Another Pedestrian hit on Aurora

A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle near Green Lake earlier in the week. My Green Lake has good coverage of the incident.

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There is a single crosswalk, however in this case the pedestrian was trying to cross just a block away from it. Apparently jaywalkers across this section of Aurora are pretty common. While others commenting on this incident are quick to blame the pedestrian for jaywalking, the fact that this roadway is such a common location for pedestrian accidents points to flaws in design.

With walking being such an important mode of transportation in Seattle, it’s important that the built environment enables that. There is certainly a lot of motor vehicle traffic that passes along highway 99, but it also interrupts the street grid and and acts as a barricade for anyone trying to get to the walking haven that is Green Lake.

In this specific case, it’s not necessarily clear that there should be more crosswalks across Aurora, but perhaps it would help reduce the incidence of pedestrian accidents.


3 Responses to “Another Pedestrian hit on Aurora”

  • From my calculations, on Aurora Ave between 38th and 75th the average spacing between marked crosswalks is about 0.36 miles, or a 7-minute walk for the average person. This essentially encourages jaywalking, since most people aren’t willing to go that far out of their way for a crosswalk, especially if it means going away from their destination and then walking back. If people think they can make it across by jaywalking, they will.

    Imagine a comparable situation for all those drivers who are blaming the pedestrian for jaywalking. Just after going through an intersection you realize you should have taken that left turn, and you know there are “no left turn” signs for the next 4.5 miles (that’s 7 minutes if you’re going 40 mph). How many drivers are going to make the 9-mile detour (4.5 to the legal turn, then 4.5 back to the destination), and how many are going to make the illegal left turn at the next intersection? If traffic seems light enough and there aren’t any cops around, most every driver will make the illegal turn. Similarly, most pedestrians will jaywalk.

    Adding crosswalks on Aurora probably isn’t feasible—I doubt it’s politically viable, and even if it were I doubt there’s enough pedestrian traffic to meet federal guidelines for more signalized crossings. But if we can’t make it safe & legal for pedestrians to cross, we need to make it absolutely impossible for them to cross unsafely and illegally. People think they can easily hop over the current jersey barriers (even if, in reality, they’re not that easy to hop over), so they’re not a real deterrent to jaywalking. The barriers should be higher, perhaps by topping the existing ones with 5 or 6 feet of fencing. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it would make it much more impractical if not impossible to cross the road at any place other than a signalized crossing.

    I also think it would be a good idea to install signs at each signalized crossing that say “No crossings for X yards”, like the “No gas for X miles” signs one sees on desolate stretches of road. This would encourage pedestrians to think ahead about their route and to cross early (and safely) rather than waiting until they’re on the wrong side of the street from their destination and then trying to jaywalk.

    • Oh, and maybe they could even put signs at the cross-streets that point to the nearest crosswalk, perhaps with the distance to it or the street it’s at. That way, for example, if you were walking east on 66th and ran into Aurora, you’d know that just a little to your north there’ a crosswalk. As things are right now, from 66th you can’t see the crosswalk at 68th, nor can you see any crossings to the south. If you’re just trying to get to Green Lake, the natural inclination isn’t to randomly pick a direction and start walking until you stumble upon an intersection; the natural inclination is to jaywalk.

      • That’s a great idea to add some informative signs, a little information seems like it would be a big help.

        Adding a big ugly fence doesn’t sound appealing, but that’s what’s being done to deter suicides just down the road, so it would surely help. Probably a little more expensive than just adding signs, though.

        Does anyone know where to find statistics on how many pedestrians have been hit on Aurora over the last several years?

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