Late last year, SDOT put together a map of pedestrian deaths in the past five years (h/t Walking in Seattle). With two pedestrian deaths, Capitol Hill appears to be a less fatal neighborhood for walking than the Central District. Downtown, particularly on 3rd Ave, claimed the most deaths. 23rd Ave and Rainier are also dangerous streets. But looking at the relatively rare instances of pedestrian death on the Hill doesn’t really do much to show where the true problem spots exist.
Pedestrian deaths in the past five years
SDOT’s 2009 traffic report (which I wrote about a few weeks ago at Seattle Bike Blog) came out a few weeks ago. The report includes a map of all reported collisions involving people walking. This gives a better idea of the trouble spots in the neighborhood. Not surprising to see East Olive Way, lower Pine and Madison’s danger zones — but apparently you had better watch yourself near 15th and John, too.
While the Central District had far more pedestrian deaths, Capitol Hill had far more non-fatal collisions. Given the population density and high walkability on the Hill, it makes sense that there would be more collisions than in other neighborhoods. However, the relatively low number of deaths could be attributable to the slow driving speeds on most streets in the neighborhood. Studies have shown that the odds of a pedestrian being killed in a collision with a motor vehicle going 20 mph is about five percent. At 30 mph, the odds jump to 40 percent. At 40 mph, the odds are a devastating 85 percent.
Meanwhile, the dataset also includes kindling for the ongoing debate of who is more at fault in Capitol Hill car vs. pedestrian incidents. The first table from the citywide report shows the most commonly recorded contributing factor in the collisions from the driver’s perspective — the second focuses only on the pedestrian’s contribution to the incident.
Not yielding the right of way is by far the biggest single factor for drivers — basically, the message is in most incidents, the driver hit somebody they were supposed to have yielded to. By law. But the presentation of the data in the report also supports the contention that Hill pedestrians had better watch where they cross as crossing “outside of Xwalk” was cited as the number one contributing factor from the pedestrian side of the collision.
UPDATE Per T’s note below, a look at citywide data for collisions by time of day and month shows just how important light is to pedestrian safety. Our darkest, rainiest months are the most dangerous for pedestrians as are the darkest hours of the standard commute times.