News Feb 27, 2013 at 4:00 am

The City Lets Construction Sites Close Sidewalks Even in Busy Pedestrian Neighborhoods


Its fun! Gives me a chance to pretend to be a car! Honk! Honk!
So just to make sure I understand this article - this applies to Middle-aged persons only?
If someone gets hit by a car and dies their spirit will go into the new condominium development with ground level retail and protect it. It's a sacrificial ritual.
@5, but, this is Seattle...there will be blame placed somewhere other than where it belongs, and demands to get paid. Just like bicyclists who ignore street laws, then when they get creamed, it is always the car driver's fault.
@5, the developers need to pay for more than a Sidewalk Closed Ahead sign because the sidewalk isn't theirs. Everything up to the right-of-way line, including the roadway and sidewalk, is city property and is there for common good, not the contractor's convenience. You don't often see lanes or entire streets blocked off for the contractor to set up their mobilization and construction equipment because SDOT would make them justify the closure and street usage permit, probably charge "rent" for its usage, and require adequate detours to be set up. In the same logic, other ROW users (in this case pedestrians) should have the same treatment when their routes are disrupted by someone borrowing City land. Additionally, it is far easier to detour a car one block out of the way than to ask peds to walk blocks out of their way, especially in our liquid sunshine. I find this double standard really frustrating because it does disproportionally impacts peds.
Excellent question and article. You're spot on.
Because this particular site is funded by Bank of America and Merryl Lynch.
Thank you for writing this article. I've been trying to get a response from SDOT about construction projects on 12th ave near Cal Anderson/Pike Pine that have closed sidewalks for a month or two now and still have a long ways to go in their projects--we are also about to have 4 or more additional construction projects within a 4 block stretch. I was told by an SDOT inspector that suggesting that there should be safer solutions for pedestrians than closing the sidewalk was ridiculous and that is is an individual's own fault if they walk along the street on a closed section of sidewalk and get hit. I am all for the projects going in but strongly believe that safer passages need to be created-- especially on busy pedestrian,bike, and car thoroughfares. It would be great if people would cross the street when they come across a closed sidewalk-- but they don't--so permitting needs to take reality (not just liability) into account.
Dominic, Don't hold your breath for help and / or results. I asked the Mayor, SPD Chief, City Attorney and City Council members for help when I was being Harassed, Bullied and Threatened by 2 SPD Officers. My requests for help and / or intervention help to them were either not responded to (ignored), passed on (in e-mail paper shuffle responses of no help), or we don't get involved in such matters (in other words get lost-you don't matter-I was elected and / or appointed to represent the City's employees interests and not your's-the citizen)
So think of this the next time you VOTE citizens of Seattle: To Whom are they being elected to represent You or Their best interests?
What the hell is going on with The Stranger this week? First the play These Streets is completely bashed...a play about middle aged women...& now a silly story about middle aged people walking down the street? Ageism.
People in Seattle worry too much. Maybe these people are just smart enough, or independent enough, to get from point A to point B without the assistance of a guided path. The rest of the world jaywalks pretty regularly. You think people in New York or Chicago are waiting for the go ahead to cross an empty street or go around construction? Be more aggressive, Seattle. Blaze a trail and get your ass to point B as you see fit.
This is an issue because there is SO MUCH development going in the most walkable parts of town that one must cross, cross again, and then cross back just to get a few blocks. I've had to deal with this issue every morning when trying to get through two short blocks to my bus stop. The construction from the Bullit Center had blocked off the East side of 15th at Madison for at least a year. They eventually blocked off both sides, which meant walking all the way around the triangle park. Because they had fenced in the crosswalk button, I had to take my chances and run across Madison (which very well could have resulted in an accident), only to get to the other side and meet another "Sidewalk Closed" sign on the West Side of 15th for the construction of the VOX Aparmtment Building (which I often just walked in the street to get by). Then, I had to do a similar jig every night when I got home. I thought about just walking down to 13th and catching the bus on Pine but that bus stop closed for the construction in the photo above. Finally, they have reopened the East side of 15th next to the Bullit Center in the last week or two but I still strongly believe that the City should be doing more to prevent situations like this. Not only can it be dangerous for pedestrians but this caused me to miss my bus on several occassions, despite trying to leave early to account for the extra walking time. Something must be done about this if development is going to continue at this rapid pace.
next week: why youngsters make snarky and glib journalists
Oh it's a huge problem in Baltimore as well. Not all East Coast cities have it on the ball. Mostly I see it as a sign of weak-willed city gov't rolling over and letting developers do pretty much anything they'd like. Here in Baltimore they even have the grand tradition of block off even more space for months on end so that the developers and construction workers have places to park their personal vehicles. God forbid they pay to park like the rest of us have to.
This is a problem in my neighborhood. There is now no safe way to get to my bus stop in the morning thanks to the construction of condos that I could never afford to live in. I have two choices: run in the street along side the construction site for about 20 feet, or attempt to cross at a crosswalk where cars usually will not deign to stop if they even see me when I attempt to enter the crosswalk in front of the massive SUV parked at the corner.
Thanks for another well-written, informative article, and timely warning, Dominic!!! What's the pedestrian sidewalk / crossing area around the
King Street Station looking like with all its renovations?
It's a good thing I don't drive through the city anymore--geez!

@13: Your idea to "just blaze a trail" could actually create more accidents in Seattle!
Seriously, City Hall really needs to ensure equal safety to pedestrians,
bicyclists, and drivers.
Aren't the New Mercer Mess and Tunnel to Nowhere bad enough
to make taking action a no-brainer?
I bet these people also grew up when people didnt wear seatbelts... heathens. Im surprised theyre not dead yet!
I bet these people also grew up when children rode in vehicles without safety restraints... heathens. Im surprised theyre not dead yet!
@18, continued:.....or is it that the people running Seattle City Council are all profits and no brains?
@19 & @20: Seatbelts have been available every year since I was born, and I have made a conscious effort to wear them whenever driving my own car or riding in someone else's vehicle. And your point is...?
The issue isn't about the failure to use seatbelts---it's about profiteering developers throughout Seattle and elsewhere currently getting away with not providing safe, covered alternate pedestrian pathways if sidewalks aren't accessible in construction zones.
This is indeed, a recipe for disaster and must be stopped.
Dallas currently leads the United States in traffic fatalities. I really don't want to see Seattle become #2 in that statistic.
No idea why this is an issue. This article is making the argument that people are AT RISK of being struck by a car, and we should do something about it.
But apparently, peds are good enough at judging risk to avoid it. The article makes no claim that people ARE BEING hit by cars.If they are being injured left and right, I hope the stranger sounds the alarm.
Right now this sounds annoying, not truly dangerous.
@23: Fair enough. I don't live in Seattle, and haven't actually seen any pedestrian related traffic accidents caused by lack of safe crossing areas in construction zones, myself. I'm only citing what Dominic has witnessed and contacted Seattle City Council about.
I basically agree with Dominic, though: isn't using a little common sense and prevention to avoid potential disaster wiser than waiting for a pedestrian-related fatality to really happen before anything changes?
They're doing it right - single file, facing traffic!
Anyone my age (middle-aged, here!) certainly remembers the traffic safety jingle we were taught:

♪♫ Single file,
Facing traffic all the while! ♪♫

(Of course, nowadays it's "Native American Style"!
(coming in way, way too late)

1. Walking in the street is legal if there's no sidewalk and you're walking toward traffic.

2. "Jaywalking" is actually a term for illegally crossing a road, not walking in a road. Though we should probably come up with a name for that. Slog poll?

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