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Thread: Tactical Urbanism in Seattle: A Story in 3 Parts

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    Default Tactical Urbanism in Seattle: A Story in 3 Parts

    Part 1: Injured Schoolchildren

    Quick introduction on street safety and the city of Seattle: South Seattle is poorer than the rest of Seattle and thus gets less funding and improvements for general traffic/bike/pedestrian safety. Also, anytime safety improvements are suggested/planned, neighborhoods protest to ensure that their drive is obstacle-free and has a parking space waiting for them.

    Then, two schoolchildren were hit at an intersection right outside their school at Rainier Ave and Henderson St. For comparison, Rainier Ave in Seattle functions much like Columbia Pike in Arlington, and Henderson St would be like Pershing Dr in Arlington. Here’s an article describing the situation: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle...ar-this-month/

    Though safety improvements to make it better for pedestrians at that intersection were planned, the crash caused officials to speed up the process. They changed one side of the intersection which normally had 2 straight lanes that immediately had to merge, causing issues, to 1 straight lane with a flexpost buffered area that provided a gap for a bike lane to fit. Drivers turning left/right into it would have a narrowed space and thus have to slow down, making it safer for pedestrians having to navigate the crosswalk.

    The installation was complete, and soon enough, the flexposts had all been knocked down, broken off, and then stolen. A Twitter friend of mine had even named them and put googly eyes on them in hopes it would get drivers not to hit them, but it was for naught.

    (WARNING: DISTRESSING CONE DEATH IMAGERY)
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    Part 2: Acquisition and Assembly

    The flexposts kept getting hit, broken, stolen, repeat ad nauseum. The city wasn’t replacing them often enough, and drivers were just cutting the corner to drive right through the buffered area.

    I got tired of it and decided to do something.

    I got my bike trailer and headed to Home Depot to get some large planters, small trees, reflective tape, and dirt. It was an awkward fit, but I got all the supplies to fit on my bike and trailer.

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    At my apartment, I assembled everything, putting the reflective tape on the planters and filling them with soil, the trees, and topping them with some mulch to ensure they would last a long time.

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    They were ready to deploy!

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    Part 3: Deployment and Destruction

    After wrapping them up to make sure the mulch/soil didn’t spill out en route, I put them on my bike trailer and under cover of darkness headed to the intersection.

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    Once there, I placed the planters in the exact spots where the flexposts used to stand.

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    It was awesome once I had finished putting them there, as drivers immediately responded to the new obstructions by slowing down and avoiding the buffered area. Success! I headed home, happy to have made an impact.

    Then, on Monday after work, I decided to head back to the spot to check in on the condition of the planters.

    Sadly, the damage had already been done. The planters were empty (no trees to be found) and were sitting on the side of the road. Some driver was so incensed that they would have to slow down that they removed the planters and then stole the trees! The whole thing lasted less than a full day.

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    I was mad, then I rode home (it was a beautiful passing rain/sunshine with rainbows day) and felt a little better. I found out that SDOT (Seattle Department of Transportation) has plans for making that buffered area protected with concrete, so I do not feel the war has been lost, but should they take too long, I have friends in the Seattle area that are willing to chip in for round 2 of tactical urbanism to take place.

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    you need some of those "planters" we use here in DC, but they'd probably be hell on a bike trailer

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    I'm wondering if you slathered the bottom with some sort of glue/adhesive (what works on asphalt?), making them really hard to move, if they would have lasted longer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    I'm wondering if you slathered the bottom with some sort of glue/adhesive (what works on asphalt?), making them really hard to move, if they would have lasted longer?
    Precast concrete planters are the only kind that'll work in that scenario.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930AZ using Tapatalk

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    This was my first venture into tactical urbanism, so I kept it limited to non-destructive (no damage to pavement, no graffiti needing clean-up, etc.). But I do like the ideas on how to take it a bit farther, and this action has somewhat radicalized me to do more to make things safer in the future.

    Other examples of a lesser version of tactical urbanism that I think we all could do:
    • Road work sign blocking sidewalk - rotate it slightly diagonally (still legible to drivers) to make space (the corners of the diamond shape won't stick out as much), moving it from sidewalk onto road in cases where there's no room on the sidewalk - similar solution if the road work sign is blocking a bike lane, though maybe there's a median between the sidewalk and curb to use
    • Plastic jersey barriers (orange, not-heavy ones) or fences at construction sites not giving enough space for pedestrians/cyclists - push them to make room
    • Sandwich board blocking sidewalk - move them out of the way, the restaurants/cafes/bars have no right to be blocking the sidewalk with those
    • Construction barrels, cones, etc. knocked over - set them upright, maybe place them a bit farther out to get drivers to slow down
    • NOTE: I know there are apps and other means of reporting that we are recommended to use so that the local government agencies will eventually come out and fix these, but these other actions make an immediate impact in these situations

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