Policy: Seattle's Complete Streets Policy and Checklist

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What it does: 

In 2001, Seattle City Council passed a Complete Streets ordinance which mandates the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to design streets for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and persons of all abilities, while promoting safety for all travelers. To ensure all users are considered in street design, every street undergoing major maintenance and construction must be evaluated with a Complete Streets Checklist, enforced by SDOT.


Seattle’s Complete Streets policy prioritizes safety first and mobility second. It plans to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030 and to promote walking, bicycling, and transit use for all users. 

Cost & Financing: 

The City of Seattle intends for the Complete Streets ordinance to apply to all transportation projects in the city, regardless of their funding sources. In 2006, Seattle voters approved a nine-year $365 million levy to support transportation projects that follow the Complete Streets Checklist.


Since 1972 the City of Seattle has transformed 36 different roads. A 2010 study conducted by Bhagwant Persaud and Craig Lyon of Ryerson University[1] reviewed 30 redesigned streets in Washington and California and determined a 19% reduction in collision rate.

The following studies reveal the impact of Complete Streets on an individual project basis:

  • Stone Way N Rechannelization showed a 49% reduction in neighborhood traffic during AM peak times at one intersection; pedestrian collisions have been reduced 80% and the number of cyclists has increased 35% during 2007-2010. The before and after photos are pictured below.

  • Nickerson Street changes improved pedestrian safety and increase driver compliance with the speed limit, adding two new marked crosswalks and monitored traffic speeds over the next year. This led to a 23% reduction in collisions over the preceding five-year average. Safety improved as speeding reduced by more than 60%.
  • The NE 125th Street Rechannelization led to an 8% reduction in speed, 10% reduction in collisions per million vehicles, and 17% decline in injury collisions per million vehicles.

[1] Evaluation of Lane Reduction “Road Diet” Measures on Crashes by FHWA, June 2010

Key Contacts: 

Name Organization Phone Number E-mail
Susan McLaughlin SDOT (206) 684-0102 susan.mclaughlin@seattle.gov
David Hiller Cascade Bicycle Club (past advocacy director) (206) 218-6712 david@davidhiller.us

Susan McLaughlin is the program manager of Complete Streets while David Hiller was a major advocate pushing for the Complete Streets Ordinance.

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Last Updated August 13, 2014 | Written By Mimi Tam