Campaign supports “All-Way Walk” intersections in Seattle

A new local campaign hopes to improve pedestrian safety at intersections by making all traffic light intersections turn in to “all-way walk”.

An all-way-walk signal allows pedestrians to cross streets in all directions with no vehicle traffic. However, the drawback is that pedestrians have to wait through two light cycles, one for each direction of vehicle traffic.

This group is on Facebook as “Seattle Campaign for Pedestrian-Safe ‘All-Cross/Walk Intersections’.

The city of Denver, as well as parts of San Francisco, have many more all-way walks than Seattle does. The Seattle Department of Transportation installed a couple all-way walks along 1st Ave within the past couple years, to go along with 1st and Pike downtown and Alaska Junction in West Seattle as the more prominent all-way walk intersections in the city.

The campaign says:

This common-sense safety campaign seeks “ALL CROSS/WALK” signal lights at signal light intersections in the city of Seattle.
ALL CROSS/WALK signal light intersections SAVE LIVES.
To help make the ALL CROSS/WALK intersections workable we’re asking the Council & Mayor to authorize the DOT to install NO TURN ON RED DURING PEDESTRIAN WALK TIME signs @ each intersection the DOT changes to all cross/all walk intersections.

ALL WALK/CROSS intersections are a COMMON SENSE, SAFETY FIRST solution to Seattle’s EXTREMELY DANGEROUS INTERSECTIONS . The current system preferred by Seattle’s DOT allows drivers to be moving behind and simultaneous to pedestrians – for pedestrians – especially those with babies, toddlers, children, seniors, the disabled, and the elderly, it’s horrific and frightening.

The group suggests the intersections of 23rd Ave S & Yesler and Madison & Boren as the first two intersections for implementing an all-way walk.

On the other side of the issue, SDOT says that implementing all-way walks would slow down traffic significantly. In fact, SDOT studied 70 signals in the downtown retail core and found that pedestrians and motorists would experience a significant delay at these intersections and at other nearby intersections – and that the delay for buses would be even worse.

For my part, I’m not sure that providing an all-way-walk at all intersections would be reasonable, but there are probably some intersections that would deserve it. Maybe some intersections on Capitol Hill, or the center of the Greenwood business district at 85th and Greenwood Ave N.

What do you think – are there other areas that are deserving? Or should all of them get the all-way walk treatment?

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13 Responses to “Campaign supports “All-Way Walk” intersections in Seattle”

  • This is a very very bad idea. I suspect this is being pushed by drivers. Can you imagine how long it would take to walk through downtown if you didn’t have a walk signal on every green?

    If this is a safety issue, why not prohibit right on red at all intersections? Why not improve crosswalks? This is nonsense.

    This sentence, “The current system preferred by Seattle’s DOT allows drivers to be moving behind and simultaneous to pedestrians”, is not true. State law requires drivers to be an entire car lane away from pedestrians. This isn’t enforced, obviously, because pedestrians are second class citizens, but the solution is not to penalize pedestrians even further by making them wait infinitely longer at traffic lights.

  • I find all-way walk signals to be a novelty at best. Good idea, but like Seattle’s bike boxes, often implemented in the wrong places. Are the pedestrian traffic volumes at a place like Yesler/23rd that high? I would suggest someplace like University Way and 45th or Broadway and Pike.

  • This works extremely well at some intersections, like First and Union, where pedestrians aren’t required to wait through two cycles (because Union is one-way and First is bordered by Harbor Steps, there’s only one cycle). On the other hand, even though you have to wait through two cycles at four-way intersections, you get a “free” cycle (by virtue of being able to cross diagonally). Ultimately, it’s just paint and signal programming, so why not try it out?

  • There may be some more intersections where this would make sense but I think it would probably slow down all modes of transportation for the most part. I agree with Ryan that restricting right turn on red would be more practical. And also making more intersections change automatically for pedestrians without pushing the button.

  • I used to go through an intersection with an “all way walk” light phase every day on my way home from work (not in Seattle) and nearly every single day some jerk would almost run me down trying to make a right on red, not realizing that there was a walk signal for the pedestrians. While there are some intersections where this might work, my experience with most drivers is that they will ignore their red light and try to turn when traffic stops, without regard for pedestrian safety.

  • This is needed at Lake City Way and NE 125th St. A recent Seattle P-I article identified it as one of the 10 most pedestrian-dangerous intersections in the city, and the only one north of the Ship Canal.

    One thought would be signals which give pedestrians a head-start of 5 seconds or so. Kerry’s comment makes me think of right-turn red lights for cars; drivers will notice them more than an unlit no-turn-on-red sign.

    As safety technology within cars improve, with features such as collision warnings, engineers will hopefully design these features to detect humans too, not just other vehicles.

    • Yeah, I like the idea of signals to give peds a head start. Might help make peds more noticeable and be more palatable politically.

  • More All Way crosswalks would be great, but still won’t fix the real problem, which is terminally stupid drivers that were somehow issued driver’s licenses and will never, ever have them revoked. These folks will continue to kill people and not be sufficiently punished.

  • Eliminating right hand turns will kill traffic in some areas.
    There are some crosswalks that its impossible to turn on due to the pedestrian traffic.

  • The West Seattle Junction all walk is really nice. Yes, some oblivious drivers make right turns on a red anyway, but that happens everywhere there’s a no-turn on red. I like the all-walks because even though I may be delayed a little longer there’s ultimately less risk because I’m only crossing once (on a diagonal) if I need to go to the other side of the street. All traffic is also slowed since NO driver has a green light at all. It’s fantastic to see a sea of pedestrians use one of these intersections.

  • Definitely agree with Ryan & Troy. What we need is to restrict rights on red, and not require pedestrians to push a button to get a walk signal.

    I am constantly having to yell & wave my arms to get the attention of drivers turning right on red without looking in front of them. Frustrating and dangerous.

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