much of Maple Leaf and Northgate. There were complaints about lack of walkability along Northeast Northgate Way and Roosevelt Avenue Northeast, and at the intersection of Northgate and Eighth Avenue Northeast.

“We’re seeing a desire by many people to live in a more walkable area,” McGinn acknowledged. “We should be prioritizing pedestrian projects. “

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National Start! Walking Day April 6

This April 6 is National Start! Walking Day and people are encouraged to get out and walk for at least 30 minutes out of the day. This initiative has been set up by the American Heart Association and is specifically targeted toward people in the workplace:

It’s simple to get your company to participate in National Start! Walking Day. Start by having your HR representative or Worksite Wellness coordinator fill out this registration form to download the National Start! Walking Day Toolkit for your company. It includes posters, flyers, a PowerPoint presentation and signs, which you can use to set up walking paths around the office. Look for the link to the kit in your confirmation email.

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New park and sidewalk in Northgate

An old park & ride near Northgate Mall is being converted into a park. This new park, Hubbard Homestead Park, will be opening soon and features “3.7 acres of landscaped open space” according to SDOT’s blog. There will also be a nice new 12-foot-wide sidewalk along the western perimeter of the park that should open very shortly. Visit SDOT’s post about this for more details.

How do you think Hubbard Homestead Park will stack up against Seattle’s many other parks?

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Public spaces downtown

Downtown is short on city parks, but there are quite a few public spaces that are privately owned. If you’re looking for a place downtown to stop and read a book, eat lunch, or just hang out, check out this handy-dandy map:


View Seattle’s Privately Owned Public Spaces in a larger map

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Dangerous pedestrian profiles

Puget Sound Transit Operators profiles people on foot who put themselves and others in danger.

There are a few select folks out there who engage in behaviors on a day to day basis. They can turn something as simple as walking down the street into Mr. Magoo’s wild ride – at least for those around them. These folks seem to stroll on oblivious to their surroundings to such a degree that it is really up to everyone else to get out of the way, go around, and otherwise look out for the personal safety of the Other in a way they seem unwilling to do for themselves.

Do you fit any of these descriptions?

The Sampson

As the mythical Sampson had the strength to fell pillars, so does the Pedestrian Other Sampson (POS) believe themselves as strong. The POS will walk between buses parked only a couple of feet apart in downtown streets, apparently believing that if one should roll forward (or another back) that they will simply hold out their arms a-la the long-haired one, and push both vehicles away as they continue their journey across the middle of the street (where no other hazards await them, surely). The POS is often observed at more narrow points where buses bunch by design, such as the island stop at 4th Avenue South and South Jackson north-bound.

Click to read more.

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Abogo shows where to live in order to reduce transportation costs

Abogo is a tool to help people lower their transportation costs. Enter your address at Abogo to see how much people in your area typically pay for transportation. The tool is helpful for people who may want to relocate to places where walking, biking, and busing can get them around more cheaply.

Of course, walking is the lowest-cost way to get around, and in Seattle we are fortunate to have access to so many places on foot. You can see that Abogo’s transportation cost map correlates with the WalkScore map of Seattle.

Also, check out their post on getting around in Seattle. While it’s written for visitors rather than residents, it has a good overview of our city’s transportation options and a link to Seattle’s preeminent walking blog.

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Asphalt sidewalk / parking strip on 15th

Last month we posted about a new asphalt sidewalk on 15th Ave between 94th St and 97th St. This type of walkway isn’t as good as a standard concrete sidewalk, but it was an improvement that the community requested. According to SDOT spokesperson Rick Sheridan:

Seattle has approximately 12,000 street block faces that lack sidewalks. The number of blocks lacking sidewalks far exceeds the resources available to build them and SDOT only has funding to build approximately 10 to 20 block face equivalents per year.

SDOT looks for ways to maximize the impact of our funds by using less expensive construction materials like asphalt. It is not only less costly, but also can be placed faster than concrete, helping stretch our dollars further.

On 15th Ave NE between NE 94th and NE 97th streets, SDOT addressed the neighborhood’s desire to improve pedestrian accessibility and upgrade drainage infrastructure. We did so with a modest budget by utilizing asphalt for the walkway, and replacing and covering an old drainage culvert. SDOT also separated the roadway from the sidewalk with a landscaping strip, which will deter parking and improve the pedestrian walking environment.

Despite the best intentions, though, you still see problems like this:

Asphalt sidewalk used for parking

Vehicle parked on asphalt sidewalk

SDOT has not provided figures for the cost of an asphalt sidewalk, but construction costs for a standard concrete sidewalk can range from $40,000 to $300,000 per block. It’s likely that the asphalt sidewalk here cost less than half of what a concrete sidewalk would cost.

With so many sidewalks yet to be paved, lower cost installations mean more sidewalks get built faster. But would it be better not to spend anything than to spend on an asphalt sidewalk / parking strip? Is the new sidewalk better than what was there before, or is it a waste of funds?

What do you think?

Are asphalt sidewalks OK with you?

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Ballard resident requests illuminated crosswalk

My Ballard reports on a resident’s request to add a pedestrian-activated crosswalk at the intersection of 24th Ave NW and NW 58th St. Kevin Tice has applied for this improvement to be included by the Ballard District Council on the list of projects that are sent to the city for funding by the Neighborhood Projects Fund.

In the application Tice writes, “The current crosswalk has an outdated overhanging crosswalk light that is barely noticeable by cars, especially during overcast weather. The crosswalk signs (one for each side) unfortunately do not deter the vehicles driving at speeds of 25-40 mph from stopping for many pedestrians. I have attached videos [see above] that I took recently of numerous cars passing waiting pedestrians, either because of their speed, or because they could not see them waiting due to parked cars near the intersection. In a span of 30 minutes, I recorded 10 such incidents. I personally have had to run across 24th avenue due to cars not stopping.”

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Overhead crosswalk sign added in West Seattle

West Seattle Blog reports that a flashing-light crosswalk sign has been installed at SW Findlay Street across California Ave. Previously there had been a hanging sign (without flashing lights). While California includes only two lanes of motorized traffic and a center turn lane, this project was requested by community leaders and funded through the Neighborhood Street Fund. According to one commenter, drivers rarely stop for pedestrians at this intersection, so hopefully the flashing lights will change that.


View Larger Map

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UW Police car hits pedestrians

Early Saturday morning, the driver of an unmarked University of Washington police car struck another vehicle passing through the intersection and then struck two pedestrians.

News reports do not mention who had the right of way, only that the other driver did not show signs of impairment. Since the police car was unmarked, it is also not apparent whether the driver was using emergency lights or a siren.

The two pedestrians were rushed to Harborview, but did not have life-threatening injuries.

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