Most Seattle voters support restricting cars on some shopping streets, like at Pike Place Market, and on some neighborhood streets, according to new poll results released Wednesday.
More than 80% of respondents to the poll sponsored by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and the Northwest Progressive Institute said they strongly (53%) or somewhat (28%) supported allowing shopping streets to limit vehicle traffic to loading and unloading — to help people “walk comfortably and safely.”
Meanwhile, 67% said they strongly (37%) or somewhat (30%) supported limiting vehicle traffic to deliveries and local access on certain neighborhood streets — to help people “safely walk, bike, run and play.”
The lead-in was: “Seattle has ambitious climate, health, equity, livability, economic, and safety goals. Do you support or oppose making the following changes to get us closer to these goals?”
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, like many advocacy organizations in the city, is trying to make a case for its political aims as Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell prepares to take over from current Mayor Jenny Durkan.
Transportation received less attention than homelessness and public safety during Harrell’s race against M. Lorena González, but the next administration will have plenty of street-related matters to deal with.
The poll by Change Research was conducted online in mid-October with 617 residents who said they were likely to vote in Seattle’s Nov. 2 elections. The reported margin of error was 4.1%, the respondents were recruited via social media and text message, and the demographics were weighted based on the composition of the city’s 2017 electorate.
The same respondents were asked about the Nov. 2 elections. Harrell, city attorney candidate Ann Davison and City Council candidates Teresa Mosqueda and Sara Nelson led in the poll, according to results released before the elections, and each of them went on to win.
Seattle Neighborhood Greenway Executive Director Gordon Padelford said the support in the poll for pedestrian streets was striking.
After being informed by the poll that “many cities across the country, including Seattle, made changes to their streets to create more space” during the COVID-19 pandemic for various outdoor activities, more than 80% of respondents said they supported creating more space for dining and retail “as the state recovers from COVID-19, even if it means removing a lane of traffic or parking spaces.”
The city launched a “Café Streets” pilot program last year, in response to the pandemic, and has extended the program through next May. The city also created a “Stay Healthy Streets” program in neighborhoods last year and has promised to make at least 20 miles permanent. The poll results indicate the city could build on those programs, Padelford said.
Most of the poll’s respondents said they supported taking away car space “as the state recovers from COVID-19” to create bus lanes, bike lanes and safe routes to schools. Support ranged from 70% to 84% for those options.
Adding homes, stores and amenities in neighborhoods “to create a city where people can walk to all their daily needs in fifteen minutes or less” was also popular, securing 81% support. Padelford thinks the “15-minute city” concept could help bridge political divides over zoning changes and growth, he said.
Moving traffic enforcement from the police department to the transportation department was also popular in the poll, securing 73% support.
The least popular idea was requiring property owners to repair their sidewalks before selling their properties “to make sidewalks safer and more accessible.” The concept earned only 45% support.
The requirement was recommended last month by the city auditor’s office, which reported that nearly half of Seattle’s sidewalks are in fair, poor or very poor condition. Property owners are generally responsible for sidewalks adjacent to their properties.