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Greenways: 6 people killed in Seattle traffic in a single week as Council considers street safety funding

Map of Seattle's High Injury Network streets with broken hearts added for 6 fatality locations between May 23 and 29, 2024.
Base map of the High Injury Network from the recently-approved Seattle Transportation Plan. Broken hearts added by Seattle Bike Blog to note the locations of the six traffic deaths in Seattle between May 23 and 29.

Traffic deaths in Washington State reached a high in 2023 that the state has not seen in 33 years. That number of deaths in 2023 increased 10% over 2022. King County leads the way with 167 people killed in traffic, more than double the number in 2014. These are all the big numbers on a scale that it’s difficult to wrap your head around.

But then last week happened. Six people were killed in Seattle traffic in just seven days, a horrific level of traffic carnage the city has not seen in such a short period of time since the 2015 Ride the Ducks disaster on the Aurora Bridge killed five people. But these six deaths were not the result of one negligently-maintained axle on a dangerous tourist vessel, they were spread out across the city on streets that Seattle knows are dangerous.

Our condolences to the friends and families of the six people killed.


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Three of those killed were inside cars while the other three were walking when someone in a car struck them. As you can see in the map above, every single death occurred on a street designated with a high injury score on the newly-approved Seattle Transportation Plan’s High Injury Network. These are streets “where fatal and serious crashed have already occurred,” according to the plan (page V-30 in the technical report). “Its use is considered a reactive approach that informs safety corridors of focus for the Vision Zero program and more.”

Seattle has more than enough data to identify where we need Vision Zero safety improvements, but now these six people have involuntarily added six more data points to this terrible map. Their lives are why this work is so important, and why the Seattle City Council could not possibly add too much funding for Vision Zero work in the next transportation levy. Every time SDOT’s Vision Zero team makes significant safety improvements to a street, it works. But the city continues to fund this work at a snail’s pace.

Seattle should simply not have a “high injury network” of streets. We built these streets, and so now it’s our city’s job to fix them before more people get hurt or killed. SDOT’s Vision Zero team has proven themselves worthy of our trust. It’s time to fund them properly and make a moonshot to actually reach Vision Zero by 2030 as is the city’s official policy goal. It’s not going to be easy or cheap, but we owe it to all those who have been killed and all their communities who have been shattered. Every time I speak to a grieving loved one of someone who has been killed, they all say the same thing: This can never happen to anyone else again. Let’s listen to them.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is calling on the City Council to increase the funding for safety, sidewalks and transit in the transportation levy proposal, and they are encouraging people to attend the final scheduled public hearing on the proposal at 4:30 p.m. June 4 at City Hall. Their polling suggests that voters are eager for more safety funding and would be willing to invest hundreds of millions more than is included in the current levy proposal. More details from SNG:

In a shocking surge of deadly collisions, six people have been killed while traveling on our streets in the past week:

  1. A 70-year-old woman was killed on May 23rd while a passenger at 4th Ave S and S Washington St in the C-ID neighborhood. 
  2. A 19-year-old man was killed on May 23rd while driving on Aurora Ave N at 137th St in the Haller Lake neighborhood.
  3. Stephen Willis, a UW Medical Assistant, was killed on May 23rd while walking on Aurora Ave N at Northgate Way in the Licton Springs neighborhood. 
  4. A 30-year-old man was killed on May 24th while walking on Boren Ave at Olive Way in the Denny Triangle neighborhood.
  5. A 63-year-old woman was killed on May 26th while walking on 12th Ave S at S Weller in the C-ID Neighborhood.  
  6. A 78-year-old person was killed while driving on May 29th on MLK Jr. Way S at Rose St. 

While investigations into each case are ongoing, what can be said now is that we are not making sufficient progress on Seattle’s Vision Zero goal, to eliminate fatal and serious injury collisions. At Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, we believe the next transportation levy, which will be on the Seattle November 2024 general election ballot, must take bold steps to invest in safe streets improvements to get this safety crisis under control. The levy is currently with the Seattle City Council for review and amendments.

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