Neighbors Win Pedestrian Improvements

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I haven’t written about Pedestrian Safety in a while, but it’s still one of my top issues of concern.  This blog entry says a bit about my personal involvement in this issue.

Some of you may remember in 2007, as Council President, I created a Special Council Committee on Pedestrian Safety and led the Council in passing the Pedestrian Safety Resolution (Resolution 30951), to establish a citizens advisory group for developing a Pedestrian Master Plan.  In 2009, the Council passed the Pedestrian Master Plan that was a requirement of the 2007 Resolution 30951.  The Council Special Committee on Pedestrian Safety operated from 2007-2008.  The goal of the plan was to invest $10 million a year in implementing the recommendations.  Thanks to the Bridging the Gap Levy, $60 million for pedestrian improvements are planned from 2009-2014. This includes funding for new infrastructure like sidewalks, curb ramps, and signals as well as maintenance like sidewalk repair and crosswalk re-striping.

photo credit goes to the Low Income Housing Institute

But sometimes when we are focused on the big master plans, we forget to celebrate the small victories that can occur when we – as elected officials – support the efforts of individual residents trying to make the the places that they walk safer.   In February this year, I learned that the low-income and disabled senior residents of the Bart Harvey Apartments in South Lake Union had been waiting for more than two years for SDOT to put stop signs and traffic calming devices in front of The Bart Harvey.  Many residents are frail, in their 70’s and 80’s, and have problems with mobility. The seniors use canes and walkers; some get around in wheelchairs.

SDOT completed a traffic warrant study in 2011 demonstrating a safety hazard for pedestrians.  Finally, due to the persistence and patience of a lot of people, last month, the crosswalks were installed.  ADA curb ramps will be coming to this intersection as well but this work is not yet scheduled.   Many thanks go to the Seattle Department of Transportation, the residents of the Bart Harvey Apartments, the Low Income Housing Institute, and the Mayor’s Office.

I’d like the City to work towards a broader policy objective in instances like the Bart Harvey Apartments – when the City is funding a housing development that we know will create a need for new pedestrian improvements – of  the Office of Housing working closely with the Department of Transportation coordinating in advance so these improvements can be planned before a new building receiving city funding is open.  If we can plan for these investments in advance, perhaps in the future folks like the residents of the Bart Harvey won’t have to wait.

Finally, I’d like to remind readers of Critical Crossings.  Critical Crossings is a place where you can send me your snapshots of intersections and street crossings you feel might be dangerous.