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Pedestrian Head Starts Key to Vision Zero Goals in Seattle

Seattle is working toward its Vision Zero goals, after a year in which most people killed by drivers in the city were pedestrians.
March 13, 2019, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"The number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Seattle dipped only slightly last year from the previous year, leaving the city far from meeting its goal of eliminating all such deaths and injuries by 2030," reports Michelle Baruchman.

"Preliminary data from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) show 14 people died on city streets in 2018, down from 19 in 2017. An additional 170 people were seriously injured," adds Baruchman. "Most of last year’s traffic deaths — eight — were pedestrians, four were in vehicles, one was bicycling and one was on a motorcycle."

While any news of traffic facilities is disheartening, the city's work to reduce fatalities is making progress. Fatalities are down significantly from 2006, when the city reported 33. The city is also safer than other large cities in the country, according to the Dangerous By Design report from Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition [pdf]. The news also offers an occasion for the city to discuss future projects that will further improve traffic safety, like plans to implement signals that give pedestrians a three- to seven-second head start at intersections. "The system, called leading pedestrian intervals, makes pedestrians in the crosswalk more visible to drivers making turns," explains Baruchman. "SDOT has equipped 43 intersections with the new systems, and has applied for grants to evaluate 140 more locations."

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Published on Monday, March 11, 2019 in The Seattle Times
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