Tag Archive for 'sidewalks'

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Madrona sidewalk maintenance in progress

Central District News reports that Liz Ellis of SDOT is planning sidewalk improvements in the Madrona area.

Ellis identified three specific arterials in Madrona as the most in need of repair – E. Union Street from MLK to 34th Avenue, E. Cherry Street from MLK to 34th Avenue and 34th Avenue between E. Cherry and E. Pike.
She’s meeting with a crew chief to discuss plans for repairs on E. Union St. as early as this month or in the first few weeks of November, to take advantage of good weather. That street was prioritized because it’s nearest to Madrona K-8 and sees a lot of foot traffic, both from school and from the bus stops. The repairs would include taking up lifted cracks, root pruning and putting in level asphalt patches.

Update: The sidewalk restoration has begun


Improvements at 1st Ave S & S Massachusetts St

In preparation for the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, SDOT is upgrading the intersection between 1st Ave S & S Massachusetts Street. This is near the Showbox SoDo where 5 pedestrians were struck last Thursday night.

View Larger Map

This work includes restoring the sidewalk and installing pedestrian signal poles. During construction, there will be some sidewalk closures and detours for walkers in the area. The project is expected to be substantially complete by November 15.


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.


What a difference a sidewalk makes

SDOT posts an example of a sidewalk project in Columbia City – take a look at their photos to see what a difference a sidewalk makes to a neighborhood

View SDOT Sidewalk Project in a larger map


Sidewalks for Ravenna Ave

Maple Leaf Life reports on some big changes to Ravenna Ave (hat tip to reader Nick):

A big announcement last night is setting up about $1 million worth of changes on Ravenna Ave between NE 85th and Lake City Way. That area is one of the projects selected to be paid for with the Large Neighborhood Street Fund. Many neighbors have complained about the lack of a sidewalk. This project will widen the roadway on the west side of the street to allow for a bike lane as well as a curb, planting strip and sidewalk. You can read more here.

View Ravenna Ave sidewalk construction in a larger map

This section of Ravenna Ave currently has no sidewalks and there had been some sidewalk construction in the area that was forcing pedestrians into the roadway. It sounds like there are quite a few problems with that stretch of roadway:

This is the only section of the major Montlake/25th Ave NE/Ravenna Ave NE north/south arterial that does not have a sidewalk. This affects the area socio-economically, cutting it off from safe access to the many public facilities available just south of 85th. There is no safe access to the 8 bus stops located on this stretch of road. Disabled access is completely unavailable. The nearby elementary schools cannot be accessed by foot and it is a bussing nightmare for the school transportation dispatch due to the high traffic and lack of safe pick-up/drop-offs for elementary aged children. At 83rd on this arterial is Dahl Field, Beth Ann Temple, University Prep, Wedgewood Pool and assess to Wedgwood Elementary school. Walking down to 85th where the sidewalk begins is simply unsafe. Because of the geographic area, this sidewalk will involve innovative drainage solutions. A plan is our major step towards linking this section of the community back in with others.

Ravenna Ave without sidewalks


Illegal to park vehicles on sidewalks

In case there was any question, the PI’s Seattle 911 blog clarifies that it’s illegal to park a vehicle, either a car or a motorcycle over any portion of a sidewalk:

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.”


No sidewalks? Blame the Great Depression

The area north of N 85th Street was one of the last areas for Seattle to annex and for the most part doesn’t have sidewalks. The Seattle PI’s Getting There column sheds more light on why there aren’t sidewalks in this area.

In short, prior to the Great Depression, annexed areas in Seattle were part of local improvement districts that would pay taxes to support interest and principal payments on city bonds for transportation improvements (including sidewalks). During the Great Depression, property owners couldn’t afford the taxes and the city had to support the bonds. The next annexations took place in the 50s and the city wanted to avoid the risk of getting stuck making bond payments again, so sidewalks were paid by developers or from the city’s general fund, making them a lower priority.


New sidewalks thanks to Bridging the Gap

The Bridging the Gap levy approved by voters in 2006 has led to quite a few pedestrian improvements – 54 blocks of new sidewalk, in fact. Check out a few photos from SDOT of recent sidewalk construction that has helped make it easier and safer to get around on foot in Seattle.


Sidewalk improvements for Safe Routes to School

SDOT is adding sidewalks or otherwise encouraging kids to walk to school at 5 elementary schools this summer. The schools include:

  • B. F. Day Elementary in Fremont
  • Roxhill Elementary near White Center
  • Olympic Hills Elementary in Olympic Hills in North Seattle
  • Dearborn Park Elementary in Rainier Valley
  • Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Judkins Park near I-90

The Safe Routes to School program is funded by the Bridging the Gap transportation initiative. The program works closely with school staff, students and parents to identify barriers and solutions to make walking and biking safer and more accessible.

Over the past three years, the Safe Routes to School Program has made improvements at 14 schools across the city. … Over the life of the nine-year levy, SDOT anticipates making improvements at 30 schools across the city as part of the program.


New green street: Terry Avenue

SDOT is transforming a one-block-long section of Terry Avenue in the Denny Triangle into a green street.

SDOT will narrow the roadway and remove 35 on-street parking spaces, replacing them with landscaping (including 13 trees) and wider sidewalks. Three granite slab benches will be added. The total cost is approximately $500,000, funded primarily by a Federal Transit Administration grant with additional money from local grants.

The street has not been very heavily used by pedestrians or by vehicle traffic. It’s not a particularly enjoyable street to walk along, though this project won’t do anything about the poor streetscape created by the buildings on this block. Still, it’s nice to see another street made more pleasant for walking on.