Tag Archive for 'pedestrian master plan'

PubliCola argues for accelerating the Pedestrian Master Plan

In the budget review process, the City Council decided to reject the mayor’s proposal to fund the Pedestrian Master Plan. By doing this, much needed safety improvements will be delayed. Erica C. Barnett at PubliCola argues that implementing the pedestrian plan should be accelerated so that pedestrians aren’t put at risk.

[B]y slowing implementation of the already-behind-schedule pedestrian master plan, the city is all but ensuring that dangerous intersections get fixed more slowly than they would have if the master plan was a higher priority, and that puts all pedestrians at risk.

She points to the intersection of 15th Ave. NW and NW 87th St. where a 12-year-old boy was critically injured in a location without a lit crosswalk sign.


Editorial: Does Seattle need a pedestrian advocate?

The Planning Picture blog raises an interesting argument that pedestrians need an advocacy group. The writer perspective mostly references Vancouver, BC, but much of it applies to Seattle as well.

A couple of things recently have brought my attention to the fact that pedestrians are perhaps becoming overlooked in the development of our cities. I know this sounds crazy, but bear with me. They are being overlooked, often, in favour of cyclists. At a recent Gaining Ground workshop that I attended there seemed to be a consensus that while bicycle advocacy was well advanced in some areas (and rightly so) and has achieved some notable victories (Vancouver’s downtown bike lanes for example) there is no one flying the flag for pedestrians.

The City of Vancouver has a Bicycle Advisory Committee which is consulted on major development proposals and capital projects to ensure that cyclists needs have been taken into account. In addition, there is the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition who are the leading cycling advocates in the area and then there is, of course, Critical Mass. All of these bodies do great work (although I sometimes have doubts about critical mass). The point is not that bicycle advocacy has gone too far, but that pedestrian advocacy has, erh… well, not really started yet.

This discrepancy is very clear here in Seattle when controversial road rechannelizations (diets) are proposed. Conflicts are often portrayed as bikes vs. cars, when in fact projects like these are just as valued by people on foot. The influence and power of local cycling organizations, at least compared to what exists for pedestrian advocacy, may be part of what makes bicyclists so prominent in these discussions. Pedestrians don’t have strong organizations that speak for us.

Organizations like Streets for All Seattle and Great City are working for a pedestrian-friendly city, but their umbrella of interests also is also big enough to cover people on bikes and buses. Feet First is the premier organization in Seattle supporting walkability, but its influence is limited.

Even without a strong pedestrian voice, SDOT is doing a lot of good work for people on foot – just take a look back at our archives to see the important projects SDOT is doing.

Unfortunately, it will take a while to replace all the poorly-placed curb ramps, install enough pedestrian signals, and build all the missing sidewalks. It will take time to make our city’s streets into complete streets for people in cars, on bikes, and on foot. It will also take a lot of money.

And while there is still another budget meeting where you can show support for the mayor’s Walk Bike Ride funding, the City Council has already shown disinterest in the funding sources for some of these important pedestrian projects.

Infrastructure is critical to make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation, as the city’s Pedestrian Master Plan aspires to accomplish. But it will take more than just sidewalks and signals to make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation.

Should the most walkable city in the nation require you to push a button to cross a street in parts of the urban core of the city? Or allow building construction projects to close busy sidewalks for weeks at a time?

Seattle is not the most walkable city in the nation nor will it be without walking advocates who work to make things happen.

Seattle needs advocates who will work not just to implement infrastructure projects that will save lives, but to change the culture that endangered them to begin with. Until pedestrians organize and push Seattle to becoming the most walkable city in the nation, the city will fall short.


Mayor proposes additional funding for pedestrian projects

With the city facing a budget crisis, Mayor Mike McGinn has announced his budget, which includes quite a few cuts. The budget also includes additional funding for the pedestrian master plan, including more sidewalks, crosswalks, stairways, and pedestrian lighting. It also includes funding for more Summer Streets events.

Streets for All Seattle had been campaigning for more funding for the pedestrian master plan and it is no surprise that the mayor has supported that to an extent. However, in a year with service cuts, it may be hard to sell the city council and taxpayers on a budget that gives more money towards alternative transportation. PubliCola has additional coverage of these budget items here.


City budget hearings

As some of you may know, Seattle has a Pedestrian Master Plan to make Seattle the most walkable city in the country. However, this plan won’t accomplish much until it is funded by the city. Conveniently, the Seattle City Council is currently considering its budget priorities for next year and the Pedestrian Master Plan might be something worth reminding them of.

Here are a couple things you can do, if you’re so inclined:

  1. Send an email to the City CouncilStreets for All Seattle has a form and a template to make it easier to share your thoughts with the City Council.
  2. Attend a public budget hearing – Scheduled for the evenings of Sept 29, Oct 13, and Oct 26, attend and encourage the council to fund the Pedestrian Master Plan.