SEATTLE — The Seattle Department of Transportation released a new report on Tuesday to show the city’s progress on “Vision Zero,” Seattle’s goal to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.
Since the initiative began in 2015, 175 people have been killed and nearly 1,200 have been seriously injured in traffic crashes.
According to the report, more than a quarter of traffic fatalities involved people experiencing homelessness. Black people were also disproportionately affected by fatal crashes.
“Safety must be the priority for everyone using Seattle’s roads and, unfortunately, the first part of 2022 continues the disturbing national trend of unacceptably high numbers of traffic-related injuries and deaths, especially among pedestrians and people experiencing homelessness in South Seattle,” said Council member Alex Pedersen at a Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee meeting Tuesday. “While I’m hopeful the City Council’s additional investments for pedestrian safety in South Seattle will reduce injuries once SDOT finishes those projects, today’s initial 2022 data sounds the alarm that the Mayor’s upcoming budget proposal must continue to increase our investments in South Seattle and other underinvested areas, so that our transportation infrastructure is quickly made safer.”
In the last three years, nearly half of fatal crashes occurred in Council District 2, which includes neighborhoods such as Georgetown and Columbia City and parts of Beacon Hill, Central District and Downtown.
“The fact of the matter is that South End streets were built for the ease and speed of heavy large vehicles, not for the safety of people outside of them, said Council member Tammy Morales, who represents Council District 2. “Having a report is one thing. This is SDOT admitting a problem and that is one small step toward a solution, but without actions from the department, this is one just more reminder that the lives of people in the South End don’t stack up to the lives of those in Magnolia, or Queen Anne, or Laurelhurst, or Green Lake, or Eastlake in the eyes of the City.”
SDOT has been working to change the physical design of streets, which it says is a proven way to calm speeds and significantly reduce injury crashes.
Since 2019, SDOT has added leading pedestrian intervals to nearly half of the city’s about 1,000 traffic signals, which give pedestrians a three to seven-second head start at intersections. SDOT says there has been a 50% reduction in pedestrian turning collisions and 35% reduction in serious and fatal collisions at intersections where the intervals were added.
“We’ve made significant progress on our speed reduction work and have more to do,” the report reads in part. “As we focus and build out our efforts to redesign high speed arterial streets, we need your support. We need people driving to slow down.”
SDOT says it will prioritize safety investments in areas of highest need, based on fatal and serious injury crash history and equity. Specific areas of focus include the Aurora Avenue corridor, downtown Seattle and the SoDo neighborhood.
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