(I sent the letter below this morning to city transportation and development officials, along with the mayor's office and members of the city council who oversee regulations for street-use and development.)
Hi, City Hall folk:
I've attached a photo of something you've probably seen before: people walking in traffic around construction sites instead of crossing the street. We know that folks are supposed to cross the street, but they don't. They just don't. I've written about this a lot (including about the city's own report that said this was a problem and how nothing really changed despite that report), as has Dan Bertolet in a post called "Guerrilla pedestrians take over 1st Ave," but this morning's example on East Pine Street illustrates the problem well. Here are seven middle-aged people—not a bunch of scofflaw hooligans—who have passed a big "sidewalk closed" sign, navigated around a construction trailer, and are walking up the street headlong into traffic:
On East Pine Street for the last several months, there have been three construction sites between 11th Ave and 15th Ave that close down the sidewalks (so, in theory, you cross the street four times within four blocks). People don't actually do this. They walk in the street. It's dangerous, but completely predictable.
Is it too much to expect that when construction is permitted in a pedestrian overlay—parts of the city where the zoning explicitly says development must accommodate pedestrians—that developers be required to provide a substitute walking lane, a protected barrier? This is typical in East Coast cities. Considering that the alternative is having a bunch of folks walking through traffic, it seems a reasonable expectation. Development is great for Seattle, and it should be encouraged with incentives, streamlining, and what have you. But knowing what we know about human behavior, giving a hand to developers shouldn't put regular citizens in danger.