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Will Seattle become the nation’s most walkable city?
City Hall has set an ambitious goal—to make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation. On Tuesday, July 21, 2009, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) delivered a plan with this mission to the City Council. The draft Pedestrian Master Plan lays out the “goals, policies, programs, and improvements for making Seattle a pedestrian-friendly city,” according to the Council’s website. While, the plan notes, Seattle is consistently rated one of the safest cities for pedestrians, there were “1,433 reported pedestrian crashes in the three-year period between 2005 and 2007. Of these, nearly 70% occurred at intersections, while around 30% occurred at mid-block locations.” Currently, the plan notes, Seattle has “approximately 2,256 miles of sidewalks” but the city also has “around 767 miles of potential sidewalk locations in Seattle’s residential zones that do not presently have a sidewalk on one or both sides of the street. This accounts for around 30% of the total sidewalk area in residential zones…”
Send your comments about the plan to the city council.
Council Member testified before lawmakers on behalf of pedestrian safety
In March 2007, Seattle Council Member David Della took a close personal issue to Olympia to testify before state lawmakers.
Della spoke before both Transportation Committees for the House and Senate on behalf of two separate bills that would enhance pedestrian safety. House Bill 1588, also called the Matthew "Tatsuo" Nakata Act, addresses curriculum changes for driver education courses to include information regarding pedestrian safety. Nakata, 30, was Della Chief of Staff when he was killed while walking in a crosswalk in West Seattle in November.
The bill is co-sponsored by Representative Zack Hudgins from the 11th District. The bill passed the House on March 10 and now moves on to the Senate.
Read more about House Bill 1588.
Starting in 2003, elected officials in the City of Seattle came together around the issue of pedestrian safety. Ultimately, they agreed upon an ambitious goal: To make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation.
In July 2003, Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin, then Chair of the Transportation Committee, started "Pedestrian Summer," a campaign to promote walking and pedestrian safety. The campaign distributed 20,000 brochures, placed billboards on major arterials, held 26 walking events across the city, and worked with the Seattle Police Department on crosswalk enforcement activities in May and June of 2004. Enforcement activities included "sting" operations that resulted in dozens of tickets for drivers who violated crosswalk laws.
In May 2005, Former Mayor Greg Nickels launched his pedestrian safety initiative. There were ten parts to the initiative including: increasing enforcement of pedestrian safety laws; re-marking or upgrading 110 crosswalks at 50 intersections; public education including billboards, public service announcements, school visits and a website; increasing the fine for drivers who ”fail to stop for pedestrians;” and piloting a red light photo enforcement program. Former Mayor Nickels summed up his commitment to a walkable city by saying, “What color shoes you wear today should be the toughest question for your morning commute."
In January 2007, the City Council created a special Council Committee on Pedestrian Safety co-chaired by then-Council President Nick Licata and then-Transportation Committee Chair Jan Drago (its meetings are archived on Seattle Channel’s website). As part of Pedestrian Safety Committee’s work, the Council and Former Mayor Nickels adopted a resolution providing for the development and oversight of a Pedestrian Master Plan that articulates the City's goals, policies, programs and improvements for making Seattle a more pedestrian-friendly city.
On Tuesday, July 21, 2009, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) delivered a draft Pedestrian Master Plan to the Council for its consideration. The draft Pedestrian Master Plan contains a wealth of information about pedestrians in Seattle.
While, the plan notes, Seattle is consistently rated one of the safest cities for pedestrians, there were “1,433 reported pedestrian crashes in the three-year period between 2005 and 2007. Of these, nearly 70% occurred at intersections, while around 30% occurred at mid-block locations.”
Currently, the plan notes, Seattle has “approximately 2,256 miles of sidewalks” but the city also has “around 767 miles of potential sidewalk locations in Seattle’s residential zones that do not presently have a sidewalk on one or both sides of the street. This accounts for around 30% of the total sidewalk area in residential zones…”
According to Washington State law, vehicles must yield to pedestrians at every intersection, whether there is a marked crosswalk or not; and pedestrians must not move into the path of a vehicle in such a way that it is impossible for the driver to stop. The Pedestrian Master Plan notes that there are “approximately 6,000 marked crosswalks in Seattle.” The plan says, “The City has a generally conservative approach to marking crosswalks. In other cities such as Washington, D.C. and Tucson, Arizona, the project team has observed more marked crosswalks at unsignalized intersections, especially in downtown commercial-type settings. In Seattle, crosswalks are not marked on non-arterial streets unless it is a designated school crossing.”
Currently the City of Seattle is experimenting with additional measures at crosswalks such as pedestrian crossing flags, overhead pedestrian crossing signs and signs that direct drivers where to stop for pedestrians.
In the fall of 2009, the City Council is expected to make a decision on whether to adopt the Pedestrian Master Plan.