Tag Archive for 'Ballard'

Walking news roundup

There’s a lot of news out there to cover – here are a few stories:

And a couple SDOT news releases that I don’t have links for:

  • “Seattle Department of Transportation’s Roadway Structures crew will construct a new staircase near the southeastern city limits at 72nd Avenue South between Rainier Avenue South and South Taft Street.” The stairway will be closed starting next Monday through early May. “The new staircase will be wider with hand rails on both sides, and will sport a new bike runnel making it easy to roll a bike up and down the stairs.”
  • “Repairs are underway on the Duwamish Trail in West Seattle. The asphalt trail has been heavily damaged in places by tree roots and needs to be repaired for bicyclist and pedestrian safety.”
  • NE Ravenna Blvd between Green Lake and 15th Ave NE will be repaved. “Work includes grinding and removing the existing asphalt roadway, repairing areas of the concrete roadway base, repaving, upgrading pedestrian curb ramps and building a curb bulb at E. Green Lake Drive N. and N.E. 71st Street. Work is expected to be completed by the end of summer, dependant on weather conditions.”
  • Also, the pedestrian paradise known as the Ballard bridge will have a closed west sidewalk starting next Monday and continuing into April due to a painting project.

One final thing – the nomination period for the worst intersection in Seattle ends this Sunday.


Ballard resident requests illuminated crosswalk

My Ballard reports on a resident’s request to add a pedestrian-activated crosswalk at the intersection of 24th Ave NW and NW 58th St. Kevin Tice has applied for this improvement to be included by the Ballard District Council on the list of projects that are sent to the city for funding by the Neighborhood Projects Fund.

In the application Tice writes, “The current crosswalk has an outdated overhanging crosswalk light that is barely noticeable by cars, especially during overcast weather. The crosswalk signs (one for each side) unfortunately do not deter the vehicles driving at speeds of 25-40 mph from stopping for many pedestrians. I have attached videos [see above] that I took recently of numerous cars passing waiting pedestrians, either because of their speed, or because they could not see them waiting due to parked cars near the intersection. In a span of 30 minutes, I recorded 10 such incidents. I personally have had to run across 24th avenue due to cars not stopping.”


Golden Gardens stairway walk

Seattle Stairway Walks has posted another stairway walking route, this time at Golden Gardens:

If you’re looking for a short stairway walk, Golden Gardens is a great choice. Like the shorter version of the Solstice Park walk in West Seattle (Stairway Walk #1), this route is scenic and full of interest, yet it can be covered in less than an hour. From the edge of the Loyal Heights neighborhood, it descends 258 steps to Puget Sound and Golden Gardens beach, with glorious views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound.

As always, the walking route that Jake and Cathy have shared is full of vivid details, beautiful photos, and careful directions.  Have you used this staircase?


SDOT on the offensive about road diets

After some recent opposition to SDOT’s plan to rechannel 125th St, in addition to the heavy opposition to SDOT’s rechannelization of Nickerson, SDOT has gone on the offensive, with the benefits of road diets.

There has been a lot of interest in rechannelizations over the past few months, especially with SDOT’s proposal for NE 125th and the recent work on Nickerson. SDOT makes such changes to a street’s configuration to reduce vehicular speeds and make the road safer, especially for vulnerable users like pedestrians.

Seattle has been successfully installing these “road diets” since the Uhlman Administration and we are not alone in doing so. Cities such as San Francisco, Portland, Orlando, Oakland and New York all utilize them to make their streets safer. Though a rechannelization also allows us to incorporate wider lanes to better serve freight or install bike facilities, these are secondary to our primary goal of enhancing safety.

We often hear that these rechannelizations will increase congestion, diminish roadway capacity or cause more crashes. However, those concerns never actually materialize on roads that have been improved in this way. What one can document here and elsewhere are lower speeds, less crashes and fewer injuries from collisions. These are changes that benefit everyone from pedestrians to motor vehicle operators.

The recent examples of Stone Way N and Fauntleroy Way SW highlight how these inexpensive striping changes improve safety with no additional equipment or personnel costs. In fact, we recently studied how Stone Way performed after the change in lane layout and documented that:

Motor vehicles now travel at speeds nearer the legal limit;
Total collisions dropped 14 percent with injury collisions down 33 percent;
Pedestrian collisions declined significantly;
Bike trips increased 35 percent but collisions per bicycle trip have declined; and
Volumes show the roadway still easily accommodates motor vehicle traffic.
(You can read the full Stone Way report here: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/StoneWaybeforeafterFINAL.pdf.)

Having rechannelized 26 different roads in Seattle over the past several decades, SDOT can confidently state that “road diets” make our roads safer for all. And do so in a way that keeps traffic moving.

SDOT has linked to the Federal Highway Administration’s report on road re-striping, which shows that road diets increase safety with minimal impact to vehicle traffic.

They’ve also publicized some key safety statistics about 125th St – including that the vast majority of drivers speed on the road and that there have been almost 80 collisions with injury on this roadway.

And in response to criticism that SDOT did not publicize the 125th St road diet well enough, SDOT lists all the ways in which they reached out to the community.

Hopefully this communications effort will help refocus the debate – much of the discussion about road diets has been framed in terms of bikes vs cars, and SDOT is getting away from the term ‘road diet’, which may be a little alarming to drivers who fear for reading road capacity. As SDOT points out, road diets are nothing new, but they are still apparently controversial. Being more vocal in advertising these safety facts will surely help future road diets – excuse me, road rechannelizations – to generate less rancorous debate and anger towards bikers.

Not only will drivers and bikers benefit from increased safety, but reconfigured lane striping is welcomed by pedestrians who are able cross streets more safely both at marked and unmarked crosswalks, not be exposed to high-speed traffic right beside them, and overall feel more comfortable walking in their own neighborhoods.


Ballard bridge sidewalk closed for painting

Sidewalks on the Ballard Bridge will be closed over the next several weeks as work is done to repair and paint the handrails.

The sidewalk on the east side of the bridge is now closed through August 30th. On August 31, or shortly thereafter, the sidewalk on the west side will close for three weeks. The sidewalks will be closed around the clock, Monday through Friday, and will reopen for weekends.

The public stairway is partially closed. Access to the west sidewalk is open, but access to the east sidewalk is closed. This situation will reverse when the contractor moves the handrail painting to the west side of the bridge.

Detour signs direct pedestrians to the side not being painted.

Bicyclists are encouraged to use one of the alternate detour routes being provided; either the Ballard Locks or the Fremont Bridge. Alternately, if using a detour route is a hardship, bicyclists may use the sidewalk not being painted. However, due to the narrowness of the sidewalks and the contra-flow bike traffic, bicyclists will be required to dismount and walk their bikes across the bridge.


More Ballard ped improvements

Ballard is getting another improvement to its pedestrian experience.

View Larger Map

SDOT’s crews will install a curb between NW 56th and 57th on both sides of the street and the one-half block just south of 56th Street on the eastside of the street. The curb will provide a better walking environment by creating a buffer between the sidewalk and the street, and will provide a protected area for landscaping by preventing cars from parking on the planting strip area. This fall, trees will be planted on both sides of the street.


Pedestrian improvements in Ballard

My Ballard reports on crosswalk improvements on Leary Ave NW.

View Leary Ave NW between Market St & 20th Ave in a larger map

Changes include ladder style crosswalk markings in the street, overhead flood lighting in the crosswalk zone, a vehicle stop line for southbound traffic, new signage, the removal of one tree on the west side of the street, new light poles and new parking restrictions on the east and west side of the street for a distance of 35 feet in advance of the crosswalk. The work will take about seven days and will completed at some point before Labor Day.

There will also be curb bulbs added as part of this project. SDOT will continue evaluate additional improvement options, though funding for that is not currently available.


Nickerson Road Diet to move ahead as planned

Some questions were recently raised by Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen about a proposed re-striping of Nickerson Street. The “road diet” would add lanes for cyclists and a center turn lane for traffic by removing one vehicle lane from each direction.

Previous road diets along Stone Way and Fauntleroy Way SW have been successful at decreasing vehicle speeds and accidents and making the street more comfortable for bicyclists and pedestrians.

However, these road diets were also controversial when proposed. The idea of removing lanes implies a reduction in vehicle capacity and more gridlock, when history has often shown the opposite to be true.

The recent City Council transportation committee meeting had several people speaking out for and against the proposed road diet. PubliCola covered this meeting.

Apparently the meeting helped to answer Council Member Rasmussen’s questions, as he agreed that the road diet will happen.

The disputed Nickerson Street “road diet” will begin in July as planned, says Tom Rasmussen, chairman of the City Council’s transportation committee.

In a road diet, a four-lane road is re-striped to have only two lanes, plus a two-way left-turn lane and bike lanes. Three crosswalks are to be improved on Nickerson, which is to revert to four lanes near the Fremont and Ballard bridges.

Dozens of people testified Tuesday morning at Rasmussen’s committee meeting.

This is likely not the end of the road diets, though. The city may need to take on a more streamlined approach to these, as Josh Cohen suggests on PubliCola:

If we’re going to make a significant environmental shift in this city, as we at least pretend we want to, we cannot afford to have progress constantly marred by unfounded protest.

Re-striping is scheduled for next month.


Opposition to Nickerson “road diet”

UPDATE: Orphan Road has word of a Google Group set up in support of the “road diet”

The mayor’s proposal to put Nickerson St on a road diet is facing some opposition

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s “road diet” for West Nickerson Street is drawing opposition from Councilman Tom Rasmussen, who says the project should probably be delayed until 2016 — when other corridors including two-way Mercer Street and the Alaskan Way Tunnel are completed, and their traffic detours let up.

Rasmussen wants to scrutinize the plan June 8 in the council’s transportation committee, which he chairs.

In a typical “road diet,” a four-lane arterial is restriped so there are two traffic lanes and a center left-turn lane — and often bike lanes, plus some raised medians to help pedestrians. There have been 24 such lane reductions in the city since 1972.

The mayor, a longtime environmental activist, announced the Nickerson road diet May 11, as part of a re-emphasis on walking, biking and transit projects. One goal is for lower car speeds to improve pedestrian safety; the street passes through Seattle Pacific University.

Several local streets including Stone Way and Fauntleroy Way SW have recently been put on road diets with success in reducing accidents and improving the environment for bicyclists and pedestrians.


Pedestrian hit and killed in Ballard

A 67-year-old man was walking through a parking lot and was backed into and run over. He was dragged under the vehicle and died on the scene. More details are available at the Seattle Police Department Blotter.