City Council to fund pedestrian safety
Seattle Times transportation reporter
There are 482 pedestrian stairways in the hills of Seattle. One connects Pigeon Hill to busy Delridge Way Southwest, at Southwest Myrtle Street.
When child-care worker Tanishia Finister uses it, after her shift at nearby Sanislo Elementary, she runs.
"At 6 o'clock, it's pitch black," she says. Overgrown tree branches block the light, while discarded purses make her wonder if women have been mugged. The less time on the stairs, the better.
A week after voters rejected the regional $38 billion "Roads & Transit" measure, eight members of the Seattle City Council stood on that staircase Tuesday to promote the neighborhood-level issue of pedestrian safety. Their 2008 budget proposal, worth $926 million, includes a $3.5 million pedestrian fund — for items such as better stairway lighting, said Councilwoman Jan Drago, standing alongside children and neighborhood advocates.
The proposal still must be approved by the full council.
Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of council aide Tatsuo Nakata, hit by a car while crossing Southwest Admiral Way. He was 29.
About half the $3 million would go toward new sidewalks and sidewalk repairs. Other programs include flashing crosswalks, handheld flags, an education campaign, attorney time to prosecute drivers who hit pedestrians, curbs to calm traffic on side streets, and a high-tech van to record and ticket drivers who speed through school zones.
Other ideas may be more controversial, including a potential "road diet" on nearby 35th Avenue Southwest, converting it from four lanes to two lanes plus a left-turn lane. A neighbor, Miranda Taylor, calls it "I-35" because cars travel much faster than the posted 35 mph limit. Some drivers are alarmed at the notion of constricting a key north-south corridor.
Besides the $3.5 million next year, $7.7 million is reserved for pedestrian projects over nine years, as part of the "Bridging the Gap" levy voters approved in 2006.
As the council posed, a sport-utility vehicle revved down Delridge at roughly 50 mph. It was a reminder that safer facilities will never eliminate the need for alertness, courtesy and a twinge of paranoia, to protect yourself on the street.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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