By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Death and injury on our streets is preventable.
So declares the online overview of the city’s new Vision Zero road-safety initiative, which lays out changes ahead, including reducing speed limits on arterials, with this year’s list including five in West Seattle.
The mayor announced Vision Zero on Thursday in Lake City; the fine print includes a relatively long list of changes ahead for West Seattle. So today, we’re taking a closer look. In addition to what’s in the document made public by SDOT, we’ve also followed up to get more information on the timetable for changes, and along the way we’ve learned of at least one potential new speed-camera location for West Seattle.
First, the plan for lower speed limits. The Vision Zero plan notes that 9 of 10 pedestrians hit by drivers going 20 mph survive – but that survival rate plummets to 1 in 10 if hit at 40 mph. So, a big part of the city’s plan focuses on reducing speed limits on city streets.
20 MPH PROGRAM
You’ll see on the map above this story that a 20 mph zone is planned in the Admiral area, near Lafayette Elementary and Hiawatha Park/Community Center. The 20 mph program is for residential streets with “a high collision history,” near schools and parks. Up to 10 of these zones will be installed citywide this year, including this one.
30 MPH ARTERIAL CORRIDORS
The city plans to lower the speed limit to 30 mph on 12 arterial corridors this year, according to the Vision Zero document. Five of them are in West Seattle:
*35th Avenue SW
*SW Roxbury Street/Olson Place SW
*Delridge Way SW
*Fauntleroy Way SW
*Harbor Avenue SW
Two of those, you’ll recall, already have safety programs on the drawing boards – Roxbury and 35th. SDOT pointed this out when we followed up with them to ask when and how the changes will be put into place. The reply conveyed via SDOT spokesperson Marybeth Turner points out that it won’t just be a matter of replacing a number on the speed-limit signage:
SDOT will lower speed limits on several West Seattle corridors in 2015. Changes will occur on a street-by-street basis and we’ll notify the public in advance of the speed limit reductions. This work will get underway in West Seattle in the near future – potentially as early as March – as SDOT staff have already started reviewing traffic data and existing conditions on Fauntleroy Way SW and Delridge Way SW.
It’s important to note that SDOT will lower the speed limit to 30 mph on many streets this year but we also want drivers to actually go 30 mph. That’s why we’ll pair speed limit reductions with roadway design modifications so the design of the street dictates the speed people drive. These design changes will likely involve very simple and low-cost tweaks to our streets that will change the nature of the roadway.
We’ll also use more complex approaches to reducing speeds through the two Road Safety Corridor Projects that are underway on SW Roxbury Street and 35th Avenue SW. SDOT is in the process of scheduling another round of public meetings for our Safety Corridor Projects at this time and we’re hoping that they’ll take place during the second week of March. More details will be provided in the near future.
NEW TRAFFIC CAMERAS
The plan document says only that the city will: “In 2015, install at least twelve new cameras in six school zones …”
No locations were specified. So we followed up with SDOT about this too. The reply says there’s at least one potential location in West Seattle:
Our analysis for new school zone cameras is ongoing and new locations have not yet been finalized. However, the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Department of Transportation SDOT have identified the Boren Building on Delridge Way SW as a candidate location. The Boren Building currently houses two schools and high speeds have been documented on Delridge Way SW. Final decisions will be made in March and the public will be notified shortly thereafter.
So far, West Seattle has three speed-enforcement cameras – on Fauntleroy Way near Gatewood Elementary, on SW Roxbury near Roxhill Elementary, and on SW Roxbury near Holy Family School. In addition, the mobile “speed van” that was first launched in 2008 has continued to be deployed on 35th SW, particularly near Our Lady of Guadalupe, at least part time.
ALSO IN THE PLAN
This is part of the Roxbury plan, but it should be noted that 16th/Roxbury is one of three locations called out in the “Urban Center Safety” part of the Vision Zero document:
Bring a higher level of safety to Seattle’s Urban Centers, where high volumes of vehicular traffic, transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists merge. Data-driven improvements may include modified signal phasing, traffic calming, protected turn phases and leading or lagging pedestrian intervals …
*SW Roxbury Street and Delridge Way/16th Ave SW
The rest of the document includes a long, long list of what else is planned/proposed – but what you see above are the only West Seattle-location-specific mentions in it, so that’s what we’re highlighting. Browse it yourself here. You can also read an FAQ here. And our partners at The Seattle Times (as noted in our morning traffic/transportation roundup) have a citywide look at Vision Zero here.