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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Innovative Solution in South Park Saves Trees and Improves Walkability

Three blocks of grand maple trees on 8th Ave S near the South Park Community Center provide critical tree canopy and a sense of place for the neighborhood.  Unfortunately, these trees were planted in a narrow planting strip, so their roots have significantly damaged the sidewalk and made it difficult for folks to get around.

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Severely uplifted sidewalk due to tree roots.

King County and the City plan to implement a long term solution to these tree and sidewalk issues in the next few years, so SDOT’s objective in 2016 was to complete interim repairs to improve safety on a relatively small budget.  Luckily, we also had a valuable resource: 14’ driving lanes on 8th Ave S.  That’s wider than we need even for buses and trucks.  This opened possibilities.

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Wide driving lanes on 8th Ave S.

Throughout Seattle, SDOT is looking at existing pavement in new ways.  By using low cost investments such as paint and planter boxes, we’ve reprogrammed street areas into curb bulbs, sidewalks, and public plazas. With this creative perspective, we gathered feedback from the South Park community on ways to reconfigure 8th Ave S to increase safety for people walking, preserve trees and address other priorities.  SDOT crews completed the newly configured three blocks of 8th Ave S this summer.

The updated 8th Ave S keeps street parking on both sides as the neighborhood requested. We narrowed driving lanes to 10.5’, freeing up space to add a 6’ wide protected walkway along the curb, and we closed the damaged sidewalk.  As an added benefit, narrower driving lanes tend to slow traffic speeds.

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Walkway separated from traffic by parking lane, curbing and posts.

The walkway is protected from traffic by the parking lane and curbs and posts installed by SDOT crews.  We also extended the pedestrian space at intersections and reduced the length of the crossings by creating curb bulbs using posts and paint.

In other locations SDOT fully painted these curb bulbs, but in South Park we used a more innovative design using polka dots, which are more eye-catching to drivers.  We worked with South Park leaders to match the colors of the polka dots with the colors of the South Park Neighborhood Association logo.

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fig 7 Polka dots S Park colors

 

Feedback from the South Park community has been positive about this added sense of place for the neighborhood, the preservation of its stately trees and a safer place to walk.

 

 

 

For more details, check out the 8th Ave S 2016 Improvements website, including SDOT’s presentation to the community.

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Resource Fair Helps Rainier Valley Residents Get Around Safely

We recently held a Community Resource Fair in Rainier Valley to speak with residents about getting around the city safely. We shared information on the variety of services and programs we offer including Play Streets, Transportation Options, car tab rebates and our Pedestrian Master Plan. The event drew in recent immigrants, young people, and communities of color.

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In an effort to broaden the event beyond transportation, we partnered with other government agencies, non-profits, and advocacy groups to discuss our Vision Zero efforts to end traffic deaths, and gave people opportunities to learn more about things like health care, voting and subsidized ORCA cards.

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Some of the highlights included interpreters for 7 different languages spoken in the community, delicious food from local ethnic restaurants, and our mini traffic safety course, which showed children (and adults) of all ages how to navigate traffic circles, bike boxes, and crosswalks.

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Our Vision Zero campaign to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 can’t happen without your support –  we need everyone across the city to commit to being smart and safe when getting around, whether you drive, walk, bike, or take transit. Together, we can prevent crashes and put an end to traffic tragedies.

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Thank you to all the organizations who joined us last week, and a special thanks to the Filipino Community Center for providing space for a great event!

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Community Members Invited to Develop Temporary Pop-up Parks for PARK(ing) Day Plus+

SDOT is now accepting applications to turn on-street parking spaces into pop-up parks and street improvements for its PARK(ing) Day Plus+ event in September. Each year, residents, businesses and organizations participate in the international PARK(ing) Day program to engage their communities in rethinking how streets can be used.

Applications to create a PARK(ing) Day Plus+ installation are due by August 5. The short, free application can be found on SDOT’s website. It requires a site plan, location description, and documentation of neighbor notification. Completed applications or questions can be emailed to David.Burgesser@seattle.gov.

PARKngDayCollageThis year, SDOT is partnering with the Department of Neighborhoods to offer funding to PARK(ing) Day Plus+ participants through the Small Sparks grant program. Small Sparks grants (up to $1,000) can be used for projects and events that help build stronger and healthier communities. Grant applications must be submitted by August 5. Interested applicants can contact NMFund@seattle.gov or call (206) 233-0093.

Seattle has participated in PARK(ing) Day since 2007, and based on its success, SDOT is expanding the event into PARK(ing) Day Plus+ this year. It will now span two days: Friday, September 16 and Saturday, September 17. In addition, applicants are encouraged test out temporary street improvements, such as bike lanes and sidewalks, as well as the pop-up parks that have been the focus of the event in the past.

The original PARK(ing) Day started in 2005 by San Francisco design firm Rebar and has become an international event celebrated in over 160 cities. The event intends to raise awareness about the importance of creating a walkable, livable, and healthy city.

More information about PARK(ing) Day Plus+, including application examples and guidelines, can be found on SDOT’s website. We’ve also included a photo gallery of past PARK(ing) Day installations, so take a peek and get inspired!

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SDOT Learns How Deaf-Blind Pedestrians Get Around

We had the chance to learn more about how deaf-blind pedestrians use sidewalks, street crossings, and public transit to get around the city thanks to The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. David Miller, an Orientation & Mobility Specialist with The Lighthouse, extended an invitation to observe how deaf-blind pedestrians navigate the public pedestrian ways and transit systems.

First, we met with David and John Romish. John is deaf-blind due to Usher syndrome and does not understand spoken language. His vision has been severely impacted due to retinitis pigmentosa; John has less than 10 degrees of remaining vision of what normally would be 180 degrees. John and David are able to communicate using the sense of touch through Tactile American Sign Language (TASL), where information is passed using gestures and motions between their hands.

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John Romish crosses the street on Capitol Hill with his guide dog.

John relies on his guide dog to help him find curb ramps and street crossings. His limited vision may allow John to identify the surge of traffic when a signal turns green, letting him know it is time to make the crossing parallel to the moving vehicles.  When riding the Streetcar from Rainier Valley to Capitol Hill, John needs to sit close to the doors of the vehicle so he may see or feel the doors open and close to help him count stops and to determine his location. John also has learned to identify landmarks along transit routes where a hill or a turn along a route helps him keep track of his location.

Next, we met David and Alberto Gonzales at the Mount Baker LINK station. Alberto lost all of his vision from Rubella many years ago and is Deaf. Again, David and Alberto are able to communicate using TASL. Alberto also uses a guide dog, a long white cane to help with wayfinding and detection, and a tool called a Miniguide. Alberto demonstrated his ability to find the “welcome mat” in the LINK tunnel, which is a textured surface on the floor that indicates where train stops and the LINK doors open. When Alberto has located this welcome mat, he uses the Miniguide to help him understand when the train arrives. When Alberto activates his Miniguide, a vibration will be emitted when there is an obstruction within a set distance from the front of the device. As he holds the button before the train arrives, there is no vibration. The vibration commences when the train begins to pass in front of him, and then stops when the doors to the vehicle open.

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Alberto Gonzales awaits the LINK using his mini-guide.

These meetings highlighted the importance of curb ramp and signal crossing push button placement for deaf-blind pedestrians, designs need to be consistent so they’re predictable. The pedestrian push buttons have a tactile vibration feature that inform Alberto when it is appropriate to cross the street. These accessible pedestrian signals (APS) are very important to pedestrians like John and Alberto, allowing individuals with limited/no vision or hearing to interpret safe crossing times.

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David Miller observes as Alberto Gonzales locates the pedestrian pushbutton.

SDOT is looking for opportunities to strengthen relations with individuals and communities of people that live with disabilities in Seattle and the surrounding region. It is important that we understand the abilities and needs of all pedestrians.

If you have any questions about accessibility within the Seattle public right-of-way, we encourage you contact SDOT’s ADA Coordinator, Michael Shaw. He can be reached at (206) 615-1974 or by email at Michael.Shaw@seattle.gov.

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Our Valuable Urban Canopy

We love our trees in the Pacific Northwest, especially in Seattle. They add a pop of green in a city sometimes surrounded by gray. Besides being nice to look at, trees also filter carbon dioxide out of the air and produce oxygen. We can all agree that trees are valuable.

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But just how much?

Using i-Tree, a program developed by the USDA Forest Service, SDOT’s Urban Forestry division is updating the dollar amount environmental benefits that our estimated 40,000 city maintained trees in the right-of-way provide. We will also be including the benefit calculations for privately maintained right-of-way trees, as they are added to our inventory when we update tree counts.

For example, our forestry crews recently updated our tree inventory in South Park at the beginning of 2016. Using the i-Tree software, annual net environmental benefits calculated before the inventory were at $48,230. After the inventory, they were calculated at $83,763.

The larger post-inventory value is the result of several factors: an accurate tree count that increased by over 350 trees, updated species documentation and the benefits they provide, and tree size updates to track environmental inputs and outputs.

i-Tree inventory analysis of SDOT trees in the South Park neighborhood

i-Tree inventory analysis of SDOT trees in the South Park neighborhood

Over the next several years, this type of inventory analysis is going to be taking place across the entire city.

And thanks to Seattle voters who approved the 9-year Levy to Move Seattle in the fall of 2015, SDOT was able to add a third tree crew to help maintain our City’s street trees and respond to customer service requests.

We will also be planting two trees for every one tree removed. Our gardeners expect to plant about 300 trees this year, mostly in the fall. We’ll be sure to check back in with them in a few months for an update.

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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A New Way to Walk

Near-perfect weather and long hours of sunshine make summer a great time to break out your sneakers (or sandals) and explore our city on foot. However, anyone who has walked around knows how challenging Seattle’s hills can be.

West Bertona Street Stairway

West Bertona Street Stairway after rehabilitation

We have over 500 stairways covering over six miles to help pedestrians get around the city. We just finished work on the West Bertona Street stairway in Magnolia and the South Alaska Place stairway in Columbia City, and they look great!

Existing staircases were replaced with ones made of reinforced concrete. The upgrade also includes new landings and handrails, with a second lower handrail to accommodate children. Several more stairway rehabilitation projects are in the works and will open later this year.

S. Alaska St. Stairway after rehabilitation.

S. Alaska St. Stairway after rehabilitation.

These improvements are part of our Stairway Maintenance and Repair Program. Funding for the South Alaska Stairway comes from SDOT’s Stairway Rehabiltation Fund and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Neighborhood Park and Steet Fund. Funding for the West Bertona Street stairway comes from the Levy to Move Seattle, approved by voters in 2015.

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Seattle Strides Towards Being Most Walkable City in the Country

Seattle is consistently recognized as one of the nation’s safest and most accessible cities for pedestrians, but there’s still more we can do.

That’s why we’ve released a new Pedestrian Master Plan which will include everything from sidewalk and accessibility improvements to new crosswalks and safety features. This update will help guide our city for the next 20 years.

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The Plan is open to public comment until August 22, and we want to hear from you!

What features are you excited for? What do you want to see more of? What are your great ideas we didn’t think of? Email us at PMPupdate@seattle.gov and we’ll start building them.

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The Pedestrian Master Plan, along with Master Plans for Freight, Biking, and Transit are part of Mayor Murray’s Move Seattle 10-year vision for an interconnected city which safely moves people and goods.

Read the Pedestrian Master Plan, then send your comments to PMPupdate@seattle.gov by August 12!

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Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!

City of Seattle offices are closed on Monday, July 4th, in observance of Independence Day. Street parking is free in Seattle for the 4th of July holiday.

Tens of thousands of people will gather around the shores of Lake Union Monday night to watch the annual 4th of July fireworks show.

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Whether you’re traveling by foot, car, bike, or scooter it’s important to watch out for others when traveling. Here are a few safety tips to ensure that your 4th of July is safe:

Allow Plenty of Time to Reach Your Destination

Plan your trip and be sure to allow enough time to get where you’re going. Speeding will most likely cause trouble on our streets. Remember, thousands of people will be out and about. So please slow down and enjoy the summer scenery!

Plan Ahead if You Plan to Drink

Help keep our streets safe by not driving while under the influence of alcohol, which remains the single biggest contributing factor to traffic fatalities, nor driving while under the influence of marijuana. If your plans include partaking, be sure to make your transportation plans before you have that first adult beverage. Take a cab/car service or a bus, choose a designated driver, or sleep it off at a friend’s house. Just don’t get behind the wheel.

Focus on the Road

Your phone will be notifying you all day long as you coordinate with friends and post your selfies to social media. Whether you’re driving, walking, or biking, we recommend that you focus on the road instead of other things. Remember, people will be absolutely everywhere this weekend. Make sure you look out for others. Vision Zero is our plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

Stop for Pedestrians

The weather has been great and people will be out and about, everywhere. As drivers, always be watchful, courteous, and remember to stop for pedestrians.

Have a Safe and Fun 4th of July!

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Celebrate Independence Day, and Travel Safely

Celebrate July 4th safely and responsibly by letting someone else drive you home.

All day on July 4th, Uber will be offering discounted rides in Seattle as part of our Vision Zero campaign to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

New and existing Uber riders can get a ride from Ballard, Fremont, and Wallingford neighborhoods with promo code POOLHOME, good for 2 free uberPOOL rides, each up to $10 in value. New users can also take advantage of a $20 discount, by entering the promo code SAFETYFIRST in the Uber app.

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We expect over 65,000 people will be in and around Gas Works Park to view the fireworks this Independence Day, and we want to make sure everyone gets home responsibly after having a good time. While Seattle’s streets are among the safest in the nation, 30 percent of our traffic fatalities involve impaired drivers.

Together, we can get that number to zero. If you’re going to drink alcoholic beverages while enjoying fireworks or barbequing, request a rideshare, carpool, or plan ahead and take transit.

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Through partnerships like this, as well as through education, enforcement, and engineering, Seattle is taking big steps toward meeting its goal of ending traffic deaths and serious injuries. The City will continue rolling out similar partnerships with all other interested technology and taxi companies

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