Attached to this discussion thread at my.greatcity.org are some fascinating maps from a recent Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Group meeting.

Now, these are drafts. The outside consultants and SDOT were seeking input from the advisory group and the maps will change based on that input. But the approach is fascinating. By capturing a rich set of data about health, accidents, traffic, existing conditions, etc, a picture begins to emerge about where the city needs to focus its efforts. This approach will be refined over the next month or two.

The feedback from the committee was generally positive, with some warnings to make sure that data did not overwhelm the human story, and to “ground-truth” the results of the analysis and not just rely on the story told by data.

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(via citywalker) posted on behalf of Lydia Heard

This started out as something of a rant. I’ve been frustrated with a local campaign that I’ve been peripherally a part of, called Streets for People, part of the Seattle Great City Initiative and now the Seattle Network. The stated campaign philosophy uses the right words, about moving away from auto dominance and making streets better for walking, biking and transit. My experience of it so far, however, is that it is dominated by bicycle enthusiasts. When I first wrote this, I have to admit to actually writing something like “male, testosterone driven, speed obsessed bicycle advocates” because that represents the person who tends to jump down my throat if I dare to suggest that cyclists might control their speed in certain situations. This is of course biased and unfair to the women cyclists who are equally obsessed, but I have hormonal issues of my own and should probably avoid writing this at all. Ah, well, here it is anyway.

If this was still the rant, I would be going on about the difference between people and human powered machines, which is what a bicycle is. They are technologically advanced machines, capable of ever greater speeds, dependent on complicated gearing systems. The speed, and the cyclists speed obsession, is the problem with mixing these speed machines on the same paths with people on foot. Of course, the real speed machine, the deadly one, is the automobile. Giving streets, or a larger share of them, to people on bicycles would benefit pedestrians as well, by getting the bikes off the sidewalks.

That’s enough ranting now, really. The point is that this campaign should be about finding common interests, getting the single-issue advocates out of their silos and combining efforts between interest groups, to greater effect. We seem to be reinforcing and increasing the number of silos instead. When I became unhappy with Streets for People, I started looking around. There’s another group called Safe Walks, which sounds good, but the focus is on building sidewalks in the annexed suburbs. I’m not really interested in advocating for more infrastructure for single-family neighborhoods, although they do have a deadly serious problem for people trying to walk along arterial roads. I’d still rather reduce and slow down the cars, to make streets safer for people, but those neighborhoods are too heavily car dependent.

Then there was the big push to renew the parks levy, which I have to say I really didn’t care about at all. My streets are my open space, and downtown parks are the receptacle of problems that have not found solutions, havens for the disenfranchised and for drug dealers. I have my own silo of interests, and our public right of way contains all of them. Open space, sunlight and air circulation, park and playground, place for green infrastructure, for cyclists, walkers and transit, it’s all there in the street, if only we could combine our efforts to take back a share of it. This would-be rant is probably counter-productive, and more indicative of my own faulty biases than of possible solutions, but it seems that one element is at the root of the goals of many of these groups, and that is taking back space, public space, from dedicated car usage. One element, one goal. Could we all get obsessed with that one?

(A final note on obsession: The title of this post is from a song by Kraftwerk, whose lead singer was so obsessed with cycling that, after being in a coma from a terrible bike accident, his first words upon awaking were to ask for his bicycle.)

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(via Streetsblog)

New York City’s Department of Transportation, led by Janette Sadik-Kahn announced today that they will be opening nearly three acres of streets to pedestrian traffic. And where might this be you ask? None other than on Broadway, arguably the most famous street in America. The decision, backed by Mayor Bloomberg, comes after Sadik-Kahn’s hugely successful Public Plaza Initiative enacted in 2007. The DOT found that the new plazas greatly reduced traffic-related injuries, in some cases up to 56%. Along with saftey, the DOT sited both economic and traffic improvements as reasons for the plan, not too mention a much better streetscape for the nearly 360,000 pedestrians who visit the area every day. The plan is estimated to cost $1.5 million. Check out the full presentation below (you will notice that the four removed vehicle lanes are not being replaced by a $3 billion tunnel)

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Back by popular demand. Bigger and better. The city has put out a schedule for this year’s Summer Streets Parties! Check out the schedule:

Friday, April 10 (6-9pm): Greenwood/Phinney Summer Streets with Art Up/Open Up

Friday, May 15 (4-7pm): Ballard Summer Streets Party on Bike to Work Day

Sunday, May 31 (9am-6pm): Alki Summer Streets after WSHS PTSA 5k Fundraiser Run

Saturday, July 11 (10am-4pm): U-District Summer Streets with U-District Farmer’s Market

Sunday, July 26 (10am-4pm): Pike Place Summer Streets with Fresh Fruit Festival

Satruday, August 8 (11am-3pm): Rainer Valley Summer Streets with Heritage Parade

Join the Seattle Summer Streets group on the Seattle Network to share and discuss your ideas about how to enjoy a car-free street.

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The Downtown Seattle Association, King County Metro, and the City of Seattle have teamed up to create commuteseattle.com, a new website with online tools for commuters.  The site has portals for commuters, employers, and property owners that provide information about daily commute options, commuter tools employers can provide, and ideas for how property owners can support non auto-transportation.

Check out the site and let us know what you think.

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Been waiting a long time for your bus in the rain?  Program your I-Pod with more music.  You may wait a lot longer in 2010.

Metro Transit and its connecting systems to the north and south of Seattle are experiencing a major drop in sales tax collections.  Two thirds of their budget is covered, or in this case not covered, by the regressive sales tax.

If no new funding source is developed, that means severe service cuts in 2010 according to Metro’s top management in their report to the King County Council.

But wait, Seattle!  There’s more and worse.  Seattle and Shoreline, the “West Service Sector” for Metro, is already limited in the sales tax transit funding by the County Council-supported 20:40:40 division of those dollars: 20% to Seattle/Shoreline bus service, 80% to Eastside and South King County.  Seems unfair, since the vast majority of bus trips originate to, from, or within Seattle.

Some King County Council Members and people who lobby them want to work the 20:40:40 sales tax dollar division in reverse to require a 60/20/20 service cut.
That 60% dollar reduction in sales tax transit support for Seattle/Shoreline would create a major disruption in transportation for those cities.

Metro ridership increased more than 20% over the past two years.  New riders have stuck to Metro’s service, as fuel costs have dropped and now are rising again.

Metro and some King County Council Members are themselves lobbying Washington State House Representatives and Senators to allow the county to tap the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax for transit operations to back-fill the drop in sales tax revenues.

Consider contacting your representatives in Olympia to ask them to provide King County with the power to access the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, your annual car tab fees, to fund public transit in this recession.  The MVET dollars should go to the bus routes with the most ridership.

Right now there appears little interest by State Representatives and Senators in authorizing MVET support for transit this year.  Let them know your ideas on that or let Tim Eyeman rule.

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This is a link to some images showing how streets can be transformed to better serve communities.  These examples are from California, but they are still relevant to our situation in Seattle.

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