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Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

Past Minutes of the Board


March 12, 2003, 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Key Tower, 700 5th Ave. at Columbia St.
Room 4096

Board Members Present: Robert Ketcherside (Chair), Matthew Amster-Burton, Charles R. Smith, Margaret McCauley, Amy Clark, Charity Ranger, Suzanne Anderson, John Coney, Mark Schultz

Board Members Excused: Hemant Bhanoo

SDOT Liaison to SPAB: Megan Hoyt

SDOT Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator: Peter Lagerwey

Presenters: Thomas Koepsell (University of Washington), Councilmember Richard Conlin (Seattle City Council)

Public: Lester Goldstein, Margaret Kitchell, David Levinger

  1. Introductions
  2. Adopted minutes of 02.12.03 meeting on motion by McCauley and Anderson.
  3. Retreat: Ketcherside
    The board retreat will be held on May 17 at the Eastern Hotel in the International District. More information will follow via email.
  4. Round Robin
    Amster-Burton attended the Capitol Hill Design Review Board meeting on the proposed Walgreen's at Broadway & Pine streets, a key pedestrian corner. The developer presented the typical two-story commercial structure favored by Walgreen's, and public comment was 100 percent against underdevelopment and in favor of mixed-use structures. The Design Review Board concurred that this plan was unacceptable, and the developer expressed intent to rethink the plans.
  5. Pedestrian Summer: Councilmember Richard Conlin

    Conlin presented his plan to bring more visibility and rights to pedestrians through a concentrated campaign. The plan was inspired in part by his conversation with SPAB last year. He plans to work with several city departments and "key constituencies" such as Harborview Medical Center to create media education for both pedestrians and drivers; Seattle Police Department crosswalk emphasis (i.e. stings); neighborhood publicity; public display of school crosswalk and other signs; school programs; and a crosswalk safety workshop at Seattle Night Out. Conlin also hopes to introduce new pedestrian protection legislation if appropriate, beginning in June, with the goal of August passage.

    The plan for Pedestrian Summer will be presented to the Council at a briefing on March 31, and the campaign itself should begin at the end of May or beginning of June.

    Conlin then responded to questions and comments from meeting attendees. While there is no money earmarked for a media campaign, WSDOT may have some, and media sponsorship and earned media are also viable options. An art director is on board the project, and it was suggested that Conlin ask for billboard donations as well. Booths at neighborhood markets and fairs, and marchers in festival parades, are also options to consider. To determine the effectiveness of this project, Harborview will do a collision analysis.

    Ketcherside presented the Toronto Pedestrian Charter, and Conlin was positive about creating a similar document for Seattle. Lagerwey mentioned the popularity of both the pedestrian and bicycle route maps. Levinger suggested that councilmembers each attend an event?such as commemorations of pedestrians killed in vehicle accidents, crosswalk actions, or a walking event on refurbished Westlake Ave.?put on by Feet First, SPAB, and bicycle advocacy groups, culminating in an assessment session with participation from the mayor.

    Conlin's second topic was funding for transportation infrastructure improvements. The city has deteriorating arterials and sidewalks, inadequate sidewalk coverage, and a need for bike paths, but budget cutbacks have left the funding in shambles. The city has been behind on transportation funding since the 1970s and currently is short at least $25 million. Conlin estimates that $30-40 million more per year is necessary for regular maintenance and possibly other projects.

    The Washington State Legislature provides three options for funding: a property tax levy, a street utility, or a commercial parking tax. The property tax is a somewhat progressive solution that, when 60% was necessary for passage in 1997, received 57% of the vote. Current law allows for passage with a simple majority, and the transportation-savvy electorate may be more approving of initiatives that are small and have a direct effect on local communities.

    Seattle had a street utility in the early 1990s but its funding mechanism was ruled unconstitutional because it was found to reflect the value of the properties it taxed. It is possible to base funding on factor such as square footage or the number of vehicles at the property. The City Council can enact a utility on its own without a popular vote.

    Conlin remarked that it is not possible to proceed with a pedestrian-directed strategy for the city if there are urban villages that still do not have sidewalks, and appropriate funding mechanisms are the essential element currently missing. He encourages feedback and comment from the board.

  6. UW Elderly Crossing Study: Dr. Thomas Koepsell, epidemiologist

    Investigating pedestrian injury as a public health problem, Dr. Koepsell cited three factors involved in pedestrian-vehicle accidents: pedestrian factors, driver and vehicle factors, and environmental factors. This case-control study, conducted in Seattle and other cities between February 1995 and January 1999, was aimed at determining the dependence on marked or unmarked crosswalks, and the type of marking.

    Koepsell cited the pros and cons of marked crosswalks. They provide clear guidance and visibility for pedestrians, but they may also provide a false sense of security, be costly to create and maintain, and decrease in effectiveness if they are over-used.

    The study monitored elderly pedestrian-vehicle collision intersections, and two control intersections were monitored for each injury intersection, both at the same time and day of the injury. Measurements were taken of pedestrian and vehicle traffic and car speeds, and pedestrians were videotaped.

    Collision sites tended to have a larger amount of pedestrian and vehicle traffic than the control sites, and elderly pedestrians were four times more likely to be hit at the location of a marked crosswalk. When there was no signal or stop at a marked crosswalk, there was a 3.6-fold increase in elderly pedestrian injury accidents. There was a low correlation between crosswalk pigmentation density (worn paint) and the accident rate.

    The study's implications, which Koepsell stated cannot be extrapolated beyond the study areas, are that the highest risk crosswalks are those that are marked but have no signal. Older pedestrians need to maintain vigilance at such crossings and not be overly reliant on the markings to protect them, even though they have been shown to behave legally at crossings in other studies. In general, the busier the site, the safer the site, as in "herd immunity."

  7. Round Robin (continued)

    Coney described the four alternatives recently presented for the Magnolia Bridge project and suggested the board endorse the one pedestrian-friendly option. He also suggested that SPAB send a letter to the SPMA before their meeting on parking and pedestrian access on April 26.

    Anderson reported on the interviews for new board members, saying that all candidates were great and SPAB recommended four to the council and mayor.

    Ketcherside also commented on the interviews, and presented the advisory to Mayor Nickels supporting the Center City Design Plan. The letter was approved on a motion by Coney and Anderson.

    Clark attended reported on the preliminary plan for the Boren-Pike-Pine/Four Columns Park Pro Parks Levy project, which includes potential for intersection designs at Boren and E. Pike similar to those created by City Repair in Portland. The board discussed appropriate timing for an advisory on the project.

    Hoyt said that new board members would likely be at the April meeting.

    Smith updated the board on the Burke-Gilman Trail extension proposal, which is supported by six councilmembers.

  8. Monorail Recommendations: Amster-Burton

    Amster-Burton presented his draft of an advisory on the SPMA "preferred alternative." The board decided after discussion that the letter would be pared down to a key message rather than specific recommendations.

  9. Future Agenda Items: Ketcherside

    Ketcherside presented a profile of SPAB to be included in the Feet First newsletter, and it was approved on a motion by Anderson and Clark.

    He also presented the final draft of the letter supporting HB 1557, and board assignments which will be discussed at the May retreat.

  10. Public comment

    There was no public comment at this time.

  11. Adjourn: 8:10 PM

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