Sidewalks are beautiful things for neighborhoods and cities; not only do sidewalks encourage more walking, promoting exercise and reducing traffic congestion, but they also support safe walking, providing pedestrians with a place to walk that is free from vehicles. It is for this reason that the city of Seattle is proposing rules that would limit sidewalk closures for construction projects to the last resort option.
The Problem With Closed Sidewalks
Everybody has at one time or another encountered a sidewalk closed sign as a result of an ongoing construction project. Assuming that the destination is beyond the sidewalk closure, the pedestrian facing the closure must make a choice of going a different route or walking alongside the construction barrier.
While the former may be the safer choice, most people choose the latter. As a result, they are unnecessarily—and often dangerously—put in a situation where cars are whizzing by at a proximity that is too close for comfort. Sadly, it is a fact that Seattle does not have good drivers.
There is no argument that when a construction project ensues, there is often limited space. How that remaining space is allocated, though, is the problem; often, multiple lanes of traffic will remain open, and there may even be room for on-street parking while sidewalks are closed and no protected pedestrian areas are put in place.
The Seattle Department of Transportation thinks that this is unacceptable; there should be a safe area for people to walk (and bike) even when construction projects take up space.
Will sidewalk closures be limited?
The Seattle Department of Transportation wants to limit sidewalk closures. But doing so is where the problem gets tricky. The Seattle Bike Blog suggested the following closure proposition: on-street parking is the first to go.
If more room is necessary, any extra general purpose or travel lanes should be temporarily suspended. Then, if need be – and only if necessary—the bike lane should be removed. Removing these three things first presents a situation where there should, ideally, almost never be a need to remove sidewalks thereby avoiding pedestrian accidents.
Walking Safely in Seattle
Walking safely in Seattle is easy to do when a pedestrian follows traffic laws and sticks to the sidewalks. When construction, bad drivers, or faulty traffic lights put a pedestrian in jeopardy, though, things can get dangerous fast.
If you want to learn more about pedestrian safety in Seattle and what to do if you have been in a pedestrian accident, reach out to the attorneys at Max Meyers Law PLLC. You can visit us online, or contact a pedestrian accident lawyer today for more information at 425-399-7000.