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