Tag Archive for 'sidewalk'

Solutions Coming for Missing Sidewalks in Seattle

Note: This cross-post is available in its entirety at The Urbanist.

Missing Sidewalks in Seattle

Missing sidewalks in Seattle

There may be solutions soon for one of Seattle’s longest-lasting infrastructure problems. Since the middle of last century when the city annexed land in what is now north Seattle, little progress has been made in building hundreds of miles of missing sidewalks in North Seattle and across the city. North Seattle residents who voted for annexation claim that the city promised sidewalks and failed to deliver. A multi-billion dollar price tag to build all missing sidewalks has been too intimidating for anyone to find real solutions.

However, after decades of minimal progress, wholesale solutions to bring sidewalks to Seattle may be closer than ever. While most conversations about this problem have been around building traditional concrete sidewalks, the Seattle Department of Transportation is now evaluating more affordable alternatives. And, to overcome the funding gulf that remains, city council candidate Sandy Brown has a potential answer.

Read the rest at The Urbanist

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A walker wonders: Where can I walk when there are no sidewalks?

A reader sends in a tricky question about walking in Seattle where there are no sidewalks.

I live in the area colloquially called “East Ballard” or “Frelard” (etc). There are many blocks in my area that are relatively industrial in nature and don’t have sidewalks. I rarely drive and often find myself walking on these blocks (they’re hard to avoid…).

I’m wondering if there is technically a public right-of-way between the property line and the roadway for these sorts of properties. In many instances, the area between the roadway and the structure on the property is used for parking, and there is literally nowhere to walk without stepping into the street. This seems wrong to me, just on general principle. But I’m not sure if it’s technically illegal to block what would be the sidewalk if there were actually a sidewalk on the block.

Here’s SDOT’s response:

Yes, it is technically illegal to park in the area that would be a sidewalk (between the curb –or between the edge of the roadway–and the adjacent property line). A width of not less than three feet is generally assumed for this area. (Please see the code below.) Since locations vary, especially in older parts of town, we would need to inspect the area to determine the boundaries in a particular situation.

Parking over the sidewalk area is a common problem on streets with no curbs or sidewalks, and the prohibition of parking in the sidewalk area is difficult to enforce. When a curb is constructed, there is no question regarding the location of the boundary line, and most drivers will respect it. In an industrial area, businesses may be interested in supporting such a project for the safety of their customers and employees as well as for other pedestrians.

Some neighbors have joined together to request Neighborhood Street Funds from the city for this type of improvement. This generally requires strong support from the local community, including residents and businesses.

Seattle Municipal Code 11.14.570 Sidewalk.
“Sidewalk” means that area between the curb lines or the lateral edge lines of a roadway and the adjacent property, intended for the use of pedestrians or such portion of private property parallel and in proximity to a street or alley and dedicated to use by pedestrians. For the purposes of this subtitle, there is always deemed to be a sidewalk not less than three (3)feet in width, whether actually constructed or not, on each side of each street except where there is less than three (3) feet between the edge of the roadway and a physical obstruction which prohibits reasonable use by pedestrians. The sidewalk is located where constructed, or if not constructed, adjacent to the property line or as close thereto as can reasonably be used by pedestrians; provided, that no sidewalk shall be deemed to exist on private property unless it is actually constructed.

To be direct, it’s illegal to park in the area where a sidewalk would be and pedestrians who are not able to walk in the sidewalk area due to parked vehicles can call SPD. For ongoing issues, contact the Parking Enforcement Unit at 206-386-9012. They may be able to come out to investigate the situation and work to correct the issue through new signage or more regular enforcement. For more immediate attention, call SPD’s non-emergency number at 206-625-5011.

It’s unfortunate that pedestrians have to compete with drivers for area along the roadway that’s technically not for parking and not really a sidewalk. The Neighborhood Street Fund is one way to have the city build new sidewalks, but is a very competitive process that requires broad community support, which doesn’t come easily in an industrial area. SDOT doesn’t even allow industrial land-owners to fund the construction of a sidewalk by themselves.

With the cost of building all of Seattle’s missing sidewalks estimated at up to $4.5 billion, there’s no realistic solution to create lots more sidewalks. Enforcement of existing laws is the only reasonable option to improve pedestrian accessibility in areas where the infrastructure has been neglected.

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A walker wonders: What do I do about a dangerous sidewalk?

A reader sends in a question about a dangerous sidwealk:

On Saturday night when walking to Husky Stadium I fell on a sidewalk that has buckled due to a tree between the sidewalk and Montlake and I have many questions?
#1 – How can I get someone to listen to me about getting this very dangerous patch of sidewalk fixed? I was not seriously injuried (that I know of) but it’s only a matter of time.
#2 – Is this a City of Seattle issue?
#3 – Does it do any good to fill out the form to request it gets fixed when there is so many that need help?
I have no intention of sueing them. I just want it fixed. It’s been getting worse over the years. Thank You for any help!!

According to the city, “Property owners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks adjacent to their property. They must make sure snow and ice does not pose a hazard to pedestrians. They must also repair cracks and other damage.”

Even though it is the property-owner’s responsibility, you should still submit the city’s sidewalk repair form, as SDOT can mark the damaged area with paint to warn other pedestrians and issue a “Street Use Warning” to the property owner.

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Walking news roundup

There’s a lot of news out there to cover – here are a few stories:

And a couple SDOT news releases that I don’t have links for:

  • “Seattle Department of Transportation’s Roadway Structures crew will construct a new staircase near the southeastern city limits at 72nd Avenue South between Rainier Avenue South and South Taft Street.” The stairway will be closed starting next Monday through early May. “The new staircase will be wider with hand rails on both sides, and will sport a new bike runnel making it easy to roll a bike up and down the stairs.”
  • “Repairs are underway on the Duwamish Trail in West Seattle. The asphalt trail has been heavily damaged in places by tree roots and needs to be repaired for bicyclist and pedestrian safety.”
  • NE Ravenna Blvd between Green Lake and 15th Ave NE will be repaved. “Work includes grinding and removing the existing asphalt roadway, repairing areas of the concrete roadway base, repaving, upgrading pedestrian curb ramps and building a curb bulb at E. Green Lake Drive N. and N.E. 71st Street. Work is expected to be completed by the end of summer, dependant on weather conditions.”
  • Also, the pedestrian paradise known as the Ballard bridge will have a closed west sidewalk starting next Monday and continuing into April due to a painting project.

One final thing – the nomination period for the worst intersection in Seattle ends this Sunday.

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Infrastructure improvement updates

Here’s a rundown of current and recently completed SDOT projects that promote pedestrian mobility:

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What to do when someone parks on the sidewalk

Asphalt sidewalk used for parking

Vehicle parked on asphalt sidewalk

Feel free to program these numbers for the Seattle Police Department into your phone in case you run into any conflicts with parked vehicles on your next walk.

  • For ongoing issues, contact the Parking Enforcement Unit at 206-386-9012 and they will come out and investigate what is going on and work to correct the issue through new signage or more regular enforcement.
  • For issues that may need more immediate attention, you can call SPD’s non-emergency number at 206-625-5011.
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Parking on any portion of sidewalk illegal

Just in case anyone was wondering, it’s illegal to park your vehicle on any portion of the sidewalk, even where the sidewalk intersects with your driveway. This applies to motorcycles and mopeds, not just cars. From the Seattle PI’s 911 blog:

It’s illegal to be parked on any portion of the sidewalk, Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Sheridan said.

He cited section 11.72.360 of the Seattle Municipal Code, which states: “No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle on or over a sidewalk, whether constructed or not.”

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Sidewalk rehabilitation on S McClellan St

SDOT is repairing a block of sidewalk along S McClellan St near Beacon Hill between 24th and 25th Ave S. This route is one of few walking routes between Rainier Ave and Beacon Hill in this area. Construction will last for the duration of the week.


View Larger Map

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Kiosk Removal at 5th and Union

Today the kiosk at 5th and Union will be removed and the sidewalk restored. The removal of the kiosk will require a crane and in addition to obstructing pedestrian traffic, will also close two lanes of vehicle traffic. (View Larger Map)

This kiosk will be the third kiosk that has been removed of the five that were originally installed. These kiosks were installed from Pine to Seneca as part of a 1978 Fifth Avenue Improvement project. While originally well-intended, and probably an enhancement to the pedestrian experience at the time, the kiosks have not been used in a few years and are an obstruction to the pedestrian right of way.

Kiosk at 5th and Pine

Kiosk at 5th and Pine, before removal. Photo courtesy SDOT.

5th and Pine after Kiosk removal

5th and Pine after Kiosk removal. Photo courtesy SDOT.

The kiosks are privately owned by the adjacent property owners and this removal was requested by the Metropolitan Improvement District. According to SDOT, the MID “worked with the Department of Neighborhoods and the Seattle Department of Transportation to obtain the grant from the Neighborhood Projects Fund to pay for the removal.” These kiosks currently house an electrical box, so SDOT is involved to replace the existing electrical box with a less obtrusive structure. The MID hopes to have the remaining two kiosks removed over the next four years.

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New park and sidewalk in Northgate

An old park & ride near Northgate Mall is being converted into a park. This new park, Hubbard Homestead Park, will be opening soon and features “3.7 acres of landscaped open space” according to SDOT’s blog. There will also be a nice new 12-foot-wide sidewalk along the western perimeter of the park that should open very shortly. Visit SDOT’s post about this for more details.

How do you think Hubbard Homestead Park will stack up against Seattle’s many other parks?

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