Vision Zero: City officials are hoping for safer downtown streets as speed limits are lowered as part of a broader road safety initiative dubbed Vision Zero: Seattle is consistently recognized as one of the safest cities in the country. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a 30 percent decline in traffic fatalities, even as our population grows. Despite this fact, traffic collisions are a leading cause of death for Seattle residents age 5-24. Older adults are also disproportionately affected, and as our population ages, this trend could grow. In 2013, there were 10,310 police-reported collisions in Seattle. 155 people were seriously injured and 23 were killed. This is unacceptable. We can do better. Vision Zero is our plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.
While the crossing of Pine at Broadway is the cover girl for the initiative, most of the near-term changes will be found off Capitol Hill.Downtown, “speeds will be reduced to 25 mph throughout downtown, starting with James Street and the Pike-Pine corridor, instead of the standard 30 mph arterial speed,” the Seattle Times reports. Officials are promising a “data-driven approach” to determine which arterial and residential routes are most in need of new measures. The simplest will be lowering speed limits to 20 MPH on residential streets and 30 on some arterials: The downtown emphasis in the near-term plan elements is needed. The report says 600 people have been struck by cars downtown in the past three years.While Capitol Hill proper won’t see any immediate speed limit changes, you’ll note that the residential 20 MPH change is coming to a triangle of neighborhood streets between Madison and Union. You can learn more at seattle.gov/visionzero.
Hill streets: We plan to check in with City Hall about the lack of specific Capitol Hill elements in Vision Zero. The streetcar and bikeway work on Broadway already constitutes a major overhaul of the street environment in the neighborhood so it’s not like our area is being ignored. We also need to check in future plans for elements kicked around by the community and city planners in recent years including changes to Pike/Pine above Broadway and the Denny festival street component of the Capitol Hill Stationlight rail development.
End of 520 boat openings: Tuesday will bring to an end one of the strangest byproducts of the ongoing construction to replace the 520 bridge. Starting Tuesday, the old bridge will no longer be opened for boat traffic as construction of the new bridge will block the route. “Bridge openings have been a particular nuisance since construction of the new bridge started in 2012, because work lowered the maximum boat height through the east navigation channel to less than 58 feet,” the Seattle PI reports. “Since the project started, bridge tenders have opened the drawspan more than 600 times, holding up traffic for up to half an hour each time.”