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Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

May 16, 2002

Nytasha Sowers
WSDOT SR 99 North Corridor
Safety and Mobility Study
401 2nd Ave S, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98104-2887

Dear Ms. Sowers:

The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB) has been established by a Seattle City Council Resolution to advise the City on matters relating to pedestrian facilities, their design, and maintenance. SPAB members represent Seattle's citizens and are appointed by both the Mayor and City Council.

Since WSDOT is partnering with the City of Seattle, King County Metro Transit, and the City of Shoreline in the SR99 North Corridor Safety and Mobility Study, and SR99 North is Seattle's Aurora Avenue, SPAB has examined the SR99 North Corridor Study work done to date. In response to the request for input to the SR99 North Corridor Study at the Open House, SPAB makes the following recommendations regarding Determination of Improvement Options for SR99 North Corridor Study:

SPAB makes the overall recommendation for the SR99 North Corridor Study to emphasize safety, including pedestrian safety. Several aspects of the Study related to vehicular lane width, sidewalks, trees, and vehicular speeds seem to SPAB to be counterintuitive with regard to pedestrian safety.

SPAB advises that good engineering will invite right and safe use of this key Seattle arterial by both drivers and pedestrians. SPAB agrees with traffic engineering studies that demonstrate that high speed does not equal high capacity for urban arterials.

  1. Maintain the present vehicular capacity of SR99N.
    Rationale: Vehicular speed kills pedestrians. 35mph limits will provide maximum capacity for this route and is acceptable for pedestrian safety. Pedestrians struck at 45mph suffer 50% fatality rates. Since SR99N is a transit corridor and certain to have more transit, and even BRT in the future, more people will need to cross Aurora Ave. The "Safety" designation of the Study indicates that minimizing pedestrian/vehicle collisions will be a priority. SR99N should serve the disabled and low-income residents and workers in the best way possible.
  2. Do not widen lanes beyond the Aurora Bridge to a consistent 12'.
    Rationale: There is no need to engineer this route to standards for 70mph speeds.
  3. Do not narrow existing sidewalks from their current width.
  4. Require developers to install at minimum ten-foot wide sidewalks extending through the Aurora Avenue frontage of their property.
  5. Provide some buffer between sidewalks and the street. This is important, since the curb lane north of North 105th may be a future Metro Transit BRT lane.
  6. Provide for street tree placement between sidewalks and curb.
    Rationale: Unless all utilities are to be underground, there is no logical reason to deny street trees in the area of utility poles. Both poles and trees placed between the sidewalk and curb provide some protection to pedestrians, even when the parking lane is used for moving vehicles.
  7. Provide for large canopy trees in the center median planter strips.
    Rationale: The visual impression of large trees slows vehicular speed.
  8. Require pedestrian right of way lighting. Often lighting fixtures that illuminate the Aurora traffic lanes provide poor or no light for pedestrians.
  9. Ensure that the utility posts are not placed in the sidewalk right of way.
  10. Reduce the amount of continuous, two-way, center turn lane on Aurora
    Rationale: Pedestrians should know at what point large vehicles and cars may turn from the center of the roadway to cross the pedestrian right of way. Limiting left turn locations from the center lane will enhance pedestrian safety.
  11. Improve pedestrian safety features at the Aurora intersections that the SR99 North Corridor Study has identified as in High Accident Zones or as High Accident Locations.
  • Study the effects of sidewalk design on crime suppression. Criminal activity has been mentioned by you as a factor that the SR99 North Corridor Study cannot address. SPAB asserts that lack of continuous sidewalks discourages pedestrians.
    Rationale: The Aurora Avenue blocks which lack pedestrian traffic are favorable to solicitation for prostitution, curbside drug retailing, and other more violent crimes that accompany those activities. Prostitution spreads HIV/Aids, Hepatitis, and other diseases. Continuous, illuminated pedestrian facilities encourage a flow of lawful pedestrians and make crime suppression measures more practical.
  • Create a conceptual plan for restructuring the Aurora Bridge to retain walkways, while widening traffic lanes on the bridge to accommodate larger transit vehicles, and providing a permanent divider between on-coming lanes.
  • SPAB recommends that some State dollars provide support for construction of pedestrian facilities in the SR99 North Corridor.

Thank you for considering these items for the Determination of Improvement Options for the SR99 North Corridor Study by WSDOT.


John Coney, Chair Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

Suzanne Anderson, Vice Chair Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

cc: John Okamoto, Director, Northwest Region Operations, WSDOT
Senator Jeanne Kohl-Wells, P.O. Box 40482, Seattle, WA 98504
Councilmember Richard Conlin, 600 4th Ave, 11th Floor, Seattle, WA 98104
Peter Lagerwey, Seattle Transportation, 600 4th Ave, 7th Floor, Seattle, WA 98104
Grace Crunican, Director, Seattle Transportation, 600 4th Ave, 4th Floor, Seattle, WA 98104