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2018 Traffic Report – still growing, moving, and getting safer 

Yup, still growing.

Seattle – newsflash – is still growing. Our city’s population hit an estimated 713,000 in 2017*, a 1.8 percent increase (9,000 people) over 2016. We continue to be one of the fasting growing cities in the country, with more residents and jobs moving to the area.

With this growth, we’re seeing:

  • Decreased vehicle volumes;
  • More people riding transit; and
  • Fewer people driving alone to work downtown. Woot!

Sidebar, we’re going to need to see that trend continue (read Period of Maximum Constraint and the new

As we grow, we’re also continuing to see safety trendlines head in the right direction, toward zero fatalities and serious injuries.

Driven by data.

There’s more work to do, for sure. A key ingredient to making more progress is through data collection and analysis. Good news is we collect a lot of data here at SDOT ?, and we use it to guide changes to city streets – to make them safer for all, and to make them work harder and more efficiently to serve a growing population.

Every year, we pull together a traffic report that provides an update on our core data sets – traffic speeds and volumes, reported collisions, walking and biking counts. Numbers are in for the past year (2017 data). We’ve pulled out some highlights below and you can find the full report at

Key findings:

Total crashes are down. Police-reported crashes are down, and our collision rate decreased 1.8 percent from 2016 to 2017 (we’re below 11,000 crashes/year)

Fatal and serious injury crashes:

— 191 in 2016
187 in 2017

Fatal crashes:

— In 2016, 20 people lost their lives due to a traffic crash;
— In 2017, 19 people were killed.

These numbers are headed in the right direction – and we are one of the safest cities in the country – but one death is one too many. We continue to focus improvements on streets where the most serious and fatal injuries occur.

More people ➡ more people walking. The general year-to-year trend is increasing pedestrian volumes. We conduct quarterly counts, and the busiest pedestrian location counted in 2017 (and 2016) was Broadway and E Olive St, with 28,899 people walking there last year (up from 22,539 in 2016) ?.

Broadway at Olive near Seattle Central College | Image by Google Maps

Pedestrian safety. The pedestrian collision rate is decreasing (6.5 percent from 2016) – but the number of pedestrians killed increased from 5 in 2016 (25 percent of total fatalities), to 11 in 2017 (58 percent of total fatalities). Issues like impairment, speeding, distraction, and failure to yield to pedestrians continue to be the primary contributing factors.

Bicycle volumes are down. Ridership decreased from 3.5 percent in 2016, to 2.8 percent in 2017. But let’s remember ridership is influenced, at least in part, by weather. Last year, we saw 48 inches of rain (our average is 37.5) ? and colder than average temps, too. Though it’s not all bad news. From July to December 2017 (during our free-floating bike share pilot phase), people took just under half a million bike share trips!

We’re pleased to report that as Seattle grows, we’re continuing to move more people and goods in and around the city safely.

As we mentioned earlier, we’ll use this data to inform decision making around how we adjust city streets – from lane markings to signal timing, and more.

You can find the full 2018 traffic report at


*Reference data.