SEATTLE — The Seattle Department of Transportation released a review of its “Vision Zero" plan. The goal is to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries by the year 2030.
Though deadly crashes and pedestrian deaths were down slightly in 2022 compared to the year before, overall, since 2018, traffic deaths in Seattle have increased.
District 2 in Seattle, which is represented by Councilmember Tammy Morales, saw the highest number of deadly and serious injury crashes involving pedestrians last year. SDOT data shows 56% of deadly and serious injury crashes involving pedestrians happened in District 2.
“Well, it has a lot to do from what we've seen, a lot to do with the geometry of our streets,” said Devin Silvernail, the policy director for District 2
District 2 includes areas such as Rainier Beach, Columbia City, the Chinatown-International District and Beacon Hill.
Last year, SDOT data showed 93% of pedestrian deaths in Seattle happened on long, straight, wide roads - arterial streets. An example of that is Rainier Avenue South, which used to be Highway 167. WSDOT data shows there were 139 total crashes on Rainier Avenue South and 17 pedestrian crashes in 2022.
“When you're running highways through a city, that is really going to be a detriment to people who are walking and biking,” said Silvernail.
SDOT sent KING 5 a statement saying: “Multi-lane roads with high speeds are where we see the majority of our fatal and serious injury collisions. We are continuing to look at methods to reduce speeds and are looking for ways to reduce the number of lanes on multilane arterial streets in collaboration with the mayor’s office. D2 [District 2] has more miles of multilane arterial streets than any other council district and that contributes to D2 having the highest rate of serious injury and fatal crashes.”
Silvernail said he and the rest of Councilmember Morales’ team believe rather than more speed enforcement, streets need to be redesigned
“If you design a street so that people can't speed, people won't,” said Silvernail. “And I think that's the thing that we've missed when we look at places like Aurora or 15th Avenue going into Ballard.”
According to the SDOT “Vision Zero” Review, pedestrian and cyclist involved crashes made up 7% of all crashes last year. But they made up 61% of all deadly crashes. Of all pedestrian involved crashes, 35% were caused by cars turning at intersections. That is why SDOT wants to implement "no turn on red" signs in the downtown area before the summer season, although Silvernail wants that change implemented in South Seattle as well.
“This is a good start, but we really need to take some dramatic action to curb just the really the overwhelming amount of collisions on our streets,” said SIlvernail.
SDOT leaders say road improvements are coming to SODO and the Rainier Valley. As a part of their “Vision Zero” plan, they will use $25 million from a federal grant and $5 million in state funding to add new sidewalks, bike lanes, flashing lights at crosswalks, and more to these areas.