Tag Archive: walking

Rasmussen Stands Up For Sidewalks

Councilmember Rasmussen at James St Clair Memorial Walk @WestSeattleBlog.com photo

Councilmember Rasmussen at James St Clair Memorial Walk @WestSeattleBlog.com photo

September 3, 2015

Tom Rasmussen has chaired the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee for years. While Bertha, streetcars, unprecedented traffic congestion, and freight take a lot of his attention, the Councilmember has remained attentive to the needs of people who walk and bike.

Most recently, Rasmussen has weighed in on Sound Transit’s construction closure of the 12th Ave NE Greenway. Construction closures are a hot item right now in Seattle. Here’s what Councilmember Rasmussen had to say:

I have requested [Seattle Department of Transportation] SDOT to continue to work to improve mobility and safety for everyone around construction zones.  One of the first tours I organized for Mr. Kubly [SDOT Director] was of one epicenter of construction: the Pike/Pine neighborhood on Capitol Hill.  We have had a number of updates and briefings from SDOT about their work to ensure compliance by contractors and progress is being made.

SDOT should not give permission to close a sidewalk or street or part of one until SDOT has approved the detour plans and routes.  Even when a plan is approved some contractors or their workers will arbitrarily move barriers to the detriment of the public.  This requires regular site visits by SDOT inspectors.  One of the challenges is that there are not enough inspectors to keep up with the volume of construction.  I have requested SDOT to hire more as soon as possible

Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Chair, Transportation Committee Seattle City Council

Thank you for speaking up for people who walk and bike. We need strong support from our leaders all over Seattle!

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.

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 »

Right-of-Way Declaration of Independence & Bill of Rights

Cathy Tuttle
July 4 2015
Cross-posted with The Urbanist

Declaration of Right of Way Rights

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, whether they are rich or poor, black or white, young or old, and that we are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

  1. We the people recognize that the ownership or use of a private vehicle does not imply the sole ownership of the public Right-of-Way.
  2. We recognize that there is no such thing as free parking, and that our collective community pays to subsidize free car storage on our public Right-of-Way.
  3. We recognize the rights of people, in particular our most vulnerable elders and children, to freely walk on and across our public Right-of-Way without fear of injury or death by people in moving vehicles.
  4. We recognize that when separated sidewalks are provided as part of the Right-of-Way, they must be wide, uncluttered by street poles and furnishings, and minimally punctuated by driveways in order to be functional for people who walk.
  5. We recognize that people riding bicycles have the right of way on our streets, and that the movement of people on bikes, particularly families riding bikes, shall not be limited on our Right-of-Ways unless their movements represent a danger or obstruction to people walking.
  6. We recognize every public Right-of-Way that does not provide separated sidewalks and protected bike lanes is a place where “cars are guests” and where people who drive should go no faster than three times average walking speed (ten miles per hour).
  7. We recognize the highest and best use we can have for our vehicles, our Rights-of-Way, and our fossil fuels, that are all subsidized by our common wealth, is to move our goods, provide emergency services, and provide transport for our most vulnerable people.
  8. We recognize that our public Rights-of-Way are maintained through extraordinary investments of our collective energy and capital.
  9. We recognize we have built more public Right-of-Way than we will be able to maintain in the future.
  10. We recognize that we live on a finite planet with limited resources and that the fuels and battery energy needed to power our vehicles is heavily subsidized with our collective money.
  11. We recognize we are at the start of a centuries long climate crisis, and that every opportunity to maximize tree planting on the forty percent of our city land that is currently paved is an investment that future generations will thank us for.
  12. We recognize the potential for beauty, gathering space, and places for people in our public Right-of-Way.

 

Respect Gayborhood With Safe Streets, Not Rainbow Crosswalks

Eli Goldberg June 25, 2015
(Eli is a former leader of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways who remains committed to safe streets advocacy)

Our brand-new rainbow crosswalks in Capitol Hill have received dozens of well-deserved news articles, garnering nationwide coverage.

Kudos to the City for starting to treat Capitol Hill’s streets as the community spaces that they are.

And it’s great to see SDOT take this first step towards tailoring our street spaces for the needs and personalities of our diverse neighborhoods. From the national news coverage the rainbow crosswalks have generated, hopefully, SDOT, you’ve realized you’re onto something bigger than just rainbow-colored crosswalks: you’ve tapped into the potential of using our streets to respect and strengthen our community identity.

But these rainbow crosswalks also tangibly demonstrate the ongoing gap in SDOT’s ability to express and act on a understanding of the needs of our individual neighborhood. Even after painting rainbow crosswalks on our streets, it couldn’t be clearer that SDOT has just started on the journey of learning how to act on and support our neighborhood’s unique needs and values. Read the rest of this entry »

Seattle Comprehensive Plan 2035

Cathy Tuttle June 24, 2015
(published originally in The Urbanist on 6/17/15)

Northwest Seattle Mode split expectations Seattle 2035.

Northwest Seattle Mode Split Expectations Seattle 2035

A week ago I sat down after work in a Pioneer Square pub with five young men to discuss the Transportation Element and Transportation Appendix of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Seattle 2035, Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan for growth over the next 20 years. Read the rest of this entry »

Underfunded Equity Priority: Safe Routes to School

Click to listen to CIty Council testimony. Begins at 13.50.

Click to listen to CIty Council testimony. Begins at 13.50.

Douglas MacDonald
June 4, 2015
WA State Secretary of Transportation, 2001 – 2007
Key considerations that support the position offered in public comment to the Seattle City Council of May 29, 2015 that a large increase should be made in the proposed allocation to the Safe Routes to School Program.

The Proposed “Move Seattle” Transportation Levy Should Significantly Increase Its Commitment to Safe Routes to Schools. Justice and equity should be served by higher SRTS funding in transportation investment.

 

School children attending the Seattle Public Schools make up about eight percent of the City’s population.

The ethnicity of students in the Seattle School District is not a mirror image of the city population as a whole. Students are less likely to be white and almost twice as likely to be Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino or Multi-­Racial than citizens at large.

  • Over a quarter (26%) of the students are from non-­‐English speaking backgrounds.
  • Almost two fifths (38%) of the students are from economically stressed family circumstances qualifying students for reduced price or free school meals.
  • Almost one in six (14%) of school age children in Seattle live in poverty.

The purpose of Safe Routes to School investments towards more convenient, safer and healthier trips for school children back and forth from home to school is a transportation investment manifestly responsive to social justice and equity.

SRTS Effectiveness and Results

Nationwide and Washington State research on effectiveness of SRTS programs shows that schools where programs are implemented generally achieve a 20% increase in children walking to school.

We know from WSDOT survey results (2014-­‐15) that nearly 60 percent of parents queried respond that unsafe road crossings are a factor in deciding how their children get to school.

Sampling from classrooms collected by the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction suggests about 1 child in 3 in Seattle already walks to school daily (twice the statewide norm) – underscoring why the safety focus of SRTS is so important. But almost half the Seattle students never walk to school – underscoring the rich opportunity to improve child health and transportation efficiency from SRTS investments.

We know from national and local research that inactive lifestyles are a major contributor to significant health issues for children. Walking and biking to school are widely seen as delivering multiple important health benefits to children.

We know that SDOT has declared a goal of “Building America’s Most Walkable City.” And that the vision of Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan is that “Riding a bicycle is a comfortable and integral part of daily life in Seattle for people of all ages and abilities.” SRTS investments turn rhetoric into reality. Quickly and tangibly.

We know that SRTS programs invariably show ancillary benefits for safer, more walk-­able and more bike-­able trip choices for everyone, old and young, and often do valuable double-­duty as improvements for transit accessibility, a critical need almost everywhere in the city and often especially in lower income neighborhoods.

We know that planning and implementing SRTS programs for individual schools inherently provide rich and welcome opportunities for building positive relationships between the Seattle School District, neighborhood groups and parents, the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Department of Transportation. The value of these collaborations to daily family and neighborhood life is widely dispersed across the city -­‐-­‐ probably unmatched in this respect by any other transportation investment proposed in the levy.

Increased investment in SRTS builds quickly and positively on a program already underway, widely known and favorably viewed. 

STRS is a program with existing momentum that can quickly be made even more powerful, successful and meaningful to Seattle citizens.

Working with competitive grant money from the state and funds from school zone speed enforcement fines (both sources, however, now in decline, and Olympia’s attention unfortunately focused n big highway spending projects) important beginnings on STRS have been made, giving the program visibility and popularity delivering tangible transportation benefit at very modest cost.

A few of the schools, for example, were state funds have already bought starter investments include Dearborn Park, Roxhill, Olympic Hills, Concord, Baylet Gatzert, Sanislo, High Point, Fairmont Park and Hawthorne, among others. Other important progress, though limited in scale and scope, has also already been made by the City’s use of its own resources. Some of the additional schools where progress has been achieved include North Beach, Salmon Bay, Wing Luke and Kimball among others.

City projects have included new sidewalks (but, since 2007, only 27 block faces), curb bulbs and curb ramps, flashing beacons, newly painted crosswalks and other improvements.

 

SRTS needs and priorities deserve more investment than now proposed.

We know that despite all the above, the proposed funding level for SRTS in the current proposal for the $930 million nine-­‐year “Move Seattle” transportation levy proposal is just $7 million. This would work out to about $750,000 a year – hardly enough to make a significant dent in SRTS needs and opportunities. This works out to about 7/10ths of 1 percent of the fiscal commitment in the levy – for essential transportation improvements for a population that just counting students alone (not even tallying their parents, or other citizens who directly benefit from these investments) makes up eight percent of the City’s population. Members of the population that have uniquely high claims on transportation spending for reasons of age, social equity and overall personal and community health.

We know from the diligent work of the analysis spearheaded by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways that investment on the scale of $20 million is required to achieve solid STRS progress within the one mile walk zones of ten elementary schools with the highest equity claims for attention. Adding 17 next level equity elementary schools would bring the total scale above $35 million. Key steps taken for high school walk zones are also badly needed. The funding level in the currently proposed levy of $7 million (less than 8/10ths of one percent of the total levy amount) would if unchanged signal a lack of intention to make any more than token progress toward the safety, convenience, health and equity benefits the STRS program should deliver. A larger commitment will both strengthen the levy program and strengthen its tangible appeal to prospective Seattle voters.

View this written testimony in memo form.

Read the rest of this entry »

10 Ways You Can Help Move Seattle For Our Kids

Safe Routes Walk HomeWe need YOU to speak for increasing funding for Safe Routes To School in the proposed $930 million transportation levy. This is our best chance to make all schools safe to walk and bike in the next nine years.

Councilmembers will discuss the Levy in Committee until June 23, when it will go to the full Council for a vote. So act quickly!

Here are 10 ways you can help get money for Safe Routes To School in the next few weeks:

  1. June 2nd: Speak for two minutes at the Public Hearing on Tuesday June 2 5:30pm. City Hall.
  2. Stand behind someone who is bravely speaking up for a Move Seattle Levy for Our Kids on Tuesday.
  3. Join the KIdical Mass Ride to City Hall on June 2 4pm at South Lake Union Park.
  4. Call individual City Councilmembers you might know (phone numbers here).
  5. Read about why we think Move Seattle For Our Kids is so important.
  6. Send email to the Council council@seattle.gov
  7. Send snail mail (yes! this is great! especially with kids artwork)
  8. Write a blog post about Safe Routes for Kids and post it on social media listing the Council.
  9. Talk to parents at your PTSA or on the playground about taking action.
  10. Donate to Seattle Neighborhood Greenways to support our outreach & advocacy work.

We’re actually pretty pleased that we’ve influenced so much investment into walking and biking safely along our corridors and in our neighborhoods in the Move Seattle Levy. We need just a little more to Move Seattle For Our Kids.

Thank you!

Seattle School Nurses Support Move Seattle For Our Kids

June 1, 2015

Click to see Anne Fote, RN testimony. Begins at 11:35.

Click to see Anne Fote, RN testimony. Begins at 11:35.

Seattle School Nurses Association voted unanimously to support additional funding for Safe Routes to School in the Move Seattle Levy. Anne Fote, RN spoke eloquently about walking to school and her experiences at Rainier Beach High School and Hamilton International Middle School in this meeting of the City Council Select Committee On Transportation Funding.

Here is Anne’s complete testimony:

My name is Anne Fote. I am a registered nurse. I currently work at Hamilton International Middle School. Previous to that I was the nurse at Rainier Beach High School.

First of all, I am pleased to let you know that the Seattle School Nurses Association voted unanimously this Tuesday on a resolution supporting an increase for Safe Routes to School funding as part of the Move Seattle Levy. I was at the meeting where we voted on this resolution. The only question we debated was whether it was right to just recommend Safe Routes to School for elementary students. Our school nurses union decided that walking to school safely is equally important for middle school and high school students — and so that is what our resolution says.

I’ll give you a copy, but let me read a bit. We want to “increase in Safe Routes to School Funding over the nine year levy period from $7 million to $38 million, and support the focus of additional money first on the City’s poorest schools, where children who live within the ‘walk zones’ without school bus service often have the fewest transportation options.”

As a health professional, I think walking is a great way to start each day. I’ve also seen walking be a great way for children to make friends. I see children getting to know each other in a healthy way as they walk to my school in the morning.

Unfortunately the walk to school is very stressful when it could be a time for learning, getting exercise, and making friends.

While I was at Rainier Beach, I was called over to evaluate a little boy who had been in a hit and run collision. The boy picked himself up and continued walking to school.  We took him in to be evaluated for concussion and internal injuries. This was a very young child, no more than 8, who was one of the many children who walked alone to South Shore Elementary in Rainier Beach.

Elementary school children walk up to a mile to school, middle school and high schoolers walk up 2 miles, often in the dark, across very busy streets and along roads without much in the way of sidewalks or lights.

A few Hamilton kids have been hit by drivers since I’ve been the nurse there. Two girls were hit by a Hamilton parent.  It is kind of a vicious circle. Parents wouldn’t be driving their kids to school if they felt the streets were safer for walking. And the streets are less safe because so many parents are driving our 55,000 Seattle Public School students to school.

We need safer streets thoughout our school walk zones, for so many good reasons. I encourage you to find funding to support this basic need to get our children to school safely.

Thank you.

Anne Fote, RN BSN Member National Association of School Nurses, School Nurse Association of Washington, Seattle School Nurses Association, and Washington Education Association

“Dear Neighbor” Letter Backfires

Roosevelt Way NE SDOT May 2015Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB) member Jacob Struiksma took one look at a May 26 letter from Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and called into question the plan for a Complete Street along a busy retail corridor.

Jacob, who is blind, has strong opinions about what constitutes safe streets for all. He wrote:

This is crazy that curb bulbs not going to happen at all the intersections on Roosevelt Way. Why do people that walk have to be second to everything? Why do people that walk get the short end of things all the time?

Jacob’s quick response alerted fellow SPAB members and the Washington State pedestrian group Feet First about safety improvements as SDOT repaves Roosevelt Way NE. Both groups will review this new twist on Complete Streets and Vision Zero in their policy discussions in the near future.

A robust Complete Streets Policy is one of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways 10 advocacy priorities for 2015

SDOT’s letter read in part:

Dear Neighbor,

SDOT will periodically distribute project updates about the Roosevelt Paving & Safety Improvement Project.

We write today to let you know that the expected start of construction has been moved back from late September until the end of the year.  Perhaps more significant, fiscal constraints have forced SDOT to remove construction of most of the curb bulbs and expanded tree pits, which we’d previously indicated would be included in the project.  (The one positive benefit of dropping these elements from the project is that construction will likely be significantly shorter than the ten months previously expected.)

Curb bulbs extend the sidewalk out, typically into a parking lane at intersections, in part to ensure that curb ramps (wheelchair ramps) meet the federally mandated standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  They have the additional benefit of making pedestrians more visible to motorists, and vehicles more visible to those pedestrians.  They also have the effect of shortening the crossing distance for these pedestrians.  As such, curb bulbs increase safety for pedestrians, and seem to enjoy broad community support.

Sadly, the curb bulbs and enlarged tree pits were determined to be the most logical project elements that could be eliminated and bring the budget back into balance.  The curb bulbs were initially included in part to provide adequate room for standard curb ramps.  However, we were able to accommodate the ramps and meet design standards without the curb bulbs in most locations.

We look forward to using a safe, welcoming Roosevelt Way NE in the coming years.

Older posts «

» Newer posts