Pedestrian Program Racial Equity Analysis

Updated 3/1/2022

Background

Seattle's Pedestrian Program improves safety and encourages people to walk more by creating comfortable pedestrian environments according to the Pedestrian Master Plan, which guides wise investment choices and prioritizes projects that provide safe and comfortable access to schools and frequent transit.

Because walking is one of the most essential forms of affordable, everyday transportation, the ability to safely navigate the city without a vehicle should be accessible to all. Over the next year, our Pedestrian Program will undergo a Racial Equity Analysis (REA) which takes a collective approach to co-developing design recommendations and community planning models that honor freedom of movement, mode choice, and community lived experiences. 

Racial Equity Vision

Accessing resources and employment opportunities

Feeling safe

Strengthening connections within communities

Improving physical and mental health

To support Seattle's effort to end institutionalized racism and build a more equitable city, this vision is focused on community members of the following groups:

  • People of color
  • People living with disabilities
  • Immigrants, refugees (Seattle is sanctuary city)
  • People of color living with disabilities
  • Seniors of color
  • People who don't speak English as primary language
  • Low-income people of color

Racial Equity Analysis (REA)

The Pedestrian Program Racial Equity Analysis (PED REA) is focused on evaluating how well these priorities serve Seattle's communities of color and historically underserved populations based on safety, health, and equity factors. 

REA Approach:

We will be taking two different approaches to our Pedestrian Program Racial Equity Analysis (PED REA). A citywide approach and neighborhood-based approach starting with Chinatown International District & Rainier Beach.  

Both approaches are grounded in our city's Racial Equity Toolkit (RET), which was developed as part of the Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), a citywide effort to end institutional racism and race-based disparities in city government. The RET lays out a formal process and a set of questions to guide the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies, initiatives, programs, and budget issues to address their impacts on racial equity within our Pedestrian Program.  

The resulting summary report and recommendations will be a snapshot of the point in time at which the REA was conducted, highlighting opportunities around and challenges to realizing greater racial equity. It is important to remember that the RET drives an iterative process committed to change in the long-term, and builds a relationship and accountability with the impacted communities.

Citywide Approach:

This approach uses community partner-led methods to engage communities, identify barriers to walking, and source community-proposed solutions. The outcome will be a summary of findings with corresponding policy and program-level work that addresses community needs. If some needs are not within the PMP's purview, we will partner with supplementary programs or provide recommendations.

The Seattle skyline at sunset. Photo by SounderBruce.

Neighborhood-Based Approach:

This approach is focused initially in the Chinatown-International District (Little Saigon, Japan Town, and Chinatown) and Rainier Beach, which were selected based on the REA Committee's Racial Equity Vision selection criteria, which include:

  • People of color
  • People living with disabilities
  • Immigrants, refugees (Seattle is a sanctuary city)
  • People of color living with disabilities
  • Seniors of color
  • People who don't speak English as primary language
  • Low-income people of color

In these neighborhoods, we have reviewed previously identified needs and will engage in community partner-led methods to verify those needs while identifying additional barriers to walking and generating community-proposed solutions.   The next step is to develop an action plan with short- and long-term capital projects that address community priorities and revise program processes based on feedback.

The Chinatown Gate. Photo credit to the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Why the Pedestrian Program Racial Equity Analysis Matters

The purpose of conducting this REA is to better understand the complexities that make walking difficult throughout the City of Seattle, particularly for historically underserved communities. This work directly focuses on physical and public safety barriers based in racial, cultural, ethnic and language differences, and how these issues impact freedom of movement.  

Over the last 10 years, fatal collisions between pedestrians and motor vehicles have steadily been increasing-to the point where people walking represent over half of all total traffic fatalities in Seattle. The leading contributors are vehicles speeding, driver distraction, operating a vehicle under the influence, and failure to yield the right of way to people walking.  

These crash statistics disproportionately impact communities of color as well as those experiencing homelessness. Coupled with a long history of city disinvestment, the constructed environments within and accessible to these communities continue to fall short of goals to end the displacement and harm of BIPOC community members.

A line graph displaying a gradual increase in fatal pedestrian collisions as a percentage of total fatal collisions in the City of Seattle from 2010 to 2019.

Graph 1: Pedestrian fatal collision trends for the City of Seattle from 2010 to 2019. 

To review this data in full, explore this interactive map of collision records.

We're proud to contribute to and support Seattle's national reputation as a pedestrian-friendly city. Explore the proposed timeline below for more details on next steps in Seattle's Pedestrian Program Racial Equity Analysis (PED REA).

Timeline

Disclaimer: the timeline is subject to change to accommodate genuine community relationship building and to engage safely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

2021

Fall/Winter:

  • Build relationships with community and stakeholders.
  • Analyze previous outreach and engagement strategies and assess how we have served communities in the past.

2022

Sum. 2022

Summer:

Partner with communities of color to develop new strategies to reach our racial equity vision. Identify evaluation metrics to measure our progress toward this vision.