Despite more than 2,000 miles of sidewalks throughout the city, many of Seattle’s most popular streets do not offer pedestrians this important safety feature. But now, the City of Seattle is taking steps to remedy the problem.
Thanks to the Levy to Move Seattle, an initiative approved by voters in 2015, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is preparing to launch its ambitious Sidewalk Development Program. The program is a key component of the Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan, which seeks to turn the Emerald City into the nation’s most walkable metroplex.
The project is set to kick off this year with 50 blocks of new sidewalk. By the time the project wraps up in 2024, 250 blocks of new sidewalk will enhance the pedestrian experience for Seattle residents. Additional improvements will include safety buffers, traffic control, and accessibility features to improve the comfort and safety of pedestrians.
Pedestrian Safety Can Be Challenging in Seattle
Seattle’s Sidewalk Development Program seeks to solve the pressing challenge of pedestrian safety in our city.
Unfortunately, it took a frightening and potentially deadly accident to compel SDOT to act, according to KIRO Channel 7. In 2014, a driver lost control of her SUV and plowed through a Columbia City building along Rainier Avenue.
After crashing through a hair salon and Greek deli, the runaway vehicle pinned a family of three against a wall. The mother, father, and 10-year-old daughter, who were dining in the deli at the time, were pinned between the SUV and the wall until firefighters could extricate them. In addition to the family, another woman and a young boy were also hospitalized with injuries sustained in the accident.
How can I avoid pedestrian accidents in Seattle?
The lack of sidewalks has historically been only one of many safety challenges faced by Seattle pedestrians.
Walking at Night
Walking at night has long been an area of concern for those who choose this healthy and cost-effective mode of transportation. In addition to a lack of visibility, pedestrians must negotiate poorly marked crosswalks and traffic control patterns that are especially challenging for those on foot.
Unfortunately, not all our city’s pedestrian challenges relate to a shortage of sidewalks.
Another common cause of pedestrian injury is distracted walking. Walking while texting, talking on the phone, or wearing headphones prevents pedestrians from paying attention to their surroundings. This poses a variety of safety threats that Seattle residents tend to discount. In fact, in a study commissioned by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), participants from Seattle were the least likely to believe that distracted walking posed a serious risk to pedestrians.
Whatever our perceptions, distracted walking is deadly and the problem is only getting worse. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian deaths jumped 10 percent in the first six months of 2015. Kids face an even greater risk of injury while walking than adults do. In fact, Safe Kids Worldwide reports that pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of death for U.S. children ages five to 18.
Whether you are walking, biking, or driving, take care and stay safe out there, Seattle!
If you or a loved one is ever in a pedestrian accident, contact Max Meyers Law today at 425-399-7000.