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‘Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do to avoid it’

People walking and biking represent 3 percent of collisions in Seattle and 50 percent of fatalities, according to the director of Seattle's Department of Transportation. (MyNorthwest)

The death of a woman who was using a walker to cross a street in downtown Seattle on Thursday is an example of why city government is working to reduce traffic-related fatalities.

People walking and biking represent 3 percent of collisions in Seattle and 50 percent of fatalities, according to Scott Kubly, the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Related: With apologies to Dori, walking and biking safer than driving

However, Kubly recently said walking and biking are safer than riding in a vehicle.

“But if you’re hit by a car that’s going too fast, it becomes dangerous,” he said.

There is a “climate change” in Seattle, Kubly said. The city wants more people to walk or bike because it’s healthier, more affordable and reduces congestion, he said.

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.”

In the case of the woman killed Thursday, she was hit while crossing Seneca street in a crosswalk in the afternoon. The fatal collision occurred about three blocks from 5th and Pike, where Leo Almanzor was killed while walking to work in November.

Almanzor’s death was one of the reason’s the city included walking safety projects as part of its Vision Zero plan. The plan calls for zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries in the city by 2030, with a focus on major streets.

In downtown Seattle, where crosswalks have walk/don’t walk signals, all pedestrians can do is remain aware while they cross the street, Michaud said. Drivers have to do the same.

“Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do to avoid it,” Michaud said. “That’s a terrible thing.”

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