Tag Archive: Vision Zero

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Nov 21, 2021

The wide street in SODO where Ramona, 34, was killed by a drunk driver in September of this year.

Jared was out walking on January 1, 2021 and was hit by a driver and killed, the first traffic fatality of the year. He was 23 years old.

In March, Rainy, 53, died after being struck by a car while crossing the street in Lake City. The next day, Luri, also 53, was killed by a driver while biking in Rainier Beach. They were the seventh and eighth people killed in road traffic in Seattle in 2021.

Donta, 43, died after a hit-and-run collision while walking on the sidewalk just south of Aurora Bridge in April.

Jennette, a 37 year-old mother, was killed in a hit-and-run collision while crossing Martin Luther King Jr Way at the Columbia light rail station in June.

Ramona, 34, was killed by a drunk driver while walking in SODO in September.

So far in 2021, 30 people have been killed on our streets and another 125 people have received serious, life-altering injuries, including 5 people killed in just the last month.

This is already the highest number in recent years, and we still have a month and a half of the darkest, wettest time of year.

A collage of images: A cross leaning against a tree, surrounded by flowers, a woman speaking next to a bike painted white, a crowd of people in the rain holding signs and flowers.

Memorials commemorating and honoring people killed by traffic violence on our streets.

This Sunday, November 21, 2021, is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

We remember the millions of people killed and seriously injured on our streets as well as their families, friends, and communities. We also give thanks to the first responders and other people in emergency services who are faced with tragedy every day. This tremendous burden and loss is often seen as unavoidable — that each incident is a completely accidental aberration, but that’s not the case.

Many of our city streets are designed for speed, rather than safety. But our city was intentionally designed this way, and we can make the choice to design it differently.

For World Day of Remembrance, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is collaborating with Cascade Bicycle Club, Seattle Department of Transportation, and other safe streets advocates to commemorate and honor those killed by traffic violence over the last two years (2020-2021), 53 people in total.

In the last two years (2020-2021), 53 people have been killed on our streets and another 272 people have received serious, life-altering injuries.

Traffic violence, like so much else in our city, is disproportionately killing and harming people of color, people with disabilities, elders, low-income people, and unhoused people.

They’re also geographically concentrated: of 53 deaths, 30 occurred in District 2, which includes Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, SODO, and parts of Chinatown / International District. Southeast Seattle is home to many communities of color, and has historically received significantly less infrastructure and safety investment.

Each number is a person, and each death has rippling effects on their family, friends, and community.

This map shows the locations in Seattle where 53 people were killed by traffic violence in 2020 and 2021. Locations are densest in Southeast Seattle and along Aurora Ave.

Victims of traffic violence are disproportionately people walking, rolling, and biking.

In the last two years, 37 people have been hit by cars and killed while walking, rolling, or biking, including 22 just this year. This includes 31 people walking, 4 people riding bikes, one person rolling in a wheelchair, and one person riding an e-scooter. People walking, rolling, biking, and accessing transit are disproportionately low-income people, people with disabilities, elders, kids, and people of color. We must do better to protect the most vulnerable people on our streets.

A group of people stand behind a yellow banner that reads "Seattle Neighbors for Vision Zero."

In 2015, the City of Seattle committed to Vision Zero — the goal to have zero traffic deaths or serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

But our pedestrian safety crisis has continued to get worse. In the last two years, traffic volumes dipped dramatically due to the pandemic and work-from-home measures, but deaths continued to rise.

The Vision Zero team at SDOT knows what and where the biggest safety issues are — 50% of fatal and serious injury crashes occur on just 11% of our street network (multi-lane, high speed, high volume arterial streets). The four most dangerous streets in Seattle are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Way, Aurora Ave N, Rainier Ave S, and Airport Way in SODO.

On MLK Jr Way alone, there were 8 people killed in the last two years.

Long-term planning projects require massive amounts of funding, community engagement, and political support, but improve safety in a way that nothing else can.

But in addition to large-scale projects that re-design streets, small safety infrastructure can go a long way. New sidewalks and crossings, traffic signals that give pedestrians a head start at intersections, protected left turns for vehicles, pedestrian refuge islands, and protected bike lanes can make our streets significantly safer for a fraction of the cost.

We also recognize that safety on our streets doesn’t just mean safety from speeding vehicles, and that people are being killed on our streets by systemic racist policing, by gun violence, and because they are currently experiencing homelessness. In addressing this pedestrian safety crisis, we have to work together to find solutions that house people, give people safe, convenient mobility options, and support community needs so that we can all thrive.

An Asian woman holds a sign that reads "Vision Zero!"

What’s Next?

The Seattle City Council is currently poised to triple the Vision Zero budget in the 2022 City of Seattle Budget. We thank Councilmembers Morales and Lewis in particular for championing Vision Zero investments through this year’s budget deliberations. This funding is also a greater acknowledgement from our City Council that they are committed to Vision Zero and to improving safety on our streets.

Mayor-elect Harrell showed strong leadership championing safety improvements for Rainier Ave S when he served as the City Councilmember for District 2. Let him know that he has people who will support his decision to champion Vision Zero during his tenure as Mayor.

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

  1. If you drive, maintain a safe speed and be alert for people walking, rolling, and biking.

  2. Send an email to Mayor-elect Harrell to ask him to support street safety during his tenure as Mayor.

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

A child fastens a hand painted sign that reads "Look out for pedestrians" behind a collection of flowers.

 

Mia, 29, died after being struck by a driver while walking in S Beacon HillMichael, 66, died while walking in West SeattleMichael, avid runner and cyclist, killed in a hit-and-run while riding his bike in Seward ParkMikayla, 27, was a passenger in a car and died in Sodo Mike, 44, died riding a bike in Roosevelt Ly-Kui and Thin-Sang, both 56, died while driving in Hillman City Luri, 53, killed while biking in Rainer Beach Keith, a retired Kirkland Fire Captain, died after being struck by a car while riding a moped John, 55, killed while walking in Interbay Jennette, 37 year-old mother, killed in a hit-and-run while crossing MLK at the Columbia light rail station Emoke and Steven, recently retired and active community members, died after being struck by the light rail while walking accross tracks Hieu, 41, killed walking in N Beacon Hill James, 57, died after being struck by a vehicle while walking south of Georgetown Jeffery, 57, died driving in SODO Jeffrey, 30, killed riding a motorcycle Elenora, 28, killed after being hit while walking in Columbia City Douglas, 43, died after being struck by car while walking in Sodo Donta, 43, died after a hit-and-run collision while walking on sidewalk south of Aurora Bridge Dino, 31, died riding a motorcycle in Sodo David, 61, died riding a motorcycle in Pinehurst Aaron, 33, died while driving in Sodo Andra, 27, killed walking in S Beacon Hill Christopher, 38, killed in a hit-and-run while walking near Green Lake Xikuhn, 54, died driving in N Beacon Hill Unknown person, 72, died while walking in S Beacon Hill Unknown driver died in a car crash in interbay Simeon, 46, hit by a car and died while riding an e-scooter in Sodo Raymond, 51, struck by car while crossing street in a wheelchair Richard, 70, killed in a hit-and-run while walking across Aurora Avenue N Robert, 54, killed riding his bike after being hit by a car in Georgetown Ronald, died walking in the Mt Baker neighborhood Rong Xing, died walking in Sodo Ramona, 34, killed by a drunk driver while walking in Sodo Rainy, 53, died after being struck by a car while crossing the street in Lake City Penny, 75, died walking in Queen Anne Paul, 58, died walking in Lake City Norbert, 72, died while walking in Belltown

Thank you to the volunteers across Seattle who contributed to this photo collection to commemorate each individual who has been killed on our streets. It is sobering to compilation and a heavy reminder of why we do this advocacy.. Together, we will continue to push for #VisionZero and improving safety on our streets.

Speak up for Vision Zero and the Solidarity Budget!

Yesterday, someone died while travelling on our streets. Same with last week. This is unacceptable. Everyone has a right to get to where they need to go safely.

Seattle has committed to Vision Zero, the goal to eliminate road-traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. But we are failing to reach that goal. One big reason why is that the Vision Zero program has been chronically underfunded. Decades of neglect have created a huge backlog of high-speed streets that see crash after crash, and often lack basic safe places to walk, roll, or bike.

Right now, with your help we can triple the Vision Zero budget, and invest in safety projects like sidewalks, safety redesigns, crosswalks, and traffic calming where they are needed most.

Two easy ways to ask the City Council to invest in Vision Zero and the Solidarity Budget in the 2022 Seattle City Budget:

  • Phone in to give public comment: Thursday morning, Oct 28, when Seattle City Council discusses the transportation budget! Public comment starts at 9:30 am, sign-up opens at 7:30 am. You’ll get a second opportunity during the public hearing on Nov 10 at 5:30 pm. How-to guide here.
  • Click here to send an email of support to the entire City Council

So far in 2021, 26 people have been killed by traffic violence on our streets, including two people killed in two separate incidents just in the last week — and we still have two months of the darkest, wettest time of year. And traffic violence, like so much else in our city, is disproportionately killing and harming people of color, disabled people, elders, low-income people, and unhoused people. Each number is a person, and each death has rippling effects on their family, friends, and community. We must do better.

We also recognize that safety on our streets doesn’t just mean safety from speeding vehicles, and that people are being killed on our streets by systemic racist policing, by gun violence, and because they are currently experiencing homelessness. That’s why we’ve endorsed the Solidarity Budget, asking Council to defund the Seattle Police Department and reinvest in communities, including in Vision Zero. The Solidarity Budget is a collective call towards a city budget that centers the needs of the most marginalized and vulnerable Seattle residents and aligns our budget with our shared values and priorities.

A young girl holds a sign that says

Earlier this year, the City Council doubled the Vision Zero budget for 2021. Now, they are voting to make that change permanent. Councilmember Lewis has also proposed an additional increase that would triple the Vision Zero budget going forward. This funding would make a huge difference in the number and quality of safety improvements our city is able to install each year, and the number of lives we’d be able to save.

We’re also supporting amendments proposed by Councilmember Morales increasing safe places to walk in both new sidewalk construction and Home Zones.

Other important proposed amendments to make the budget better reflect our city’s values and priorities:

  1. Lake Washington Boulevard: Conduct equitable engagement to design and implement permanent improvements for Lake Washington Boulevard.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Safety: Ask SDOT to come up with a plan to make this high crash corridor safer for people walking, biking, and accessing transit.
  3. Remove Data Collection from the Police: Ask SDOT to analyze what it would take to collect street safety and crash data in order to move this work away from the Seattle Police Department.
  4. Smart Planning: Demand accountability for the “Citywide Integrated Transportation Plan,” which may undercut our efforts to make safer streets.

Act now to ask the City Council to invest in Vision Zero and the Solidarity Budget in the 2022 Seattle City Budget:

  • Phone in to give public comment Thursday morning, Oct 28, when Seattle City Council discusses the transportation budget! Public comment starts at 9:30 am, sign-up opens at 7:30 am. You’ll get a second opportunity during the public hearing on Nov 10 at 5:30 pm. How-to guide here.
  • Click here to send an email of support to the entire City Council

 

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

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 

Clara Cantor
she/her

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

Michael Colmant Memorial Ride & Walk

Michael ColmantMichael Colmant was passionate about swimming, running, cycling, and aviation. He was a dedicated colleague at King County International Airport, helping to lift up people of color in his profession. He was a loving father and caring friend.

On April 11, 2021, Michael, 63, was hit and killed by a driver while biking. The driver fled the scene and is still at large. They were driving a Silver 2000 Lincoln LS plate # BKU 0853. Anyone with a tip about the hit-and-run is encouraged to call SPD’s Violent Crimes Tip Line at 206.233.5000.

A large crowd of people on a grassy slope. Many wear helmets or sit next to bicycles.

On Saturday, May 15, 2021, 160 people gathered on a grassy slope on Seward Park Ave to commemorate Michael Colmant’s life.

The group arrived from two directions: walking together from Seward Park in the north and from the south, biking together from Be’er Sheva Park. The two streams of people congregated together across the street from the ghost bike adorned with flowers and photos which marks the spot where Michael was killed. The crowd was surrounded by parked bikes, trikes, cargo bikes, and trailers, some with signs reading “Safe Streets for the South End,” “Michael Should Be Here,” and “It could have been any of us.”

Walk and Ride

Following the tragic crash last month, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways connected with Michael’s daughter, Sydney, and organized the memorial, walk, and ride, in collaboration with Vanessa Chin, Michael’s friend and colleague, with additional support from Bike Works and Cascade Bicycle Club.

Vanessa Chin speaks into a microphone in a grassy space. A group of people stand and sit somberly behind her.

Many colleagues and friends stood up to speak to those assembled, describing Michael as someone who consistently worked to make things better, gave his time to chat, and really listened to people. Michael’s daughter, Sydney, attended virtually from Vancouver, BC and spoke movingly about his support for her while in nursing school. You can support Michael’s family through their Go Fund Me.


A bar chart showing traffic fatalities in Seattle by District. District 2 (southeast Seattle) shows double the number of fatalities than any other district.

As requested by the family, we are also calling on the city to build safe places for people to bike in the Rainier Valley, and highlighting the fact that over the last five years SE Seattle’s District 2 has had double the number of fatalities as any other council district. In fact, Michael is the second person to be killed while riding a bike in less than a month in District 2 — Robert Miesse, 54, was killed when he was hit by a truck while riding his bike in Georgetown on March 24. Many people gathered in Georgetown for a memorial ride just 2 days before Michael Colmant was killed.

As a city, we are failing Vision Zero, the city’s goal to reduce the number of road-traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030. The Vision Zero team is underfunded, and Seattle is way behind on goals to build protected places for people to bike. Seward Park Ave, where Michael was hit and killed, is designated for upgrading in Seattle’s 2014 Bicycle Master Plan. However, due to the lack of funding and political will to build a connected network of safe bike routes, this popular route for people biking is missing from all construction lists for safety upgrades.

Senator Rebecca Saldaña, wearing a pink sundress, speaks to people sitting on a large grassy slope.

We invited elected leaders to speak to how we could do more as a city to get Vision Zero back on track.

State Senator Rebecca Saldaña (pictured above in pink), who has been leading efforts at the state level to shift transportation funding from mainly focusing on highway expansion to a more holistic approach spoke to the need to shift priorities.

King County Executive Dow Constantine spoke about Mike as a colleague and also spoke to the need to make safer streets.

King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay couldn’t be there but sent a statement that was read:

“Dear Mike,

My heart is with you and your whole family. Thank you so much for all your years of dedication to public service. Even in your passing, you are committing everyone around you to the public good as we all come together and work to keep our pedestrians and cyclists safe on our streets, especially in South Seattle.

Rest in Peace, Mike.”

 

Tammy MoralesSeattle Councilmember Tammy Morales, District 2, Seattle City Council also could not make it, but sent a statement saying:

“I watch my kids bike to their friends and hope that they will return unscathed. But we need more than hopeful wishes, we need action. In Michael’s honor, for those that continue to push for safety, and for those who watch as their loved ones move across this City, I am committed to protection for all ages and abilities in Southeast Seattle and District 2.”

 

 

Dongho Chang

Finally, Dongho Chang, Seattle’s Chief Traffic Engineer, spoke about the importance of holding the City accountable to making progress on Vision Zero. And that’s exactly what we intend to do.

We must do more to prevent tragedies like this. Increased funding for Vision Zero would allow the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to increase safety for more of our most dangerous streets in the Rainier Valley and citywide. Increased funding for our Bicycle Master Plan would allow SDOT to build the first comfortable, efficient, connected route into and through SE Seattle, connecting the Rainier Valley to downtown and the rest of the city.

Ultimately, this isn’t about statistics. Each number is a person like Michael, who meant so much to so many, and each loss is felt acutely by family, friends, and community. We must do better. This fall the Seattle City Council has the option to double the Vision Zero budget. We hope you will join us or stay involved in this fight for safer streets for all. Thank you.

 

A crowd of people with bicycles. A bike in the center has a baby seat and a sign that reads "Safe Streets for the South End."

 

Critical Local Funding for Walking, Biking, and Transit at Risk

Can you take a moment this Earth Day to help protect $80 million in funding for walking, biking, and transit projects from the chopping block? Your voice is needed — Click here to send an email to City Council.

A blue button that reads "Act Now!"


The Seattle City Council is proposing to redirect $80,000,000 from walking, biking, and transit projects to pay for bridge repair over the next twenty years. While we are supportive of increased funding for bridge repair, Seattle is more likely to get state and federal dollars for bridge seismic retrofits than for walking and biking projects. Which is why making sure local dollars go to walk/bike/transit projects is so important.

To explain further, there is a fee called the Vehicle Licensing Fee (VLF) that is applied to every car registered in Seattle. It was briefly killed by Tim Eyman, and then restored by the Washington Supreme Court.

In the fall, the Seattle City Council authorized a $20 VLF and asked the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to engage stakeholders in creating a spending plan. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways was a part of that stakeholder engagement along with a long list of organizations

A pie chart showing SDOT's proposed spending plan for VLF funding.

The final proposal from SDOT dedicated 28% of the fee revenue to Vision Zero projects, 28% to sidewalk repair (with an equity and transit focus), 24% to maintaining bridges, 10% for maintaining safe bike routes, 7% for walk/bike/transit planning (like updating the very outdated Transit Master Plan), and setting aside 3% as a reserve. With only $7 million per year to divvy up among these multiple categories, that may not sound like a lot, but it would actually make a big difference. 


Three images showing memorials for people killed by being hit by cars on our streets. Images show a cross surrounded by photos and flowers, a white ghost bike, and a group of people holding signs and listening to a speaker.

Vision Zero (28% of the funding for “Safe Streets”)

As you may have heard, Seattle is not making progress on Vision Zero, the city’s goal to reduce the number of road-traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030, which has been brought into sharp relief by three tragedies in the last month in Georgetown, Lake City, and Seward Park. SDOT just released data finding that the burden of traffic fatalities falls disproportionately on Black Seattle residents, and over the last five years SE Seattle’s District 2 has had double the number of fatalities as any other council district. The Vision Zero team at SDOT knows what/where the main issues are, but they have been chronically underfunded to achieve their mandate. This funding would double the Vision Zero budget, allowing SDOT to redesign more of our dangerous streets like Rainier Ave S, MLK Jr Way, Aurora Ave, Lake City Way, and others. 

A sidewalk made impassible by tree roots and crumbling pavement.

Safe Sidewalks (28% of the funding)

Our sidewalks should be safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities. But right now there are 156,000 known sidewalk maintenance issues, making the sidewalk network we do have increasingly inaccessible to people with disabilities, the elderly (trip and fall hazards are a serious issue), and parents pushing strollers. Additionally, the City of Seattle was successfully sued for failing to retrofit curb ramps to make crosswalks accessible. This funding would fix hundreds of inaccessible sidewalks and crosswalks each year, making our city more accessible to all. 

A smiling group of people bike past in a separated bike lane wearing colorful rain coats and ponchos.

Safe Bike Routes (10% of the funding for “Active Transportation Maintenance”)

Maintenance and regular upgrades are key to making bike routes that are comfortable and convenient. Unfortunately, too many bike routes fade into obscurity, through city neglect and inattention, or lack true protection from cars (moving or parked). This funding would be the first dedicated source to make sure bike routes are maintained to an all ages and abilities standard, and would fund things like bike lane painting and replacement of barriers.  

Two people board a bus while people on bikes go past in a separated lane.

Planning Ahead (7% of the funding)

Political will, organized advocates, talented city staff, funding, and a good plan are the five key ingredients for making progress towards a city that’s better for walking, biking, and transit. Unfortunately, the Seattle Transit Master Plan is out of date, which transit advocates have identified as a key barrier to bringing more light rail lines to Seattle. SDOT is hoping to use this funding to create a multimodal integration plan, which many advocates are skeptical of, but it could be used to fund a new Transit Master Plan, helping guide future light rail and bus routes in Seattle

Additionally, 24% of the funding, in the SDOT proposal, is dedicated to repairing bridges. 


Councilmember Pedersen has a dramatically different plan for the VLF funds

A pie chart showing the proposed city council VLF spend plan. 75% of the chart is "Strong Bridges and Structures" while 25% is "Other Transportation Infrastructure"

Unfortunately, Councilmember Pedersen is proposing a dramatic re-allocation of these funds: redirecting a full 75% of the available VLF funding for bridge repair and leaving a mere 25% for “other transportation infrastructure.” 

While we are supportive of increased funding for bridge repair, Seattle is more likely to get state and federal dollars for bridge seismic retrofits than for walking and biking projects. Which is why making sure local dollars go to walk/bike/transit projects is so important.

A blue button that reads "Act Now!"

Right now, other City Councilmembers are considering whether to adopt his plan, or the plan that doubles the level of progress on Vision Zero, fixes hundreds of inaccessible sidewalks, repairs bike routes, and plans for a bright transit future. Which is why they need to hear from you. 

So this Earth Day, please take a minute to send a message to the City Council asking them to protect $80 million for walking, biking, and transit projects.

Thank you! 

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.

Act Now! button

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

Act Now! button

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!

Vision Zero Update Part 1: World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Seattle’s current progress on our Vision Zero goals. Vision Zero is Seattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

Yesterday, Sunday, November 17, 2019, was the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

We remember the millions of people killed and seriously injured on our streets as well as their families, friends, and communities. We also give thanks to the first responders and other people in emergency services who are faced with tragedy every day. This tremendous burden and loss is often seen as an inevitable byproduct of vehicular travel, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A montage of memorials left on the street where people were killed showing crosses, flowers, white cutout silhouettes, and white bicycles.

Memorials commemorating people killed by traffic violence on our streets.

Here in Seattle, we’re taking this opportunity to do a reality check on pedestrian safety on Seattle’s streets. And it’s not looking good.

Despite Seattle’s commitment to Vision Zero — the goal of achieving zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 — we are in the middle of a pedestrian safety crisis. In the first 10 months of 2019 (January 1 – October 31), crashes on Seattle roads caused 18 fatalities and 118 serious injuries.

A large group of people gather on a sidewalk holding crosses and flowers at a memorial for Maria Banda.

Memorial gathering for Maria Banda.

Of those killed and seriously injured, there were 12 pedestrians and bicyclists killed and 70 serious injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. I’ll say that again: A total of 82 fatalities or serious injuries to the most vulnerable users on our streets in the first ten months of this year, when our goal is zero. The breakdown, for those curious, is 63 pedestrians and 23 bicyclists. Note that this is preliminary data, and may not be a full count, and that we still have a month and a half before the year’s end.

These statistics have real human impacts.

And we know that victims of traffic violence are disproportionately elders, people of color, and those of us with disabilities, low incomes or currently experiencing homelessness.

Vedrana Durakovic had this to say after Maria Lourdes Banda, a Latina elder, was killed in a hit-and-run crash on Lake City Way this fall:

“Maria Banda’s passing [after the hit and run on September 30, 2019] has been felt deeply in the community and among her family and friends. Maria was beloved by all of those who knew her, and her passing has left a gaping hole in the community. Her presence was one of calmness and kindness, and those who were fortunate to have interacted with and known Maria, particularly her husband Agustín, are heartbroken over the loss. Maria’s granddaughter also expressed her grief over the loss of her grandmother, noting that “She was always someone who remembered everyone.” 

“At the same time, the community has also been grappling with feelings of anger and frustration, not comprehending how anyone could leave two people so precious to us on the road, and drive off. And it wasn’t until we contacted Councilmember Debora Juarez did we hear that a police detective was finally assigned to the case on 10/9, as the police had not been aware that the hit and run had resulted in a fatality. Concurrently, [Seattle Department of Transportation] SDOT had no knowledge up until that point that a fatality had occurred in the very spot the community had been asking for a crosswalk for years. 

“The community continues to feel Maria’s absence daily, seeking ways to commemorate her life and find comfort within the community which has demonstrated its strength, unity, and love.”

Jesse Gurnett's mother stands on the side of the street holding a photo of her son after he was hit by a car and killed while crossing the street.

Jesse Gurnett’s mother holding a photo of her son on the street where he was hit by a car and killed.

Our city streets are designed for speed, rather than safety. Remember that individual people making individual decisions designed our city to be this way, and we can make the choice to design it differently. And that these decisions have real impacts: four of the twelve fatalities took place in District 5, Seattle’s far north, which is notoriously devoid of sidewalks or safe places to walk, even along major transit routes and arterial streets.

A woman with three kids push a stroller along a street surrounded by cars. There is no sidewalk and they walk between a ditch and moving traffic.

The map below highlights the 100 intersections in Seattle with the highest number of collisions (2006-present). Seattle’s most dangerous street, Rainier Ave, averages a collision every day, and is clearly highlighted.

Map of the top 100 locations in Seattle with the most traffic collisions.

Click here to view interactive version of this map.

What Next?

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways volunteers are working every day on projects across the city to make it safer for people to walk and bike in Seattle. Sometimes this looks like new sidewalks, crosswalks, or other safe places for people to walk. Sometimes it looks like safe bike routes for people of all ages and abilities. Sometimes it looks like major policy shifts in the way our city evaluates our streets, or maintains our existing infrastructure. Our city is currently built for cars, but we can change that.

Read Part 2, where we’ll lay out our ideas for the City to get Vision Zero back on track!

 

Special Thanks to volunteers Lee Bruch and Tim Ganter for tracking and visualizing data and holding the City accountable to Vision Zero goals.

Bike Share Changes Seattle Safety Equation

by Cathy Tuttle
July 17, 2017

Bike share will test safe Seattle streets

Bike share will test safety of Seattle streets

I’m so excited!

This week, 1000 new orange and green bikes will be magically scattered like confetti throughout Seattle.

@LimeBike has a track record of launching dock-less bike share systems. @SpinCities says it raised $8 million for bike share and eventually wants a fleet of 10,000 bikes in Seattle.

Seattle is the largest market to date for both companies, and Spin and LimeBike will be competing head to head. Each company is allowed to launch a fleet of 500 of their distinctive bright green and orange upright bikes today, another 1,000 next month, and 2,000 the following month.

The beauty of dock-less bike share is the fact you can find a bike anywhere in the service area with an app, unlock a bike with your phone, and ride anywhere for 30 minutes for $1. No search for parking, just find a bike and ride.

Bike Share and Vision Zero

My biggest worry is safety. Not safety of the bikes, that feel solid and reliable, but street safety. The new bike share service areas in Downtown, Central Seattle, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, South Lake Union, Eastlake, Fremont, Ballard, the U-District are filled with high crash corridors and intersections with few miles of protected bike lanes, trails, or greenways.

  • My hope is the thousands of new Spin and LimeBike riders will encourage people driving to become more aware and respectful of people on bikes.
  • I also hope SDOT will quickly build out a fully protected #BasicBikeNetwork downtown and a linked safe network throughout Seattle.
  • Most of all, I hope thousands of people will discover the joy of riding a bike for everyday transportation.

Welcome SpinCities and LimeBike!

Ready for a downtown #BasicBikeNetwork?

Ready for a downtown #BasicBikeNetwork?

 

Urban Village Bike Map connect the dotted lines!

Urban Village Bike Map connect the dotted lines!

 

Want to support more advocacy work like this? Volunteer and donate:

  Join Us Donate

 

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

 

 

 

 

Turning a Safety Corridor Into a Street for People #Fix65th

Council member Rob Johnson at 2016 #Fix65th rally

Councilmember Rob Johnson speaks to 2016 #Fix65th Vision Zero Rally participants

In 2016, following a cluster of tragic fatalities and serious injuries on NE 65th St of people walking and biking, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways brought together a coalition to make safety improvements.

NE Seattle Greenways held a community rally and safety walk with District 4 Councilmember Rob Johnson. Hundreds of people signed our petition, and powerful local neighborhood groups (Roosevelt Neighborhood Association & Ravenna-Bryant Community Association) joined up to make safety on NE 65th one of their priorities as well.

Our #Fix65th coalition and Councilmember Johnson’s support were just what was needed to make #fix65th a priority for Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and late in 2016 the City funded and began to plan for a safer, more functional street.

Making NE 65th a great street for people who walk, bike, take the bus, shop, go to school, and live is even more critical now than ever with the Roosevelt Light Rail Station due to open in 2021.

photo: Dongho Chang, Seattle City Chief Traffic Engineer

We’re super excited to report, based on our coalition’s recommendations, that SDOT has already changed speed signs to 25 MPH (they were 30 MPH), and improved existing traffic signals.

Much more is planned!

Make sure to attend the next SDOT #Fix65th Open House on May 18 to see what else is in the works for 2017. If you can’t attend the May 18 meeting, SDOT has an on-line survey up in May to record your ideas as well.

 

SDOT Open House to #Fix65th

  • When: Thursday May 18, 2017 from 6 to 8 PM
  • Where: Roosevelt High School, 1410 NE 66th St
  • Who: Everyone who lives, works, plays, or travels along NE 65th St.
  • What: Review concept plans for 2017 safety and see what’s already been improved
  • Why: Because we all need safe, healthy streets!

More information: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/NE65VisionZero.htm and https://fix65th.wordpress.com

 

World Day of Remembrance 2016 at 20th NE and NE 65th

World Day of Remembrance 2016 at 20th NE and NE 65th

 

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