SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council unanimously passed legislation to improve sidewalks across the city. The new measure will require the Department of Transportation to fix sidewalk issues when planning a major paving project.
According to the council, 24% of Seattle’s streets are missing sidewalks, and there are more than 154,000 deficiencies in sidewalks citywide.
In his wheelchair, Dylan Young’s daily route comes with obstacles.
"I will fall once a month at least from something on the sidewalk,” said Young.
Crosswalks with built-up white paint are an issue for Young, too.
"They are like little speed bumps,” he said.
One crossing he counts on for his commute is extra concerning because the ramp is far to the left, out of the way of the main flow of crosswalk traffic.
"I take the risk because there is not a good sidewalk exit here,” said Young. "I go in the middle of the street in traffic."
"We should have a connected and accessible city,” said Anna Zivarts, director of the Disability Mobility Initiative at Disability Rights Washington.
The push for change led to new sidewalk legislation passed unanimously on Tuesday. The legislation applies to all projects that cost more than $1 million.
SDOT’s director will have the authority to determine if full compliance with the requirements is not possible on any given project. SDOT will also have to give annual updates to the council about their progress, according to the Council.
“Sidewalks are essential public infrastructure that provide a public good and enables mobility for everyone regardless of age, ability, or income,” said Councilmember Tammy Morales.
"If you want to have a green city, you want to encourage people to walk and to bike and to get out of their cars -- then sidewalks are fundamental,” said Young.
In a statement, an SDOT spokesperson said, “We are currently evaluating the impact of the recent legislation. This legislation outlines our existing approach to major paving and corridor projects. For most of our significant paving projects (costing more than $1 million), we already consider the condition of existing sidewalks in the early stages of the design process."