Eight cities in Washington’s King County saw sharp increases in traffic fatalities, signaling a need for more robust road safety and traffic calming policies.
Pedestrian fatalities in eight cities in South King County, Washington have almost tripled in the last decade, reports Andrew Engelson for The Urbanist.
According to Engelson, “The trend has been on the rise consistently over ten years, hitting a peak of 97 in 2019 and dipping slightly to 70 during the pandemic year of 2020.” The pattern mirrors statewide statistics.
Some cities are using federal traffic safety grants to analyze dangerous streets and implement enforcement, education, and infrastructural fixes. Auburn revised its traffic calming plan to “take a more robust approach to reducing speeds at intersections and increasing safety for pedestrians and cyclists,” while Tukwila issued a plan focused on reducing driving speeds near schools and in residential areas.
But “the more difficult work of redesigning streets, roads, and highways for pedestrian safety is an expensive project that falls to an array of jurisdictions,” Engelson explains, causing bigger, more expensive projects to fall by the wayside. For example, “One especially dangerous road in South King County, according to Sara Wood, King County’s coordinator for the Washington Traffic Safety commission, is State Highway 99,” a hotspot of crashes involving pedestrians. But improvements such as adding stoplights and crosswalks to stretches of the highway “sometimes fall down the priority scale because of cost.”
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