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Pedestrian Infrastructure

A Quick-and-Dirty Fix for Sidewalkless Streets

Seattle DOT Director Dongho Chang calls this cheap-and-easy sidewalk trick a “protected walking lane.” Photo: Dongho Chang

The most basic necessity for a walkable street is a sidewalk. But a surprising number of urban streets lack dedicated paths for walking, and cities often struggle with the expense of adding concrete.

Seattle has found a way to get a safe walking space on the ground quickly for a fraction of the price. Seattle DOT Director Dongho Chang snapped the above photo of what he calls a "protected walking lane." It's a makeshift sidewalk built using just paint and concrete bumpers.

This particular spot, NE 110th Street, is an important walking route for several local schools, according to Sue Romero, a spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Transportation. The city worked with the surrounding neighborhoods to make safe spaces for kids. In addition to these "protected walking lanes," the city also installed corner sidewalk extensions and two crosswalks, Romero reports.

Seattle has used painted walkways in other parts of the city, she says: On 8th Ave S in the South Park neighborhood and along the waterfront.

Seattle officials report this "protected walking path" cost $26,000 to construct. The full sidewalk is estimated at $300,000.

Updated February 5th with new information from the city of Seattle. 

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