Tag Archive: crosswalk

Crackdown On Block The Box

August 13, 2015

Mercer Mess Blocked Box. KOMO photo.

Mercer Mess Blocked Box. KOMO photo.

Today in Seattle City Council, officials from Seattle Police and Seattle Department of Transportation presented a new initiative championed by Councilmember Sally Bagshaw called “Don’t Be a Jerk, Don’t Block the Box“.

Obstructing crosswalks and intersections during signal changes is indeed part of the Municipal Code of Seattle and is against the law (SMC 11.50.070), but traffic violations are rarely enforced unless they are part of a funded initiative.

Because journalists are often delayed as they head out from downtown Seattle by blocked boxes, so media stories about Block the Box have been overwhelmingly supportive.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Executive Director Cathy Tuttle presented the following testimony on why to consider Block the Box as part of a Vision Zero / Safe Streets initiative:

Tuttle Block the Box Testimony

Click on image to see testimony and City presentation on Block the Box

My name is Cathy Tuttle. I am the Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. I am here today representing Greenways, a community coalition of more than 20 local groups who chose as their number one priority in 2015 safe streets and Vision Zero.

We are delighted to see this “Block the Box” collaboration between Seattle Police and the Seattle Department of Transportation. It is a data-driven safety initiative we strongly support.

Not only does “Blocking the Box” lead to traffic congestion and delay, car drivers who illegally enter crosswalks and intersections pose a significant safety threat to people who walk and ride bicycles.

“Block the Box” is notable in the downtown core, but I’ve spoken to many of our members who feel threatened as they attempt to cross the street by people driving cars across signalized crosswalks in many urban villages including Greenwood, Lake City, Queen Anne, Rainier, Faunterloy, Ballard, Capitol Hill, and Wallingford. In particular, our most vulnerable elders and children are at risk by people who “Block the Box”.

A father who walks his children daily to preschool, one in a stroller and one in hand, says that he often waits for two signal cycles in Madison Valley until the crosswalk is open for him to walk his family safely across the street. A senior couple in Green Lake told me they wait for gaps in traffic and “scurry like scared rabbits” to get across the street from the Library to the Community Center.

We hope this collaborative pilot project is successful and expands to other neighborhoods. We urge Council to consider dedicating some of the revenue collected in “Block the Box” citations back into Vision Zero safety enforcement AND into Vision Zero safety engineering for safer crosswalks throughout the city.

Safe Crossings for Kids

Kids CrossingEditors Note: University Of Washington students Qiren Lu & Ranju Uezono studied four  intersections in Seattle School Walk Zones to see if drivers stopped for people crossing at  crosswalks.

Their findings were alarming. Motorist  compliance rate ranged from 15% to 34%, low figures compared to the national average.

In other words, in marked crosswalks in school zones, only 3 in 10 people driving cars fully stopped for people walking during school arrival & departure hours.

Read the full report. Read the Lake City Library supplementary report.

Abstract
The percentage of children actively commuting to school by walking or biking in the United States has significantly decreased within the past 50 years (National Household Transportation Survey, 2001). Busy street crossings are barriers to students walking and biking to school in cities around the nation. The purpose of this on-site data collection study titled Safe Crossings for Kids is to analyze motorist compliance rates with pedestrian-motorist encounters at three marked crosswalks near schools in Seattle. The observed crosswalks are located at Wallingford Ave & 43rd St in Wallingford (near Hamilton International Middle School), 15th Ave S & S Hill St in Beacon Hill (near Beacon Hill International School), and 58th St &14th Ave in Ballard (near St. Alphonsus Parish Elementary School). Observations of general public pedestrians crossing were collected, in addition to staged pedestrians crossing these marked crosswalks, modeled after TCRP 112/NCHRP 562 (Transit Cooperative Research Program/National Cooperative Highway Research Program). Results show a majority of non-compliance, as defined by Revised Code of Washington, Rules of the Road (RCW 46.61.235), where full-stops are considered a complete compliance to pedestrians. Subsequent future studies would provide further insight into the current trends of motorist compliance rates around schools in Seattle. The results from this study show that the motorist compliance rate for Wallingford Ave & 43rd St. is 34%, for 15th Ave S & S Hill St., 21%, and for 58th St. & 14th Ave, 15%, which are relatively low figures compared to the national compliance rates. Read the rest of this entry »