WSDOT working to improve state’s sidewalk network, address mobility concerns

SEATTLE — According to the University of Washington’s School of Public Policy, nearly 46% of Seattle’s 2,300 miles of sidewalk are in fair to very poor condition. In the city, property owners are required to maintain the sidewalks. However, because there are few incentives to maintain these, many remain broken, unfixed and in some cases impassible.

24-year-old Micah Lusignan of Snohomish County said he’s no stranger to poorly maintained sidewalks. In fact, it’s a problem he tackles daily. Lusignan is completely blind. He believes that a sidewalk in disrepair can put him in danger.

“It sounds really morbid but if I died, I die. I need to get from point A to point B,” Lusignan said.

The UW graduate lives outside Lynwood. He said, walking to the bus stop he’s frequently hit in the face by thorns and at some points the sidewalk disappears all together forcing him to walk along the shoulder. Lusignan would prefer to live in Seattle where the transit and sidewalk network is more complete, but he said he can no longer afford it.

“Because of the high cost of living here, the places with the best sidewalks, the places with the best transit access are unaffordable,” said Anna Zivartz of the Disability Mobility Initiative.

Zivartz interviewed hundreds of people living with disabilities across the Evergreen State. According to Zivartz, the number one problem they face are incomplete and poorly maintained sidewalks.

“It has driven home to me the importance of investing in sidewalks, in transit everywhere in our state. Not just in the most dense or wealthiest communities,” said Zivartz.

Tanisha Sepuldiva of Highland Park will echo that. The 31-year-old student, uses a wheelchair to navigate through her neighborhood. Sepuldiva said its oftentimes safer for her to roll on the street shoulder than the sidewalk.

“The sidewalk wasn’t an option because of the roots coming up from trees and bushes,” said Sepuldiva.

Like Lusignan, she would also prefer to live closer to Seattle.

“Its like we’re getting pushed out of our neighborhood and accessibility shouldn’t be the reason why,” said Sepuldiva.

Right now, WSDOT is looking for feedback on its “Active Transportation Plan”. Under this plan, a main goal is to improve Washington’s sidewalk network. You’re invited to share your feedback here.

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