Walking home with the groceries Monday evening, I came upon the gruesome scene on Aurora Avenue of Seattle’s eighth pedestrian traffic fatality in 2019. For pedestrian deaths and serious injuries, Seattle is rapidly careening toward by far the worst year in recent memory.
A year ago, I wrote about very bad portents already in view. In March, PostAlley member Kevin Schofield critically dissected an SDOT traffic safety Vision Zero presentation to the City Council. In July, both The Seattle Times and The Urbanist published the terrible 2019 half-year numbers from SDOT and The Urbanist reported on the disturbing state-wide trends, too.
Late Monday evening, I dispatched an email to fifty people urging that it was time for a pedestrian safety crisis summit to galvanize action from City Hall.
By Tuesday morning, only one response from a person in authority, a lone City Council staffer: basically, along the well-worn “thoughts and prayers model” that we all recognize as the hallmark of abdicated leadership:
“What an awful tragedy. My heart goes out to the person’s family and friends.
I truly believe we can reach Vision Zero. It will take a lot of work to change our streets and encourage safe behavior. Our office would love to support all Vision Zero efforts for the city and is happy to work with the Pedestrian Advisory Board.”
By noon, about fourteen hours after the death, Bill Radke on KUOW The Record wanted to talk. This is what we said to each other in very few short minutes. Here is the problem. And here are actual steps to be taken now that would start to make a difference. It’s long past time for forceful leadership, with urgency, from City Hall. Plus some badly needed help from a seemingly indifferent state legislature, also called out in our talk.