NEW SIGNS: SDOT starts citywide stop-for-pedestrians campaign with signage in West Seattle

(SDOT photo)

That’s one of the new signs SDOT has put up as part of a new safety campaign to remind drivers that they need to stop for people crossing the street. As explained here:

… (W)e began unveiling “driver report cards” signs at certain crosswalks to show the percentage of drivers who stop for people waiting to walk or roll across the street. This is the start of a larger $350,000 public-education campaign focused on the benefits of following the speed limit and making sure drivers understand that all intersections are crosswalks – and that state law requires them to stop for pedestrians and people in wheelchairs or other mobility assistive devices who are attempting to cross the street.

Per Washington State law, practically all intersections are legal pedestrian crossings, whether or not there is a painted crosswalk, unless a sign officially says that people are not allowed to cross the street in a certain location. That means drivers are legally required to stop for people crossing the street at nearly every intersection in Seattle and throughout the state.

Two of the first signs, including the one in the top photo, are in High Point, at 34th Ave SW and SW Morgan St (where there’s a painted crosswalk) and at Sylvan Way SW and SW Sylvan Heights Dr (an unpainted crossing). While the former has the 46 percent stop rate – as observed by a high-school-student volunteer, SDOT says – the latter has a 0% rate (out of 25 passing drivers). SDOT plans to use signs like these at 13 intersections around the city, for starters.

ADDED 4:40 PM: We asked SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson for a little more detail on how these signs will be updated: “The data will be collected and updated weekly for a total of six weeks. Typically we would collect data on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, and then an SDOT crew member will update the signs on Fridays. The high school students assisting with this have an internship with Delridge Neighborhood Development Association and will receive a stipend for their time. In addition to helping to collect data, they helped us to choose the locations and were involved with other aspects of the exercise in order to make it an enriching experience for them.”

54 Replies to "NEW SIGNS: SDOT starts citywide stop-for-pedestrians campaign with signage in West Seattle"

  • Bill March 21, 2022 (12:14 pm)

    Wow….  Do those numbers really update weekly?    They don’t appear to be electronic (from the photo) so I expect not.   Unless SDOT is paying somebody to stick new stickers on the signs each week. In any case, it sure is good to see somebody taking the ‘crosswalks at every intersection’ law seriously. 

    • WSB March 21, 2022 (1:10 pm)

      As noted, they’re using “high school student volunteers.” I’m checking on the update frequency. These went up last Friday so we’ll see if there’s any change by oh, say, next Monday.

    • Boomer March 22, 2022 (2:18 pm)

      Bill didn’t read the whole post. Don’t be like Bill. 

  • Tina March 21, 2022 (12:25 pm)

    I crossed on 34th and Morgan on my bike yesterday.  First time riding that portion of Neighborhood Greenway.  I was pleasantly surprised drivers stopped for me.  Biking northbound, cars were already at a stop, southbound cars let me cross.  So thank you drivers who let me cross. 

  • Rocket March 21, 2022 (12:29 pm)

    I love this. 

  • JM March 21, 2022 (12:38 pm)

    Haha good luck with this! It’s a miracle when a car stops when your crossing at a marked cross walk. Yesterday we were practically mowed over  ( not the first time) by a car trying to drive through the red light by LA Fitness as pedestrians were crossing in both directions. The driver continued to try and keep driving until I literally screamed for them to stop as we were in the middle of the crosswalk and would have been hit. Drivers in this town don’t believe they should wait for school buses with flashing lights do you really think they’re going to now stop for pedestrians in unmarked crossings because it’s the law? Hopefully pedestrians continue to do due diligence because you can’t trust drivers to do the same!  

  • cjboffoli March 21, 2022 (12:39 pm)

    It is going to take a lot more than signs to improve this issue. The crosswalk nearest my house (across California Ave. SW) already has several large, yellow warning signs of the presence of the crosswalk that does nothing to stop me almost getting run down by careless, selfish drivers just about every time I try to cross the street.

  • Jeepney March 21, 2022 (12:41 pm)

    As an active pedestrian and cyclist, I welcome most safety improvements.   However, I have found that if I need to suddenly stop for a pedestrian at an unmarked crossing, the driver behind me invariably has to slam on their brakes due to inattentive driving.

    • Roms March 21, 2022 (2:33 pm)

      It’s not because some people are driving dangerously that you have to act dangerously, not follow the law, and risk people’s lives. You can slow down and down and down when you’re tailed by a distracted driver until they become aware again (don’t break-check them though…). It’s better doing that than hitting a pedestrian ; thing for which you will always be held accountable as the only requirement for pedestrians is to not cross when “a vehicle is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop” (RCW 46.61.235(2)).

  • Also John March 21, 2022 (1:33 pm)

    Good luck with this idea.  It’ll never work.   I walk everywhere.  I enjoy it.   No one stops at intersections for me when I’m off the curb looking to cross.    The law states ‘the pedestrian has the right of way at all marked and umarked intersections’.   Meaning there doesn’t need to be a crosswalk.  It’s to expensive to paint crosswalks at every intersection in Seattle.   Don’t even think of hoping a Metro bus will stop for you.  

    • CAM March 21, 2022 (2:56 pm)

      Ha. I’ve had police cars drive by me and ignore the fact that I’m off the curb and trying to cross at a crosswalk. If police “don’t know” the rules why should pedestrians expect less informed drivers too? 

      • bill March 21, 2022 (10:33 pm)

        Exactly. Public employees on the job — police, bus drivers, Parks staff, etc., should be modeling good driving for everyone else. To be sure, many city vehicles are driven carefully. But then you’ve got busses running red lights….

  • ElleT March 21, 2022 (2:10 pm)

    I have a near-accident at least once a month on the marked crosswalks at the intersection on SW Avalon and 35th. Drivers constantly blow through the light or make a right hand turn without checking the crosswalk. Often I get people angry at ME for daring to cross the street when they’re trying to turn right on a red. 

  • Jack March 21, 2022 (2:21 pm)

    About a month ago I stopped an intersection on California to let somebody cross (no painted crosswalk and it was dark) and the driver behind me got of his car and was threatening to beat me up. He thought I had stopped because I wanted to impede him or something. So yeah, Seattle drivers are great.

  • Jort March 21, 2022 (2:34 pm)

    What a sad, sad commentary on the state of our city’s approach to protecting the lives of vulnerable road users. Somehow they seem to hope that they can “guilt” people into obeying the law. There are tools out there to protect pedestrian lives. SDOT, the city government’s official automobile advocacy organization, knows that those interventions cause discomfort and frustration for car drivers. So, instead of better intersection design, we get a sign. Instead of aggressive enforcement of the law, we get a sign. Perhaps, when the next victim of road violence ends up beneath the wheels of an automobile, the family can take solace in knowing the city put up a “do better” road sign. This is so disappointing and so, so Seattle. 

  • Eyes Open March 21, 2022 (2:48 pm)

    Attentiveness is important for everyone: drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. We all must assume positive intent. Drivers aren’t trying to hit pedestrians and cyclists and pedestrians and cyclists aren’t trying to get hit. As a pedestrian, stop and look both ways before crossing. Keep your eyes on your surroundings before walking into an intersection. Make eye contact with a driver before steping forward. You may not be easily seen by a driver even if they are paying attention and looking around. And drivers look at the sidewalks and bike lanes at intersections and when making turns. Make eye contact with the person. Its not a “blame game”, stop making assumptions and everyone be responsible for your actions. Pedestrians must look before crossing and drivers should look for pedestrians and bikes. 

    • KM March 21, 2022 (10:27 pm)

      You are conflating how you think people should behave with the letter of the law. Pedestrians aren’t required to make eye contact (not to mention those who can’t), drivers are required to yield. We don’t have to do the “both sides” games when one side clearly holds the power and ability to kill, and operates in system designed for their convenience rather than safety—for anyone. 

      • Ivan Weiss March 22, 2022 (7:47 am)

        I don’t care what “the letter of the law” requires. I am responsible for my life and safety. No one else is. When I’m crossing a street on foot, I will jolly well wait till there are no cars approaching, and only then will I cross, looking both ways as I do, with my phone in my pocket where it belongs.

        When I was a kid, I read this epitaph, entitled: “On the grave of a pedestrian”:

        “This is the grave of Mike O’Day
        Who died maintaining his right of way
        His right was clear, his will was strong
        But he’s just as dead as if he was wrong.”

    • newnative March 22, 2022 (9:22 am)

      Making eye contact is the absolute worst thing to do. When I have, people take the opportunity to wave and gun it, wave and block the sidewalk, wave and roll through a red light. When I pretend to “not see” the driver, they usually stop/wait for me to walk. It doesn’t mean I don’t look both ways. there is nothing snottier than waiting for a crosswalk light and then having a car roll up and wave at me to cut me off. 

    • Conrad March 22, 2022 (2:00 pm)

      Okay… I give drivers the alpha dog stare.  I even growl and bare my teeth.  Seriously.   People still don’t stop.  I guess I just have to start throwing things?

      • No Car March 22, 2022 (2:52 pm)

        One time I was crossing at Hec Ed stadium to catch the Light Rail.  This woman in a white car yelled at me, “In this country we use crosswalks”.  So I threw my coffee cup at her.  Stay classy Seattle!

  • carInfestedBrain March 21, 2022 (3:12 pm)

    How we all could live but chose not to:

    Low hanging fruit ready to be picked:

    “Permitting rights on red increases pedestrian crashes by 60 percent and bike crashes by 100 percent.”

    • Ivan Weiss March 22, 2022 (11:02 am)

      I can’t speak for others, but the way I was taught to drive, the first thing to do when making a right turn on red is to come to a full STOP. Because the light is RED, remember? While at a full STOP, without encroaching on the crosswalk, or where a crosswalk would be, look both ways, remember? If there is a pedestrian, that pedestrian has the right of way, remember? Only then, when the crosswalk is clear, or any pedestrians have cleared the lane, and there is no oncoming traffic in the cross street, is it OK to turn. People who can’t execute these simple safety procedures shouldn’t be licensed. 

  • Delridge Driver March 21, 2022 (3:40 pm)

    What would really help would be to get police to go out and do some enforcement. Then publicize in the media to get word out.

    • Bus March 21, 2022 (5:16 pm)

      Police are as bad at ignoring pedestrians as other drivers are.

      • Jort March 22, 2022 (9:46 am)

        In 2021, Seattle saw nearly as many traffic-related deaths (31) as homicides (40). The police and our elected career politician mayor Bruce Harrell have been screeching endlessly about the need to address the homicide/gun violence issue with additional police officers and funding. But on traffic violence, we hear absolutely nothing but empty platitudes and, apparently, little road signs that remind drivers that the majority of them are incapable of literally following the law. 

    • CarDriver March 22, 2022 (6:35 am)

      Police did that. Several years ago Seattle Times did a story on school zone speeders. Parents had demanded action on speeders “endangering their kids”.  75% of the tickets SPD wrote went to PARENTS dropping off or coming to pick up their kids.

  • Joe Z March 21, 2022 (4:06 pm)

    What action will be taken if drivers fail to meet the target threshold? 

  • Chris March 21, 2022 (4:29 pm)

    A reminder for pedestrians.   Sometimes we cannot see you at a corner because a car parked can impede our vision.   We may not see you until we are right there.Also, jaywalkers are prolific here in West Seattle.    It hurts to see adults teaching their children that it is okay to cross in the middle of the street.   Please teach children safety.There are also times a pedestrian is at the corner.   We stop for them & they just stand there.   There may be no traffic coming the other direction.    If you are waiting for a ride, please move from the corner.And at times, cars are driving too fast behind us to safely stop.    We have many problems with drivers going way over the speed limit.    May we all work together to have a safer West Seattle.

  • KM March 21, 2022 (5:45 pm)

    Today I was crossing Holden. Out of 5 cars, the first 3 didn’t stop. The 4th one did. The 5th driver passed the stopped 4th driver on the right. Happy Monday everyone! 

  • RickB March 21, 2022 (7:47 pm)

    I’ve been rear-ended after stopping for a pedestrian crossing a street. So to be honest, when I see someone waiting to cross at an uncontrolled intersection, I do a quick glance in the mirror and then try to estimate the probability of getting hit if I stop, and sometimes I keep going. People these days follow too close, drive too fast, and don’t pay attention. A very bad combination. Sorry pedestrians.

    • Kathy March 22, 2022 (12:15 am)

      To be honest, you would be breaking the law. I think it’s been so long since people had to study for a driver’s license, they have mostly forgotten about this law. These signs will hopefully help some of them to remember.  Worrying about someone else’s driving behavior behind you is no excuse for speeding or failing to yield to crossing pedestrians. Grow a spine, take responsibility for your own actions and don’t let perceived pressure from drivers around you turn you into a bad driver.

    • sam-c March 23, 2022 (9:50 am)

      I’m sure every driver and pedestrian has an anecdote to support any scenario.  But I hope that ultimately, people follow the law and everyone is safe.For one of my anecdotes, I stopped for a pedestrian trying to cross 35th at Cloverdale.  A motorcyclist came flying up behind me and swerved to pass me  in the right curb / parking lane.  They were going about 15mph over the speed limit.  I almost screamed in horror; pedestrian and motorcyclist were few feet away from a very serious incident.

  • CarDriver March 21, 2022 (8:50 pm)

    My easy fix has been to wait until there’s a break in traffic. It’s RARELY that heavy that 30 seconds won’t provide enough distance between car’s (or trucks or busses). 

  • Go ahead March 21, 2022 (9:47 pm)

    I prefer cars drive and I cross the street when it’s clear. I don’t like walking in front of stopped cars. What if the driver’s foot slips onto the gas pedal? Go ahead cars. I will cross when it’s safe. 

    • heartless March 22, 2022 (7:52 am)

      Must make crossing at signals awkward.  

  • Canton March 21, 2022 (10:03 pm)

    It seems there is a disconnect between cars and pedestrians, as there are only visual cues. Eye contact is important without flashing crossing signals. Nowadays with the phone tech, phones are mounted on car dashboards, and pedestrians are visually locked to their screens as well. Maybe we need to paint street corners with a intend to cross zone. Similar to the green street paint that says, hey a bike is here, so we’re moving to the front. I drive a work truck for my job so am very aware of people on foot, and heed the caution when presented.  I don’t care if I hold up 20 cars to allow safe passage for pedestrians. Then there are those instances,  where a single ped,  or group of pedestrians hang on the corner oblivious of their physical relation to that corner and the cars around them. The flashing signals work best as there is around 30 seconds extra time beyond passage, for traffic to remained stopped.

  • James March 22, 2022 (1:18 am)

    Of course I applaud efforts to create more safety. But $350k to do this project— by posting more signage to distract drivers near the intersections you are worried about? Hmm, sounds like a risk increase to me. I suggest the money be spent on improving the crosswalks. Look at the Alaska Junction efforts. People are using those raised crosswalks and people stop quite regularly. I’d rather invest $350k into a raised crosswalk that is illuminated, and free of clutter to distract the driver. Remove excess signage, trim trees etc nearby a crosswalk that you choose to upgrade. And then work on funding the next crosswalk projects.

    • heartless March 22, 2022 (7:50 am)

      Or use the $350k to enforce the law by ticketing.  Generate way more than 350k that way, and then go out and add stop signs and paint in the goddamn crosswalks. 

      I feel like other cities would be salivating at the income that could be generated by ticketing scofflaws, and Seattle instead chooses a sign to, uh, shame people, I guess, into not injuring or killing pedestrians?

    • Yep March 22, 2022 (8:04 am)

      Agreed, something about the one at sylvan is particularly hard to see.  I think it has to do with the turn in the road, vegetation, and that it is not at a light. 

      • Jort March 22, 2022 (9:35 am)

        Drivers can easily see people trying to cross the street if they drive the posted speed limit on Sylvan. 

  • Christopher March 22, 2022 (7:52 am)

    it’s children walking to school who are most vulnerable especially when parents are rushing and distracted thinking about their work that day. If you are one of those parents please give yourself more time. No rush is worth hurting or killing someone. Don’t do U-turns in front of the school, pull over before you drop your kid off instead of staying in the traffic lane, stop for children waiting to cross at intersections.

  • anonyme March 22, 2022 (7:59 am)

    The suggestions that eye contact assists in safe interactions between drivers and pedestrians are absolute MYTH.  As a full-time pedestrian, I can tell you that most of the time a pedestrian can only see a vague shape (if that) behind the wheel due to glare or reflections on the windshield.  The driver, who has a clearer view, interprets this as eye contact.  It isn’t.  The pedestrian is just looking where they think eyeballs should be.  Nor does it matter; I’ve had plenty of encounters at crosswalks marked and unmarked where drivers screamed at me, telling me that because we’d made ‘eye contact’ I should have known to wait and let them pass.   As a pedestrian who was hit and injured in a controlled crosswalk by a cop, I can also attest to the fact that cops do not obey pedestrian laws. This signage is just a complete waste of money and yet another distraction for drivers.  Take the money and put it toward ENFORCEMENT. 

  • Avid pedestrian March 22, 2022 (8:53 am)

    All drivers in west Seattle need to get off their high horse they’ve been riding for way too long. You all act so entitled to do whatever you want, especially when you ‘gotta make this ferry’ or ‘make this light’. As a pet sitter that does a lot of walking dogs around ws I don’t even feel safe walking from their house to get to the parks anymore. If I can catch the bus, I will. Having someone almost run me and a dog over is traumatizing because the main part of my job is to keep every pet I’m with safe and happy.  Every day my job is potentially ripped away because you all can’t slow down, can’t be considerate of ANY living thing other than yourself in your car. I will also not even cross if you’ve slammed on your brakes to stop in the middle of an intersection to let me cross, you’re currently blocking an intersection why would I cross? You slowed your roll but still not fully stopping  to let me cross? I will not cross. Aggressively trying to get me to cross because you’re doing either of those things? I’m even less inclined to cross than I already was. I have all day and a dog to protect. I’ve been in several stalemates with you people and I’ll keep doing it because it keeps me safe from your idiocy. 

  • Mel March 22, 2022 (9:35 am)

    The responsibility goes both ways.  It’s dangerous when a pedestrian steps in front of a moving car that’s moving at 30 ft per second or more. If You are a pedestrian, give adequate time for the car to stop. Once you begin your journey across the street, make sure the cars have actually stopped.  Many times it’s the driver or the pedestrian that’s on their phone not paying attention to what’s going on and that creates a dangerous scenario. Other times it’s visibility. Rain or pedestrians wearing dark clothing also creates a dangerous condition.  I personally think the sign program is a waste of money just as lowering the city street speed limits to 25mph was. Drive and walk smart. 

  • Jort March 22, 2022 (9:49 am)

    I must say, it’s also just fascinating to see high school kids (!) confirm what every pedestrian and cyclist knows and what SDOT refuses to ever acknowledge in any meaningful way: that the overwhelming majority of drivers flagrantly violate the law without regard for human safety. Here we see actual statistics that car drivers would rather save six seconds on their travel time than protect another human being’s life. 

  • Alki Jack March 22, 2022 (9:53 am)

    The best cross walks I have seen in other towns have bright flashing lights when a pedestrian presses the button to cross the street. It really alerts drivers and is very hard to miss. They should be on every cross walk. Especially on Alki Ave. and other heavy pedestrian crossed main streets. One problem now is some drivers don’t care and the police don’t issue citations for almost anything any more. They always have the same excuse now….WE ARE UNDERSTAFFED. So it seems it is now lawlessness on the streets, rubber burning, high speeds, super loud un-muffled cars, motorcycles and pickups. It is just crazy out there. 

  • Jort March 22, 2022 (11:09 am)

    I frequently refer to the “death spiral” of automobile-focused transportation planning. Here in these very comments you can see what that looks like at a personal level. Police who don’t enforce laws, which cause laws to be ignored, which causes law-breaking resulting in deaths and injuries. Streets that are designed primarily to get as many cars through as quickly as possible, which discourages people biking and walking, which pushes them to take their cars on trips when walking would suffice. Drivers that are more afraid of damaging their cars than they are of following laws meant to protect pedestrians. These things feed into each other in a vicious cycle and the only way out is to make intentional decisions – often uncomfortable changes – to the car-centered status quo. But, as you can tell from basically any comments section on any website in the United States, the moment you threaten that status quo, you will touch the most outrage-inducing parts of people’s brains, an outrage that transcends all barriers of class, race, geography and age. There is no subject about which Americans are more united – literally no other subject – than the supremacy of automobiles in every aspect of our lives. 

    • anonyme March 23, 2022 (4:03 pm)

      Right on, Jort.  The proof is right here on the blog, where stolen cars are referred to as family members and given personal names.  A car prowl is a felony, whereas many cases of sexual assault and/or domestic violence are misdemeanors and often passed over completely in both charging and sentencing. You can physically violate a person’s body, but touch a car – oh no, you don’t!  Charlton Heston’s famous quip about prying his gun from his “cold, dead hands” could just as easily be changed to car keys.

  • Lola March 22, 2022 (2:43 pm)

    Now I know where my tax dollars are going.  Not to the terrible streets that they refuse to repair or re-surface.  

    • Michael Ostrogorsky March 22, 2022 (4:56 pm)

      Yes, because only self-absorbed entitled car drivers use the streets.

Sorry, comment time is over.