Nearly nine months ago, the Seattle Department of Transportation reported that construction projects were blocking sidewalks. Because most developers provided no alternative walkway—and the city didn’t require them to—pedestrians were risking their lives by walking through traffic. Other cities quell this hazard by requiring covered walkways and creating temporary barricades in parking lanes for pedestrians. The report’s number-one action item: "Develop a set of preferred and alternative methods for pedestrian protection based on the Washington D.C. model."
At the time, SDoT spokesman Rick Sheridan said, “We are ready to embrace these findings.” He added that SDoT would make a trip to Washington, D.C. and “see how we can do this job better.” Okay. So here we are nine months later. Let’s look at three current construction projects on my walk to work:
Here on East Pike Street, when pedestrians encounter a construction project, they're don't turn around and walk a half block back to the nearest intersection, cross the street, and then continue on the other side. They take their chances in traffic. If they cross the street at all, they cross mid-block, dodging out far from the crosswalk. Anecdotally, some folks say they've seen more projects around town with pedestrian-friendly accommodations. But at this one, in an area zoned for pedestrian mobility on a highly trafficked arterial, the city either doesn't require or enforce a pedestrian right of way. (By the way, those little cones in the photo are right next to the fence, so they don't create a walkway, and even if they did, cones in the street are a piss-poor barricade for cars.) Here's another pic:
That nice lady on the right, she just walked through traffic to get around a project on East Union Street. One bad driver, accidental swerve, etc. and she's flat as a pancake. The photo sucks, but way down on the sidewalk you can see a blue backhoe at another construction project. Same problem there, too.
This is not rocket science, city. It’s not science at all. Require construction sites to barricade pedestrian lanes. But when’s the city going to do it? I’m waiting to get a call back from SDoT.