Tag Archive: traffic calming

The Cost of Vision Zero

Ronacin Tjhung was struck & killed at MLK & South Graham January 2017

Ronacin Tjhung, father of 4 young children, was struck & killed in January 2017 at MLK & South Graham on his way to work

January 2017

May 25, 2017
Cathy Tuttle, @SNGreenways Executive Director

Every life is precious, and over the course of a year, thousands of lives in Seattle are impacted by traffic violence.

In just the past few months in Seattle, two young parents were hit and killed by people driving, people young and old were maimed for life crossing the street, and people commuting to work who’d love to get healthy exercise by walking or biking to their jobs were intimidated by speeding and distracted drivers and so refused to continue commuting by active transportation.

As a society, we’ve chosen to accept this loss of life and freedom as our collective cost of driving.

Serious road injuries and fatalities also have a real economic cost. A shockingly high cost it turns out.

The High Cost of Traffic Violence

The high cost of traffic violence is what we asked Tim Ganter to capture in his extraordinary data visualizations.

Let’s look at one example, the intersection of Rainier Ave S with MLK Ave S, better known as the Accessible Mt. Baker project. In 2016, our advocacy group successfully lobbied for more funding to go to this intersection. 

Tim’s new map tells the story of what our local advocates had verified on the ground.

Click on image for Data viz map

 

  • In the past decade there have been two fatalities and scores of injuries in and around MLK and Rainier Ave S.
  • In the past decade, the cost of traffic violence around MLK and Rainier Ave S added up to an astonishing $17,206,400 according to actuarial tables developed by the National Safety Council.

So which fact is more shocking? The money or the violence?
Which fact is most likely to influence public opinion and get leaders to invest and take action?

 

Stories of individual lives lost and shattered because of traffic violence are compelling. But so too are the dollar costs to our society for choosing to invest in streets that favor safety over speeding.

I encourage you to explore Tim’s work, based on Seattle’s open-sourced traffic incident reports, combined with fully vetted National Safety Council cost estimates for fatalities and injuries.

Please let Tim and @SNGreenways know how you use this work in your own neighborhoods. And let Tim know if you want his expertise in developing traffic data visualizations for your own community.

20 MPH Streets Start With Schools

January 31, 2016
by Cathy Tuttle

Overwhelming Evidence of Speed Hump Effectiveness
Overwhelming Evidence of Speed Hump Effectiveness

It’s official. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will engineer safe streets around ALL Seattle schools!

Speed humps are highly effective, inexpensive, and quick to install. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working closely with SDOT on a policy of engineered speed bumps around all schools, based on the Vancouver BC model of traffic calming on non-arterial streets in all School Walk Zones.

Speed bumps will be prioritized using the Vision Zero and Race & Social Justice lenses in the Safe Routes to School Action Plan. (That means the schools with the highest need get speed humps first.)

People who live in school zones that that are not highly prioritized for funding may request speed hump funding through Neighborhood Street Fund or Neighborhood Matching Fund.2016 SDOT Speed Hump Policy page 1

The policy states “To discourage speeds above 20 mph all day, speed humps may be routinely installed on all non-arterials that are signed with 20 mph school speed zones. SDOT has evaluated the effectiveness of speed humps and speed cushions in school zones and found they are effective at reducing … speed to near 20 mph; and they nearly eliminate top-end speeders who drive more than 35 mph that pose the greatest danger for children walking and biking in school zones.(emphasis added)”

Read the complete Speed Hump Policy here.

 

 

How You Can Use Seattle Safe Routes To School Resources

Mayor Ed Murray launches Safe Routes to School Action Plan Oct 8 2015Cathy Tuttle
October 8, 2015

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray just announced his Safe Streets Healthy Schools and Communities: 5-Year Action Plan. Parents, caregivers, and school neighbors all over Seattle are eager to put this plan into practice.

Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) offers Safe Routes to School mini-grants of up to $1000 that are easy to apply for with a letter of support from a school PTSA or Principal. (Deadlines April 30 and Oct 30). SDOT mini-grants can be used to do safe routes audits that help to put the Action Plan into action!

The Action Plan comes with a variety of thoughtful tools for making Walk Zones around Seattle schools safe for our kids. The tools include an engineering toolkit and a guide to managing school drop off and pick up.

Safe Walk Zones for our kids is a high priority for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. We recently teamed up to do a workshop with Brian Dougherty, Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) amazing Safe Routes to School Coordinator who explained the use of the SDOT toolkit and more.

Here is an expanded list of some well-tested tools to get you started doing Safe Routes to School Audits:

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Talk About Lane Width

Cathy Tuttle
September 26, 2015
jointly published on The Urbanist
Crosswalk wet pavement

Lane width helps to control speed on urban streets.

People driving tend to slow when streets are narrow.

Urban Streets

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) recommends a default of 10-foot lanes.

“Lane widths of 10 feet are appropriate in urban areas and have a positive impact on a street’s safety without impacting traffic operations. For designated truck or transit routes, one travel lane of 11 feet may be used in each direction. In select cases, narrower travel lanes (9–9.5 feet) can be effective as through lanes in conjunction with a turn lane.”


Seattle’s current standard is 11-foot lanes
and 12-foot bus-only lanes. Many of our streets were laid out in a time when wider was always better — and ended up with dangerously wide lanes, dangerous because wide lanes encourage people to drive fast, and when cars go faster, collisions do more harm. Narrower lanes in urban areas are shown to result in less aggressive driving, and give drivers more ability to slow or stop their vehicles over a short distance to avoid collision.

Lane Widths and vehicle sizesWhile tooling along city streets, unless you are a transportation engineer, you aren’t aware of street width.

You aren’t thinking, “Hey, I’m in a 14-foot lane. And now I’m in a nine-foot lane. And now I’m in a 10-foot lane.” (Note, transportation engineers really do think like this.)

Instead, you, the average mortal, just thinks (if you are driving a car), “I can go fast here. Whoa! This street is narrow, I’d better slow down. And now I can speed up a bit again.”

Seattle’s standard width for parked car lanes is eight feet wide, while adding a bike lane that avoids the “door zone” (the distance a car driver can accidentally fling open a door into the path of an oncoming person on a bike) requires a a 14-foot lane (parked car plus bike lane).

With our elbows akimbo, we’re about two and a half feet riding a bike, taking up about as much space as people in wheelchairs. Both protected bike lanes and sidewalks require a minimum of six feet of street right-of-way to accommodate people riding and rolling respectively.

20 is Plenty fatalities graphic

“It’s surprising to see how a difference of 20 miles reverses the survival rates of people hit by moving vehicles.”   Seattle Department of Transportation 2015

Highways

Highways are a different case entirely when it comes to lane width.

You may have read the lane width on the Aurora Bridge was a factor in the recent collision fatality between a Duck amphibious vehicle and charter bus. It is up to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to determine causes, but Federal standards for highways recommend 12-foot lanes, in addition to shoulders wide enough for emergency parking and median barriers. Most lanes along I-5  are 12 feet wide. The Aurora Bridge lanes are 9.5 feet wide. Read the rest of this entry »

PARKing Day 2015 Makes Successful Streets

Five local neighborhood groups changed their streets on a grand scale on Friday September 18.

People in Rainier, Ballard, Ravenna, Bryant and Fremont were winners of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways first annual PARK(ing) Day Design Competition.

Instead of endless public meetings, design charettes, and flat conceptual drawings, we helped these four groups build protected intersections in Ballard and Bryant, and thousands of feet of protected bike lanes in Rainier and Ravenna. Here’s a look at what happened.

Rainier Ave S Protected Bike Lanes

Rainier Ave S Protected Bike Lanes

Rainier

The Grand Prize Winner was an ambitious idea to make Rainier Avenue South, Seattle’s most dangerous street, safe enough for a parent to bike with their four-year-old (you must watch this YouTube!)

A crew, led by visionary Shirley Savel, and leaders Adam Dodge and Travis Merrigan, built 2000 linear feet of bike lanes out of white chalk, white duct tape, green butcher paper and traffic cones on both sides of Rainier between Columbia City and Hillman City.

Ballard Greenways Protected Intersection

Ballard Greenways Protected Intersection

Ballard

The co-leader of Ballard Greenways, Chris Saleeba, also works at one of Seattle’s best bicycle and pedestrian design firms, Alta Planning and Design. Chris, Fred Young, and Steve Durrant of Alta created a protected intersection that was extremely effective at slowing vehicles and allowing people to safely walk and bike across NW 65th and 6th Ave NW, just where the next north-south greenway in Ballard is planned.

The Seattle Department of Transportation concurred NW 65th and 6th NW was a high priority for safety improvements and added a permanent crosswalk in record time.

Chris said the bar owner of Molly McGuires – the most active business in front of the new intersection – came out during the day and talked about how much he loved the improvements and wondered if he could get the crosswalk painted in Irish flag colors as part of Mayor Murray and the Department of Neighborhood’s new community crosswalk program. Read the rest of this entry »

Rainier Embraces Transportation Transformation

Mayor Murray at Rainier Ave S Open House 7-301-15

Mayor Murray at Rainier Ave S Open House 7-301-15

Cathy Tuttle July 31, 2015

In a sweltering and packed gymnasium, with the Mayor, City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly shouting through a rolled up paper megaphone (the sound system had failed), three of the most transformative projects SDOT has proposed to date were launched.

Harrell tossed down his megaphone and shouted, “We are DONE with Rainier Ave S being a freeway! People live here! We need this street to work for all of us!”

Here are the three transformative Rainier Valley projects (including SNGreenway’s top 2015 priority for Council District 2):

Click on image to see project details of Accessible Mt. Baker

Click on image to see project details of Accessible Mt. Baker

  1. Rainier North-South Greenway stretching from I-90 to Rainier Beach. Will be completed in 2016. Route identified with extensive input from Rainier Valley Greenways and Seattle Bike Advisory Board.
  2. Accessible Mt. Baker signals an SDOT commitment to prioritize people around transit. It’s too long been the norm for Sound Transit to plop in light rail stations and blithely leave it up to local municipalities to make their stations accessible to people who need to walk or bike to them. Accessible Mt. Baker takes up the challenge with a real station area planning.
  3. Rainier Avenue South Safety Corridor Pilot begins construction on Monday August 3 and wraps up construction on August 14. Not only is did SDOT’s Vision Zero Strategic Advisor Jim Curtin present an unprecedentedly short project timeline, the Rainier Ave S project has the potential to transform what is Seattle’s most deadly street.

Read the rest of this entry »

What Did Your Council Candidate Say About Safe Streets?

by Cathy Tuttle, July 16, 2015

I got my ballot in the mail today!

If you live in Seattle and are registered to vote, you will get to choose two at-large City Council candidates, and one Council candidate who represents your District.  For the past year, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been organizing its advocacy priorities, local groups and volunteers by District as well. We believe District elections will significantly change the face of Seattle projects and policies.

This is a run-off primary election, with ballots due August 4. The top two vote-getters in each position will advance to the November elections when we will choose our nine City Council members. Most of the Districts and at-large positions have many candidates running (there are over 40 people running for nine seats).

I admire every person who has chosen to run for City Council. Every one has made a sacrifice of their time, their money, and their energy to put forward their ideas about how to make Seattle a better and more livable city.

Local Greenways group leaders came up with just two questions that we asked of all 40+ candidates. You can see candidates’ complete responses at the bottom of this post, on this Google spreadsheet, or this Excel pdf.

Here are the two questions each candidate answered:

  • Question 1: What street or transportation projects proposed for your District get you excited? What projects will you push for, and what might you oppose?
  • Question 2: Envision a major street running through a business district in your neighborhood. Now that you’re a City Councilmember, you hear from residents and business owners who are concerned that an SDOT project to increase safety for people walking, biking, driving, and taking transit on this street may impact some on-street parking and slow down traffic by an estimated thirty seconds per mile. You also hear from parents, seniors, and people who live and work in the area that they really want their street to be safer.

How, if at all, would you engage SDOT and the people who live and work in your neighborhood and mediate conflicting project outcomes? This project will impact traffic in the following ways:

(1) remove some on-street parking for better visibility for people walking

(2) narrow some vehicle lanes to encourage drivers to keep to a maximum 25 mph speed;

(3) re-time traffic signals to give slower elders and children more time to safely cross the street;

(4) dedicate some current vehicle traffic lanes to buses and people on bikes so that they can move more quickly and safely

The illustration below is a word cloud of all candidate answers.

Council Candidate Word Cloud in worditout.com

Council Candidate Word Cloud in worditout.com

 

Read the rest of this entry »

City Plans To Make Roosevelt Way NE Safer For All

 January 13, 2015

Congratulations to Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly, Seattle City Council Transportation Committee members Tom Rasmussen (Chair), Jean Godden, and Mike O’Brien for their bold leadership and vision that will soon make Roosevelt Way NE safer for everyone.

You can thank them all on this letter! 

How does this project make Roosevelt Way NE safer? Read the rest of this entry »

Speed Bumps to the Rescue!

by Cathy Tuttle
October 28, 2014

Speed bumps work

What’s black and white and gray all over?

Lake City Greenways volunteer Monica Sweet was impressed with the speed bumps she’d seen in other neighborhoods. She wanted slower, safer streets where she lived on NE 123rd in Lake City. With no sidewalks and drivers that seemed to rip through her neighborhood at high speeds, speed bumps seemed to offer a simple, inexpensive yet effective safety solution.

After a great deal of back and forth with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), whose staff tried to convince Monica to put in small traffic circles, Monica and her local greenways group prevailed and soon speed bumps will make another Seattle residential street safer for people who walk and bike.

In related news, SDOT just completed the before and after study of vehicle speed on nearby NE 130th Street where speed bumps were installed in the summer of 2014.

According to Brian Dougherty, SDOT Senior Transportation Planner:

“The study shows that the speed humps have had a big impact, reducing the number of drivers traveling above the speed limit. The biggest change is the reduction in the number of ‘top end speeders’ which as you know are the most dangerous for people walking and biking. We show a 90% reduction in these aggressive drivers traveling more than 10 mph over the speed limit… Before and after speeds were measured for one full week using pneumatic tubes.”

* P.S. You may hear the terms speed humps and speed bumps used interchangeably by traffic safety professionals. Speed “humps” are actually the official term but according to our friends in Portland traffic engineering, the signs that said “Humps Ahead” were frequently stolen by the public but “Bumps Ahead” were left to perform their traffic calming duty.