Goals of the Plan
The Pedestrian Master Plan strives to make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation. In order to do this, the plan identifies actions, projects, and programs to achieve the goals of safety, equity, vibrancy, and health. These four goals are described in more detail below.
Along with other transportation agencies and City departments, the project team has involved public health experts, law enforcement representatives, issue advocates, community advisors, environmental leaders, and the general public to incorporate the best practices, most current research, and innovative design strategies into the Pedestrian Master Plan. Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan defines the actions needed to make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation.
Reduce the number and severity of crashes involving pedestrians
Seattle is ranked first in pedestrian safety among large U.S. cities. However, there are still approximately 450 pedestrian-vehicle crashes per year. Because even one crash is one too many, the City is committed to improving pedestrian safety.
Investing in safe and connected pedestrian facilities helps to ensure a high quality of life for residents as well as visitors. With approximately 40% of the land area of U.S. cities dedicated to transportation, streets and sidewalks are a city's most expansive public space. People who live in areas where walking is comfortable and convenient are likely to be more familiar with their neighborhoods and to have richer social connections to their community. This is true for all Seattle residents, from young children to older adults and everyone in between.
Make Seattle a more walkable city for all through equity in public engagement, service delivery, accessibility, and capital investments
Walking is the most broadly accessible form of transportation and recreation, requiring no fare, fuel, or license. Accessibility and economics are inherently tied to equitable transportation solutions, and the need to provide options for travel within Seattle cannot be overlooked. The City has a commitment to address issues of race and social justice, and the design and implementation of pedestrian projects is no exception.
The Pedestrian Master Plan will provide for the needs of all of Seattle’s neighborhoods, with the goal of improving the walking environment for the City’s diverse populations. For those who cannot use other modes of transportation, the ability to walk safely is essential. For young people, walking affords a sense of independence, and for seniors, walking is an effective means to stay active both physically and socially. In addition, people living with disabilities are more likely to be pedestrians, as some physical limitations make driving difficult.
Equitable services and investments provide the same opportunities for all people and strive to correct the historical inequities that exist in our society. By providing all people with the opportunity to walk for transportation and recreation, Seattle will be well on the way to becoming the most walkable city in the U.S.
Develop a pedestrian environment that sustains healthy communities and supports a vibrant economy
The Pedestrian Master Plan defines vibrancy as a lively, healthy environment: one that has energy and activity of all types, including healthy business districts. A vibrant pedestrian environment supports the movement of pedestrians, values the importance of walking as a mode of transportation, and recognizes the impact of pedestrians and walking trips on the economic health of a city and region. A vibrant pedestrian environment includes a variety of destinations and many different users.
Cities are increasingly recognizing that the pedestrian environment is a key element of economic vitality and vibrancy, and Seattle is no exception. Walkable neighborhoods typically have active streets that promote commercial exchange, while providing safe and efficient ways for residents to travel on foot. While improving the walking conditions in a neighborhood or urban village can positively impact the vibrancy of the area, it is generally the case that economically vibrant areas are more pleasant and more popular places to walk. In order to most effectively encourage walking in Seattle, it is important to think about increasing the quantity and quality of accessible destinations as well.
Raise awareness of the important role of walking in promoting health and preventing disease
Walking, for both transportation and recreation, can have a positive impact on an individual's health. Increased walking and physical activity is linked to a reduction in obesity and decreased likelihood of a number of chronic diseases. More than half of American adults do not get sufficient physical activity, and nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight.
Because walking is a low-impact activity, it's something that people can do at almost any age. Seniors who walk regularly have a longer life expectancy than those who don't walk. And in addition to benefiting physical health, walking is also great for mental health.
More people walking for more trips can also help to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, leading to a healthier environment for all Seattleites. Since transportation is the number one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the Seattle region, walking helps the City to meet its climate protection goals by reducing emissions from motor vehicles-the most significant polluter. Decreased pollution also has health benefits, as air pollution is an irritant that can trigger asthma attacks in children and adults. Ensuring adequate pedestrian facilities can help Seattle residents and visitors make walking part of their daily routine.