Will the Northgate Ped/Bike be a "Bridge of Dreams"?
We can build a ped/bike bridge. But will people use it?
That depends on safety — both real and perceived.
Figure out how to make it safe. Now. Before the City commits to a particular design.
I wrote to SDOT to ask how designers planned to consider personal safety.
The answer? SDOT will look at it later when it finishes design:
Issues of personal safety will be addressed thoroughly in future stages of design development; at this point the team’s focus is understandably focused on the alignment and the type of bridge structure.
I hope they can do so but the issues are substantial. Consider the distances.
Crossing I-5, First Avenue NE to W side I-5 — about 550 feet.
Crossing Bartonwood Sanctuary, west side of I-5to College Way N — about 1050 feet. Total about 1600 feet. That’s about 7 city blocks, a good walk.
There is limited or no natural surveillance.
You ask about “Surveillance”?
Yes, go back to Jane Jacobs “eyes on the street”.
Natural, informal observation is the core irreducible essential for public safety. Ask SPD.SDOT's own Pedestrian Toolbox states
Despite the fact that pedestrian overpasses or underpasses can help meet some of the Plan’s goals, careful consideration should be given to potential negative impacts on the pedestrian environment, including:
personal security risks if pedestrian bridges or underpasses lack adequate lighting or surveillance;
How do we create surveillance with the Ped Bridge?
It is an isolated facility which starts at one isolated spot to another isolated spot. There are no observers parallel to the Ped Bridge 20 feet up in the air above I-5 or sitting in middle of natural open space.
There are no opportunities for natural surveillance.
Cars driving by at 55-60 MPH on I-5 may helps on portion of alignment But what can they see?
Then, moving west, once a walker or biker is past the west edge of I-5 there are no observers at all. Bartonwood Sanctuary is an open space.
So SDOT needs to answer how to create security during off-peak hours.(Off-peak is after 9 PM, weekends, when school not in session. I assume that there will be enough traffic during school hours but even there we should ask.
Obviously great lighting and camera and panic buttons are a start.
Are they enough? I don’t know.
It’s obvious that
1. Great lighting is no help if no one can observe;
2. Cameras can (and will be) vandalized;
3. Panic buttons tell the police that a crime has already happened.
Best to ask the experts: cops and designers expert in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or CPTED (pronounced sep-ted). Ask now.
Ask them now before City has created a high-crime bridge on which only the foolhardy will pass.