COMMENTARY: Seattle's first pedestrian master plan
(Editor's note: The following article appears originally in Seattle City Council member Nick Licata's newsletter "Urban Politics.")
Last month, the Seattle City Council’s Joint Pedestrian Safety and Transportation Committee got a look at the recommendations for Seattle’s first Pedestrian Master Plan.
You may remember that in 2007, as council president I created a special committee on pedestrian safety. The Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Group, known as PMPAG, was convened by this new council pedestrian safety committee.
The PMPAG vision - and mine too - is that Seattle become a “walking city” and recognizes that as we grow, people will walk in ever-increasing numbers. To be a “walking city” we must make walking safer. I am committed to finding the funding to implement this plan after the council approves it.
The draft Pedestrian Master Plan is available on-line here.
The Seattle Department of Transportation is accepting public comments on the plan now through June 15. The council will learn more at the next joint meeting of Transportation Committee and Pedestrian Safety Committee (tentatively scheduled for July 21 at 10:30 a.m.).
In PMPAG’s own words here is the plan:
- Cites the best of what Seattle has done thus far and encourages a continuing sense of pride in accomplishment;
- Demands respect and safety for pedestrians;
- Requires that pedestrian connections be made to and among parks, schools, transit, shops, civic spaces, work spaces, and other land uses;
- Encourages people to walk for their own benefit, for the life of the city, and for the good of the natural environment;
- Obligates all of city government to conduct their work with reference to the vision; and
- Names the public and private investment that will be necessary to meet the vision.”
The city transportation department's immediate next steps include: an extensive number of presentations of the proposed plan’s contents to district and community councils. The city council is scheduled to review and approve the plan in September and this review will include a public hearing.
The Transportation and Pedestrian Safety Committees are scheduled to hold a joint meeting for purposes of holding a public hearing on July 21 to hear public comment on the draft pedestrian master plan.
The greatest challenge will be funding the Pedestrian Master Plan.
Bridging the Gap levy will provide about $60 million, providing the transportation department with $41 million for new infrastructure and $19 million for maintenance. This would only pay for a small percentage of the highest priority improvements in the master plan.
Hopefully, additional improvements will result from private development and other public and private resources can be leveraged for still more master plan implementation.
Pedestrian safety in King County, too
I am the vice chair of the King County Board of Health and to complement the work I have promoted in city government to improve pedestrian safety I worked last year to also create a King County Board of Health Injury Prevention Committee.
This committee is made up of academic experts, advocacy groups, as well as representatives from local
and federal government. Earlier this year, the committee passed Board of Health Resolution 09-05 - this resolution highlights the importance of walking for chronic disease prevention and encouraging local jurisdictions to improve pedestrian safety in their communities.
Specifically, the resolution asks all King County cities to develop or update pedestrian master plans that incorporate engineering, education, enforcement and encouragement methods known to improve pedestrian safety and promote walking; collect and analyze pedestrian crash data; implement educational outreach programs targeting drivers and pedestrians in most at-risk groups; and use "complete street" designs to create streets that are comfortable and safe for all users.
We will soon be identifying a regional group to coordinate and promote pedestrian safety efforts.
I’ll be attending the King County Traffic Safety Coalition meeting on June 16, 2009 to present the efforts of the Health Injury Prevention Committee’s work.