Commuting During Summer Construction

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Construction site in Seattle.

Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation right now, which means more construction projects, cars, and crowds as we share our streets with people on everything from zero to sixteen wheels.

Summer is a great time to try an alternate commute method, such as biking or taking the bus, but it’s also peak season for road and sidewalk maintenance. The rainy season can cause delays and difficulty on construction and repairs, so projects are trying to complete work while the sun is still shining.

All this can make commuting tricky, but we’re here to help.

 

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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Intern Ahlaam Ibraahim at a recent Vision Zero event.

Our Vision Zero team is hard at work to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 through educational outreach like the above event, and coordinating enforcement of traffic safety laws with the Seattle Police Department. Our Levy to Move team is implementing the taxpayer approved $930 million 9 year plan to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for a growing city.

And, through our All Aboard partnership with King County Metro, we’re improving or expanding 85% of the bus routes in Seattle.

We’re working hard to make it easier to get around Seattle, but it’s likely you won’t be able to avoid work zones completely as our city continues to grow.

Please be patient and cautious around construction, and remember, your fellow travelers – whether they be in cars, on bikes or buses – are also navigating the same obstacles.

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Enjoy Your Seafair Weekend!

Seafair Weekend is one of the biggest, busiest weekends of the summer in Seattle and that means a LOT of people will be out and about – it’s a good time to remind people to look out for others when heading out for summertime activities.

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Whether you’re hopping a bus to the waterfront to tour a US Navy ship, biking to a friend’s waterfront home to watch the Blue Angels or packing up the family to drive down to Genessee Park to catch the hydros, here are a few reminder safety tips:

Allow Enough Time to Reach Your Destination

Plan your trip and be sure to allow enough time to get where you’re going. That usual 30 minutes to get downtown will take longer than normal because thousands of others are headed that way as well! Speeding can lead to trouble. So please slow down and be courteous.

Plan Ahead if You Plan to Partake

Help keep our streets safe by not driving while under the influence of alcohol – which remains the single biggest contributing factor to traffic fatalities – or marijuana. As part of our Vision Zero campaign, we are partnering with rideshare services Uber and Lyft to give you options for safe rides home this Seafair weekend and beyond.

Keep Your Eyes on the Road

Your phone will likely be pinging you all day long while you plan your weekend. There’s no need to check it while you’re behind the wheel (1, 2 or 4 wheels). Whether you’re driving, walking, or biking, we recommend that you focus on the road instead of other things.

Stop for Pedestrians

We are having an amazing stretch of weather (which doesn’t always happen during Seafair) and that brings more people outdoors, everywhere. As drivers, always be watchful, courteous, and remember to stop for pedestrians. Don’t forget to wave!

Headed down to Genessee Park for Seafair? Check out the map below to see which streets are closed and where parking has been restricted.2016_Seafair_StreetParking_Map newHave a fantastic Seafair Weekend!

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South Shore K-8 Gets Safer Routes to School

Walking or biking to school just got a whole lot safer for students at South Shore K-8!

Through our Safe Routes to School program, the area received improvements including a curb bulb, traffic island, new traffic signal along Rainier Ave, 20 MPH school zone flashing beacons, and public artwork at the intersection of Rainier Avenue S and 51st Avenue S.

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We also supported a Basics of Bicycling education program, and a 12-week long after school Urban Cycling Club to encourage kids to get around safely. Thanks to a partnership with Bike Works, we were also able to give free bikes to kids who participated in the Urban Cycling Club.

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When parents and neighbors from South Shore K-8 reached out for help making their community safer for kids’ commutes, we jumped at the opportunity. “During the South Shore Safe Routes to School program we started a dialogue about what changes we need in our neighborhood to feel comfortable walking and biking to school and built partnerships to make those changes happen,” said Sebrena Burr, whose daughter attends South Shore.

New King and Queen art installation

New King and Queen art installation

We’re excited to how this project will improve the South Shore community, including:

  • Improved safety for kids walking or biking to school
  • Reduced speeding along Rainier Avenue S
  • Increased awareness of how the community can support kids walking and biking
  • Reduced congestion as more kids walk and bike to school
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Take Advantage of Summer by Biking or Walking to Work

Summer is upon us, and it’s an excellent time to consider commuting by bike or walking.

Golden Gardens is the perfect place to play on a sunny summer day

Golden Gardens is the perfect place to play on a sunny summer day

Getting out of the car can be good for our environment, good for your health, and may even help your mood by avoiding the road rage which impacts 8 out of 10 drivers.

If you already commute by transit, add a little extra time outdoors by going to the next bus stop before boarding, or getting off one stop early. You might also consider a combination bike – bus commute: ride your bike to the bus stop, use transit for the longest leg of your commute, and then ride the last mile to work.

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You can even help Seattle stay one of the most walkable cities in the country by checking out our draft Pedestrian Master Plan update and giving us your feedback by August 12!

Do you need help planning your route? We can help! Check out:

Start out small and work your way up to more frequent and longer trips. Identify the important transition points in your commute where one mode may present greater efficiency over another. It won’t be long before you develop a flexible commute that will maximize your effort and minimize your commute times.

Seattle summers include rain, but don't let that stop you

Seattle summers include rain, but don’t let that stop you

By the time Labor Day rolls around, you’ll be a commuter pro!

Post by Commute Trip Reduction

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Planting Trees Across the Country

Last week we were excited to welcome Nikola Agatic, who rode into town after completing a cross-county bicycle trip with stops for tree planting along the way.

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We joined community members to help him plant a tree in Railroad Park, which for trivia buffs was planted by producers from Sleepless in Seattle as a thank you to the Westlake neighborhood after filming.

Seattle was the perfect place to the end trek, as an Arbor Day Tree City USA for 30 years and one of the best cities in the country for biking.

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Thanks for the tree Nikola! If you want to get a tree of your own to help keep our city green, Seattle’s Trees for Neighborhoods program is giving them this October and November. Enter the lottery drawing between July 18 and August 8, and you could win a FREE tree for your home or neighborhood.

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Neighborhood Greenways and Vision Zero Want Your Input in West Seattle!

greenway mapWe’re hosting a public meeting for our continued work with the 35th Ave SW Safety Corridor and new West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway planning.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, Aug. 4, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way SW).

In 2015, we redesigned 35th Ave SW to reduce speeding, collisions, and injuries as part of our Vision Zero plan to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030. We have some early data to share at the meeting and want to hear your observations and experiences along the corridor.

We’re also studying routes for a new north-south neighborhood greenway parallel to 35th Ave SW. The new West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway will prioritize people walking and biking on residential streets.

At the meeting, we will share traffic data and you can help us find out where people want to walk and bike in the neighborhood, as well as what barriers stand in their way. Neighborhood greenways mean safer, calmer streets for you and your family.

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We’re pairing our outreach and engagement for these two projects – the safety corridor and neighborhood greenway – to get the people who live, work, and travel in West Seattle comprehensive information.

Please join us at the open house and learn how we plan to improve the safety for everyone.

Open House on the 35th Avenue SW Road Safety Corridor Project

Thursday, August 4 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Neighborhood House

6400 Sylvan Way SW, Room 207

We hope to see you there!

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How do the Fremont and Ballard Bridge Openings work?

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the Fremont and Ballard Bridge openings, and how they work with our latest Blog Video:

(Click on 1080p HD in Settings to view in High Definition)

SDOT operates and maintains over 149 bridges throughout Seattle, including four movable bridges. Three of SDOT’s movable bridges are draw bridges, known as bascule bridges. These are the Ballard Bridge, Fremont Bridge and University Bridge.

The city is required to open the bridges to marine traffic when requested, but is allowed to restrict boat and marine traffic openings during the morning
(7-9 a.m.) and afternoon (4-6 p.m.) commutes on weekdays (except national holidays). The openings average about four minutes, from stopping traffic to letting traffic resume. SDOT appreciates the public’s patience during the openings as marine traffic passes through.

The Ballard Bridge, located at the west end of the Lake Washington Ship Canal at Salmon Bay, is the fourth and last of the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridges to be passed before entering Puget Sound from Lake Washington. Built in 1917 with a length of 2,854 feet, the Ballard Bridge links the Magnolia and Queen Anne neighborhoods with Ballard.

The Fremont Bridge crosses the Lake Washington Ship Canal and connects the Fremont and Queen Anne neighborhoods. The bridge opened on July 4, 1917, it is the only blue and orange bridge operated by SDOT. The Fremont Bridge’s current color was chosen by a 1985 poll taken among Fremont residents and the Fremont Arts Council.

The Fremont Bridge also connects the Lake Washington Ship Canal Trail to the Burke Gilman Trail and has one of Seattle’s nine bike counters (here’s our previous blog about the Fremont Bridge Bike Counter and how it works). The Fremont Bridge has celebrated over 610,000 openings and counting as of January 2016. The bridge sits just 30 feet above the water, and rises for marine traffic on average of about 35 times a day, making it as one of the busiest bascule bridges in the world.

Here’s a link to our SDOT Bridges page: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bridges.htm

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Safe Routes to School Celebrates at Whittier Elementary

School is out! And for students at Whittier Elementary School, it was a great year of biking and walking to school.

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We celebrated the end of school with Whittier students by handing out healthy snacks and goodies like stickers, reflective key chains, and of course, sidewalk chalk.

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Students and parents were excited to learn about Bicycle Sunday events happening throughout the summer along Lake Washington Boulevard, and Summer Parkways events starting with the Rainier Valley Parade on August 23.

Our Safe Routes to School program is continuing to make getting to school easier for students throughout the city, and we look forward to seeing even more kids walking or biking next year!

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Staff ‘Walk and Talk’ with Neighbors about the 2nd Ave Safety Project

Staff with the 2nd Ave Safety Project recently invited neighbors in Belltown to walk along 2nd Ave to learn about the final project design. The walk led them to several locations along 2nd Ave between Bell St and Broad St, sparking discussions about the safety improvements coming to 2nd Ave when construction starts later this year.

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SDOT staff walk along 2nd Ave with neighbors (and their dogs!) to discuss the project’s final design.

Discussion on the walk included new traffic signals, new street trees and the design of the new protected bike lane (PBL) that will be added from Pike Street to Denny Way. Neighbors also learned about how some curb bulbs will need to be removed and how the design uses special features – such as raised or colored pavement – to indicate areas where cars are pulling out of driveways or pedestrians are loading and unloading. These features are designed to improve safety for everyone.

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Example of a passenger load zone that will be built in several locations on 2nd Ave in Belltown.

Construction of the 2nd Ave Safety Project will begin this fall and the new protected bike lane is scheduled to open in mid-2017.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2nd Ave walk and talk event!

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Columbia City Tells Us How They Get Around the Neighborhood

SDOT recently completed neighborhood surveys along Rainier Ave S in Columbia City to find out more about how people get around. Here’s what we learned:

  • People come by many modes. While using a personal car is the single most popular way people come to Columbia City, 65% of all customers and visitors reported arriving by walking, transit, biking, or other means besides a personal vehicle. That’s a big change from a similar study in the same area in 2011 when only 43% of customers and visitors reported arriving by means other than a personal car.Columbia City 1
  • Locals are regulars. Nearly all residents reported coming to the business district two or more times a week and the most frequent visitors do so by walking or biking.
  • Drivers are finding parking, but it might require circling around the neighborhood first. Most drivers (65%) park on-street, and most (89%) reported that it took about the length of time they expected or less to find parking. However, 11% of drivers reported spending more than 5 minutes looking for parking.

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How do these surveys work?  SDOT consults with professional survey companies to gather information from visitors to the business district using a short questionnaire.  Once the data is analyzed, we summarize the findings and share them with the neighborhood, often through our Community Access and Parking Program – SDOT’s effort to improve on-street parking management in Seattle’s neighborhood business districts and nearby residential areas.

For full results from this survey and others, go here. We are planning to conduct surveys in more neighborhoods this fall!

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