In five years---despite dire warnings from groups like Save Our Valley that surface-level light rail construction and operations would lead to a rash of pedestrian fatalities---there have been zero deaths in the past five years along Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., where surface-level light rail opened in July 2009. In the same period, there have been seven deaths on or near MLK's parallel street, Rainier Ave.
The correlation is no coincidence: As I've written before, Rainier Ave. is a pedestrian nightmare, a five-lane arterial where drivers speed along at 50 mph and where stoplights are as far as a mile apart. MLK, in contrast, has more stop lights, fewer lanes, and frequent pedestrian crossings, especially at light rail stations. According to the PI.com, Rainier is the most dangerous street in the city, with 61 reported car-pedestrian collisions between 2002 and 2006. The intersection of Rainier and 39th Ave. S. tied a several-block-long stretch of Aurora for the most jaywalking incidents (six) in the city.
The solution (as I've also written before) is to add more stoplights and lighted, marked crosswalks all along Rainier. As long as people have to walk a half-mile in each direction to get to the nearest stop light and back, people are going to keep jaywalking across Rainier, and people are going to keep getting hit. The pedestrian death map highlights what's already obvious to anyone who walks, rides the bus, drives, or bikes along Rainier: The city hasn't taken pedestrian safety in the Rainier Valley seriously, and it's time for them to step up and do so.