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.