As one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, Seattle is in need of significant improvements to its pedestrian infrastructure to make it safe, accessible and inviting for people to travel by foot. Walkable communities decrease traffic congestion, improve health, increase environmental sustainability, and boost economic development. When people walk they are more connected to their city.
Feet First encourages Seattle’s City Council members to join us as partners in developing policies that make Seattle a city that is walkable for people of all ages and abilities. Here are the steps we are focusing on to support the city’s goals:
Pedestrian Master Plan
SDOT is currently updating the Pedestrian Master Plan and anticipates a council vote in early 2016.
- Dedicate a new annual revenue source for walking infrastructure. The current plan identifies many vital projects to improve safety for people on foot, but according to SDOT, “the level of current funding does not approach the need identified in the plan.”
In February 2015, the City of Seattle announced Vision Zero to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2013. The full plan is available on the City of Seattle website.
- Fully implement Vision Zero, including: speed limit reductions, safety improvements at intersections, and pedestrian infrastructure enhancements along arterials.
- Consult the newly instated Washington State Pedestrian Safety Advisory Council for analysis of causes of collisions, and promising strategies for reducing these crashes.
The passage of the Move Seattle levy in 2015 created an opportunity to fund long-overdue infrastructure improvements to make communities more walkable.
- Ensure that a Move Seattle advisory board is created as soon as possible to oversee the implementation of projects and replace the former Bridging the Gap Oversight Committee. Feet First supports creation of a committee from diverse ages, abilities, races and ethnicities, organizational affiliations, and geographic locations in Seattle.
- Work in partnership with the future advisory board to ensure that the promised projects are implemented in full. These include: the Graham Street Station and Accessible Mt. Baker Project; the Northgate Pedestrian Bridge; and safety improvements along Aurora Avenue.
Safe Routes to School
The City of Seattle Safe Routes to School program is a vital program that uses education, engineering, and enforcement to make it safer and easier for children in Seattle to walk to school, which can play a significant role in reducing unnecessary congestion around schools in the am and pm peak hours.
- Expand the Safe Routes to School program budget, and increase grant opportunities from the City of Seattle to schools and communities to support Safe Routes to School.
- Consult the City of Seattle School Traffic Safety Committee regarding the implications of city policies for Safe Routes to School.
- Read our Feet First School Siting and School Transportation papers for more information.
Light Rail Access and Northgate Bridge
Designing pedestrian-friendly light rail stations is critical to building transit ridership as well as supporting smart growth and transit-oriented development. The construction of the Sound Transit link light rail system is an opportunity to build these type of inclusive neighborhoods throughout our city.
- Ensure that the bridge across I-5 at the Northgate Station is open to pedestrians at all hours (not just when trains are running), and integrates seamlessly with the station and surrounding neighborhood. Move Seattle includes funding for this bridge.
- Advocate for a safe and welcoming pedestrian environment at the Judkins Park Station at Rainier and I-90. The current environment has significant problems for people going by foot. In consultation with local residents, Feet First has identified a number of low-to medium-cost improvements that would significantly improve pedestrian access.
- Read our Feet First Sound Access for AllÂ paper for more information.
Low-cost sidewalk alternatives
Move Seattle allocates funds for low-cost sidewalk alternatives, and SDOT is considering this type of infrastructure during its Pedestrian Master Plan Update.
- Prioritize an equity lens when evaluating sidewalk alternatives to take into account users of all ages and abilities. Not all low-cost sidewalk alternatives are safe or welcoming for people with disabilities, and it is important that the city consults with representatives from these communities before moving forward.
- Read our Feet First Universal Design paper for more information.
Converting four-lane roads to three lanes can vastly increase safety for people on foot by increasing visibility and reducing prevalence of speeding over the limit.
- Implement road rechannelization and lane reduction where possible. Feet First generally supports reduction of lane number and lane width, with the understanding that rechannelization proposals should be evaluated for safety and vehicle capacity on a case-by-case basis.
- Read our Feet First Road Rechannelization paper for more information.
Seattle is experiencing unprecedented growth and development. While construction can bring opportunities, it can also create challenges for people walking.
- Support Access Seattle, an initiative focused on maintaining mobility in the city during peak construction periods, and making sure people have safe and easy ways to walk in the city. Feet First supports the proposed Director’s Rule for Pedestrian Mobility and will continue to work with the City to ensure that information is provided to stakeholders.
- Read our Feet First Walking, Sidewalks and Construction paper for more information.
Red Light Cameras
Since 2010, the City has operated 30 traffic safety cameras at 21 arterials and intersections. Red light cameras are an important deterrent for unsafe driving and have had a measurable impact on increasing the safety of our city streets for people on foot.
- Increase the level of revenue from red light cameras dedicated to financing safety infrastructure. This is an important step toward funding safety improvements and meeting the ambitious goals set forth in Vision Zero.
- Keep revenue from the Safe Routes to School program separate from other red light camera revenue in order for Safe Routes to School to receive the assurance of funding needed for focused initiatives specifically designed to create safe places for children to walk to school.