ST3 Sidewalk Chalk Inflames The Seattle Times

@seayimby photo

The Seattle Times found its latest source of Sound Transit-related outrage yesterday when the tabloid caught wind of markings activists had made around Seattle to advertise future light rail stations.

The dramatic Seattle Times headline read: “Sidewalk ‘future subway’ messages promote light rail. Free speech or ‘graffiti’?” Perhaps they hadn’t realized the markings were made with sidewalk chalk. The article’s author, Michael Lindblom, conceded graffiti was a stretch on Twitter:

Apparently the Seattle Department of Transportation didn’t approve, though, because they have asked Sound Transit 3 supporters to remove the markings:

Perhaps the inbound typhoon will do their work for them.

Whatever the matter, the pro-ST3 campaign had made their point and helped people still waffling on the issue (see our “vote yes” endorsement, undecideds) to visualize the benefit if ST3 passes. Seeing the “sidewalk graffiti” in Ballard and knowing you will be 11 congestion-free minutes away from South Lake Union if ST3 passes is pretty remarkable.

Those meddling kids with their sidewalk chalk. (Photo by @Seayimby)
Those meddling kids with their sidewalk chalk. (Photo by @yimbysea)

Similar for folks in West Seattle Junction seeing the markings and envisioning the 12-minute train ride to Pioneer Square. These are unthinkable times for people commuting at peak times and ST3 would deliver this to West Seattle by 2030. And vice versa for folks downtown looking to get out to West Seattle or Ballard. ST3 would speed up those transit trips dramatically.

Update: As of Friday morning, the sidewalk chalk paint is holding up OK in the heavy rain.

One day into the typoon and still legible (Photo by Ben Crowther)
One day into the typoon and still legible. (Photo by Ben Crowther)

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Doug Trumm is The Urbanist's Executive Director. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.

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This isn’t temporary sidewalk chalk. Its spray paint. We’ve had to remove a handful of these from our buildings sidewalks, lest we be fined by the city for having graffiti on our sidewalks, I imagine.


Whoever came up with this idea, it’s great! I hope they re-do after the storm passes!! 🙂

Glen Buhlmann

Hopefully SDOT prioritizes all the signs that block wheelchairs on sidewalks first. And let’s see…how many sidewalk chalk signs would that include… Oh, right. None.

Al Dimond

Well, then, I guess we’d better go hard on all the “anti-” signs on public land in the ‘burbs, too.