Vision Zero 7+ years later, connecting local bicycle riders, more @ May’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Though the “zero” in Vision Zero is not yet in sight, the program’s coordinator remains hopeful.

Her presentation led off this month’s meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, which also spotlighted a local bicycling group, and ended with some decisions about WSTC’s future.

VISION ZERO: Seven and a half years have passed since Vision Zero, envisioning an elimination of traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030, was announced. The program’s coordinator for SDOT, Allison Schwartz, was the meeting’s first guest, accompanied by SDOT’s mobility manager Sara Zora. Schwartz noted that this presentation is similar to the update she gave to the Pedestrian Advisory Board two weeks earlier. Again here, she somberly noted the 10 people killed in traffic incidents – on foot (including two West Seattle deaths), on bikes, in cars – in Seattle so far this year.

But they’re undaunted in efforts to reverse the trend: “Vision Zero is more than a slogan … it requires a paradigm shift … prioritizing the movement of human beings” rather than prioritizing vehicles, she said. To do that would take “decades of undoing” what led to this point, she said. Here’s how the program hopes to get to a safer place:

Road diets, aka rechannelizations, are a key part of the plan – here’s the rationale for those, as explained by Schwartz:

They work on “two or three corridors a year,” Schwartz said. Here’s some of what else they do:

Upcoming work – funded by grants – will focus on speed limits and stopping for pedestrians (that part of the project began with the “driver report card” pilot project we covered earlier this year).

In Q&A, WSTC’s Deb Barker asked for any new information on the May 6th collision that killed Nicholas Wolf, crossing California SW north of SW Findlay. Schwartz said SDOT has the initial collision report but the investigation is still under way – “high speeds contributed to this collision” was the only thing she would confirm. … Driver distraction, impairment, speeding, and failure to yield to pedestrians are the major causes of deadly/injury crashes, she said in response to another question … If crashes are up, how can you say you’re seeing progress? Reply: There’s still much more need than they’ve been able to address … Any North American cities with success in this way? (She had used Oslo, Norway, as an example of success.) Reply: The city of Hoboken, New Jersey, “has not recorded a traffic death for the past few years,” she said. (Four years, to be precise.)

How do you slow people down, if reducing speed limits doesn’t seem to accomplish that? Road design is the answer, said Schwartz – also speed cushions, radar feedback signs. … Has the city lobbied the Legislature to allow more automated-enforcement options? The Legislature did authorize expanding the use of speed cameras to what’s considered the walking/biking zone for schools, which is further out than what’s currently allowed, so they’re thinking of taking advantage of that … Rather than just declaring a certain action is taken, how is the city going back to assess the effects of changes? Schwartz said they realize that in addition to sign changes, they need to redesign roadways, and “we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

WEST SEATTLE BIKE CONNECTIONS: WSBC’s Kate Wells, a member of the Transportation Coalition’s board, provided an update on the group’s work to advocate for people “traveling by bike in, from, and to West Seattle.” WSBC also advocates for people walking and rolling. The volunteer group’s members are of many ages, riding for many reasons:

Wells said she herself was a “beginner” when she started with the group, having bought a bike so she could ride with her kids. She said the Bike Everywhere Day station on May 20th saw “a couple hundred” riders go by, many stopping. WSBC also has organized theme rides around West Seattle – everything from historic themes to the recent “bike and brews” ride. And in midsummer there’s usually the “Mini-STP” ride, along California SW from Seattle St. in North Admiral to Portland St. in Gatewood (the name is a riff off the Seattle to Portland city-to-city ride).

Wells also talked about how the group’s been working with transportation projects – from the bridge to East Marginal to West Marginal to greenways. The 5-way intersection will be reconfigured to be simpler for bikes, she noted. And some arterials including Admiral and Fauntleroy have “gaps” for bike usability, so “we’d like to work on that.” Biggest thing they’d like to work on: An east-west route across West Seattle.

Also, some internal WSTC business of note:

WSTC BOARD ELECTIONS: Even-numbered spots on the 11-member board were up this time. Chair Michael Taylor-Judd announced he’s not stepping down after all. Vice chair Marty Westerman and member Victoria Nelson decided not to run again. “Stay scrappy,” was Westerman’s parting advice.

MEETING SCHEDULE CHANGE: They decided to cut back to every-other-month general meetings, in the odd-numbered months, starting in July.

NEXT MEETING: They’re sticking with the June meeting – fourth Thursday, 6:30 pm, so that means June 23rd – since they have Mayor Bruce Harrell booked as the spotlight guest.

30 Replies to "Vision Zero 7+ years later, connecting local bicycle riders, more @ May's West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting"

  • frolo91 May 30, 2022 (2:05 am)

    Great article. Thank you.

  • Flivver May 30, 2022 (6:46 am)

    Focus seems to be on cars. Many commenters here love to focus on those “evil planet destroying cars”.  Problem is they conveniently ignore the fact that roads are also occupied by busses who have struck and injured/killed pedestrians and bike riders. Also forgotten are the large number of freight and delivery vehicles on the road who have also struck and injured/killed pedestrians and bike riders. Putting in road restrictions can and will have an effect on businesses and individuals getting goods and services. What are the real effects of delay’s??  Delays also affect transit schedules. Who benefits from this? Road diets also delay response times by emergency vehicles. Anyone ok with this? 

  • BlairJ May 30, 2022 (8:44 am)

    Is there a better link to the map of where fatal and serious crashes are occuring?  I’d like to zoom in enough to make it legible.

  • Jeepney May 30, 2022 (9:21 am)

    As an avid walker and occasional cyclist, I feel that many of the “improvements” have made streets more unsafe.  Delridge in particular looks like a bad traffic experiment lacking any vision in regards to safety.  Installing curb bulbs have pushed pedestrians much closer to traffic than before, and I feel unsafe waiting to cross.  One way to increase driver safety is to hold bad drivers accountable for reckless and unsafe driving.  Increase traffic enforcement and impose stiffer penalties for those who are caught driving unsafe.  Also, pedestrians need to be more aware of their surroundings when crossing the street, and assume that all drivers are not paying attention.  A little common sense will save lives.

    • Steve May 30, 2022 (3:49 pm)

      Hear, hear! Well-said, Jeepney.

      It saddens me how Seattle refuses to “walk the talk” when it comes to pedestrian safety, and especially accessibility. (It’s never OK to block the sidewalk–not even to charge your Tesla, folks!)

      If there were more crosswalks, curb ramps, automated ticketing, and “Yield” signs, not only would more people use the sidewalks, but drivers would also take more care. The city needs to send a message on the street level that it values pedestrian safety.

  • Mj May 30, 2022 (10:06 am)

    Looking at the chart the trend line of fatalities has gone up since SDoT replaced technical Traffic Engineering standards in conjunction with Vision Zero.  Vision Zero is a laudable goal, but SDoT’s has used it to ignore basic Traffic Criteria.  Traffic control that is not credible, for example 25 MPH speed limits on Principal Arterials, reduces safety of the transportation system for all users.  

    And listening to Me. Schwartz, I was very surprised that SDoT does not carefully track pedestrian and bike rider behavior that may have contributed to an incident, such as jaywalking, not paying attention to traffic, wearing dark clothes on a rainy night, et al.  I believe all factors need to be included to ascertain ways to reduce incidents in the future.  

    • Kathy May 30, 2022 (12:08 pm)

      MJ, just drive the speed limit and stop worrying about everyone else. Be a good example to others who are flaunting the law. Have you ever been rear ended for sticking to the speed limit? Reducing speed limits reduces the damage to lives and property when crashes do occur. Who knows how many lives would be saved by the reduction in fuel consumption, air and water pollution and reduced climate warming impact if everyone driving obeyed the posted speed limits?

    • Jeff May 30, 2022 (12:20 pm)

      Your last point is literally “she was asking for it, going out dressed like that.”

      • KM May 30, 2022 (5:31 pm)

        Welcome to every comment section on WSB ever about considering safety for peds and cyclists! I feel so welcome in the community as a female AND a pedestrian.

    • Greg May 31, 2022 (12:39 pm)

      Traffic fatalities are up after the speed limit went down. A reasonable person would revisit the decision in this light, especially given non-enforcement of traffic speeds on arterials and the resulting large deltas in vehicle speeds.

  • bolo May 30, 2022 (10:30 am)

    What can be done to reduce what they call “distracted driving?” Drivers using their phones– texting, scrolling, posting, etc.

    At one point it looked like there was going to be strong enforcement and large fines but was not followed thru.

  • Delridge Neighbor May 30, 2022 (11:36 am)

    If we actually value human life – those of us living now, and those to come – we’ll start taking some serious steps to both limit car use and make alternatives truly viable. It’s hard to blame people for making individual choices to drive when it remains the most convenient, efficient, and safe mode. To make progress, we need to change that calculus. We need to make buses faster. We need to make bike routes safer and more direct. We need to make safe crosswalks ubiquitous. All of that will mean taking space away from cars.

    • Foop May 30, 2022 (12:31 pm)

      Instead we refuse to budge on street parking. There could have been a northbound bike lane on delridge, but no, the precious car parking had to stay. Well see the impact of this when the bridge reopens and it won’t be great.

  • Ddm May 30, 2022 (12:35 pm)

    Vision Zero is proving to be an overpriced  legacy fetching failure. 2020 saw the highest amount of pedestrian deaths in King County. As long as we continue to treat Seattle like a clown car we will continue to see traffic related deaths.

    • Jon Wright May 30, 2022 (4:41 pm)

      Case in point why Vision Zero is more important than ever.

      • Greg May 31, 2022 (12:48 pm)

        Not when Vision Zero “solutions” are the root cause of increased fatalities.

  • Mj May 30, 2022 (12:35 pm)

    Kathy – I and most other drivers, per the traffic data, do not respect traffic control that is not based on Traffic Engineering Technical standards!   SDoT’s failure to adhere to credible traffic criteria has eroded traffic safety for all system users.  Speed differential has increased on many Principal Arterials that reduces safety.  Properly set speed limits reduces speed differential and improves safety.  

    • Rocket May 31, 2022 (9:10 am)

      I bet you think the answer to gun violence is more guns.

      • Greg May 31, 2022 (12:49 pm)

        Speed differential is a science-based metric in the standard that OP mentions. 

    • Kathy June 2, 2022 (12:39 am)

      Speed differential between drivers is only a problem when the arterial is designed like a freeway (multi lanes each direction). That is why road diets increase safety because there is less jockeying by drivers trying to speed around each other.  Consider the speed differential between a person biking and a person driving. By raising speed limits as you suggest, you would increase the speed differential you are so worried about, since people biking rarely go over 20 mph.

    • zark00 June 2, 2022 (11:12 am)

      Your “understanding” of speed differentials wrt road design is completely wrong. You either need to just stop with your fantasy that slower speed limit make roads unsafe.  Every traffic article you post the same, wrong, completely wrong, demonstrably false, opinions about how the 25mph speed limit makes roads less safe. Just to be very very clear here – you are COMPLETLEY wrong. You can’t cite a single article, study, nothing – you’ve been called out and asked to provide some kind of evidence, anything, many times before and you failed every, single, time. Like you will again now. Go ahead, post that article you read 16 years ago about highway speeds in Montana to “prove” your point. 

  • Peter May 30, 2022 (4:06 pm)

    What we really need are much much much tougher penalties in drivers who are constantly and intentionally breaking the law. All moving violations need to be an automatic one year suspension if the drivers license and a $10,000 fine, and no more free passes for vehicle owners who get off by claiming they weren’t the one driving, vehicle owners need to be held responsible for the use of their vehicles. Any injury a driver causes while they are breaking any traffic law should be a felony. 

    • My two cents May 31, 2022 (10:20 am)

      Concerned about potential 8th Amendment challenges?

  • ltfd May 30, 2022 (4:12 pm)

    We support your War of Zero Vision.    

  • Auntie May 30, 2022 (6:14 pm)

    We sure need to do something. Just today I saw a bicyclist who had been riding in the bike lane on Delridge Way and got hit by a car. 

  • bill May 31, 2022 (3:56 am)

    The usual sad parade of victim blaming and car drivers excused for not controlling their urges. 

  • K May 31, 2022 (11:57 am)

    The slide with the map of incidents is interesting to me, as I wonder how they collect the data.  I personally know two pedestrians who were hit and injured by cars in the California/Findlay intersection, with police reports and all, and there is no symbol for such incidents there.  

  • Where counts as much as how often May 31, 2022 (7:19 pm)

    Hoboken has shown tremendous success in getting to Vision Zero in its 1.25 square miles. It appears that Seattle has also tremendous success in certain 1.25 square miles sections of its 83.78 square miles. Aurora Blvd, Downtown, SoDo and South Lake Union appear to be data-based areas to concentrate efforts.

    • Auntie May 31, 2022 (8:42 pm)

      Where is Aurora Blvd.?

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