Senior Safety: Tips for a Safe Walking Experience

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Seattle is a major employment center and transit hub, one of the nation’s largest port cities, and a research and education center with unique neighborhoods and thriving business districts. More than 900,000 vehicles traverse Seattle’s streets daily including buses, freight, and passenger vehicles. These drivers share the road with the many thousands of cyclists and pedestrians that also use our streets every day. Seattle is a bustling city and there are simply more opportunities for conflicts on roadways that handle this amount of volume.

Seattle strives to be the most pedestrian-friendly city in the nation. Our Pedestrian Master Plan guides our approach to improving pedestrian conditions, and our Road Safety Action Plan identifies specific countermeasures that the city is currently implementing in an effort to eliminate fatalities and serious injury collisions on our streets. Unfortunately around 500 pedestrian collisions occur annually in our city, and pedestrian fatalities typically make up more than 40 percent of all traffic fatalities. Traffic data shows that between 2010 and 2013, one group of people was affected more than others – older pedestrians. In fact, 70 percent of individuals involved in the most serious pedestrian collisions in Seattle during the same timeframe were over 50 years old. Through a combination of engineering improvements, educational outreach, and increased enforcement patrols, Seattle is making efforts to keep our elders safe.

Walking is a great way to stay active and SDOT has put together some helpful tips to make your daily jaunt a safe and comfortable experience:

1. Be Seen. Seattle can be rather rainy and dark so visibililty plays a crucial role in staying safe. Wear bright-colored or reflective clothing to stand out.

2. Know Your Abilities. SDOT has installed pedestrian countdown signals at many intersections to help you understand how much time you have to cross the street. Know you walking speed and don’t start crossing when the ‘Don’t Walk’ symbol is flashing.

3. Scout Your Route. There are all sorts of hidden gems to discover in our city. Use our walking route maps to determine the best way to get from Point A to Point B.

4. Look, Smile, Wave. Make sure drivers see you before entering a crosswalk and continue looking out for vehicles while you’re crossing the street. Once you’ve crossed, a simple wave and smile can help reinforce goodwill on our streets.

5. Tell Us What Needs Fixing. Do our signals provide you with ample time to cross the street? Do your sidewalks need repair? If there’s something in your neighborhood that’s making it difficult to get around, let us know. Simply call 684-ROAD so can get working on it or report an issue online.