Tag Archive for 'news'

Seattle ranked one of the safer US cities for pedestrians

Transportation for America has analyzed pedestrian safety data across the country to rank the most dangerous cities in the country for pedestrians and Seattle was ranked 46th out of 52.

The Seattle PI’s Traffic and Transportation News blog has a good writeup:

In a news release from Transportation for Washington, Mayor Mike McGinn credits the city’s pedestrian master plan and Complete Streets ordinance, which requires new roads be designed with bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. The city’s Bridging the Gap levy has helped pay for a number of improvements since it was passed in 2006. At the state level, the Legislature this year passed a “Vulnerable User’s” bill, which boosts penalties for negligent drivers who kill or maim bicyclists, pedestrians and other “vulnerable roadway users.”

Still, the report notes that 398 pedestrians were killed from 2000 to 2009 in Seattle’s Metro area.

While traffic deaths have dropped nationally by 27 percent over the last decade, pedestrian deaths have been reduced by less than half that. “Despite the magnitude of these avoidable tragedies, little public attention – and even less in public resources – has been committed to reducing pedestrian deaths and injuries in the United States,” according to the report. “On the contrary, transportation agencies typically prioritize speeding traffic over the safety of people on foot or other vulnerable road users.”

Transportation for America also has a searchable and interactive map of pedestrian fatalities.


Seattle rated a top city for walkers

Seattle has been rated a platinum-level Walk Friendly Community by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. This was the first year of the award and Seattle was the only city to receive a platinum rating.

In evaluating Seattle’s application, the reviewers were especially impressed with:
-The clear establishment of goals and measurable performance indicators in Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan;
-Seattle’s exemplary neighborhood traffic calming program;
-Seattle’s Right-of-Way Improvements Manual; and
-The city’s celebration of physical activity through the Celebrate Summer Streets program.

The reviewers also recognized that Seattle has exhibited a desire to become a community that supports active transportation, noting that, “the city is stepping outside the status quo and making an effort to improve walkability and health in the community.”

Responding to news of the designation, Christina Bollo, chair of the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board, said “Walk Friendly Communities recognizes not only our incredible pedestrian infrastructure, but also pedestrian programs such as Celebrate Summer Streets. Celebrate Summer Streets contributes to all four goals of the Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan: safety, equity, vibrancy, and health. With the creation of the Pedestrian Master Plan, we set out to be the nation’s most walkable city and this award encourages us to keep pursuing that goal.”

This award is well-deserved. While it’s easy to be critical of the shortcomings in Seattle’s pedestrian infrastructure, Seattle’s attention to making walking an easy and safe way to get around the city is uncommon among American cities. The mayor had this to say:

“Kudos to the Seattle Department of Transportation and the community for making Seattle more walkable,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “The recognition is great – and we’ll keep working on making Seattle a better place to live.”


Vulernable Users Bill passes House

The Vulnerable Users Bill, which would stiffen penalties against negligent drivers that hit pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable roadway users, has passed the state house. PubliCola has a longer write-up:

Kline’s legislation creates a new infraction where drivers who strike vulnerable users are subject to a $5,000 fine and restricted from driving for 90 days. Currently, drivers who strike vulnerable users in the second degree are subject only to a $250 fine. Opponents of the legislation such as Rep. Jay Rodne (R-5, North Bend) have argued in the past that vulnerable users shouldn’t be treated any differently than other car drivers.

This version differs from the version passed by the Senate, so this version will be sent to the Senate for final passage before being sent to be signed by the governor.


Vulnerable User bill passed by Senate

Senate Bill 5326, which would increase the penalty for driving negligently and hitting a pedestrian or cyclist, was passed in the state Senate by a vote of 43-5 on Thursday.

This bill addresses negligent (not reckless) driving, so it wouldn’t apply to recent sentences, that were given for drunk driving. Here’s more information from The Olympian:

Under existing law, the penalties are the same for someone who drives negligently but does not hurt anyone and for a negligent driver who injures or kills a biker or pedestrian.

“If you are negligent and you kill someone, what you get is a ticket and a $250 fine,” said Sen. Adam Kline, a Seattle Democrat and the bill’s primary sponsor. “Families see that small fine and wonder, why is someone getting away with a killing and getting a $250 fine?”

According to data from the Cascade Bicycle Club, which helped draft the bill, an average of 229 Washington bikers and pedestrians were killed or seriously injured per year between 2004 and 2007 in accidents where the driver failed to yield, was driving too fast, ran a red light or wasn’t paying attention.

John Schochet, a lawyer from the Seattle City Attorney’s Office who worked on the bill, said if you drive recklessly, meaning you are intentionally driving in a way that is likely to harm a person or property, but don’t hurt anyone, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. If you drive recklessly and do hurt or kill someone, you can be charged with a felony.

If you drive negligently, however, meaning you don’t drive in a way that a reasonably careful person would, you have committed a traffic infraction, not a crime, and you get the same penalties whether you kill someone or not.

For a case where someone is injured or killed, police officers and courts have to decide whether the driver who caused the accident was reckless or negligent, and, Schochet said, there is no middle ground between the two.

“This fills a gap,” said Schochet, referring to the Senate bill. “Right now there’s really nothing between a traffic ticket and a felony charge.”

If the bill is enacted, people who drive negligently and seriously hurt or kill a “vulnerable road user” would either have to pay a $1,000 to $5,000 fine and have their licenses revoked for 90 days or appear at a hearing, pay a $250 fine, take a traffic safety course and complete 100 hours of community service. Vulnerable users include moped riders, equestrians and tractor drivers as well as bikers and pedestrians.

A bill has to be passed by the House as well, however the good news is that the companion bill HB 1339 has made it out of the house rules committee.


Drunk driver gets less than 3 years in prison for hitting 5 people

A woman who was driving with a blood alcohol level of more than 3 times the legal limit, who ran over five pedestrians, has been sentenced to 29 months in prison.

Wright, 43, pleaded guilty earlier this month to three counts of vehicular assault and one count of reckless driving in connection with the accident that sent four people to the hospital. One victim, a 28-year-old woman, suffered a brain injury that required doctors to remove a portion of her skull, according to charging paperwork.

The sentence imposed Friday by King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller was at the high end of the sentencing range, according to the King County prosecutor’s website.

I dunno what to say.