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Archive for 'Safety'

Crosswalk Law 1.0

Washington’s crosswalk law is pretty simple – stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. But most people are unaware that every intersection contains a crosswalk whether marked or unmarked. Drivers are required to stop for pedestrians when crossing the street at marked crosswalks and at intersections as well. That’s right it’s perfectly legal to cross the street at an intersection even without the aid of crosswalk striping on the pavement. It’s critically important that everyone understand this basic rule of the road to keep pedestrians – including students, seniors, and transit riders – safe. Let’s take a look at a few examples of legal crossings.

Croswalklaw1.01

The law around standard crosswalks like the one pictured above is relatively straightforward. When a pedestrian is waiting at the curb to cross the street, drivers are required to stop. SDOT installs this type of crossing on lower volume streets with no more than three lanes of traffic and many of these are designated school crossings. These crossings are ‘uncontrolled’, meaning that there are no stop signs or traffic signals to assign right-of-way so we’re counting on drivers and pedestrians to know and follow the law.

crosswalklaw1.02

As mentioned earlier, all intersections contain legal crossings whether marked or unmarked so the intersection pictured above has four legal crossings. If a pedestrians were waiting to cross the street at this location, drivers would be required to stop and let them cross safely.

At traffic signals, state law says, drivers can turn into the crosswalk only after pedestrians are one lane past the drivers half of the roadway. The image below should help clarify this law. Just remember that pedestrians and bicyclists have the right-of-way at crosswalks and intersections. Give them plenty of time to cross the street.

croswalklaw1.03Here are a few other tips to help keep pedestrians safe

  • Don’t block the view. It’s illegal to park with 20 feet of a marked or unmarked crosswalk and within 30 feet of a traffic signal, stop sign, or yield sign. Parking too close to a crosswalk or traffic control device limits the visibility of the device and pedestrians – especially shorter children or people using wheelchairs.
  • Slow down. Speed increases the amount of time it takes to recognize pedestrians and bring your vehicle to a stop. Follow the speed limit and watch out for pedestrians.
  • Sidewalks and Driveways. Stop for pedestrians whenever you’re driving across a sidewalk to access a parking lot, driveway or alley.

Pedestrians are much more vulnerable to injuries in collisions and the likelihood of injury is nearly 100 percent should an incident occur. Let’s work together to make sure that doesn’t happen. When you’re out on the streets, look out for others and stop for pedestrians.

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Play Streets – An SDOT program for kids that can be enjoyed by the whole Family

Play streets

SDOT continues to work with residents to help them create a Play Street in their neighborhood. Under this pilot program, residents can apply to close one block of street to traffic so the kids (and adults) can have more space to play. It’s just what it sounds like. With a free permit, you can temporarily close your street to traffic so that you and your neighbors can go out and play in the street.

Play streets provide more space for kids (and adults) to play and be physically active. So far this year, SDOT has had 34 total Play Streets events – 21 which are recurring and 13 that were just one time events.

Play streets can be hosted by schools, community groups, or neighbors. School-organized play streets provide additional space for recess or other special activities, like a field day. Community/neighborhood play streets help neighbors create more space for play during the summer or after school. Almost any non-arterial street can be a play street as long as it is not longer than one block and does not include an intersection.

Many cities across the country have Play Streets, including New York City. This program will give kids of all ages more space to be active and they support FUN for everyone! For information on how you can create a Play Street please visit their webpage or contact Diane Walsh at diane.walsh@seattle.gov, (206) 386-4575.

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Safer Route to School in West Woodland

Safe School Route improvements.

Safe School Route improvements.

 

Kids should be excited by going to school and by the process of getting there. SDOT has been improving the pedestrian routes to many schools with a mix of crosswalks, curb bulbs, and repair or installation of sidewalks, including near West Woodland Elementary.

The intersection of 3rd Avenue NW and NW 56th Street is one of Seattle’s 5-way intersections with fairly steep grades and limited lines of sight, which presents a challenging situation for drivers and pedestrians, particularly before and after school. 3rd Avenue is a well-loved north-south route on the west slope of Phinney Ridge running from NW Leary Way beyond NW 85thStreet. NW 55th Place to NW 56th Street is a northeast – southwest route that connects NW Market Street to the north side of the Woodland Park Zoo.

The crossing was selected by both the Neighborhood Street Fund program (using Bridging the Gap levy money) and by the Safe Routes to School program for improvements. After discussions with the PTSA, neighbors and project sponsors, a balance was found that provides a much safer crossing, while not significantly affecting traffic flows when pedestrians aren’t crossing.

As shown in the (above) diagram, one leg of the intersection will be shifted south and made a one-way street, headed away from the intersection. (Folks headed from Ballard on NW Market Street will still be able to turn north onto 3rd Avenue NW from NW 55th Place, just a half-block away.) The intersection itself will become an all-way stop on the remaining four legs and get curb bulbs – to shorten crossing distances – and crosswalk striping.

SDOT is also replacing the school zone flashing beacons, which will be timed with school arrival and dismal times to help pedestrians cross the street. These will be located on 3rd Avenue NW, facing both north- and south-bound traffic.  The design is essentially complete, the specifications written and the contract for this work, along with four other Neighborhood Street Fund Projects is being put together.

The package will be put out to bid and construction will take place in 2015. We’re pretty excited by helping to make schools safer in general, but especially about this project for the West Woodland Elementary neighborhood. Please visit the website http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/westwoodland.htm and if you have any specific questions about the project, please contact Art Brochet at art.brochet@seattle.gov .

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Central Area Neighborhood Greenway Open Houses

Please join us at an open house next week to learn more about the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway most promising routes for Phases 2 and 3 (the south and north ends of the greenway, respectively) and share your input. We will review the evaluation criteria of previously studied routes, the most promising route from Rainier Avenue S. to E. Roanoke Street, and some of the design elements that may be applied.

CANG Most Promising Route

This greenway is being developed in close coordination with the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project and will provide a bicycle and pedestrian facility off of 23rd Avenue. The modified 23rd Avenue is being designed to improve mobility through the corridor, but it will not include a protected bike lane. People on foot and riding bikes may prefer a calmer route. For those reasons, and to help achieve Seattle’s goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030, SDOT is installing the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway near this busy arterial.

Neighborhood greenways are safer, calm residential streets that provide a more comfortable environment for people to walk, run and bike. Starting with a good foundation (a street with already low car volumes and speeds), small improvements are made that add up to a big difference. Improvements can include adding speed humps, signage, and pavement markings, reducing the speed limit, and making crossings easier by adding curb extensions, rapid flashing beacons, crosswalks, medians, or traffic signals at busy intersections.

The project is separated into three phases.

  • Phase 1 (E John Street to S Jackson Street)
  • Phase 2 (S Jackson Street to Rainier Avenue S)
  • Phase 3 (E Roanoke Street to E John Street)

We are completing final design for Phase 1 now and anticipate that its construction will begin this fall. Phases 2 and 3 will begin design this fall and we anticipate construction will begin in summer 2015.

Open House Details

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Once Around the Web: Safety First!

Summer is winding down (say it ain’t so!) but construction projects still abound around the city. This week, the New York State Department of Transportation released a new public safety announcement video that reminds motorists to slow down in work zones. It’s effective and sad and very worth watching.

“…they’re not just cones.”

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Landscaping Seattle City Right of Way: a Math Problem

Do you ever drive down a landscaped Seattle street and wonder, “Why don’t they maintain that median?” or, “Wow, I love the landscaping along this road, it really makes the neighborhood.”

In Seattle, there are approximately 123 acres of landscaped public right of way and tree pits—with just 12 gardeners to maintain it all. That means the team must diligently prioritize workload. The number one priority is ensuring these areas are safe and provide accessibility as they were designed. That’s the goal whether the landscaping was installed in the 1960’s, like it was when the 15th Avenue NW and Nickerson Street interchange was being built, or newly installed, as with the Mercer  corridor improvements.

1960 Seattle Municipal Archives photo of Emerson Street Interchange; Nickerson Approach to bridge.

1960 Seattle Municipal Archives photo; Nickerson Approach to bridge.

Mercer Corridor construction and landscaping work in January 2014

Mercer Corridor construction and landscaping work in January 2014

 

The Seattle Department of Transportation Urban Forestry gardeners are well-trained in current professional standards—several are Certified Professional Horticulturists and ISA Certified Arborists. Though the staff is knowledgeable and dedicated, it still comes down to a numbers game. The dozen SDOT Urban Forestry gardeners, supported by two irrigation specialists, are only able to reach about half of the landscaped areas each year for proactive maintenance.

Despite the challenge, the nimble team keeps multiple programs going (click on example photos below, for larger views): mowing for 6-8 months; leaf pick-up every fall; tree pit maintenance; landscape maintenance year-round; planting several hundred streets trees every spring and fall (funded by Bridging the Gap); and accent landscapes work, which is the more labor intensive flower beds featuring perennials and annuals.LANDSCAPE BEFORE & AFTER 021 Picture 0445TH AVE NE PHASE II 003 5TH AVE NE PHASE II 005 16th AVE SW MEDIANS 9.13 005

Some of the maintenance work, which focuses first on arterials, also requires traffic control like the recent work along Harbor Avenue SW (see photos below). The travel lane was shifted to the parking lane for six hours, each of three days last week, to ensure the workers were safe and to meet safety standards set by the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD. From Southwest Spokane Street to Southwest Florida Street, along Harbor Avenue, the team weeded and cut back plants to improve visibility and added mulch to suppress weed growth.HarborAve

 Above: Segment of Harbor Avenue during and after landscape maintenance
(click for larger view)

So far this year SDOT Urban Forestry has recycled over 430 cubic yards of wood chip mulch back into landscapes. This mulch suppresses weeds, conditions the soil, retains soil moisture and reduces the need for herbicides. It’s important maintenance, and it’s needed all over the city.

A volunteer Tree Ambassador recants how history has shaped the trees in Seward Park during a recent Tree Walk.

A volunteer Tree Ambassador recants how history has shaped the trees in Seward Park during a recent ReLeaf Program Tree Walk.

The math starts to work out when volunteers become involved. SDOT relies on the community to help alert us to issues in landscaped areas we are unable to attend to; and on neighborhoods to help with litter pickup, weeding and group work parties. Seattle’s ReLeaf Tree Ambassador Program, a Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities joint project, is there to train volunteers who are interested in leading landscape maintenance events in their neighborhoods.

Recently, a volunteer group organized by the Tree Ambassador Program, helped weed and mulch over 25 tree pits along Martin Luther King Jr Way near the Rainier Beach Transit Station. On August 9, a group of 16 volunteers working at N 46th Street and Aurora Avenue N (pictured below), removed 10 bags of garbage and 5 yards of weeds; freed 4 large conifers from strangling ivy; and laid down fresh mulch.

RainierVounteers

Volunteers gathered at N 46th St and Aurora Ave N to address maintenance needs

 

Similar work took place again this past weekend, on August 16, on Beacon Hill at Beacon Avenue S and 15th Avenue S. Want to be part of the equation? Add to the crew and make a winning solution this Saturday, August 23, in Rainier Beach:

RainierVounteer

When volunteers join forces with the dedicated gardener dozen, and the irrigation specialists give the plantings what they need to survive—the City starts to look pretty vibrant.

If you like solving math problems, help us solve for X:

(12 Gardeners) + (2 Irrigation Specialiats) + (X Volunteers) = 123 well-kept acres

Want to get your number in the game?

Thank you Seattle!

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Make Your Street A Play Street

Ever wish you could temporarily close the street in front of your house so kids (and adults!) in your neighborhood could play freely and safely? Now you can!

On May 30 of this year, Seattle’s first Play Street took place as part of the new Pilot Play Streets program. Since then, Play Streets have been popping up all over Seattle, giving communities more room to play, exercise, have fun and get to know their neighbors.

So what exactly is a Play Street? In short, it’s whatever you want it to be.

Play Streets are neighborhood streets that are temporarily closed to traffic and opened up for a wide variety of activities. What you and your neighbors do in your Play Street is up to you! Possible activities include dance parties, hopscotch, jump rope, basketball, chalk art projects, potlucks, yoga, street hockey, unstructured playtime — you get the idea.

Ballard residents made the sign shown here to raise awareness of their recurring Play Street…

PlayStreet

Want to make YOUR street a Play Street?

The first thing to do is to make sure the street you have in mind will have clear visibility from intersections at each end.

Play Streets can only be one block long and must be on a non-arterial (see this map to determine if your street is a non-arterial).

Next, talk to all of your neighbors and see if they want to join you in setting up a Play Street. Then, if everyone is on board, fill out your free application here!

Play Streets can be set up as a one-time event (i.e. street dance) or can be recurring (see photo above). So, meet your neighbors, break out the soccer balls and squirt guns, and set up your very own Play Street!

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2014 Parklets Construction Update

As Seattle’s Pilot Parklet Program heats up, pedestrians around Seattle are finding new places to cool off, relax and take in the city around them.

In case you aren’t familiar with Seattle’s new Parklet Program, parklets are a way for people to transform underutilized parking spaces into dynamic park spaces that can be used by the public in a variety of ways.

Right now, there are just two completed parklets in Seattle, one outside Montana Bar in Capitol Hill and the other outside Oasis Tea Zone in the International District. But this is soon to change as these two pioneering parklets have inspired a number of other businesses and organizations to dream up designs for parklets in their own neighborhoods. Of the many submissions, 13 parklet proposals have been selected to move forward as part of this year’s pilot program – three of these will likely be completed by the end of this month! We expect the remaining 10 will be soon to follow.

The next three parklets to be completed are the Cortona Café parklet in the Central District (2425 E Union St), the City Hostel Seattle parklet in Belltown (2327 2nd Ave), and the Chromer Building parklet in Downtown (1516 2nd Ave). Check out the plans for each of these parklets below, and get ready for their unveilings over the next several weeks! To see if there is a parklet planned for your neighborhood, check out this map.

Below: CORTONA CAFÉ PARKLET DESIGN

CortonaParkletDesign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below: CITY HOSTEL PARKLET DESIGN (image courtesy of Boxwood)

HostelParkletDesign

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below: CHROMER BUILDING PARKLET DESIGN

ChromerParkletDesign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of this year, after Seattleites have had some time to get acquainted with their new spaces, the Pilot Parklet Program will conduct an evaluation to determine how effectively the program compliments and enhances the public’s enjoyment of Seattle’s streets. If the program seems to be a good fit, parklets will likely become a permanent part of Seattle’s public space programming, and more of Seattle’s businesses and neighborhood groups will have the chance to build parklets for their own communities.

Given the success of the city’s first two parklets, we expect that the Parklets Program will continue to grow, and that Seattle will soon be home to an even wider network of new, innovative and inspiring public spaces. If you visit a parklet in the next few months, and feel so inclined, send us a photo or a few words to tell us what you think about your city’s new parklets!

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Create your own pop-up park for PARK(ing) Day 2014

PARK(ing) Day is September 19—just two months away—and we’re accepting applications. This is your chance to have a little fun in the street and create a pop-up park for a day!BlogPARKing2

Haven’t heard of PARK(ing) Day? It’s an international event on the third Friday in September that helps to raise awareness about creating a walkable, livable, and healthy city. This marks the eighth year that Seattle has participated. Last year we had more than 40 pop-up parks around the city…let’s go for 100 this year.

PARK(ing) Day is your opportunity to turn an on-street parking space into something different for a few hours. Get your friends, neighbors, co-workers, or family together and start planning now. What will you do in your parking space park between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Friday, September 19?

We’ve included a gallery of 2013 PARK(ing) Day installations on our updated website, so take a peek and get inspired. There’s also a new application form—don’t worry, it’s still free to participate—to make it even easier for you to reserve your space.

blogPARKing1You can plan your park for either an arterial street (at least two spaces) or a residential street (one space is fine) most anywhere in Seattle. More information about the dos and don’ts for PARK(ing) Day parks is available on our website, and we’re here to help you find a space that works and guide you through the process.

The simple application is due by August 29, but the sooner you apply, the better. Don’t risk someone else reserving your favorite space! Send your completed form to Joshua.Saitelbach@seattle.gov or call 206-733-9970 with questions.

For more information about Seattle’s PARK(ing) Day please visit www.Seattle.gov/transportation/seattleparkingday.htm.

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When emergencies strike, help is on the way

Lawrence Eichhorn, SDOT's Emergency Management Manager and Rodney Maxie, SDOT's Safety Manager, were two SDOT employees who volunteered to help at the OSO landslide this spring.

Lawrence Eichhorn, SDOT’s Emergency Management Manager and Rodney Maxie, SDOT’s Safety Manager, were two SDOT employees who volunteered to help at the OSO landslide this spring.

Our hearts go out to the many people around the nation who have lost their loved ones or their homes as a result of a natural disaster or other major emergency–whether by fire, flood, winter storm, landslide, or some other event. These tremendous losses are a reminder that we need to plan ahead and do all we can to prepare for when an emergency strikes our city.

When there is an emergency in Seattle, the Seattle Department of Transportation responds to keep key arterial routes open. SDOT inspects streets and bridges, clears away debris, and works to remove hazards from streets. The department also issues permits authorizing others to work in street areas, and sends out critical transportation information to the public.

Agencies from around the region sent volunteers to help with the Oso landslide.

Agencies from around the region sent volunteers to help with the Oso landslide.

When other communities call on Seattle for assistance, City of Seattle employees volunteer to help. Employees from many different city departments volunteered for the Oso landfill response in Arlington, Washington this spring, including nine SDOT employees. In addition to the satisfaction of helping others, this work provides hands-on practice making us more prepared for responding to a disaster in our own city. Also, it is a comfort to know that if Seattle experiences a major disaster, other communities will come to our aid.

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