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Many areas of Seattle ‘don’t work well for anybody’

Money is being pumped into the City of Seattle's infrastructure to improve walkability and pedestrian safety, but more needs to be done. (AP)

Money is being pumped into the City of Seattle’s infrastructure to improve walkability and pedestrian safety, but that doesn’t mean everything is perfect.

There’s still more work that needs to be done, according to Seattle blogger Troy Heerwagen.

Heerwagen, who operates WalkinginSeattle.org, is urging the city to pay attention to roadways that are not only frustrating for pedestrians, but people using other modes of transportation as well.

“There are a lot of areas in the city that don’t work well for anybody,” Heerwagen said.

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As a way to hammer that message in, Heerwagen has published an online poll that lets visitors vote on “Seattle’s Worst Intersection in 2015.” Nominations for the poll were narrowed down to six, including the intersection Heerwagen believes is the worst: Montlake Boulevard East and 520.

There are “glaring holes” in the city’s infrastructure that need help, Heerwagen said. Some are being addressed, such as helping people cross Aurora Avenue around South Lake Union and Lower Queen Anne.

Other areas are being neglected, some which could be fixed for relatively cheap, he said. That includes 5th Avenue and Denny Way. Heerwagen said locals and out-of-towners alike have difficulty with that location, which has a crosswalk button that people seem to miss.

Heerwagen started the blog in 2010. He began posting a poll on the “worst intersection” a few years ago. The poll was sparked by the frustration he felt, or others were expressing, on Seattle’ roads. Some of the problems the city had with its roads have been addressed since starting the blog.

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“I think what the city has been doing to help people get around with all modes of transportation has been good over the past few years,” Heerwagen said.

More needs to be done, however.

“I think it would be great if [the Seattle Department of Transportation] and city were aware of these areas and took action,” he said.

The city isn’t ignoring safety. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray recently revised his nine-year transportation plan, Transportation Levy to Move Seattle. Murray increased the levy from $900 million to $930 million. The additional funding reflected feedback from the community and will be used to build new sidewalks and pilot alternative street designed that could make walking more safe.

The city also adopted plan Vision Zero, hoping to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

People walking and biking represent 3 percent of collisions in Seattle and 50 percent of fatalities, according to SDOT.

The reason for pedestrian-related fatalities can be caused by numerous factors, Seattle Detective Patrick Michaud said.

“It could be one of a thousand different things, ranging from a distracted driver to bad weather, poor engineering, or a pedestrian stepping out when the road isn’t clear,” he said. “Any one of those could lead to a potentially fatal crash.”

Though he’s focused on the “worst” right now, Heerwagen said he may post “the best intersection” in Seattle poll in the future.

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