Van Hailin’

Every year, thousands of Seattle commuters get to work using a van or carpool. Not driving single occupancy vehicles helps reduce congestion and carbon emissions – as well as being a convenient way to save on commuting costs.

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But, the fee for a Vanpool parking permit hasn’t been updated in over 20 years, and has not kept up with rising costs for carpool parking or administering the program. To align these costs, and ensure the financial viability of the Vanpool program, the Seattle City Council approved a schedule for permit fee increases over the next three years.

So, is the price going up? Yes. Are Vanpool on-street parking permits still significantly cheaper than carpool or private parking? Absolutely!

Here’s the permit fee increase schedule for on-street Vanpool parking:

 

Location 2017 fee per month 2018 fee per month 2019 fee per month
Central Business District (CBD) $66.67 $133.33 $200
Non-CBD $33.33 $66.67 $100

 

We understand this represents a cost increase for Vanpool commuters, but it is important to note that Vanpool parking rates have not kept up as carpool and private parking fees increased significantly.

For a 5-person vanpool in the CBD, a rider’s parking cost in 2017 will increase from $0.33 per month to $13.33 per month. In 2019, each rider would pay $40 per month. In contrast, for a 2-person carpool in the CBD, each rider today pays $100 per month. And for a 5-person Vanpool parking off street in private lots or garages, which most do, fees are currently $300-$400 per month, or $60-80 per month per person.

It’s also important to note that 5 people is just the minimum required for a Vanpool. If you filled a Vanpool to capacity at 15 people, the permit fee per person would be just $4.44 in 2017, or $13.33 in 2019!

Of the over 800 Vanpools currently in use in Seattle, the vast majority park off-street in private lots or garages, and only about 70 park on-street and will be impacted by this fee increase.

We remain committed to Vanpooling, as well as other forms of shared transportation and transit. As our city grows, it’s increasingly important alternative forms of commuting are easy and attractive. To join a Vanpool, or start your own, check out the King County Metro page.

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Resolve to Reduce Speeds

New Years resolutions are as easy to break as they are to make, but for 2017, Seattle is keeping our commitment to Vision Zero and eliminating traffic deaths or serious injuries by 2030.

At the end of 2016, we announced multiple speed limit changes to help keep everyone safe, and new signs are being deployed throughout the city.

  • Arterials in central Seattle (blue on the map below) were reduced to 25 mph.
  • Non-arterials (a.k.a. residential street) speed limit were reduced to 20 mph everywhere in the city.
  • Delridge Way SW was reduced to 30 between SW Henderson Street and the West Seattle Bridge.

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Speed matters, and slowing down saves lives, especially for people walking and biking.

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In 2017, we’ll be examining the impact of these changes on traffic and collisions, educating the public on new laws, and evaluating additional arterials that could benefit from speed reductions.

Be on the lookout for new signs and speed limits, and remember that unless otherwise posted all arterials are now 25 mph, and all residential streets are now 20 mph.

 

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SDOT Mobility Innovations First Forum on Mobility Hubs

SDOT hosted the first Mobility Innovations Forum Monday, the topic Mobility Hubs.

We’re hosting a speaker series on mobility innovations, running through mid-2017 (see below)

The City of Seattle is partnering with transit agencies and private mobility services to develop a network of shared mobility hubs throughout the city, providing better mobility and integrated transportation choices for all. Topics will include mobility hubs, smart mobility strategies for high growth in Seattle, preparing for autonomous vehicles, and making shared transportation equitable.

Scott Kubly, Director of Seattle Department of Transportation; Seleta Reynolds, General Manager of Los Angeles DOT; David Bragdon, Executive Director of TransitCenter; Sharon Feigon, Executive Director at the Shared Use Mobility Center, discussed their thoughts on mobility hubs as Ross Reynolds from KUOW, moderated the conversation.

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Scott Kubly, SDOT Dir; Speakers: Seleta Reynolds; David Bragdon; Sharon Feigon; Ross Reynolds KUOW.

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Scott Kubly , SDOT Dir. addresses attendees alongside featured guests.

Here’s a definition of what Mobility Hubs are:

Mobility hubs provide an integrated suite of transportation services, supporting amenities, and urban design enhancements that reduce the need for single occupant vehicle trips by increasing first mile/last mile access to high-frequency transit stations. Mobility hubs are places of connectivity where different modes of transportation such as walking, biking, ride-sharing, and public transit, cometogether seamlessly at concentrations of employment, housing, shopping, and/ or recreation.

Hub features can include: bikeshare, car share, neighborhood electric vehicles, bike parking, dynamic parking management strategies, real-time traveler information, real-time ride-sharing, demand-based shuttle, bicycle and pedestrian facility improvements, wayfinding, urban design enhancements, and supporting systems like mobile applications, electric vehicle charging, smart intersections, and a universal payment system to make it easy to access a wide range of travel options.

Please join us at the upcoming forums. More details will be posted, we appreciate your participation in the months ahead.

The preliminary schedule for future topics is:

  • January: Smart mobility strategies for high growth Seattle
  • March: Preparing for connected and autonomous vehicles
  • May: Making shared mobility equitable
  • June or July: Rethinking mobility as a service

Questions, please contact Evan Corey: evan.corey@seattle.gov.

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SDOT Mobility Innovations Forum Monday, November 14 at 6 p.m.

SDOT is hosting a speaker series on mobility innovations, running through mid-2017. 

Please join us at the first event on Monday, November 14. The City of Seattle is partnering with transit agencies and private mobility services to develop a network of shared mobility hubs throughout the city, providing better mobility and integrated transportation choices for all. Topics will include mobility hubs, smart mobility strategies for high growth in Seattle, preparing for autonomous vehicles, and making shared transportation equitable.

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Topic: Mobility Hubs
When: November 14, 6:00 PM
Where: Seattle Art Museum (Pletscheeff Auditorium) 1300 1st Ave
Free with RSVP: https://sdot-mobilityinnovations.eventbrite.com

Speakers include:

  • Scott Kubly, Director of Seattle Department of Transportation
  • Seleta Reynolds, General Manager of Los Angeles DOT
  • David Bragdon, Executive Director of TransitCenter
  • Sharon Feigon, Executive Director at the Shared Use Mobility Center
  • Ross Reynolds from KUOW will moderate the conversation.

The preliminary schedule for future topics is:

  • January: Smart mobility strategies for high growth Seattle
  • March: Preparing for connected and autonomous vehicles
  • May: Making shared mobility equitable
  • June or July: Rethinking mobility as a service

Learn about this effort, similar efforts throughout North America, and how mobility hubs can transform the travel experience in the future.

Questions, please contact Evan Corey: evan.corey@seattle.gov.

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Growing Vine Street

SDOT is collaborating with the Growing Vine Street team to install a new public space in Belltown!

This Pavement to Parks project is part of the SDOT Adaptive Streets program and will use low-cost materials to repurpose part of Taylor Ave between 5th Ave and Denny Way for the “headwaters” of the Growing Vine Street project.

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The pavement is painted from a bird’s eye view of a dense tree canopy with waters running beneath it. Concrete wash out bins, typically used on construction projects to protect stormwater, will be used as large planters. Tables, chairs and umbrellas will also be placed on site once the installation is complete.20161020_160604

Pavement to Parks projects are temporary installations, then we monitor over a two year period. If these spaces are deemed successful by the community, they can then be made permanent.

SDOT and the Growing Vine Street team hosted a community event this summer and received unanimous support for this project. SDOT also went door to door to neighboring businesses and residents, and received positive feedback. The concept builds off years of planning to repurpose this underutilized street space into a community open space.

Come see the street transformation in progress!

For more information on the Adaptive Street Program, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/adaptivestreets.htm.

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How a Checklist Helps Protect the Environment

What do parklets, streateries, and shoreline street ends have to do with the environment?

A lot, actually – often more than contractors, businesses, and even SDOT may think when proposing a project. For projects that impact the public right of way, one of the main tools that we use to examine potential environmental impacts is the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist.

What’s on this checklist?

SEPA was created in 1971. At the time, people were frustrated that many government decisions didn’t seem to consider impacts on the environment or the people living and working nearby. SEPA provided the framework government needed, and the accountability that the public wanted.

The checklist is a list of mandatory questions that applicants must answer about the proposed development project. These help expose any potential disturbance the site may undergo, shine light on the local conditions, and more.

The checklist includes questions about local soil, potential air emissions, and impacts to local plant and animal life. SEPA even asks applicants if their proposed use of the site will limit opportunities, like solar installations, for neighboring landowners in the future. Depending on the results, projects may have to go through further SEPA steps, like making plans to mitigate negative impacts, to get approval.

What kinds of things does the SEPA questionnaire reveal?

Parklets and Streateries

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Parklets and streateries convert a on-street parking spots into public spots with plantings, benches, and tables. Although these only alter a few slabs of pavement, there can be hidden impacts, so filling out a SEPA Environmental Checklist is a must. During the 2016 Parklet/Streatery SEPA assessment, we found that:

  • During construction of parklets and streateries, vehicle emissions might rise due to the increased traffic and car idling, but that this increase would fall back to pre-construction levels when the project is finished.
  • Noise levels may increase during the construction period, but will drop upon completion.
  • Although Seattle is within the Pacific Flyway, a principal route for many migratory birds, the new parklets and streateries will not effect this migration.
  • Vegetation planted in planter boxes will add vegetation to the right of way, and no parklet or streatery location requires the removal of any vegetation.
  • One streatery design was located in a Landmark District, and required further approval.

Shoreline Street Ends

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Shoreline Street Ends are portions of the public right of way where streets end in areas that provide access to Seattle’s waterways. These street ends are peppered throughout the shoreline of city.

Many of these are slated for improvements that help with access, yet this type of disturbance and construction requires a SEPA assessment. During one recent assessment, we found that:

  • Areas on the site that are disturbed may be susceptible to erosion, so we need to be careful to protect the soil from washing into the waterway.
  • The improved Shoreline Street End will remove approximately 1,200 square feet of invasive species from the site, including Japanese knotweed and Himalayan blackberry.
  • Native plants, including red twig dogwood, red-flowering current and shore pine are all included in the proposed landscaping to help increase native plant density in this area of Seattle
  • Soil excavated from the site had levels of toxicity that require special handling and hazardous material disposal.

Without the SEPA checklist, many of these environmental considerations may not have been recognized. SEPA assessments help the right of way stay safe for all members of the public – including our plant and animal neighbors.

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