Critiquing the Implementation of Seattle's Pedestrian Master Plan

A status update of the Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan leaves a writer wondering if the backlog of pedestrian infrastructure maintenance will grow while only a few planned projects get built.

August 23, 2016, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


SEASTOCK / Shutterstock

Ryan Packer writes a review of the current status of the Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP) adopted by the city of Seattle in 2009, "to determine how to approach the issue of maintaining, improving, and expanding the pedestrian network…" According to Packer, the key takeaway offered by the plan is a statement of prioritization: which pedestrian improvements get done first.

Along those lines, the plan distinguishes a Priority Investment Network (PIN), which includes "adjacency to the priority transit network, close walksheds to schools, streets where sidewalks are currently missing, and streets where there are high rates of collisions involving pedestrians."

It's the question of funding that makes Packer question the real ability of the plan to prioritize anything at all. Many of the projects in the PMP relies on the Move Seattle levy. As Packer shows, referencing the PMP directly, "the levy would fund 250 blocks of new sidewalks, and the identified need that only include arterials within the priority network is more than double that." 

These facts lead Packer to the conclusion that "[i]t’s conceivable that in five or six years, when the time comes to redevelop the Pedestrian Master Plan, that the need will grow even further to the degree that the priority investment network needs a further subcategory in order to prioritize investments in it." Moreover, Packer wonders about the sincerity of city officials claiming to target a Vision Zero agenda of eliminating traffic fatalities by 2030 "when our most robust transportation levy in decades only provides for spot improvements on 12 to 15 corridors…"

Monday, August 22, 2016 in The Urbanist

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