Tag Archive: traffic safety

Fixing the Pedestrian Safety Crisis

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene unveiling a 25 mph speed limit sign.

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene (Dir. of SouthEast Seattle Senior Center) unveil a new speed limit for Rainier Ave.

We can and must keep everyone safe on our streets. This morning, Mayor Durkan outlined four excellent and long overdue strategies to get back on track. Join us and send a letter to the Mayor and other elected leaders thanking them for their leadership and ask them act quickly to implement safer speed limits, redesign our most dangerous streets, and get Vision Zero back on track.

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memorials for traffic violence victims

We are in the middle of a pedestrian safety crisis.

In the few weeks since we first wrote that Vision Zero is off track in Seattle (12 people had died and 70 had suffered life-altering injuries after being struck by vehicles when walking and biking on our city streets, so far this year), three more pedestrians have been struck and killed in two separate incidents:

  • On November 27, a woman in her 60s, Jin “Kimberly” Kim, was hit and killed at 42nd Avenue SW and SW Oregon Street in West Seattle while she was crossing the street from her apartment to the grocery store.
  • On November 29, a driver struck four pedestrians, killing two people: Rebecca Richman, 28, a recent law school graduate, and her brother, Michael Richman, 26, an actor and musician. Their father is still hospitalized and Rebecca’s boyfriend was injured.

This brings the total number of people killed while walking or biking in Seattle to 15 in 2019 alone, making this one of the worst years in recent memory.  

A pile of flowers on the side of the street with a sign that reads: look out for pedestrians.

And these are just the people who have lost their lives on our streets. There have been many others who have suffered life-altering injuries such as a 60-year-old pedestrian still in critical condition after being struck on December 4 while crossing the street at Columbia Street and 4th Avenue downtown — the same intersection where a woman was struck and killed in January of this year. And over two consecutive days, two people on foot were struck by drivers and injured at Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street.

The strategies Mayor Durkan outlined this morning are excellent and long overdue — we welcome and applaud these critical steps:

4 Big Steps for Vision Zero

1) Safer speed limits: Safer speeds save lives. We know that Seattle’s arterial streets are where 90% of road traffic deaths and serious injuries happen. That’s why it’s so important that the mayor sent an easy-to-understand message today about safer speed limits: once the signs are changed, wherever you see a painted centerline (indicating an arterial street) in Seattle, you should be driving 25 mph, and wherever you don’t, you should be driving 20 mph.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working to reduce speeding for years. Back in 2015 our advocacy for traffic safety culminated in the city’s adoption of Vision Zero, the goal of zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2030. In 2016 our Safer Speed Limits for Seattle effort led to all 2,400 miles of non-arterial streets being changed to 20 mph. This made a huge impact for people walking and biking on neighborhood streets, but expanding these safer speeds to our busy streets has been slow and piecemeal. We’re thrilled that the Mayor is now taking on a systemic approach, and are eager to see it implemented as quickly as possible before more tragedies occur.

Slow Down

2) Red light running prevention: Running red lights endangers everyone, so doubling the number of cameras that catch and fine red light runners just makes sense. Automated systems like this limit biases in enforcement (and an ideal system would also issue tickets based on income to limit regressive impacts on low-income neighbors).

AuroraAvenueFastTraffic

3) Walking head start traffic lights: The majority of collisions between people walking and driving happen at intersections. We applaud SDOT’s new policy to double the number of traffic lights that give people walking a head start next year, with all traffic lights to follow.

Three pedestrians, one with a mobility aid, cross the street holding signs asking for safe crossings.

4) Vision Zero Task Force: This panel of experts will ensure we treat traffic violence like the public health crisis that it is, and provide transparency, accountability, and leadership for Vision Zero. A Vision Zero Task Force comprised of public health officials, first responders, roadway designers, and advocates for seniors, the disability community, and pedestrians, should analyze each and every deadly crash to provide recommendations for how what can be done to achieve Vision Zero. Part of their work will inevitably be analyzing what can be done about emerging trends like the rise in deadly-sized SUVs and increased distracted driving.

A group of people holding a sign that reads: Seattle Neighbors for Vision Zero.

What’s next?

These are welcome first steps but much more remains to be done.

Communities along Rainier Ave S and Aurora Ave N, Seattle’s #1 and #2 most dangerous streets respectively, have been clamoring for safer streets for years. The planned redesign of Rainier Ave S cannot come soon enough after years of delay. And sadly, Aurora Ave still lacks basic pedestrian safety improvements like sidewalks and safe crosswalks for long stretches, which must be addressed as quickly as possible. The city can do much on its own, but the recent fatalities on Aurora Ave, a state route, must also be a wake up call to state legislators. Redesigning our streets is the most effective and equitable approach to keeping people safer on our streets and should be the center of any effort moving forward, while education, encouragement, and enforcement should mainly be supplementary strategies.

If we are truly going to make progress on Vision Zero, we must give the Department of Transportation the political support to implement best practices and innovate new ways to keep everyone safe on our streets—even when those changes are hard. We see today’s announcement as a tremendous step in the right direction. We will continue our work until every neighborhood is a great place to walk, bike and live — where no one loses their life or is seriously injured trying to get to where they need to go.

A protest at Rainier Ave S and Henderson in 2018.

Care about ending traffic violence? Here are three ways you can help keep everyone safe on our streets:

1) If or when you drive, maintain a safe speed (i.e., below the speed limit and suitable for conditions), and be alert for people walking and biking.  

2) Send a letter to the Mayor and other elected leaders thanking them for their leadership and reinforcing the need for safer speed limits, redesigning our most dangerous streets, and getting Vision Zero back on track.

3) Get involved in advocating for traffic safety in your neighborhood

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Together, we can help Seattle make the changes necessary to achieve Vision Zero, and make sure everyone makes it home safely.

Li Tan holding a sign that reads: Vision Zero!

Speak up for Walking and Biking in Seattle’s 2018 City Budget!

We care about making every neighborhood in Seattle a great place to walk, bike, and live, but too many important projects are being delayed or watered down.

That’s why Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is leading the charge as part of a new transportation alliance Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS)We’re calling on the Mayor and City Council to go beyond general statements of support for transportation and environmental issues, and act now to align our city budget with Seattle’s values.

Walking

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, backed by the MASS alliance, has four main city budget priorities this year:

  1. Safer Intersections. Halt spending on adaptive signals, which prioritize cars over everyone else, until the technology can prioritize people walking and biking.
  2. Traffic Calming. Fund a Home Zone pilot project, using diverters and traffic calming to limit and slow traffic on residential streets, particularly in areas with no sidewalks.
  3. Basic Bike Network. Add additional funding to get people to and from the new Arena and into and through Uptown and South Lake Union.
  4. Equitable Street Parks. Restore funding to successful Pavement to Parks projects with an equity focus.

Act Now! button

Act now to ask City Council to support these priorities, and join us on Wednesday, October 24 at 2:00 pm at the Transportation Committee Budget Hearing. Public comment is at the end of the meeting, likely around 4:00 pm.

Get involved in Seattle Neighborhood Greenways by volunteering with us or donating to support our work.
ApuAdvocacyCropped

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 clara

Clara Cantor

(206) 681-5526
Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Website – Twitter – Facebook

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.

Vision Zero in a Sanctuary City

May 30, 2017

Statement from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition:

We Renounce Deportation Based on Traffic Violations

Seattle, WA­ –– The undersigned members of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition release the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement on 2/21/17 that a forthcoming executive order may expand deportable offenses to include traffic violations.

Advocates for safe streets have tired of hearing the trivialization of traffic violence as “just a traffic violation” or “no more important than a speeding ticket.” Traffic violations can lead to death and serious injury, especially for vulnerable users of our streets. People walking and biking are frequently the victims of such injuries, and seniors, children, and people with disabilities are disproportionately at risk.

However, as one of the coalition of groups that make up Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, we forcefully reject the Trump administration’s plan to pursue deportation for undocumented immigrants who have committed minor traffic offenses. Individuals in low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately killed and injured by traffic violence on our streets. Now, the primary victims of this violence may also be unfairly targeted by biased and punitive enforcement.

We refuse to allow Vision Zero — Seattle’s goal to eliminate all serious and fatal traffic injuries by 2030 — to be perverted into an excuse to round up and deport our undocumented neighbors and friends, just as we have previously denounced racial profiling committed in the name of traffic safety.

The undersigned seek to work with, not against, the very communities now under attack by the xenophobic and racist policies of the federal government. We declare unequivocally that Vision Zero must not be used as a cover for raids, racial profiling, or other unjust attacks on our fellow Seattleites.

We support the following actions to address traffic violations while minimizing biased enforcement:

  1. Focus on engineering.  Enforcement is not at the core of Vision Zero.  Engineering is at the core.  Understanding which street designs kill people and which street designs don’t is at the core of Vision Zero.  The safest traffic stop is the one that never happens.
  2. Explore restorative justice options for traffic violations. For example, people speeding in school zones in Finland have a choice to pay a substantial fine, or to appear at the school to explain their actions before a panel of school children.
  3. Continue to provide more transportation choices.  Traffic stops don’t happen on a bus, in a protected bike lane, or on a sidewalk (except in rare cases).  When we make driving the only practical choice, we expose vulnerable people to unnecessary risk.
  4. Rely primarily on speed cameras near schools to enforce traffic violations.  Speed cameras don’t require a traffic stop to do their job, they are always on (so they enforce less selectively), and they issue citations based on objective criteria rather than the judgment of an officer.  Cameras should be distributed equitably across the city.

Member groups of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition (listed below)

  • Beacon Hill Safe Streets
  • Central Seattle Greenways
  • Duwamish Valley Safe Streets
  • Licton Haller Greenways
  • Maple Leaf Greenways
  • Pinehurst Greenways
  • Queen Anne Greenways
  • Rainier Valley Greenways
  • Wallingford Greenways
  • West Seattle Bike Connections

SNG logo1

 

 

 

 

More funding for safe streets in City Budget. Thank you!

Here’s something to be thankful for today: Seattle City Council passed the final version of the 2017 budget with some fantastic improvements thanks to your support!

thank you 2016 budget advocates

Exciting budget additions include

  • $1 million to fix Rainier Ave S – the most dangerous street in the city, and an acceleration of funding for the exciting Accessible Mt Baker project.
  • Funding to create a North Beacon Hill Multimodal Transportation Study to allow much needed safety and community building projects to move forward.
  • Moving up the Bicycle Master Plan (Cascade Bicycle Club led the charge on this!) and Pedestrian Master Plan spending so we can design and build more safe streets sooner.
  • Additional funding for Safe Routes to School ($400,000 from red light cameras).
  • Directing SDOT to use best practices for streetcar & bike collision safety.
  • Other great improvements to the budget: Funding to conduct a condition assessment of Seattle’s $5.3 billion sidewalk system to support smart investments in sidewalk repairs, a new grant writer position to help SDOT leverage Move Seattle funding, and a section of sidewalk for the Meadowbrook neighborhood.

We wouldn’t have these successes without your calls, testimony, and letters! It’s caring people like you who make a difference in our world. Thank you.

If you can take a minute to thank our elected officials who listened to you, please email council@seattle.gov and thank them. Below is a sample email.

Dear Seattle City Council,

Thank you all for supporting safer streets in budget process. In particular thank you to

 

  • Council President Bruce Harrell for funding to fix Rainier Ave S, accelerate Accessible Mt Baker, and plan for a safe Beacon Hill Town Center.
  • Councilmember Lisa Herbold for finding additional funding for Safe Routes to School

 

  • Councilmember Mike O’Brien for the sidewalk assessment, SDOT grant writer, streetcar safety SLI, and accelerating the Bicycle Master Plan.
  • Councilmember Debora Juarez for a Meadowbrook sidewalk.
  • Councilmember Johnson for supporting many of these transportation budget additions.

 

Thank you for your leadership in making our streets safer for all people.

Happy Thanksgiving and thank you!

-Gordon Padelford

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Policy Director

Please consider a gift to Seattle Neighborhood Greenways if you want to support our successful, reliable, and impactful advocacy in 2017. Thank you.

Two Dads Take on I-5 Safety

Two dads from NE Seattle Greenways have joined forces to make crossing I-5 safer for all (the SNG 2016 Priority for District 4).

Andres Salomon and Scott Cooper were awarded Northeast District Council support during the Neighborhood Park & Street Fund process in 2016.

Andres and Scott know crossing i-5 is important for people of all ages walking to and from Green Lake Elementary, grocery stores, senior housing, Roosevelt High School, local business districts, and many other other important community assets. Andres and Scott know these community connections will become even more important when light rail opens in Roosevelt in 2021.

In addition to support from NE District Council, Andres and Scott have successfully lobbied WSDOT and SDOT to consider safety improvements over and under I-5 that use paint and posts to control traffic speeds.

Find more details of their ideas here.

Thank you Scott and Andres

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Seattle ♥s Humps

by Cathy Tuttle
January 24, 2016

SNG Speed Hump Study On Lake City Greenway

SNG Speed Hump Study On Lake City Greenway

Let’s hear it for the lowly speed hump!

Seattle is poised to soon get thousands of these amazingly effective speed control devices near our schools and parks!

Speed humps, often called speed bumps**, are quick and inexpensive to install, and when installed correctly, force drivers to slow down.

Do speed humps work?

Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) started installing speed humps as part of neighborhood greenways and Safe Routes to School projects a couple of years ago. Wisely, SDOT measured speed data to track hump effectiveness.

Total speeding on the streets near three elementary schools dropped between 79 – 88 percent after speed humps were installed, and high-end speeding was nearly eradicated, and there was a 90 percent drop in aggressive drivers traveling more than 10 MPH over the speed limit.

Speed is the most important factors that determines how seriously a person is injured in a collision and, of course, whether the collision occurs in the first place. So yes, speed humps work.

SDOT Safe Routes Speed Hump Report

SDOT Safe Routes Speed Hump Report

What is a hump?

Technically, speed “humps” are different from the speed “bumps” you often encounter in parking lots. Built correctly, humps are more gradual and are not meant to bring people to a nearly complete stop. If you are driving or riding a bike at 20 MPH or below, you will not need to adjust your speed to go over them comfortably. If you are moving faster than 20 MPH, however, you will need to slow or face a jolt. And unlike with some speed bumps, the speed humps are not so sudden that they are likely to cause someone on a bike to crash.

Seattle’s speed humps will save lives, and they will prevent many people from serious and sometimes debilitating injuries.They will also make neighborhood streets places where people of all ages can live, have fun and get around on foot and bike.

Why is Seattle getting many new humps now?

In 2015, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG) staff came back from a Vancouver BC Study Trip with Commute Seattle, excited to share best practices. Among our take-aways was a Vancouver policy of putting speed humps on all non-arterial streets at EVERY school and EVERY park. SNG staff worked with SDOT Safe Routes to School coordinator Brian Dougherty and Parks staff on adapting Vancouver speed hump policies and we’re pleased to report Seattle has just now adopted similar policies!Speed Hump Effectiveness

Expect slower speeds soon where our children play and go to school. We have the tools to make our streets safer, and the speed hump is one of our most powerful tools in our safety toolbox. We can’t wait to see more of them!

**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.

Welcome @SEA_DOTr!

January 9, 2016
by Cathy Tuttle

For weeks now, a poorly managed building site and less than stellar City oversight has forced Roosevelt High School children to walk in traffic — just a few feet away from last year’s DUI death of Andres Hulslander.

SEATrans Roosevelt 1-8-16

Seattle’s Transformation Department fixed the problem using entirely upcycled, leftover, and on-site materials to create a five-foot walkway and 11-foot driving lane. People drive slower past the walkway, and starting Monday morning, our children now have a protected space to run for the bus.

Cost: $0

Thanks Seattle Transformation Department!

Not affiliated with the Seattle Department of Transportation or any other City agency. Using Tactical Urbanism actions, Seattle Transformation Department is adapting models from other US Departments of Transformation @PBOTrans and @NYC_DOTr Contact them at SEADOTr@ruggedinbox.com

Safe Routes To School Playgrounds

November 24, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 8.06.41 AMYou can tell how much the Dutch care about traffic safety by looking at their school playgrounds.

On a recent trip to The Hague in the Netherlands, Queen Anne Greenways leader Mark Ostrow saw a playground painted as a mini Traffic Garden where young children could practice road safety skills.

Mark decided to follow up with help from Google Maps to see if many Dutch schools used big expanses of playgrounds to familiarize their children with road safety in a protected environment.

They do!

Mark notes wryly, “They even have little parking spaces.”

Mark found Dutch elementary schools (“basisschool”) paint nearly the entire asphalt surface of their playgrounds with mocked-up road markings, so one can assume they are a common playtime activity and prominent part of the physical education curriculum.

Painted asphalt playgrounds would be a terrific complement to a newly launched partnership between Cascade Bike Club, Seattle Department of Transportation, and Seattle Public Schools to offer a three-week walk and bike safety curriculum to every third through fifth grader in Seattle Public Schools starting in the 2016-17 academic year.

Parents Turn Grief Into Action #WDR2015

Cathy Tuttle, Executive Director Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
November 15, 2015

Zeytuna_slider

They wear big 3″ buttons with a young face and a date. They are parents still, even if their beloved child has died. Their eyes are haunted.

I have lived through the grief of losing my husband and best friend to cancer. I have gone through the gut-wrenching agony of nursing my teen daughter through lymphoma. I try to have an open heart and my heart breaks every time I face the pain of grieving parents who have lost a child to traffic violence.

Today, November 15, 2015 is the first day the US has honored the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims #WDR2015.

I have had the honor of meeting many parents whose children have died by traffic violence or have been injured for life. In Seattle I have sat with the parents of Zeytuna Edo, Trevon Crease Holden, Sandhya Khadka, Caleb Shoop, Elias Schulte, and more families of people who were killed or gravely injured by traffic violence.

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