Feet First Policy Papers

Advocacy is a major component of the work Feet First does. These policy papers, prepared by our Policy Committee, convey Feet First’s position on key issues of interest to increase safe and easy ways for people to choose to go by foot.


More about the Policy Committee


2015 – 2016 Feet First Policy Recommendations for a Walkable Seattle


Access Management
Bicycle Pedestrian Coexistence
Complete Streets
Pedestrian Equity
Failure to Yield
Impact Fees for Pedestrian Infrastructure
Pedestrian Malls
Pedestrian Friendly Campus Building Guide
Road Rechannelization (Road Diets)
School Siting
School Transportation


2015 – 2016 Feet First Policy Recommendations for a Walkable Seattle (PDF) (Word)

As one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, Seattle is in need of significant improvements to its pedestrian infrastructure to make it safe, accessible and inviting for people to travel by foot. Walkable communities decrease traffic congestion, improve health, increase environmental sustainability, and boost economic development. When people walk they are more connected to their city…


Access Management (PDF) (Word)

Access management includes a range of treatments on roadways to balance traffic flow with the safety of all users. On limited access highways, widely-spaced interchanges lead to smoother traffic flow but poor walking conditions. On arterial roads, tighter street grids lead to lower speeds and better walking conditions. Though adding curb and sidewalk to arterial roads is our foremost infrastructure need, careful access management is also critical to the walking environment…


Bicycle Pedestrian Coexistence (PDF) (Word)

Walking and bicycling share much in common.  They both promote good health and environmental sustainability.  Moreover, bicycle and pedestrian advocates are natural allies who often work in together supporting policies and capital improvements that benefit nonmotorized transportation.  However, there are times when cyclists and walkers come into conflict…


Complete Streets (PDF) (Word)

A complete street policy calls for the design and operation of streets so that they are safe for all users. This includes people walking, bicyclists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. All too often streets are designed with the primary, if not sole, purpose being to accommodate the movement of vehicles. A complete streets policy encourages multiple users of the street…


Failure to Yield (PDF) (Word)

Failure to yield the right of way to pedestrians is considered a serious traffic violation under Washington State law.  Yet, due to a long-established culture that assumes the preeminence of motorized vehicles on our roads, it is a traffic offense that is rarely cited.  This is certainly the case when compared to  jaywalking.  Of the 28,530 tickets issued for moving violations in Seattle in 2011, just 376 were issued for failure to yield.  That same year, 1,635 citations were issued to pedestrians for infractions such as jaywalking…


Greenways  (PDF) (Word)

In recent years, cities have begun turning some of their neighborhood residential streets into greenways by slowing down traffic and adding pedestrian and bicycle improvements. Some cities are also using these opportunities to put in “green infrastructure” like natural stormwater drainage and pre-treatment…


Impact Fees for Pedestrian Infrastructure (PDF) (Word)

Impacts of real estate development and construction can extend beyond property lines and into surrounding neighborhoods. Impact fee programs are one option available to local governments to reduce the strain of development on public systems including schools, parks, utilities, and transportation. Development impact fees are paid by property developers to municipalities or counties to mitigate the impact and cost of construction and development on local infrastructure…


Jaywalking (PDF) (Word)

The term “jaywalking” stems from early in the 20th Century and was promoted to assert motorist preeminence in the roadway. A “jay” was a hayseed or rural bumpkin and it was used as term of derision. The safety of jaywalking is relative to many factors, including roadway width, vehicle traffic volume and speed, visibility, and the number of people walking. The balance between the person walking and the vehicle lies along a continuum controlled by those factors…


Pedestrian Malls  (Word)

A pedestrian mall is a street or plaza reserved for pedestrians and in which some or all automobile traffic may be prohibited. Traffic may be prohibited at all times in full malls, or only certain hours of the days in semi-malls. They are typically located in central city business areas and are often served by public transit…


Pedestrian Friendly Campus Building Guide (PDF)

The University campus should balance open space with building density to avoid a sprawling scale. As students and employees have strict time routines (e.g., as little as 10 minutes between classes), expanding the campus too large will discourage walking and force students to drive around campus. Similarly, some services are needed by a wide variety of users. Administrative and recreational facilities such as cafes, fitness gyms, security offices and student activity offices should be distributed across campus for easier access…


Road Rechannelization (Road Diets) (PDF) (Word)

There has been much debate in Seattle of late about proposals such as this one to convert existing four-lane arterials to three lanes, often referred to as “road diets.” Recent proposals include road diets in Seattle along Stone Way, Nickerson Street, and NE 125th Street. These treatments are usually quite controversial, with some residents, business owners, and drivers concerned about reduced roadway capacity. All too often, the public debate over these treatments is mistakenly framed by the media and others as a zero sum contest between drivers and bicyclists. This is false. When done properly at appropriate locations, all users benefit…


School Siting (PDF) (Word)

To achieve the Safe Routes to School goal of getting more children to walk and bicycle to school safely, we must address school siting policies at state and local levels. Trends indicate that the average school size has grown and that new schools have been increasingly located on large sites far from families in the neighborhoods that they serve. The National Center for Education Statistics notes that the number of schools in the United States declined from 262,000 in 1930 to 91,000 today, while student population has almost doubled. According to data from the National Household Travel Survey, in 1969 approximately 50 percent of elementary school students lived within two miles of their school; by 2001, only about 33 percent lived within this distance…


School Transportation (PDF) (Word)

Many school districts around the state and the country are choosing to restructure school bus (“yellow bus”) policies, often significantly reducing service from previous levels. Rising diesel prices are a key contributor to this, and significant annual cost savings ($37,000 per bus) are an issue for school districts dealing with funding shortfalls…


Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan (PDF) (Word)

The development of Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan began in early 2007. With Seattle City Council and mayoral support, a resolution was passed directing City departments (with the Seattle Department of Transportation as the lead agency) on the elements of the Pedestrian Master Plan, the establishment of a citizens’ advisory group, and the implementation of a pedestrian safety campaign. The Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Group began in June 2007 to determine the governance structure and framework of the plan. Many agencies, individuals and groups contributed to the development of the plan as well as reviewing existing city policies and programs. Seattle residents were also active in the planning process…



Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan
Sidewalk Snow Removal
Sound Access for All
SR520 Bridge Replacement HOV Project
Statewide Funding for Walkability
Street Food Vendors
Street Trees and Sidewalks
Universal Design
Walking, Sidewalks, and Construction
Walkable Communities and Equity




Seattle Waterfront Design (PDF) (Word)

Seattle’s Downtown Waterfront is the City of Seattle’s “front porch.” It is a regional asset of great importance for locals and tourists alike. The demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and rebuilding of the Alaskan Way surface street and the Waterfront Seawall will dramatically change the face of the Waterfront for decades to come…


Sidewalk Snow Removal (PDF)  (Word)

Many areas of Washington do not experience snowfall events frequently. Nevertheless, when these events occur, they can create treacherous conditions not only for motorists and bicyclists, but also for people walking. Snow and ice buildup on sidewalks can make the simple act of walking to the store or bus stop a dangerous exercise. This is a particular problem in hilly areas and for the elderly or others whose mobility may already be impaired. Moreover, during severe winter weather, many more people depend on walking as an essential transportation option because car and transit modes have reduced capacity. Given these realities, removing snow and ice from sidewalks to maintain clear walking paths is a public safety imperative…


Skybridges (PDF) (Word)

Skybridges are largely a legacy of the 1960s and 70s, with many cities throughout the United States employing them. They were built in an era when convenience, insulation from nature, and from urban “hurly burly” was the great American goal. They were especially popular in coldwinter Midwestern cities such as Minneapolis, St. Paul, Des Moines, and Detroit. In St. Paul as many as 90 percent of shops downtown are on the second story. Denver had urban renewal projects involving skybridges that are now mostly unused…


Sound Access for All (PDF) (Word)

Feet First’s Sound Access for All (SAFA) campaign aims at improving pedestrian access to Sound Transit facilities, especially future Link Light Rail stations. This campaign encourages Sound Transit and local jurisdictions to design facilities and adopt policies that facilitate people walking to Link Light Rail, which supports smart growth and transit-oriented development…


SR520 Bridge Replacement HOV Project (PDF) (Word )

The State Route 520 Bridge Replacement and High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Project is focused on replacing the aging floating bridge structure while also enhancing safety, and improving the corridor to keep the region moving. The project includes several walking enhancements across both SR520 and on Montlake Blvd. The SR520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program offers an opportunity to improve walking connections. The project includes a bicycle/walking path on the north side of the floating bridge, providing a new connection across Lake Washington…


Statewide Funding for Walkability (PDF) (Word)

The state has a pedestrian plan as part of its Washington State Bicycle Facilities and Pedestrian Walkways Plan written in 2008. The plan identifies $1,648,211,000 worth of unfunded bicycle and walking infrastructure needs around the state. The plan calls for further quantifying the needs, decreasing collisions between cars, bikes, and people walking, and doubling the amount of biking and walking in the state. The plan doesn’t comprehensively break out walking needs from bike needs and it doesn’t have a plan for meeting the shortfall…


Street Food Vendors (PDF) (Word)

Street-food vendors add vibrancy to the walking streetscape. They are very popular throughout the world; about 2.5 billion people purchase food from street vendors every day. The City of Portland alone has over 600 food carts along their streets.The Seattle City Council recently changed their code to allow street-food vendors to offer a wider variety of fare. The previous version of the code limited sale to popcorn, hot dogs, and espresso. Feet First generally supports the council’s recent changes to allow more street-food vendors. However, it is important to be mindful that street-food vending can interfere with walking accessibility, particularly for wheelchair users…


Street Trees and Sidewalks (PDF) (Word)

Street trees and sidewalks play valuable roles in enhancing livability for a community. Trees can be an ideal complement to sidewalks in the design of what is considered a “good street.” Both enhance the appearance of a street, create a feeling of walking friendliness and have a positive impact on traffic calming. Sidewalks or equivalent facilities are essential for walking safety. In addition to their natural beauty, trees have significant environmental benefits including shade, storm water run-off mitigation, carbon sequestration and energy savings. As such, both trees and sidewalks should be considered valuable community assets…


Universal Design (PDF) (Word)

Universal Design is the concept of designing everything to be usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or circumstance. Universal design ensures accessibility through seven guiding design principles: equitability, flexibility, intuitive simplicity, perceptivity, tolerance, minimal physical exertion, and size and space appropriateness.
Universal Design emerged from the barrier-free movement of the 1950s, which was a response to the needs of veterans with disabilities to allow them to participate in their communities and workplaces. It is particularly relevant today as the population ages, creating an increasing number of elderly people with disabilities who want to stay active…


Walking, Sidewalks, and Construction (PDF) (Word)


In 2008 the Seattle City Council directed the Auditor’s Office to conduct a review of whether the City was doing enough to:


Minimize the duration and impact of street and sidewalk closures on pedestrians and cyclists. They were particularly interested in alternative solutions for better pedestrian access, given the current high volume of construction activity in the City’s downtown core. Our audit reviewed all aspects of the City’s current street use permitting process.


The audit was driven by observations of Councilmembers and by complaints of citizens that new development was closing too many sidewalks, creating hazards for people trying to walk…


Walkable Communities and Equity (PDF) (Word)


Although improving pedestrian safety and mobility has become a higher transportation planning priority of late, the benefits of good pedestrian infrastructure have not been equally distributed…






Feet First Policy Committee


The Feet First Policy Committee is a subcommittee of the Board charged with the organization’s policy and advocacy work. It is a working committee, with annual work plan to support the mission of the organization.  For more information about the Policy Committee, please contact the chair:

John Stewart, Board Member, Policy Committee Chair