South End Traffic Incidents Spur Efforts to Prioritize Pedestrian Safety

2021 was the deadliest year on Seattle’s streets since 2006 with 31 lives lost. Vision Zero is the city’s adopted goal that no one should be seriously injured or killed while traveling on our streets. In response, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has just released their highly anticipated “top to bottom” Vision Zero review.

While it contains much needed recommendations to reform SDOT’s internal culture and practices, it fails to propose an action plan to create safe streets for all. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways released their plan containing equitable and proven solutions to get Vision Zero back on track last November.

On Tuesday, March 7th, SDOT’s report was review by the City Council’s Transportation & Seattle Public Utilities Committee. Head to South Seattle Emerald’s page to read more about the issues facing South Seattle.

Ed Ewing, executive director of Bike Works in Columbia City, a “social justice minded organization that centers on racial equity,” said bicycle safety and pedestrian safety are deeply intertwined, and traffic fatalities and injuries for pedestrians and cyclists are greatest in areas that have the least biking infrastructure.

“(In) South Seattle you have the most fatalities, you have the most injuries, you have the most car accidents and then you have the least amount of bicycle infrastructure,” Ewing said. “There’s a direct correlation, and again that lines up with our intention of focusing on the South End because we know that there is a huge need for safety improvements.”

Local groups like Bike Works, Smash the Box, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways have been reaching out to and meeting with SDOT officials to advocate for safe streets in South Seattle in light of historic racism and discrimination in governmental decision-making, Ewing said.

“There’s history. There is a tremendous history of divestment, of underinvestment in the South End and pretty much any city that has a Community of Color,” Ewing said. “Our goal is to really amplify and increase the awareness of those folks who are making those decisions. Here’s the cumulative effect of divestment in this area, here are the opportunities, and now that we know, let’s do something about it … But if there is reluctance and a desire to stay in the same place, then we have a problem. We have a problem.”

Please watch this video on how we can get Vision Zero back on track at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.