Wednesday, February 27, 2019

It's Sneckdown Time! Pedestrian Safety Committee Should Notice

The snow didn't really stick around on the roads long enough earlier this week, but this morning it's sticking, the schools are closing, and it's time to look for sneckdowns again.

Take pictures!

From the City traffic cameras, here on 12th & State:
Lanes could be narrower, corner bulbs even larger
South Commercial just north of Madrona - SJ video clip (2018)
See here and here for more on sneckdowns.

The City "Safer Crossings" Committee met yesterday, and they're apparently operating - by accident or design - largely in stealth mode.

Neighborhood advocates noted that the SDC committee never posted minutes. But at least they published a few of the slide decks that went with presentations.

Bare bones agenda only!
The Safer Crossing Committee has only a bare bones set of agenda published, no meeting materials, and no minutes.

Only the participants will really know what they are up to.

This morning's snow is an opportunity for field study! They must have generated a list by this time of prospective crossing sites, and the snow gives an opportunity to take pictures of slack road space that could be used to shorten crossing distances for people on foot.


There is sad news this morning, and it is a terrible comment on our autoism, and the sensationalism around any kind of traffic "impedance," that the "snarl" has more priority than the death of an important statesman.

The area allocated to each story is mis-prioritized (about 830am)


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added note about the sad news on the Secretary of State and the way the traffic snarl still seems to preempt that.)

Jeff Schumacher said...

I've participated in the Safer Crossings meetings and here are portions of two updates I provided to the SCAN board:

From December 19th -

The general purpose of the committee is to develop a scoring system for safer pedestrian crossings. The idea is that the City wants to create a public interface (like a website) where anyone can register a complaint with the City about a specific need for a safer pedestrian crossing, and the City would input that complaint into this new scoring system. Ultimately all the "inadequate" pedestrian crossings would be ranked, and then the top-scoring crossings (probably one or two a year) would be improved. Our committee has been discussing the criteria that will be used to score these inadequate crossings.

It has been an interesting process and many good points have been made by the attendees, but it has also been very frustrating to go through such contortions to basically get one or two pedestrian crossings improved each year. That is a reflection more on the City's priorities and it isn't a complaint about the City staff or this series of meetings - most if not all of the people in these meetings would like to see much more done for pedestrians.

February 26th -

Today we had our (likely) final meeting of the Safer Crossings committee. There was a fourth meeting in late January but I wasn't able to attend. Today was the fifth meeting, and it sounds like City staff will now be preparing a report/proposal that will eventually end up in front of the Citizens Advisory Traffic Commission and then, if approved by CATC, in front of City Council.

City staff, with input and feedback from the people on this Safer Crossings committee, has developed a scoring method for evaluating the merits of pedestrian crossings. The goal is to eventually solicit requests from citizens about any pedestrian crossings that may need improvement and then score and rank those existing pedestrian crossings as a gauge for whether the City should improve them. This scoring system would allow for a couple of good outcomes. The City could more readily identify which pedestrian crossing improvement requests have merit, decide which pedestrian crossing improvements get funded (and which don't), and point to the various criteria used to generate the scores and rankings when explaining why a particular pedestrian crossing did - or didn't - get improved.

My one complaint about all of this - which admittedly falls outside the scope of the Safer Crossings Program - is the lack of significant funding for the pedestrian crossings that will eventually end up on this list. But I do think the City's plan to develop this type of public facing list is wise, and the scoring and ranking criteria seem logical and well-considered (for example, "proximity to schools" is one criteria and "number of lanes to cross" is another - and there are many, many more). Anthony Gamallo, a Senior Transportation Planner with the City, has done a nice job gathering feedback from people on the committee. And I told him today that SCAN would like to hear a presentation on this new tool whenever the City is ready to publicize it.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thank you! This is very helpful.

It's also interesting to see something of an expansion for the role of CATC in the process you outline. They are an under-utilized advisory board, this seems logical also.