Feet First is a nonprofit responsible for designing walking trail maps (they just finished northeast Seattle), walking neighborhood maps, maps of transit stations, and now, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood kiosks—the first of their kind in Seattle.
The kiosks are designed to support detailed walking maps and neighborhood histories (or whatever else the communities decide to promote). The project is in tune with Seattle's goal of becoming the most walkable city in the nation. Feet First works closely with communities (they're funded by the department of neighborhoods) to develop the kiosks, as with all their other projects.
But the Seattle Department of Transportation is holding up the development of kiosks in West Seattle, North Admiral, and along the waterfront. SDOT says the kiosks pose a liability issue. Getting permits from SDOT has also been an issue for Feet First, even though the neighborhoods are fully supportive of the process.
"They say we need to have a million dollars [stashed away] for each kiosk, to cover maintenance costs and graffiti," explains Lisa Quinn, executive director of Feet First. "We're looking at building five kiosks. That means having five million dollars saved away. Since we're funded by the neighborhoods, and they don't have that kind of money, it makes it pretty difficult to go ahead with the project." She adds that the group would like to see the kiosks be grouped as one package or project, instead of as individual projects.
Though the kiosk project might be seen as a small one, Quinn says it highlights the changes that need to be made for Seattle to be taken seriously as a walkable city. "Some of the rules, as they stand, make pedestrian advocacy pretty challenging. If we truly want to be the nation's most walkable city, we need to prioritize public space, land use, and zoning that promotes pedestrian use."
Jumping through so many hoops to get things done, especially on projects that are aligned with the city's agenda, is ridiculous. (Give the neighborhoods their kiosks, for Christ's sake.) Feet First is meeting with SDOT next week to (hopefully) hash out the liability and permitting issues.