Driver’s Ed 101: Crosswalks

Been a while since you took your driver’s license test? Us, too.

We thought we’d take a moment to refresh everyone on a key rule of the road – ‘granting pedestrians the right of way’ – which, in plain language, means stopping for people when they’re crossing the street. Over the past 5 years, failing to yield has contributed to 12% of Seattle’s serious and fatal crashes.

Crosswalks of all kinds in Capitol Hill.

Crosswalks of all kinds in Capitol Hill.

Most people know they should stop for people when they’re in a crosswalk. But, what exactly is a crosswalk? They come in unmarked and marked versions, though you’re probably more familiar with the latter. Last year, we made this little video highlighting that every intersection is a legal crossing, whether it’s marked or not. (Don’t just take our word for it, check out state and city laws.)

So, if you’re behind the wheel, make sure to stop for people walking. Not just at marked crossings, but at all intersections. Following the rules of the road is one way each of us can help reach Seattle’s Vision Zero goal of ending traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

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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.


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


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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Happy New Year and Safe Travels!

On behalf of the Seattle Department of Transportation, we wish everyone a Happy and Safe New Year holiday wherever your travels take you.

In the new year, SDOT will continue its focus on creating a safe, interconnected, vibrant, affordable, and innovative city for all.

Space Needle Night

On-street paid parking is free in Seattle on New Year’s Day, Monday, January 2 (observed).

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Director Kubly Talks Vision Zero on New Day Northwest

Seattle is consistently recognized as one of the safest cities in the country, with a 30% decline in traffic fatalities over the past decade, even with our population growth. But crashes still happen every day, taking the lives of close to 20 people and injuring nearly 150 people a year in Seattle. These are these are our friends, neighbors, and family members.

This is unacceptable. We can do better.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly was a guest on New Day Northwest and talked about SDOT’s partnership with AARP to make streets safer with Vision Zero, our plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.


SDOT Director Scott Kubly on New Day Northwest.

See the interview on New Day right here.


Director Kubly talked about the new lower speed limits in the city as part of the Vision Zero campaign.

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Remembering Those We’ve Lost

This week, Seattle is observing World Remembrance Day and commemorating the 240 people who died in traffic incidents over the past 10 years. On Thursday, families who have lost loved ones, city employees, and first responders gathered at City Hall at an event organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways for a public memorial with silhouette cut-outs to represent those we’ve lost.


SDOT Traffic Safety Coordinator Jim Curtin speaking at City Hall memorial 11/17

This Sunday, November 20, local Greenways coalition member groups will hold events throughout the city to install the silhouettes as a public reminder, and come together as a community to commit to doing better:

  • Ballard/Aurora/Fremont noon Peddler Brewing Company 1514 NW Leary Way
  • Beacon Hill/Mt. Baker 10AM The Station 2533 16th Ave S
  • Central/Capitol Hill noon Victrola Coffee Roasters 310 E. Pike St.
  • Crown Hill/Broadview noon Holy Grounds 9000 Holman Way NW
  • Downtown/Belltown 10AM Uptown Espresso 2504 4th Ave
  • Lake City/Northgate 10AM Kaffeeklatsch 12513 Lake City Way NE
  • Queen Anne/Magnolia 10AM Starbucks 2135 Queen Anne Ave N
  • Ravenna/Roosevelt 10AM Third Place Cafe 6504 20th Ave NE
  • West Seattle 10AM Ampersand Café 2536 Alki Ave SW
  • Rainier Valley 10:15AM Bike Works 3711 S Hudson St. (back entrance to warehouse)
  • Duwamish Valley noon Oxbow Park (Hat & Boots) 6430 Corson Ave S


As a city, we’ve committed to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 through our Vision Zero initiative. These tragedies mostly aren’t “accidents,” but preventable incidents caused by poor behaviors and unforgiving roadway designs.

Earlier this month, we instituted lower speed limits – arterials in central Seattle were reduced from 30mph to 25, residential streets throughout the city from 25mph to 20 – an adjustment proven to increase crash survival rates. And over the last year, we’ve made significant investments in our Safe Routes to School program to make it easier and safer for students to walk and bike. These efforts were funded through the 2015 voter approved Levy to Move Seattle, which has supported safety and infrastructure improvements throughout the city.

By working with community groups, health-care professionals, university researchers, and local corporate partners, we can eliminate death and serious injuries on our streets.


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Your new Vision Zero speed limits

What is happening?

Beginning November 7th, new speed limits will be going into effect for city streets.  This is part of Seattle’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

Speed limits for the streets in central Seattle (indicated in blue in the map below) will be reduced to 25 mph. The non-arterial (a.k.a. residential street) speed limit will be reduced from 25 mph to 20 mph.


Why is this happening?

While Seattle is one of the safest cities in the country, each year about 20 people are killed in traffic collisions and another 150 are seriously injured. Their lives are cut short or changed forever, impacting their families, friends, and broader communities. One life lost or altered is one life too many.

Speed plays a role all serious injury and fatal collisions.  Someone who is walking and is struck by a vehicle going at 20 mph has a 90% chance of surviving the crash.  The chances of survival are reduced to 50% when a vehicle going +10 mph faster.


By lowering the speed limits, we will be:

  • Creating consistent speed limits.
  • Enhancing safety for everyone, especially people walking and biking.
  • Reducing the severity of all collisions.

What is SDOT doing to let people know about the new speed limits?

To let Seattle residents and people traveling into the city know about the new speed limits, we will be:

  • Adding new or altering existing signs.
  • Launching a comprehensive public education campaign.
  • Enforcing the new speeds through the high visibility patrols (the Seattle Police Department will issue warnings for a period of two weeks to one month).

Drivers traveling from outside the city will see either of these two signs indicating our city’s lowered speed limits:




















Drivers will see 25 mph signs when using arterial streets to travel central Seattle:



Where can I learn more about Vision Zero?

You can find out more about Vision Zero. Also know that yard signs are a great way to encourage safety along your street.

We also have a Vision Zero dashboard  and safety resources  that you can share with your friends, family, and co-workers to promote safety all around you.

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Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!

Fall has arrived in the northwest with rainy weather and shorter days. The darker and wetter season leads to more collisions on our our streets, so please be extra aware no matter how you get around.

Tonight, be extra mindful that Trick-or-Treaters will be out and about, and that the drizzly weather can affect visibility. Children-involved car/pedestrian collisions are nearly twice as likely to happen on Halloween than other days of the year, so it’s important that kids (and their parents) stay visible.

halloween night with pumpkin in grass tree bat and hunting house in background

The clock also turns back on Sunday, so the sun will start setting before 5 o’clock next week and it will be dark during the busiest hours of our commutes.

As part of our Vision Zero effort to improve safety and raise awareness, here are some important tips for traveling safely on Halloween and beyond:
• Make good decisions when you walk, bike, or drive. Don’t drive distracted (anything from talking on your cell phone to adjusting your costume) and make sure you have a safe way to get home if you plan to drink.
• Take it slow on our streets. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. With speed, the frequency and severity of collisions increases.
• Pay attention. Every intersection is a legal crosswalk – whether there are pavement markings or not – so drivers should stop for pedestrians. Pedestrians should cross the street at intersections or crosswalks where drivers expect to see you.
• Be visible. Take extra measures to ensure you can be seen when you walk and bike on our streets. Wear light-colored clothing and/or reflective gear so drivers can spot you.


Remember that we all just want to get to get to the candy safely. Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!

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New Curb Bulbs at Burke-Gilman Trail Pop with Colorful Design

The Burke-Gilman Trail is getting a burst of color at the once grey intersection with 40th Ave NE.

With just a bit of paint, street markings, and posts, we can create low-cost curb bulbs where data and community members tell us traffic safety is a concern. Curb bulbs are effective at reducing the number and severity of traffic collisions by increasing the visibility of vulnerable users – people walking and biking – and decreasing the distance they have to travel to get across the street.


New curb bulb at 40th Ave NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Northeast Seattle Greenways and Seattle Children’s Hospital teamed up and were winners of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways PARK(ing) Day Plus design competition in 2015 for their original design of painted curb bulbs at this location.

We then went to work to make the design permanent.

How do we decide what colors to use to really make them stand out? For this crossing, we wanted to let people in the neighborhood help decide colors and design.


We used this ballot to ask residents and trail users which design they preferred. The option with blue circles won the informal contest.


The installation started with laying down colorful thermoplastic, which we blasted with propane torches to make it stick to the concrete. Then we added new posts and signs.


Laying out and trimming the new street marking material at 40th Ave NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail.

“Bringing color and pattern to the ground plane elevates and enlivens an ordinary bit of city infrastructure,” says Kristen Ramirez, who manages public art projects for SDOT and Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture. One result of the new curb bulbs design, she said, is to “bring pause or wonder to people passing by. The circle pattern could evoke many ideas: ripples on water, constellations, textile patterns, and more.”

It isn’t just an artistic statement though.

Traffic engineering and safety work uses bright colors and patterns, which this project has in spades, to grab driver’s attention and communicate that there are people walking and biking. Extending the curb into the street reduces the width of the travel lanes, which causes people to slow down.

Supported by traffic studies showing that curb bulbs increase yielding to pedestrians, these improvements are one of the many tools in our Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Seattle by 2030.

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City Announces Vision Zero Speed Limit Reduction

The City of Seattle is proposing new speed limit reductions to enhance street safety, as part of Seattle’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Proposed changes include reducing the speed limit on all residential streets from 25 to 20 mph and on streets in the center city from 30 to 25 mph.

Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Mike O’Brien, SDOT Director Scott Kubly, and Dr. Beth Ebel with the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center made the announcement this week in downtown Seattle.


Councilmembers Burgess and O’Brien, SDOT Director Kubly and Dr. Ebel.

Why is this change necessary?

While Seattle is one of the safest cities in the country, each year about 20 people are killed in traffic collisions and another 150 are seriously injured. One life lost or altered is one life too many.

Will reducing the speed make a difference?

Yes. Speed contributes to 25% of traffic fatalities in the city and 42% of downtown traffic fatalities every year. Speed is a critical factor in whether you survive a car crash:


This small speed limit reduction doubles the odds of survival. That’s why every other city in King County and major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Portland and Houston have already made this choice.

When does this change take effect?

The next steps include:

  • September 20 – Vote by Seattle City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee
  • September 26 – Full Seattle City Council vote
  • 10 day period for Mayor Murray to sign legislation into law
  • 30 day period for the law to take effect

November is the anticipated timeframe for adding or altering city signs, launching an education campaign and enforcement.

Learn more about Vision Zero at

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35th Avenue SW Safety Corridor Walk and Talk

While Seattle is a very safe city and is on-track towards meeting its Vision Zero goals by 2030, we can always do better.

SDOT recently held a walk and talk event for Phase 2 of our 35th Avenue SW Road Safety Corridor Project.  The event provided the community who regularly use 35th Avenue SW to share their experiences all along the corridor.


We heard comments on speeding vehicles and the needs for safer crossings, additional enforcement and reviewing transit stops. Residents also expressed concerns about growth and developments that are in the works. And we heard feedback about the Phase 1 traffic conditions during peak hour, so we’ll be working to improve signal timing and coordination through the corridor.

The 35th Avenue SW Road Safety Corridor Project was launched in response to a number of collisions and long-standing community requests to reduce speeds and enhance pedestrian crossings. Unfortunately, traffic fatalities continue to happen on 35th Avenue SW. While we have made changes to the roadway over the years, conditions are right for more substantial changes.

The goals of this project are to reduce speeds, collisions and injuries; and improve conditions for users while maintaining acceptable transit and travel times on 35th Avenue SW.

SDOT continues to accept input and feedback on this project. If you have any comments about Vision Zero or the 35th Avenue SW Safety Corridor, contact Jim Curtin at or at 206-684-8874.


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