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Happy PARK(ing) Day!

You’ve waited an entire year, and it’s finally here! Today is PARK(ing) Day, the annual event when people around the world temporarily convert on-street parking spaces into pop-up parks for a few hours. PARK(ing) Day began in 2005 and raises awareness about the importance of a sustainable, livable, and healthy city.

Between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. today, Seattle will have 50 new parks, each offering a fun and unique way for people to experience a parking space. The pop-up parks include creative furniture, board games and lawn bowling, art installations, trees and landscaping, books and pianos, and much, much more.

You’ll find PARK(ing) Day parks from Lake City to Rainier Beach and from Ballard to West Seattle. There are also groups of parks in South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and downtown Seattle.

And, because we love PARK(ing) Day as much as you do, we’ll be hosting two pop-up parks of our own today! One park will be on King St, between 5th Ave and 6th Ave (pictured below), and the other will be on Madison St, at Boren Ave. Come by our International District location to hang out, design your own street with Legos, get creative with Build-It disks, and learn more about what SDOT is doing to keep you safe and activate our streets. If that’s not enough to tempt you, we’ve got plenty of free swag (see the awesome superhero capes?), so come hang out with us!

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An interactive map of all the parks—along with a short description of what’s happening in each one—is available on the PARK(ing) Day website. Follow us on Twitter today for regular updates on PARK(ing) Day activities, and use #seaparkingday in your own tweets so we can see where you’ve been, too.

And while we’re talking about parks in parking spaces, we are excited to announce that a new parklet at Molly Moons in Wallingford will open this weekend! Feel free to stop by and enjoy the new space—and some ice cream—on Sunday between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. Parklets are an outgrowth of PARK(ing) Day, and the Molly Moons parklet is part of SDOT’s Pilot Parklet Program.

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Once Around the Web: Watch This!

Why Bike Lovers Should Be Happy About ‘Bikelash’

Public hatred of biking culture is actually a natural part of its evolution into the mainstream.

It’s all a part of the cycle of social change: Ridicule > Violent opposition > Acceptance.

PARK(ing) Day Was Streetfilms First Big Hit in 2006!!

Don’t forget Park(ing) Day is today and it’s Seattle’s biggest yet with more than 50 pop-up parks!

How About a Crosswalk Light that Dances?

The makers of this gyrating Do Not Cross signal say it reduces jaywalking by 81 percent.

Wait Your Turn for the Swings at Boston’s Adult Playground

The wildly successful Lawn on D Street is a temporary park that took no tedious city planning. Should we let more urban design emerge organically?

Swing Time is an interactive playscape composed of 20 illuminated ring-shaped swings designed by Höweler + Yoon Architecture.

 

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Greenwood Sidewalk & Transit Project

91614blogpostOpen house postcard photo - current conditions

Sidewalk repairs ahead.

North Seattle still has a number of streets that lack sidewalks. A subject of frustration for many who live in these neighborhoods, there are even some arterials that don’t have sidewalks yet. Greenwood Avenue, a little north of its business district, is such a place where bus riders, kids going to and from school, and neighborhood residents walking to do their grocery shopping a few blocks away don’t have a sidewalk.

SDOT plans to tackle a substantial piece of the problem next year when it constructs sidewalks along the east side of Greenwood Avenue North between NE 92nd and NE 105th streets. (The west side of the street has some sidewalk gaps, but not as many as on the east side. It is hoped that sufficient funding can be secured to include the construction of these west side missing sidewalk segments, but as of this writing, the funding has not been identified.)

Specifically, the project will install a six foot wide concrete sidewalk with curb and gutter, a five foot wide planting strip, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) mandated curb ramps at intersections, and minor drainage, grading, and paving improvements to provide a continuous sidewalk along the east side of Greenwood Avenue.

While the project will make for a safer and more aesthetically appealing streetscape, it will create parking challenges for some businesses and apartment buildings. Because of this, SDOT is working closely with individual property owners to address their access and parking needs to the greatest extent possible.

As the project name itself suggests, the project also includes significant transit improvements, specifically the construction of two new in-lane bus islands (at N 92nd and N 97th streets), along with the closure of some stops and the relocation of others to provide more appropriate spacing between them. The in-lane bus islands, similar to those on Dexter Avenue North, permit buses to load and unload while still in the travel lane, improving their speed and reliability.

The existing bike lanes on both sides of Greenwood will remain, with the bus islands routing bicyclists between the bus stop and sidewalk, substantially reducing conflicts between buses and bikes.

The $2.5 million project, primarily financed through the voter-approved Bridging the Gap measure and the Neighborhood Street Fund, is expected to begin construction in early 2015 and take about six months to complete (up to ten months if the project eventually includes sidewalks on the west side of Greenwood).

 

 

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Bridging the Gap: A path to pedestrian improvements

 

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Thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation initiative passed by Seattle voters in 2006, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is working to make it easier and safer to cross the road. Funding from BTG is available to remark crosswalks, make needed crossing improvements, install new signage in school zones, deploy the speed watch trailer and install pedestrian countdown signals across the city.

Since 2007, more than 4,700 crosswalks have been remarked, 185 crossing improvements have been implemented and 210 intersections have received the new pedestrian countdown signals. In addition, more than 196 improvement and signage upgrades have been made to school zones across the city and the speed watch trailer has been deployed more than 422 times.

While SDOT has made good progress on these valuable pedestrian improvements, work continues in 2014. So far this year the department has remarked 384 crosswalks; made 23 crossing improvements; installed pedestrian countdown signals at 45 intersections; deployed the speed watch trailer to 54 locations; and made 11 improvements to schools zones across the city.

Many of the improvements work in conjunction with our Safe Routes to School program making it easier and safer for kids all around Seattle to walk and bike to school. They bring awareness to all roadway users to be on the lookout for each other by creating more visibility to crossings; making drivers more aware they are entering a school zone; and providing immediate feedback to drivers about their speed through the use of the speed watch trailers.

For more information about BTG, its goals and accomplishments, visit the web site.

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The goats are back in town to enjoy local fare

Goats happily munching their way up the steep Pine Street hillside.

Goats happily munching their way up the steep Pine Street hillside.

 

The Seattle Department of Transportation has again invited a herd of goats to a feast of wild growth on some of our steep hillsides.

The first venue is under the Alaskan Way Viaduct between Lenora and Blanchard streets. We expect the herd of 110 goats from Rentaruminant to remain here for a week.

Once this hillside has been cleared, the herd will move under the Jose Rizal Bridge on the north side of Dearborn Street at 12th Avenue South for three to four days to clear that area.

SDOT has found using goats to clear slopes that are difficult for us two-footed creatures to reach is an effective method to maintain these areas.

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Where will you be on PARK(ing) Day?

This Friday, September 19, is PARK(ing) Day, and we are excited to have 50 parks popping up around town from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.…the most ever for PARK(ing) Day in Seattle!

We’ve got a new map of all the parks online—along with a list of addresses and park descriptions—to help you plan your day. We’ll have an interactive map available later this week to capture any last minute changes, but you can start plotting your park-hopping now.

Even though you probably have to go to work or school on Friday, we hope you’ll have a few minutes to check out the cool ways that your friends and neighbors are using a parking space for a day. There will be life-sized Jenga, greenhouses and trees, corn hole and board games, a Jimi Hendrix-inspired performance space, forbidden books, pop-up protected bike lanes, pianos, art, and just about anything else you can imagine!

PARK(ing) Day happens once a year, on the third Friday in September, and is an opportunity for any Seattleite to temporarily turn parking spaces into parks. The event raises awareness about the importance of creating a walkable, livable, healthy city and helps people re-think how our streets can be used.

So check out the map below (click map for larger version) and figure out which parks you want to visit on PARK(ing) Day. Think you can make it to all of them? We’re going to try and we’ll be tweeting as we go—follow along @seattledot and @parkingdaySEA and use #seaparkingday for your own photos.

PARK(ing) Day 2014 map

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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.

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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.

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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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North Beacon Hill Safety Connections project is gearing up for the start of construction

North Beacon Safety Connections project.

North Beacon Safety Connections project.

Last Tuesday, SDOT project staff hosted the third and final public meeting for the North Beacon Safety Connections project. SDOT uses drop-in sessions to reach stakeholders where they already gather and we held this community drop-in session in the hour prior to the North Beacon Hill Council’s September 9 (NBHC) meeting. Approximately [30] people stopped by this event at the Beacon Hill Library to see the final project plans and learn more about what to expect during construction that will start this October.

The North Beacon Safety Connections project will build a new, continuous sidewalk and an uphill bike lane on Beacon Avenue S between Holgate Street and 14th Avenue South, build two curb bulbs at 14th Avenue South and South College Street, and add an all-way stop and marked crosswalks at Beacon Avenue South and 14th Avenue South. We will upgrade and install curb ramps that are compliant with current American Disability Act (ADA) standards throughout the project area as well.

 

SDOT's North Beacon Safety Connections project.

Beacon Hill residents discussing the North Beacon Safety Connections project with SDOT’s staff.

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Brush up on your Waterfront Program knowledge at community fairs and festivals!

Seattle Waterfront: Time capsule

The Seattle Waterfront = Fun

For students, summer is an opportunity to relax and unwind after months of hard work in the classroom. Learners of every age – elementary schoolers, graduate students, and students of life – flock to fairs and festivals during Seattle’s warmest season to soak up the sun and participate in cultural and civic events throughout our region. When school is out of session, the Waterfront Program takes its grassroots outreach strategies out into the community to do some teachin’! In recent years, we’ve made it a priority to provide easy access to project information through participation in summer fairs and festivals. We’ve been to more than 200 fairs and festivals, reaching thousands of new people in recent years! Taking our project into the neighborhoods where we live, work, and play, our team shares updates and answers questions about our shared waterfront. Whether you’re interested in the overall vision for the future waterfront, want information about current design, or you’re curious for more details about how the project will incorporate improved accessibility to-and-from the waterfront for people of all ages and abilities, we’re on-hand! Fairs and festivals are one way the Waterfront Program is working to educate the community on all-things waterfront.

Plus, who says learning can’t be fun? Tons of folks we’ve met at summer events in the community have “pictured themselves on the future waterfront” in Waterfront Seattle’s photo booth and/or have shared their favorite waterfront memories as part of our time capsule activity!

We’re inching ever-closer to fall, but the Waterfront Program will be at several more events this season – we hope to see you there!

If you’re unable to attend our fairs and festivals, but you want to learn more – reach out through our project inbox or give us a call at (206) 499-8040! We’ve also got a neat new feature that’ll allow you to sign up for program updates just by texting “waterfront” to 66866!

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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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