SUNI - Pedestrian Counts PDF Print E-mail

Pedestrian Counts


Sustainable Seattle enlisted the help of five students from the University of Washington's Service Learning program to conduct pedestrian counts at key intersections in the business districts of our 10 partner neighborhoods. These counts will be useful in understanding one important indicator healthy business districts - foot traffic! This indicator was specifically requested by our steering committee focused on creating vibrant and thriving business districts.

Why Pedestrian Counts?

At the core of a healthy and thriving city is an environment that promotes and supports people on foot. Pedestrians keep the streets safe by providing a community presence. Pedestrians support the local economy by frequenting local stores and services. They also contribute to a sense of community by offering opportunities for social interaction.

As indicated by the findings of the Neighborhood Dialogue and the Healthy Neighborhoods Survey, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods are of top concern to Seattle citizens.  Community leaders representing the business communities of our SUNI neighborhoods also indicated that pedestrian activity was one of the most important indicators of a thriving neighborhood business district.  The City of Seattle is pushing hard to create a more pedestrian-oriented city as a key strategy for building a more sustainable city.  In fact, reducing the reliance on the automobile and supporting alternative transportation such as biking, walking, and public transportation were key recommendations of Mayor Nickels' Green Ribbon Commission on Climate Protection to help Seattle significantly reduce global warming pollution to meet or beat the goals of the Kyoto Protocol.


Sustainable Seattle developed its methodology for conducting pedestrian counts through research into existing methodologies, conversations with staff at Seattle's Department of Transportation and Feet First, a local non-profit focused on promoting pedestrian activity, and input from community leaders from each of the 10 SUNI neighborhoods.

Five students from the University of Washington's Service Learning Program were recruited and trained to count pedestrians in our 10 SUNI neighborhoods.  One intersection in each of the 10 neighborhood business districts was selected by each community.  To see the list of neighborhoods and intersections, here.  


From October 2005 to February 2006, pedestrians were counted during eight one-hour shifts: 11am-12pm, 1pm-2pm, 5pm-6pm and 7pm-8pm on a Saturday and a weekday (Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday). Counts were not conducted during holidays. To see a summary of the pedestrian count sampling plan,here.


For each count, students were instructed to track the number of people crossing any of the four directions of the intersection.  Each crossing was counted so if a pedestrian crossed the intersection more than once during the one-hour shift, they were counted more than once. Students also noted additional information about pedestrians such as the number of people carrying shopping bags, pushing stroller/babies, and walking dogs.


56 hours of pedestrian counts were initially conducted in Sustainable Seattle's 10 SUNI neighborhoods.  This fell short of the proposed 80 hours (eight one-hour counts in each neighborhood) due to difficulties getting data from one student.  As a result, we asked our Youth Interns to complete the full eighty hours of counts for several neighborhoods (Capitol Hill, Chinatown-ID, Greenwood-Phinney, Lake City, and Uptown). As of March of 2007 all of the pedestrian count hours have been completed.  Our findings are summarized below.

To see a summary of the 80 pedestrian counts here.


Please note that it is not particularly useful to compare counts across neighborhoods as the 10 neighborhoods vary in density, size, and character.

Students also documented the number of people with shopping bags, strollers/babies, and dogs.




The table below presents pedestrian count findings and density-related information for each of 10 SUNI neighborhoods.  This supplemental data may be useful to consider when reviewing the pedestrian count data because the character, density, and size of the 10 neighborhoods and their business districts vary.


Comprehensive Plan Designation Households/Acre
Admiral Residential Urban Village 10 16
East Ballard NA * *
Capitol Hill Urban Center 31 48
Chinatown-ID Urban Center 11 17
Columbia City Residential Urban Village 6 16
Greenwood-Phinney Residential Urban Village 16 21
Lake City Hub Urban Village 13 13
North Beacon Hill Residential Urban Village 9 25
Uptown Urban Center 15 15
Wallingford Residential Urban Village 10 19

Supplemental data come from Census 2000 statistics and from the Urban Village Element and Urban Village Appendix of Seattle's Comprehensive Plan.


DOIT Interns

Thanks to a generous grant from the City of Seattle's Department of Information Technology (DOIT) and a partnerhsip with the International District Housing Alliance (IDHA), Sustainable Seattle is able to offer three youth internships. These interns will assist Sustainable Seattle with organizing, conducting, and the technology of the Street-Level Surveys. Additionally, the interns will communicate findings from the surveys to neighborhood groups.
Carmen Cruz

I was born in the Philippines eighteen years ago and moved to the United States when I was eight years old. I can understand both Tagalog and Waray-Waray, and speak Tagalog fluently. I will be attending Seattle Central Community College in January 2007. Since I like to help people and it is what I want to do in the future, I am planning to go into Social Work. Besides being an intern for Sustainable Seattle, I am also a youth staff with the WILD (Wilderness Inner-City Leadership Development) program at the International District Housing Alliance. I have been with them for four years; first starting out as one of the youth and now a youth program assistant. I’m always up for anything! I enjoy being active and love doing outdoor activities such as rock climbing, hiking, snowboarding, camping, etc. At the same time, I also love to relax, laugh, and enjoy the moment. “Imagine what you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail.”

Guo Zhi Liu

My name is Guo Zhi Liu, and I am an intern at Sustainable Seattle for the SUNI project. I am also an Intergenerational Program Assistant at the International District Housing Alliance’s WILD (Wilderness Inner-city Leadership Development)Program. I am attending Seattle Central Community College this year. I like to study Mathematics and Biology.  I like to volunteer in my neighborhood and help people. I am really excited that I can be one of the members of Sustainable Seattle and WILD, and want to know what I can give back to my community. I want to be a successful person someday. Also, I like hanging out with my friends very much, enjoying the time we meet together, and I also love to travel to new regions by myself. That is so fun; nobody knows who you are.

Luan Quach

I’m 18 years old and currently a first-year student studying full time at Seattle Central Community College.  I was born in Vietnam, and moved to the U.S about 10 years ago.  I speak multiple languages including; Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Vietnamese, a little bit of Japanese, and of course English.  Before I joined WILD, I had been volunteering with other organizations.  These organizations included the Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) and the Student Conservation Association (SCA).  I just started my internship this year at the International District Housing Alliance WILD program, as well as my internship for Sustainable Seattle's Sustainable Urban Neighborhood Initiative (SUNI) project.  Other than work, I really enjoy a good game of basketball with literally anyone, biking by myself, going out anywhere as long as it’s with my friends, and last but not least, nothing is better than watching a movie or football game on the couch, while relaxing my constantly working brain.


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