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Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

Past Minutes of the Board


May 14, 2003, 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Key Tower, 700 5th Ave. at Columbia St.
Room 4096

Board Members Present: Rob Ketcherside (Chair), Suzanne Anderson, Margaret McCauley, Matthew Amster-Burton, Charles Smith, Peg Staeheli, Rob Fellows, Jean Healy, Amy Clark, Charity Ranger

SDOT Liaison to SPAB: Megan Hoyt

Presenters: Robert Scully (CityDesign), Robert Gorman (SDOT), Bill Conner (Parsons Brinckerhoff)

Public: Ben Tansey, Christopher Leman

  1. Introductions of continuing and new members
  2. Adopted with revision minutes of 04.09.03 meeting on motion by Amster-Burton and Smith.
  3. Wayfinding: Robert Scully, CityDesign

    Seattle’s downtown wayfinding project originated in the 1990s, and currently consists of 27 wayfinding kiosks that were installed in 1997-8. The kiosks cost $10,000 each and cannot be maintained by the city because they were specially fabricated outside of city facilities. The writing on the kiosks is also too small to be clearly visible to all.

    To overcome these challenges, CityDesign hired SeaReach, an Oregon design team that specializes in wayfinding and signage, to analyze the situation and give recommendations for the implementation of a comprehensive wayfinding system. SeaReach used all of downtown Seattle’s transportation methods and drove all the streets, and came up with a comprehensive plan.

      Six elements were a part of the analysis:
    • Entrances to neighborhoods
    • Identifiers (i.e. banners and signs with neighborhood names)
    • Thematic elements that give identity (lighting, public art)
    • Unique architectural elements
    • “Next:” Elements that get people from one neighborhood to another
    • Directional signs on streets

    It was determined that pedestrian wayfinding alone would not address all of the issues, and the scope of the project was extended. SeaReach looked at signage on I-5 that leads drivers to city destinations, and noted that they are confusing, cluttered, and were developed in an ad hoc manner. Directional and destination signs along arterials were also analyzed.

    SeaReach identified nine different types of signs that could be used to bring people into the city. These could incorporate neighborhood or destination names, logos, or “loop roads” with secondary wayfinding systems, all with the goal of getting people off of the freeway and out of their cars as quickly and safely as possible.

    Twelve to 15 locations for these signs, or “information centers” have been identified. The locations have a high concentration of people and are at transit centers such as King Street Station, Colman Dock, and the Seattle Center. Metro can provide funding for one additional information center.

    Now would be a good time to suggest possible locations for the information centers, because the project is currently at its halfway point.

    The proposed approach for information center design is comprehensive but flexible for individual neighborhoods. Centers would be composed from a kit of parts: the international information symbol (“i”) to indicate a center; a universal color scheme based on dark green; legible, pleasant typefaces; vicinity maps indicating grade changes; and center-city maps with explanations of how to get around by bus or on foot. This kit of parts would be assembled on a universally recognizable, and easily alter- or repairable, upright grid.

    Additionally, pedestrian and vehicle directionals will be incorporated into the wayfinding system, with the aim of luring people out of their cars. Vehicle directionals would indicate parking options, and pedestrian directionals would point to particular destinations (including public restrooms) and their distance from the directional.

    CityDesign, which has received a grant for this work, hopes to have this project completely by August, and to begin building the information centers and signs soon after. They would also like to clarify the map situation and provide information online for people to access before arriving in the city.

    During the question and answer period it was suggested that money be set aside to reconfigure the signs later to avoid past problems. Scully said that this is part of maintenance, and that CityDesign is aiming for an easily updatable and maintainable system.

    It was pointed out that people seem most likely to become lost just two blocks from their destinations. Scully noted that the secondary signs (pedestrian directionals) are more important than the larger information centers in this case, and distance markers can be very helpful here as well.

    Scully admitted that Sound Transit and Metro are ahead of CityDesign on issues pertaining to disabled pedestrians, but he assured the board that their consultants are very ADA savvy and the important adaptations will definitely be incorporated.

    He will be talking to SDOT Director Grace Crunican later in May, and Scully said that wayfinding is one of her top priorities.

  4. Fremont Bridge Approaches Project: Rob Gorman (Project Manager, SDOT), Bill Conner (Parsons Brinckerhoff)

    From 1995-7 a cost study was conducted on the project, and in 1998 it was taken to the community for input on whether to close the bridge completely and finish the project quickly (18 months), or keep one lane open in each direction and have a slower completion time (three years). The public was split on this issue, as was SPAB at the time.

    The project will be paid for by $13.25 million in federal funding, and $7.25 million from the city. In July of 2002 Parsons Brinckerhoff was signed on as a consultant, and produced the Type, Size, and Location study. Currently this study is under review at the state and federal level. Optimally the full design plan will be done by the end of 2004, and construction will begin in 2005, to lessen impact on Fremont events such as the Solstice festival and Oktoberfest

    Fremont Bridge will most likely not be closed completely during the construction. Most of the work can go on underneath the bridge, only half the bridge deck would have to be closed, keeping a pedestrian access lane open and detouring bikes and cars if necessary. In case of 100% closure, options, such as a ferry, will be considered to get people across the canal.

    Board members brought up some concerns about making sure striping and signalization changes on and around the bridge are the best solution, and about giving pedestrian and bicycle users safe spaces that will keep both out of each others’ way. It was explained that the current design is still very conceptual and many issues are left to be addressed. Gorman said that they would appreciate comment from the board at any time. The next step is to reengage the community in the process in late summer or fall.

  5. Investigation Reports: Ketcherside, Clark, Anderson, Ranger

    Ketcherside reviewed the Magnolia Bridge alignment proposals, but the mayor eliminated the pedestrian-friendly option. One existing option is slightly better for pedestrians, but there is nothing pressing to deal with at this time.

    Clark reviewed the Fremont Bridge project and focused on the notes from the public comment sessions late last year. Clark felt that thorough signage and an atmosphere that not only is safe, but appears that way, would be important to create. Smith strongly suggested that SPAB work together with the bike board on this issue.

    Anderson watched the City Council forum on the plans for South Lake Union, and noticed that pedestrians were a large focus of all of the participants. A lot of great ideas were presented, including the transformation of Terry Avenue into a slower, more attractive road, and the narrowing of Valley Street. Nothing is finalized. Someone from SDOT may be able to make a presentation on South Lake Union in August.

    Ranger reviewed the South Park Bridge project and saw no mention of pedestrian issues by SDOT. There is a community advisory group to the EIS, comprised of residents, trucking interests, and commuters, but pedestrians are not specifically represented. The EIS has been delayed until July, and a presentation on the project was made to the bike board earlier.

  6. Round Robin

    Ketcherside attended the Monorail access workshop, as did Clark, Amster-Burton, Healy, and Fellows. Fellows noted that a Greenwood neighborhood group is working to build sidewalks, and would like the board to monitor such groups. There are many cases where sidewalks are part of development plans but are never actually built.

    Anderson attended Councilmember Conlin’s Pedestrian Summer meeting. Volunteers are needed.

    McCauley attended the Top Ten Walking Cities event with Clark. McCauley had questions about right-of-way enforcement on the new Westlake trail. A letter may be in order.

    Amster-Burton is in favor of working more closely with the bike board on the Monorail.

    Healy is very concerned about Monorail’s attention to ADA issues. She also had a productive meeting with Grace Crunican, SDOT director on wayfinding and truncated domes.

  7. Public comment

    Ben Tansey of Seattle raised concerns about the protection of public staircases, and “sandwich board pollution.”

    Christopher Leman thanked the board for it support of the park and bike cut under I-5 from Lakeview Avenue north. There are new risks to pedestrian access upcoming, and Leman asked for the board’s assistance. Ketcherside will forward information to board members shortly.

  8. Adjourn: 8:07 PM

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