All about our new Sidewalk Accessibility Guide

New sidewalk in West Seattle. Photo credit: Madison Linkenmeyer

We are excited to announce the launch of our new Sidewalk Accessibility Guide! This website is a one-stop shop for increasing property owner awareness and knowledge about sidewalk responsibilities. We have also designed this site to ensure this information is accessible, including for blind and low-vision people who use screen readers. 

Sidewalks are one of our most valuable shared assets, both in total dollar amount (estimated at $9.4 billion!) and as a way to make Seattle safer and easier to navigate for everyone walking and rolling. Because the City shares responsibility for sidewalk upkeep with individual and commercial property owners, it’s important that we all do our part to keep our 2,300 miles of sidewalk in good condition. That way, we can keep everyone moving around our city safely and smoothly. 

There’s a lot of information in this guide, so we thought it would be helpful to provide an overview of what you can find in each section.  

Please note: You can click on the links below to go directly to an overview of that section of the guide. Then, you can click the headline of each section to access the guide itself on the web. 



Homeowner, renter, and business responsibilities 

These sections are for homeowners, renters, and business owners wondering what responsibilities they have when it comes to upkeep for the sidewalks around their property.  

Plants, trees, sandwich boards, signage, garbage and recycling bins, and utility poles can make it hard for people to get around on our sidewalks. As a result, the Seattle Municipal Code requires property owners to keep the sidewalks next to their property safe and in good condition to allow a clear path for all sidewalk users.  

You can find helpful information about maintaining plants and vegetation (except for trees—please see the Tree Maintenance section for this!), snow and ice removal, drain care, sidewalk café guidelines, and more at the links below. 

Go to homeowner responsibilities 

Go to renter responsibilities 

Go to business responsibilities 

Street trees and a street café on NW Market St in Ballard.
Street trees and a street café on NW Market St in Ballard. Photo: SDOT 

Researching sidewalk issues 

This part of the guide hosts two web maps: the Sidewalk Research Map and the Maintenance Activities Map. 

  • The Sidewalk Research Map contains information about sidewalk observations including street trees, side sewers, waterlines, and property ownership. You can also view the conditions of different sidewalks, places where sidewalk is missing, curb ramp locations, and more. 
  • The Maintenance Activities Map shows information about different sidewalk maintenance happening around the city. This includes open and completed work orders for repairs, temporary asphalt shims, beveling, and more. Asphalt “shims” help to make sidewalk cracks and uplifts safer for pedestrians before long term repairs can be made. If the sidewalk is uplifted no more than approximately 1.75 inches, we can also bevel, or grind, the difference to create a level surface. 

Tree maintenance 

Keeping sidewalks clear also means pruning trees when necessary. However, before pruning tree roots and limbs more than 2 inches wide, or doing any major pruning that affects more than 15% of the foliage bearing area, property owners must arrange for a permit and contact an SDOT arborist to evaluate how the pruning will impact the tree’s health and to help ensure public safety. This section of the Sidewalk Accessibility Guide explains more about property owner responsibilities related to tree maintenance.  

Large trees on E Lake Washington Blvd.
Large trees on E Lake Washington Blvd. Photo: SDOT 

How the City prioritizes sidewalk maintenance and installation 

Go to this section of the guide if you’re interested in how we decide which sidewalks to maintain and install first. 

  • Maintenance: Maintenance order is decided after scoring sidewalks in four different categories: risk, mobility impairment, cost, and usage. The overall goal is to provide the best value to the community given a limited repair budget.   
  • New sidewalks: Most new sidewalks in Seattle are built by private developers. When we build new sidewalks, we do so according to priorities established in our Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP)

Getting involved 

This section details ways to get involved in sidewalk care in Seattle. You can learn how to join a board, clean up vegetation in your neighborhood, or let us know when you’ve repaired your sidewalk. 

Sidewalk history and asset conditions 

Look here for information about the 2017 Sidewalk Assessment that led us to our current citywide sidewalk maintenance approach. 

Equity 

In alignment with our core values and goals, this section discusses the ways in which we apply an equity lens to our sidewalk programs. These include partnering with historically underserved communities, directing resources toward these communities, and supporting authentic engagement going forward.   

Accessibility 

This section provides more information about how property owners can ensure people using wheeled mobility devices are able to navigate sidewalks, including during construction activities. The page links to several videos we have created in partnership with Rooted in Rights, a disability rights advocacy group. The videos explain common accessibility challenges people with disabilities face in moving around the city (also see “Videos About Sidewalk Challenges). 

Building a curb ramp at E Valley St and 24th Ave E.
Building a curb ramp at E Valley St and 24th Ave E. Photo: SDOT 

Finding a code or regulation 

Seattle’s sidewalk design, construction, and maintenance activities are guided by Seattle Municipal Codes, Director’s rules, and other policy documents. This section of the Sidewalk Accessibility Guide contains a list of related codes and regulations. 

Sidewalk resources and program weblinks 

This section includes a list and links to all of the programs and resources included in the Sidewalk Accessibility Guide. 

Seeking assistance? 

The final section of the guide provides several ways to get in touch with us about obtaining services and improving access to sidewalks, including how to make an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) request.

A sidewalk along Valley St in South Lake Union.
A sidewalk along Valley St in South Lake Union. Photo: SDOT 

Thank you 

Thank you for engaging with our new Sidewalk Accessibility Guide! We hope this helps to simplify finding everything you might need or want to know about sidewalks in Seattle, especially as it relates to keeping sidewalks safe and accessible for everyone. We appreciate your time and attention! 

Have questions or a repair request? Contact us at sdotassets@seattle.gov or:

Call SDOT at (206) 684-ROAD (7623)

– Email 684-ROAD@seattle.gov

Fill out a  web form

Use the city’s Find It, Fix It app 

Mobility: We believe transportation choices are critical to accessing opportunities. Our goal is to build, operate, and maintain an accessible transportation system that reliably connects people, places, and goods.
Safety: We believe everyone should be able to move safely throughout the City. Our goal is to create safe transportation environments and eliminate serious and fatal crashes in Seattle.
Mobility and safety are two of SDOT’s key values and goals. Graphics: SDOT
Help us imagine the future of transportation in Seattle – visit our Seattle Transportation Plan online hub today!
Help us imagine the future of transportation in Seattle – visit our Seattle Transportation Plan online hub today! Graphic: SDOT