Tag Archive for 'Central District'

Road diet on Nickerson found to improve safety, will other streets get a road diet?

SDOT has released a report on the Nickerson St road diet and found that by reducing the number of lanes for cars, safety has improved. Collisions, overall vehicle speeds, and the number of speeders have been reduced with minimal impact to traffic volumes. The Mayor outlines the good news:

Completed by the City in August 2010, the modifications have produced the following results:

  • Reduced collisions by 23 percent over a one-year period (compared to the previous five-year average)
  • Motorists traveling over the speed limit have declined by more than 60 percent
  • Top-end speeders (people traveling 10 or more miles over the speed limit) have fallen by 90 percent
  • The 85th percentile speed dropped from 40 mph and 44 mph westbound and eastbound to 33 mph and 33 Westbound and Eastbound. This is an 18 and a 24% reduction in speed.
  • Traffic volumes remain roughly the same with no evidence of traffic diversion.

This is the 27th successful road diet implemented by SDOT since 1974. And, with yet another roadway safety measure in place, the question must be asked: why isn’t SDOT implementing more of these safety measures?

We recently pointed out that 28 pedestrians have died in locations that may be eligible for a road diet. Since then, we’ve profiled three streets that may be ideal candidates for SDOT to consider next: 35th Ave SW in West Seattle, 23rd Ave in the Central District / Judkins Park, and S Jackson St in the International District. Let’s compare these three streets with Nickerson St to see whether these other streets may deserve the same successful safety treatment as Nickerson and 26 other Seattle streets.

First, we’ll start by looking at traffic volumes. SDOT looks at the total number of cars that use a roadway before implementing a road diet. Streets with average daily traffic counts above 25,000 are not good candidates, and presumably lower volumes make for better candidates, though road diets have minimal impact on overall volume. Using SDOT’s 2010 traffic volumes, here are the four streets compared, from lowest volume to highest:

  1. Jackson St: ranges from 10,200-13,600
  2. 23rd Ave: 13,400
  3. 35th Ave SW: ranges from 16,100-22,700
  4. Nickerson St: 22,300

Let’s look at another metric. While Walk Score is not an official criteria used by SDOT, it indicates the walkability of a location and is correlated with the number of pedestrians in an area. Streets with more pedestrians may be more deserving of measures that make the pedestrian environment safer and more pleasant. We took a sample Walk Score of 2-3 locations along each of these streets and are ranking them from highest (most walkable) to lowest (least walkable).

  1. Jackson St: 90
  2. 23rd Ave: 86
  3. Nickerson St: 81
  4. 35th Ave SW: 75

While the last two comparisons were interesting, the primary purpose of a lane rechannelization is to improve safety and the most dangerous streets should be looked at the hardest. We looked at this map of nationwide road fatalities, and counted the deaths that have occurred on each of these roadways from 2001-2009 to rank them in terms of urgency for safety improvements:

  1. 35th Ave SW: 4 roadway fatalities (including 2 dead peds)
  2. 23rd Ave: 4 roadway fatalities (2 dead peds)
  3. Jackson St: 3 roadway fatalities (3 dead peds)
  4. Nickerson St: 1 roadway fatality (0 dead peds)

Of our comparison group, Nickerson St has been the safest, is the second least walkable, and has the highest traffic volume. Still, a road diet was implemented and now has been shown to be a success. If a road diet can work there, then surely it can work on these other streets. How many more people will have to die before SDOT implements road diets on 35th Ave SW, 23rd Ave, Jackson St, and other locations where people are killed on Seattle’s roads?

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Deadly Seattle Street: 23rd Ave

23rd Ave

23rd Ave, another good road diet candidate

Walking in Seattle is looking at deadly streets that may be good road diet candidates. The list included 28 different locations – just a fraction of the 90 locations throughout the city where a pedestrian had been killed between 2001 and 2009.

With four people having been killed in less than one mile of roadway between Yesler St and I-90, Walking in Seattle nominates 23rd Ave as a good road diet candidate. A road diet on 23rd Ave would improve road safety by re-striping the roadway to add a center turn lane and bike lanes, thus slowing vehicle traffic. Pedestrians are much more likely to be killed by a car traveling at 40 mph than by a car traveling at 30 mph.

At 10 pm on January 4, 2008, a 53-year-old female pedestrian was killed at 23rd & Lane in the Judkins Park neighborhood. On May 21, 2009, a 74-year-old man was struck and killed at 23rd & Main at 3 in the afternoon. In 2004, a 57-year-old motorcyclist died at 23rd and S Judkins St. Two years later, in 2006, a 26-year-old police officer was killed at 23rd and Yesler, when a speeding car ran a light.

This particularly deadly section of 23rd has four lanes of vehicle travel, with no sharrows or bicycle lanes and few marked crosswalks. There is also a curve and an incline that limit visibility. The daily traffic volume here is only 13,400 vehicles per day, well below SDOT’s maximum threshold of 25,000 for implementing a lane rechannelization. With the low visibility, low traffic volume, and high number of fatalities, this section of roadway would be an ideal candidate for a road diet that could prevent further death of all roadway users.

Should SDOT implement a road diet on 23rd Ave?

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Comments on pedestrian rights and responsibilities

A driver struck a pedestrian on Yesler a few days ago. The pedestrian did not have life-threatening injuries. However, the more interesting part of this is the many general comments on pedestrians rights at Central District News. A few excerpts below.

From gds:

I hope that the City takes this as an opportunity to do something about the cars that fly down Yesler in total disregard of the pedestrians trying to cross the street. I’ve almost been hit a few times, and seen it happen to others. While the crosswalk at 20th helps, I think we need a better solution.

From David:

I’m a responsible driver and I follow the rules. I’d like to think I’m doing my part to keep the road safe. For sake of argument, please allow me to place you in the shoes of the type of pedestrian against which I raise my complaint.

How are you treating me by imposing your will on me as a driver when you disregard the rules? How are you treating me when you willfully create a stressful and terrifying situation by jumping out in front of my car? I’d argue, you’re not treating me very well at all, all for the sake of saving yourself 30-60 seconds.

From LizWas:

people walking against a light at an intersection are still jaywalking and being irresponsible and unsafe. it’s so irritating! on the flip side, i work downtown and see cars running red lights daily. i have almost been hit numerous times. thankfully a more watchful pedestrian has pulled me back or called to get my attention when someone was running a red light. ridiculous. they’re (literally) going to kill someone.

I think all the east/west roads Union, Yesler, Jackson, specifically have become increasing dangerous. It’s the drivers and sure, sometimes it’s the pedestrians, aren’t paying attention .. and people drive very, very fast and many don’t stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and also at corners. It is a huge problem for those of us who walk as well as those of us who drive as it forces pedestrians to foist themselves out into traffic. The city needs to address this in an aggressive way.

From Dennis:

I walk my dog every morning when people are going to work. I cross Jackson and Yesler at 30th and 29th. It is very rare for cars to stop for me when I am clearly waiting to cross at the intersection.

I have mixed feelings about this. If it’s pouring and cold, it can mke me a bit crabby. But if a line of cars going uphill stop for me, they all burn extra gas as they resume movement. My dog and I, standing on the corner, do not have much of a carbon footprint! So what’s better?

From mommywhowalksAND drives:

The law is pretty simple for the driver… stop for pedestrians…. in MARKED & UNMARKED crosswalks. Not if you feel like. Or if you are not in a hurry. STOP. For pedestrians in crosswalks.

My sister & her husband in Beaverton OR BOTH got ticketed in a “failure to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks STING” and gladly took the tickets and the lesson.

Seattle PD could seriously raise awareness with periodic emphasis patrols and ticketing @ most dangerous intersections.

Comment from C:

I drive from MLK and Yesler to 6th and Yesler twice a day most days, and 4 times a day on Thursdays and Fridays. I have done this for 15 years. I echo what David said so well, “I’ve been exposed to a Seattle culture that seems assume that if you’re on foot or on a bicycle, heaven forbid if a law or ordinance should ever apply to you. I don’t think it contributes well to mutual safety for any of us.” If someone is standing at a corner waiting to cross, I stop, no matter what. This is because my brother was hit crossing the street 20 years ago, suffered a brain injury, and made me acutely aware of how breakable the human body is. I’m careful. I don’t want to hit anyone with my car. But the jaywalkers and bikers give me heart palpitations. FREQUENTLY as I near the library, jaywalkers – mostly young people. As I pass the old folks’ home, jaywalkers – mostly ladies in ethnic garb jaywalking after seeing their kids off on the bus. When I get to projects, jaywalkers – mostly elderly ladies (one who was hit by a car recently), and kids. At the Yesler overpass, jaywalkers galore – many of them employees from Harborview parking on the overpass then jaywalking across it. And all the way down Yesler there are bicyclists don’t obey traffic laws at all! They’re on the wrong side of the road, at night, wearing all black, or going against the light, weaving in and out. It’s like a human obstacle course. I agree with David that there is a bizarre culture of “I’m not in a car, I dare you to run me over.” It’s insane.

More here.

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Seattle saved from network of highways

Central District News looked at how R. H. Thomson Expressway would have walled off the Central District from Lake Washington. This was posted in May of 09, but we just came across it.  The report shows how walkability in Seattle almost took a big blow due to over-ambitious freeway construction. A freeway master plan shows a Seattle criss-crossed with pedestrian-impeding highways. One in particular would have sliced through the Central District and included crossings only at a few major intersections:
View Thompson Expressway in a larger map

Head over to Central District News to read more and find out how activists were able to stop the project.

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Central District News suggests road diet for 23rd Ave

In response to the pedestrian “death map” we published, Central District News offers safety suggestions to combat the disproportionately high number of fatalities in their neighborhood:

So what can be done to reduce collisions? On a personal level, try to cross hilly streets either at the top or bottom of the hill. Make eye contact with vehicle drivers when crossing to make sure they see you. When driving, remember that all intersections are crosswalks by default whether there is paint on the ground or not, and pedestrians do have the right of way.

They also suggest a road diet for 23rd Ave, one of the most dangerous streets in the neighborhood:

There are other tools the city has used to increase safety on streets like 23rd Ave (I will now put on my safe roads advocacy hat). Currently, 23rd is a four-lane road with few safe pedestrian crossings other than at stoplights (what I would call a highway design). Four-lane configurations make left tuns onto and off of these roads difficult for drivers. They also prevent the city from being able to install safe crosswalks in sections where there are no stoplights for several blocks.

With only 15,100 vehicles per day south of Madison (according to 2006 data, the most recent readily available for this road) 23rd Ave has similar traffic volumes to roads across the city that have recently been reconfigured to increase safety for all users. These so-called “road diets” often add a center right left turn lane and sometimes bike lanes while removing one travel lane in each direction. Though they have proven to decrease all road collisions dramatically without reducing vehicle capacity, some have been controversial

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Madrona sidewalk maintenance in progress

Central District News reports that Liz Ellis of SDOT is planning sidewalk improvements in the Madrona area.

Ellis identified three specific arterials in Madrona as the most in need of repair – E. Union Street from MLK to 34th Avenue, E. Cherry Street from MLK to 34th Avenue and 34th Avenue between E. Cherry and E. Pike.
She’s meeting with a crew chief to discuss plans for repairs on E. Union St. as early as this month or in the first few weeks of November, to take advantage of good weather. That street was prioritized because it’s nearest to Madrona K-8 and sees a lot of foot traffic, both from school and from the bus stops. The repairs would include taking up lifted cracks, root pruning and putting in level asphalt patches.

Update: The sidewalk restoration has begun

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Crosswalk flags along Jackson St

Central District News reports that pedestrian flags are now available at crosswalks along Jackson St.

The Jackson Street Business Corridor (JSBC) has placed pedestrian safety flags at several crosswalks along South Jackson Street in the Central Area neighborhood. It is intended for these bright colored orange flags to increase pedestrian visibility, day or night. The JSBC, a group of Jackson Street business owners, encourages a pedestrian friendly business district.

These flags seem to be becoming more common. There are some streets that are more auto-oriented where crosswalks and pedestrians can be more easily missed. Hopefully these flags will help pedestrians to feel safer along this road.

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