Feet First Urges City Council to Fund Improvements for a Walk-Friendly Seattle

October 23, 2017

Seattle City Council
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025

 

Dear Councilmember:

 

Feet First represents people of all ages looking for safe, accessible, and inviting ways to go by foot.  Walking is a vital transportation mode that strengthens communities, reduces pollution, and promotes good health.  Since 2001, we have worked to ensure that all communities in Washington are walkable.  Below are our comments on the 2018 Seattle transportation budget.

 

The Vision Zero Program is currently funded at $2.3 million a year.  This is not nearly enough money to address a backlog of over 4000 known locations in need of safety improvements.  The need here is critical; the number of people who were killed or seriously injured while walking increased by 25% from 2015 to 2016.  We are moving in the wrong direction to meet our goal of zero people killed or seriously injured in traffic collisions by 2030. We agree with our friends at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways that this needs to be a high priority for Seattle going forward.

 

The Pedestrian Master Plan’s continued implementation is essential.  This budget should reflect the plan’s commitment to make Seattle the most walkable city in America.  Whereas 10% of Seattle commute trips are walking trips, we believe that Seattle should dedicate 10% of its transportation budget towards pedestrians.  The city should focus on high-value projects like sidewalks along transit arterials, connecting to parks and schools, and in developing urban centers.

 

There is great need for more and better sidewalk and public stairway maintenance – this summer, SDOT surveyed the vast majority of Seattle’s network of sidewalks and public stairways. This survey, the first such effort in a decade, revealed that there are over 130,000 defects in the network in need of repair, at an estimated cost of $500 million to $1 billion. While we need to spend wisely to provide sidewalks to our neighborhoods that do not have them, we also need to find revenue to maintain and repair our existing infrastructure. Seattle’s goals around walkability for all ages and abilities depend on providing well-maintained, safe facilities for pedestrians.

 

Safe Routes to Schools are incredibly important for Seattle Public Schools’ 50,000 students.  Individual projects have increased school walking rates by an average of 20 percent, and vehicle speeds and travel citations have gone down around participating schools.  We encourage you to increase funding for these efforts.

 

We strongly support Neighborhood Greenways and urge continued funding for this effort.  Greenway projects should include sufficient funding for pedestrian improvements like safe arterial crossings.  We recommend that all greenways include, at minimum, ADA-accessible curb cuts on at least one side of the street. Greenways must be safe for people of all ages and abilities to walk.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the proposed 2018 Seattle transportation budget.

 

Sincerely,

Maggie Darlow,

President, Feet First

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