Priority Areas
Priority Areas

Today the City of Seattle and SDOT released a Draft Pedestrian Master Plan (webpage, pdf). The plan, which has been in the works for 20 months, is designed to guide city investments in pedestrian facilities in a purposeful and efficient manner. The plan has four major goals.

  • Safety – Reduce the number and severity of crashes involving pedestrians
  • Equity – Make Seattle a more walkable city for all through equity in public engagement, service delivery, accessibility, and capital investments
  • Vibrancy – Develop a pedestrian environment that sustains healthy communities and supports a vibrant economy
  • Health – Raise awareness of the important role of walking in promoting health and preventing disease

The plan first looks at current conditions around Seattle identifying both the opportunities and challenges pedestrians face. It also identifies the places where there is the most potential for pedestrian improvements. This combined with crosswalk and sidewalking facility information is then used to prioritize investments. This is hot off the servers so I haven’t had much time to sift through everything. It looks like the plan is very narrowly focused on sidewalks and crosswalks and targets investments from Bridging the Gap into these. I am a little surprised  because I was expecting to see a greater emphasis on place-making and pedestrian spaces, not just sidewalks and crosswalks. What are your thoughts? Reactions?

UPDATE: Here is Portland’s Pedestrian Master Plan. I like their emphasis on pedestrian districts and corridors.

28 Replies to “Draft Pedestrian Master Plan”

  1. I wonder if they’re going to fix another pedestrian issue (more like an intermodal issue):

    5TH AVE AND BANNER WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I believe that according to the Bike Master plan that this intersection is planned to have a traffic signal sometime in the future.

    2. That is an annoying intersection to cross. Particularly since many drivers don’t seem to have a clue of how to proceed through an all-way stop intersection.

  2. Haven’t read the pdf file yet but does that mean they’re going to finally build the sidewalks in North Seattle that were promised decades ago?

    1. Some I’m sure. The problem is that once it is built unless it is along an arterial or near a school you probably aren’t going to get one. I think in this case Seattle needs to be realistic and look at lower cost alternatives like shared space concepts. In many ways this might actually be better than streets with sidewalks.

      1. I agree – separating pedestrians from traffic, in many cases, just encourages the cars to go faster.

    2. Unfortunately, sidewalks are very expensive, especially on narrow streets.

      1. and on narrow streets sidewalks make biking much worse. I hate how things that are good for peds are worse for bikes and vice versa, we have to fight over the car crumbs

      2. There are alternatives — Put the cars on a diet and make the shoulder suitable for both bikes and pedestrians. Paved shoulders aren’t as good for walking as sidewalks, but they’re better than dirt, and they’re better for cycling than a curb at the edge of a narrow lane.

        Stripe the vehicle lane as narrow as standards allow, it visually narrows the road despite the paved shoulder. Then pave the shoulder and keep it swept.

  3. The #1 factor is going to be making cars go slower. I’m not sure they’re taking that head on.

    You’d think the areas around current and future transit stations (Roosevelt, for example) would be A+ pedestrian spaces.

    1. Yeah, I don’t understand the coloring on High-Low Priority. I suppose it’s probably described in the PDF. If you look at most of the streets around Ravenna Park, for example, it’s “Low Priority” but also some of the most pedestrian friendly areas in the city already. (For example, there are few driveways and because of the park no through streets.)

      Almost the entire Center City is “High Priority” though?

      1. Seeing as how the center city is where you’ll find the most people walking, I would assume making it a high priority is a logical choice.

    2. It seems like this is just about providing sidewalks where none exist. Broadway needs a lot of work to bring it together, but they don’t seem to be doing that…

  4. How about making Aurora Avenue into a normal urban street that has normal signals and crosswalks every block or two? It seems to drive a wedge through the neighborhoods it runs through. It could also be a great street for a bus or a trolley, but not if you can’t cross it.

    1. I’ve always hated Aurora. It cuts the city in half, kills pedestrian and bike routes, and drags car-based businesses from the suburbs right down into the city. That would be a road I’d love to see on a diet.

  5. The weighting of the three priorities seems odd.. “vibrancy” gets 40% compared to social equity and corridor function? In my cursory review that seems to emphasize areas where pedestrian traffic is already heavy due to promximity of venues accessed mostly by foot.

    I would have preferred a master plan that directed a higher proportional priority (read dollars) where the need is greatest. Let’s fix the weakest link in the chain first. Besides there are non-capital funded methods to improve pedestrian flow in “vibrant” corridors (enforcement of SMC on placement of sandwich signs and newspaper boxes).

    BTW, one of my roles at the city is responding to public records requests… as in from attorneys seeking background for trip & fall claims, etc.

    1. I’m seeing the opposite. Most of the resources here are aimed at providing pedestrian access where none exists today. Look at Broadway, for instance – very de-emphasized here, despite having a lot of pedestrian traffic and a very wide street.

      1. You mean the same Broadway that is almost entirely surrounded by the “high” priority shading?

    2. Not directly transit related, but since you brought up records requests from plaintiff’s lawyers….

      Have you seen records requests yet on the location of sharrows under the bicycle master plan?

      The language of the MUTCD says sharrows can be used to guide cyclists to a lane position where they won’t hit the doors of parked cars, but Seattle DoT is installing most of them directly *in* the door zone of parked cars, then telling cyclists they should align themselves with the center of the sharrow. They’re basically telling cyclists to ride where they’re most likely to be injured.

      When asked about it, SDoT officials have said cyclists have to stay to the right, so the sharrows belong on the right — that essentially ignores the actual language of the law, that cyclists should stay as far to the right as is *safe*.

      Given the disconnect between the language of the MUTCD guidance and the actual installation of the sharrows, I have to expect the city will eventually find itself in court defending its official advice to ride in the door zone.

    3. …so you would spend money we don’t have (PMP has no designated funding source) on building sidewalks in residential neighborhoods north of 85th) and providing drainage resources at the same time?

      100% agreed I’d like to see more enforcement on the blockage codes, but the focus can’t be just on “flow”. You want more walkable streets, you have to provide destinations as well, and small businesses need to advertise. The real issue here in the busier areas, IMO, is too much street ROW reserved for automobiles and not enough for other uses.

  6. Pike Place / Post Alley should be the model for every pedestrian plan in Seattle.

    1. I think “every” is a big stretch but Pike Place / Post Alley is a very well done area. I think they could do well downtown to provide more along this model and in the new SLU area as it becomes “densified” (can I use that word in Scrable? :-) It essential allows limited local access but eliminates “traffic”.

    2. I think the most logical first step should be to re-close Pine Between 5th and 4th and make Westlake whole again.

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