Monthly Archive for August, 2011

Seattle Stairs features 30 stairway walks

Looking for somewhere to walk? Susan Ott Ralph’s Seattle Stairs website has created a guide to 30 stairway walks throughout the city. Each walk features its own downloadable map and guide altogether they add up to 100 miles of walking across 428 stairways with 27,394 steps. The site features photos and step-counts on 650 stairways total in the city.


City Council Considers Transportation Funding Ballot Measure

This November, Voters could decide to provide up to $27.2 million for transportation funding in the city through an $80 vehicle license fee. The Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee has recommended a package to benefit all modes of transportation with this funding, however this measure is not yet on the ballot and it’s up to the City Council to decide what to do.

Several council members are hesitant to propose an $80 fee, with Jean Godden (who is up for re-election) proposing only 1/4 of what CTAC recommends for pedestrian and bicycle projects.

PubliCola has a great reviewof the options and the discussion around these proposed ballot measures.

This Wednesday evening, you have the opportunity to influence the council as to which measure to put on the ballot. Here is Feet First‘s announcement and call to action:

Please come out on Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:30pm for the Seattle Transportation Benefit District public hearing in the City Council Chambers at Seattle City Hall to make your voice heard.

The Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC-III), with representation from business, transit, pedestrian and bicycle organizations, has spent the past seven months deliberating on the best approach for spending up to $27.2 million that could be generated from implementing an $80 vehicle license fee as part of Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District.

The committee developed and recommended a package that benefits all modes – with most of the investment going to pedestrians, bicyclists and transit. Recognizing transportation needs are large, the committee also recommended putting forth a proposal for an annual Vehicle License Fee (VLF) of $80 to Seattle voters as early as this November to support these investments.

The council is now back peddling and we need them to stand strong. This is why we need you to be there this Wednesday to let them know that you strongly support CTAC III’s recommendations and you urge them to support CTAC-III proposal.

Here are talking points you may consider sharing with city council:

  • Since it costs about $8,000 a year to own a car offering transportation options is the most inclusive approach to meeting a citizen’s needs for getting around.
  • Non-drivers do face an uphill battle, as many of Seattle’s neighborhoods are still difficult to navigate without a car, but the revenue from the Vehicle License Fee will provide Seattle with the ability to continue to improve transportation options beyond the automobile.
  • In these challenging economic times, one of the most progressive things a city can do is offer residents an accessible, comprehensive transportation system that is not dependent on automobiles, which more and more people cannot afford.
  • We need to fund the pedestrian plan that we spent two years creating. This investment begins building on a vision common to most Seattle’s residents: healthy, sustainable lifestyles with safe, strong communities.

When: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:30pm
Where: Seattle City Council Chambers in City Hall

Let’s encourage council to put our money where our feet are and invest in achieving a livable and walkable vision for Seattle.

Thank you for your support.

While getting this past the council is one issue, convincing the voters will be another issue entirely. Passing an $80 fee to have it rejected at the polls would be a real disappointment. It’s tough to say how the city will vote, but getting the measure for the highest funding of transit onto the ballot may not necessarily be the best option. If you have an opinion, be sure to show up and speak up this Wednesday evening.


StreetZaps organizing “Seattle Remembers Sammy” benefit

StreetZaps is an organization aiming to increase awareness and reduce risk of electrical issues that can endanger pets and others while walking.

Last Thanksgiving, Sammy was killed by an electrical charge from an ungrounded light fixture on a Queen Anne street. The organization is currently trying to stage a benefit for owner Lisa McKibben in memory of Sammy.

The benefit is being scheduled for October. If you are interested in helping, advertising, or contributing silent auction donations to benefit Seattle Humane Society and Seattle Animal Shelter, please contact Blair Sorrel, the organizer behind StreetZaps, at

For more information about avoiding the dangers of ungrounded electrical currents, keep reading:


Blair Sorrel, Founder

Contact voltage is a chronic hidden hazard that can readily victimize an unsuspecting dog, walker, or both. No dog lover could possibly observe a more horrifying scene than witnessing his beloved pet instantaneously maimed or tragically electrocuted. When you exercise your pooch, please exercise greater prudence. Common outdoor electrical and metal fixtures may shock or even kill your vulnerable dog. And depending upon the current, the walker will be bitten and like poor Aric Roman, suffer permanently. But you can, indeed, self-protect.

Just start to adopt this simple strategy — EYEBALL THE BLOCK, AND AVOID A SHOCK. Take a few seconds and make your trajectory toward generally safer, free standing, non-conductive surfaces, ie., plastic, wood, cardboard. Intuit your dog’s cues and if it’s resistant, change directions. Work site perimeters may be live so try to elude them. If necessary, switch sides of the street or your hands when leading to skirt hazards. If you traverse the same route, you may memorize locations of potential dangers. Carry your pooch when in doubt. Consider indoor restroom products like PottyPark when external conditions are chancy or RopeNGo’s hardware-free leash and harness. And don’t rely on dog booties as a palliative as they will actually
put your pet at even greater risk since the dog can’t tell you they’re leaking! To learn to more, please see StreetZaps. A safer walk is yours year round if you are willing to open to your eyes and mind to it.


Sheraton Garden Walk complete

Sheraton Garden Walk

Sheraton Garden Walk at 7th and Union

The wall of the Sheraton Hotel used to impose one of the most monolithic streetscapes in the city on downtown pedestrians along 7th Avenue. However, over the past several months, a more interesting and engaging facade has been constructed. The project cost $2 million and, while it doesn’t turn 7th Ave into a lively shop-lined street, it still provides a significant enhancement to a dead zone within downtown. The Daily Journal of Commerce has a writeup on the Sheraton Garden Walk.

[T]he recently completed streetscape is designed to complement the urban fabric, while also amplifying its connections to its unique surroundings in a way that is playful and engaging.

[Landscape Architects, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol]’s design “borrows” key pedestrian assets from across the street and playfully simulates a traditionally two-sided street. A series of massive mirror panels — emulating vertical architectural bays in scale and proportion — are strategically placed to present the illusion of rich historic facades on the face of the simple concrete wall.

The mirrors reflect the historic facade of the Eagles Auditorium Building across the street, thereby replacing the blank wall of the Sheraton with the illusion of a much grander sense of architecture. The width of the mirror panels subtly offers the familiar module of storefront windows to passing pedestrians. The mirrors also “double” the apparent pedestrian activity on the treated side of the street.

The intent of the Sheraton Garden Walk is to create the illusion of being surrounded by green without truly enclosing the space — transitioning from a typical city sidewalk to a more welcoming, garden-scale environment that emphasizes “people space” over “car space.”

In order to balance the mirrors with reality, they are framed by rustic texture and seasonal interest, provided by vines that will soon grow to clad the remaining concrete facade. As they grow in, the lush plantings will wrap and embrace the sidewalk environment for maximum effect.


Should jaywalking laws change?

Pedestrians in Seattle, unlike those in some other American cities, often seem hesitant to jaywalk. While that may show us to be a patient and obedient sort of people, strict obeisance to marked crosswalks can impede pedestrian mobility as broken pedestrian signals add time to pedestrians’ perambulations.

Waiting for light signals adds up to a lot of wasted time and reduces the efficiency of walking compared to other modes of transportation. This seems to conflict with the goal of the city’s Walk, Bike, Ride program to make walking one of the easiest ways to get around.

For what it’s worth, only 1 of 4 city council members who participated in our Q&A clearly denied ever jaywalking.

By voter-approved ordinance, marijauna use is the city’s lowest-priority law to be enforced by the city. Our city council members are willing to admit to jaywalking, but would they admit smoking pot? If jaywalking is something that even our elected officials do, should jaywalking be the new lowest law-enforcement priority?

Or should the laws change? Should we make jaywalking legal unless it obstructs other vehicular movement?

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