Seattle City Council passes legislation to improve sidewalks across the city

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2 – South Seattle) celebrated the unanimous passage of legislation she sponsored that will help create new and repair existing sidewalks throughout the city.

The legislation will require the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to install a sidewalk or fix deficient sidewalks along the street during major paving projects.

Approximately 24 percent of Seattle’s streets are missing sidewalks. At the current annual rate of sidewalk construction, it would take 407 years before every Seattle street had a sidewalk. North and South Seattle lack sidewalks the most and both see disproportionately high numbers of pedestrians and cyclists being killed by vehicles.

“Sidewalks are essential public infrastructure that provide a public good and enables mobility for everyone regardless of age, ability, or income,” said Councilmember Morales.  “Investing in sidewalks means investing in our whole community. I’m proud to have worked with Disability Rights Washington, Smart Growth America, Commute Seattle, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, former SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe, America Walks, and the American Heart Association to get this legislation passed.”

This legislation will apply to all projects that cost more than $1 million. SDOT’s director will have authority to determine if full compliance with the requirements is not possible on any given project. SDOT will also have to give annual updates to Council about their progress.

Additionally, the legislation also creates a new policy prioritizing sidewalk creation and improvements in areas:

  • Where pedestrian movement is impaired by the absence of sidewalks,
  • Where sidewalks would provide access to schools, parks, and transit,
  • That are very dense, and
  • Equity-priority areas where people are at high risk of displacement.