Help SDOT Make our Right-of-Way More Accessible to You

In February, SDOT was joined by staff members from King County Metro to meet with a group of students at Seattle University to discuss accessibility of transit services as well as our public sidewalks and right-of-way for students with disabilities. It was a great opportunity to listen to the students ask questions and to express their concerns.

While King County Metro has their own responsibilities to make their busses and transit facilities accessible to people with disabilities, SDOT works to help make sidewalks and pedestrian connections to those facilities accessible, too. It is important to understand the needs of our pedestrians and our passengers alike, and it was very interesting to hear not only the questions but the recommendations that the students were willing to provide.

Ped Access

Pedestrian Access from Public Sidewalks to Transit Facilities is Key

The students noted that there are numerous challenges getting around campus and to transit facilities. It was noted that there may be a need for the University to assess private walkways where they are located out of the public right-of-way, but further coordination between SDOT and Seattle University may needed. Some of the students had concerns of being visible to bus drivers and streetcar operators as well as boarding the vehicles safely. Other questions focused around construction and the provision of temporary routes in and around areas on campus.



KC Metro LogoSeattle U Logo

King County Metro, SDOT, and Seattle University Working Together


SDOT welcomes any opportunity to work with institutions like Seattle University or any other group that is willing to share to discuss concerns pertaining to accessibility within the public right-of-way. This interest in not limited to groups representing people with disabilities. Elderly pedestrians, pedestrians with particular abilities or needs, or anyone interested in sharing with SDOT should be comfortable in doing so, whether a group or an individual.

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

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Food Business Roadshow – This Thursday March 10!


Do you own a food business in Seattle? Are you thinking of starting one? If so, come join us at the Food Business Roadshow!

This Thursday, March 10, at the Seattle Public Library from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m., our Public Space Management Team will be at the roadshow to answer questions about permitting sidewalk cafes, streateries, food trucks or food carts, and restaurant-related signage. Representatives from a number of other city and state agencies – Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (formerly DPD), Seattle Public Utilities, and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, to name a few – will also be available to answer any food-business-related questions you may have.

The Food Business Roadshow is a FREE EVENT coordinated by the Office of Economic Development:

  • When: Thursday, March 10th – 3:00pm to 5:00pm
  • Where: Seattle Public Library – Central Branch (downtown) – 1000 4th Ave – Level 4, Room 1

In the meantime, you can find more information on starting or expanding your restaurant or mobile food business at

Poster for Food Business Roadshow at Seattle Public Library – Central Branch (downtown) – 1000 4th Ave – Level 4, Room 1

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Seattle Car Share Program Update

In January 2015, the Seattle City Council adopted legislation expanding the free-floating car share program, establishing revised permit fees, and delegating to SDOT the authority to set caps on the number of free-floating car share permits and operators by Director’s Rule.

To determine whether to cap the number of permits for 2016 and beyond, SDOT analyzed data from the 2015 annual free-floating car share member survey; the City’s 2014 and 2015 annual paid parking study; inquiries received by the public; and membership data provided by the current permitted operator.

Personal Vehicle Ownership: Based on data collected as a part of the 2015 annual free-floating car share survey, done in coordination with the University of California at Berkeley:

  • 14% of free-floating car share members in Seattle indicated that they have given up a vehicle since joining the service
  • Fifty percent of this group, or 7% of the total of those surveyed, indicated that this was at least partially due to the availability of free-floating car share.
  • Extrapolating these results to approximately 65,000 free-floating car share members in Seattle indicates that car-share users may have given up approximately 9,100 vehicles with approximately 4,550 of them related directly to the availability of free-floating car share services.

Neighborhood Business District Customer Access: In 2014 and 2015, the on-street parking data collection included a count of free-floating car share vehicles in each paid parking area. The 2015 data indicated that:

  • Occupancy of free-floating car share vehicles was generally less than 5% of available parking spaces
  • Free-floating car share vehicles typically parked for less time than most other vehicles, usually one hour or less
  • In 2015, SDOT received only one complaint from a neighborhood business district related to free-floating car share use of business district parking

Based on this data, free-floating car share vehicles have been shown to occupy a relatively small amount of business district on-street parking and those vehicles typically turn over more frequently, allowing other uses of and consistent customer and visitor access to the curb space.

Addition vehicles will increase the density of vehicles per service area, make them more easily available, and allow us to extend the service to low-income neighborhoods via City sponsored programs.

Research has indicated that shared mobility and transit working together to fill gaps provide connections and support car-light lifestyle.

Based on recent research by the Shared-Use Mobility Center and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) Washington DC, a City comparable in size to Seattle, has nearly 30 carsharing vehicles per 10,000 residents, while Seattle has fewer than 15 carsharing vehicles per 10,000 residents.

Based on the data collected and analysis, SDOT does not believe that the number of operators or permits per operator should be capped.

SDOT will continue working with operators to ensure they are distributing vehicles to provide equitable access throughout the city, and will evaluate the program annually to determine the extent it is achieving the free-floating car share program goals as established in the Seattle Municipal Code.


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Access Seattle Team Maintaining Mobility Around the City

Seattle’s construction boom is showing no signs of slowing down – but neither is our team of Access Seattle construction Hub coordinators! Every day, our Hub inspectors head out to construction sites all around the city to make sure that pedestrian, cyclist, and driver mobility is maintained, even in areas of the densest construction. For example, last week our inspectors found that a key pedestrian reroute along the waterfront was being blocked by fencing associated with a nearby construction project. Our team of inspectors worked with the contractor to quickly reopen the pedestrian pathway and, almost immediately, people resumed travel along this path that links popular areas of the waterfront.




Earlier this week, our inspectors also worked with a contractor in the South Lake Union neighborhood to improve conditions for pedestrians around their construction site. In particular, the Hub team worked to improve ADA accessibility by coordinating the installation of a cane-detectable kickboard along the scaffolding abutting the sidewalk, as well as the pouring of a concrete pad to make the sidewalk’s edge continuous.


If you live in one of our current construction Hub districts—Downtown, South Lake Union, Pioneer Square, or Capitol Hill—and you have a question about construction impacts, please email the team

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SDOT Would like Your input on the Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) Program

We’re taking a look at the Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) Program to see how we can make on-street parking in neighborhoods work better. We’d like to hear from you!

Please take a few minutes to complete our survey by March 31, 2016 at:


About the RPZ Policy Review

Neighborhood conditions and demand for curb space continue to change as Seattle grows. We’re conducting a review of the RPZ Program, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.

 What does this mean and why are we doing it?

The RPZ program was originally established in 1979 to mitigate the impact of major institutions on residents in nearby neighborhoods. We now have over 30 RPZs in Seattle. The last review of the RPZ program was in 2009, and many Seattle neighborhoods have changed significantly since. This project will look at potential strategies for managing demand for parking in residential areas.

 Here’s a snapshot of our schedule:

  • March: Public survey
  • Spring 2016: Data collection and analysis
  • Fall 2016: Draft policy recommendations for public review
  • Late 2016: Final report


Sign up for e-mail updates and learn more at:

For more information, please contact Becky Edmonds at or (206) 684-5104.

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Seattle is Set to Make Riding Transit More Convenient

Seattle is set to make riding a bus and using transit a lot more convenient over the next nine years.

Approved by voters in November 2015, the $930 million Levy to Move Seattle provides funding to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options.


These investments come at a crucial time. Seattle is growing rapidly and people are asking for more affordable, reliable ways to get around.

The levy dedicates $303 million towards congestion relief projects that enhance transportation choices throughout our entire network. A big portion of this will go towards completing seven new multimodal transit corridors throughout our city – adding to the three we currently have (RapidRide C, D and E lines).

RapidRide levels of enhancements will be made to the following seven corridors by the end of 2024:

  • 23rd Ave
  • Delridge Way SW
  • Madison St
  • Market to N 45th St
  • Northgate / Ballard / Downtown (Route 40)
  • Rainier Ave / Jackson
  • Roosevelt Way / Eastlake Ave

Each of these routes will have a different look and feel. To get an idea for what one of them will look like, check out this video highlighting the Madison St Bus Rapid Transit project:

These improvements – along with the passage of the Seattle Transit Benefit District in 2014 – will result in 72% of Seattle households living within a 10-minute walk of a frequent transit route running every 10 minutes or better when the corridors are completed. At that level of service, riders can throw away their schedules and walk to their nearest stop knowing a bus will be coming to pick them up soon.

Moving around and experiencing our city is about to become a whole lot better over the next nine years thanks to the Levy to Move Seattle. Get on board!

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Where the Shoreline Street End Ends: Coffee and Planning

Learn about the 6th Ave W shoreline street end project in Queen Anne over coffee at Tully’s (101 Nickerson St) this Thursday, March 3, 4 – 6 PM.

Did you know Seattle has 149 streets that end on waterfronts? These are what we call shoreline street ends. And they’re the places where residents and visitors young and old can reach out and touch the water, explore a beach, launch a kayak, and enjoy the view.

6th Ave W street end in Queen Anne.

6th Ave W street end in Queen Anne.

About two-thirds of our street ends need some love. They’re either overgrown, unmarked, or have private encroachments. So, we’ve been working with residents and community groups to improve these spaces.

Right now, we’re planning improvements for the 6th Ave W street end in Queen Anne. If you live nearby or are a fan of shoreline street ends, join us for coffee at Tully’s (101 Nickerson St) this Thursday, March 3, 4 – 6 PM to learn more about the project and share your ideas.

We’re planning to make improvements to 6th Ave W this fall , including:

  • Creating beach access for hand-carry boats to access ship canals
  • Installing a rain garden to improve site drainage
  • Installing art pieces that serve as seating and bollards designed by a local artist

Can’t make it? You can still share your feedback or get in touch with questions at or (206) 386-4575. Learn more about the 6th Ave W project at

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No Street Use Permits: 12PM-March 30 to 10:30AM-March 31

As we mentioned February 8, 2016, SDOT Street Use right-of-way permit rates are changing. It’s the first time rates have increased in five years. The new rate structure will allow us to improve technology, staff levels, and efficiencies. That translates into better service for you. The new rate structure goes into effect March 31, 2016.


To implement the new rate model, the Street Use Permit Services system must be shut down briefly. Also, the Online Permitting (OLP) system accessed with a PIN will be down to undergo several changes.


Noon March 30 – 10:30a.m. March 31

No Permits Can Be Issued During This Time.

Counter staff will still accept permit applications and coach applicants.


Noon March 30 – 8a.m. April 7



Questions? Email

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New Safe Routes to School Beacon Hill Trail Work Nearly Finished

Things are progressing along and paving of the new trail is near completion in Beacon Hill, a short distance from Mercer Middle School.  The work crew will be out to finish the remainder of the trail next week (weather permitting); a part of the Safe Routes to School Program.




Click here to read our previous post from last month when Mayor Murray, SDOT Director Scott Kubly, and community members including students from Mercer Middle were on hand for the ground breaking.

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How Does that Bike Counter work at the Fremont Bridge (and who named Fremont)?

Seattle’s Bicycle Counters, How do they work?

I’ve always wondered how the Bike Counter at the Fremont Bridge works since I pass it often getting around my commute and when I’m headed to the Republic of Fremont (Thanks to Wikipedia for the following factoid: Fremont is a neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. Originally a separate city, it was annexed to Seattle in 1891, and is named after Fremont, Nebraska, the hometown of two of its founders Luther H. Griffith and Edward Blewett).

Yep , the Fremont Bridge

Yep, the Fremont Bridge

Here’s an abbreviated answer: There are detectors under the pavement which detect metallic objects as they cross over them counting the object.

Fremont bridge 076

The long answer for the really curious courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration:

Inductive-Loop Detectors

Since its introduction in the early 1960s, the inductive-loop detector has become the most utilized sensor in a traffic management system. The principal components of an inductive-loop detector system include:

  • One or more turns of insulated loop wire wound in a shallow slot sawed in the pavement.
  • Lead-in cable from the curbside pull box to the intersection controller cabinet.
  • Electronics unit housed in a nearby controller cabinet.

Figure 2-1 displays a notional diagram of an inductive-loop detector system and the vehicle and steel reinforcement elements in the roadway with which it reacts.

Figure 2-1. Inductive loop detector system (notional). Drawing of inductive loop detector system depicting vehicle-induced currents entering inductive loop wire, and then lead-in wire connected to lead-in cable in the pull box, which finally enters the electronics unit in the controller cabinet. The electronics unit produces a presence or pulse output to control a traffic management device or to provide data to an operations center.

Figure 2-1. Inductive-loop detector system (notional).

The electronics unit transmits energy into the wire loops at frequencies between 10 kHz to 200 kHz, depending on the model. The inductive-loop system behaves as a tuned electrical circuit in which the loop wire and lead-in cable are the inductive elements. When a vehicle passes over the loop or is stopped within the loop, the vehicle induces eddy currents in the wire loops, which decrease their inductance. The decreased inductance actuates the electronics unit output relay or solid-state optically isolated output, which sends a pulse to the controller signifying the passage or presence of a vehicle.

The bicycle counters on the Fremont Bridge and Spokane Street provide valuable information about the patterns of cycling in Seattle, and an accurate count of the number of cyclists at two of the busiest cycling locations in Seattle. They allow more accurate benchmarking for goals to increase cycling as set forth in the Bicycle Master Plan. The detailed information provided by these 24/7/365 counters will enhance SDOT’s ability to measure return on investment in bicycle facilities and help identify locations for new facilities. All of this while encouraging an affordable, healthy mode of travel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and relieves congestion. The counters upload data once a day at 5am, which is then displayed in daily, weekly, monthly, and annual running totals.

Fremont bridge 080

Have a great week and weekend, and enjoy a nice ride! If you pass the counter, you can say, “I know how that thing works!”

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