Tag Archive for 'North Seattle'

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No sidewalks? Blame the Great Depression

The area north of N 85th Street was one of the last areas for Seattle to annex and for the most part doesn’t have sidewalks. The Seattle PI’s Getting There column sheds more light on why there aren’t sidewalks in this area.

In short, prior to the Great Depression, annexed areas in Seattle were part of local improvement districts that would pay taxes to support interest and principal payments on city bonds for transportation improvements (including sidewalks). During the Great Depression, property owners couldn’t afford the taxes and the city had to support the bonds. The next annexations took place in the 50s and the city wanted to avoid the risk of getting stuck making bond payments again, so sidewalks were paid by developers or from the city’s general fund, making them a lower priority.


New 97th St stairs open in Maple Leaf

Maple Leaf Life reports that pedestrians can continue along 97th Street between 19th and 20th Aves along a new stairway.

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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.


Walking Ravenna / Wedgwood

This quiet residential neighborhood in Northeast Seattle is home to a large glacial boulder and the city’s first P-patch.

View Walking Wedgwood in a larger map

Start at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center at NE 65th St and Ravenna Ave NE. If you’re driving, there is street parking in the area. The 71 or 76 buses will take you right there, or the 68 will take you just a couple blocks away.

The Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center was a public school from 1911 to 1981, mostly for elementary-aged students, but it also had grades 7 and 8. Since the school was sold to the city in 1986 to be repurposed as a community center, the top floors have served as the Ravenna School Apartments for the elderly. Seattle Public Schools has an overview of the school’s history here in PDF format.

Head north along Ravenna Ave NE. This is a quiet neighborhood street with sidewalks. At NE 75th St, turn right, go three blocks, cross 25th Ave N, and then turn left to cross 75th and continue north along 25th.

Soon, you will reach Dahl Park, and the sidewalk curves away from the road to allow for angled parking. Dahl Park was once known as Ravenna Swamp and now has several play fields. There were originally a few houses built on this site, but they sunk into the swampy land and the city purchased the land to create this park – one of the houses was moved elsewhere.

After crossing NE 80th St, the road will veer left slightly as it approaches the Picardo Farm P-Patch. The parking lot of University Prep has a good view of the entire P-Patch. This land was originally swampy and has very good soil for planting. As you walk along 25th, turn right to walk down into the P-Patch. Depending on the season, you may see ripe fruits and vegetables and colorful flowers. This is one of the largest p-patches in the city and is also the very first. The P in P-Patch stands for Picardo, the name of the family that owned the land before it was given over to the parks department.

Picardo Farm P-Patch

Picardo Farm P-Patch

Explore the garden, including the controversial bronze Venus statue and professionally maintained gardens toward the back corner, before heading back out to 25th Ave. Head north on 25th and turn right on NE 82nd St. Continue along 82nd and turn right on 30th Ave NE. Be careful when crossing 75th St, as vehicle traffic can be fast, however pedestrians do have the right of way to cross here. After crossing 75th, turn right and walk for one block before turning left on 28th Ave NE.

Just a ways down on the left side of the road is Big Rock, as known by residents, or Wedgwood Rock, as known by geologists. This is the second largest glacial erratic in Washington State, the largest being on Whidbey Island. Before recreational rock walls existed, this rock was used for practice by area mountain climbers. When the land was platted for housing, the developer agreed not to destroy the rock and to turn the area into a park. While there isn’t a park, at least the boulder was preserved, however climbing it is now illegal.

Big Rock

Big Rock (or Wedgwood Rock)

Also, notice the cross streets in this area – this is one of the first neighborhoods in Seattle where the developer adapted to the terrain and did not employ a strict grid pattern for the streets – a precursor to the winding suburban roads of today’s housing developments.

Continue south to NE 65th St and turn right there. There are a few shops and restaurants in this area. Just 6 more blocks until Ravenna Ave, where you’ll return to our starting point.

highlights: Big Rock, P-Patch, Community Center, quiet residential streets with sidewalks
lowlights: lack of shade, may be difficult to cross 75th St


Sidewalk improvements for Safe Routes to School

SDOT is adding sidewalks or otherwise encouraging kids to walk to school at 5 elementary schools this summer. The schools include:

  • B. F. Day Elementary in Fremont
  • Roxhill Elementary near White Center
  • Olympic Hills Elementary in Olympic Hills in North Seattle
  • Dearborn Park Elementary in Rainier Valley
  • Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Judkins Park near I-90

The Safe Routes to School program is funded by the Bridging the Gap transportation initiative. The program works closely with school staff, students and parents to identify barriers and solutions to make walking and biking safer and more accessible.

Over the past three years, the Safe Routes to School Program has made improvements at 14 schools across the city. … Over the life of the nine-year levy, SDOT anticipates making improvements at 30 schools across the city as part of the program.


Road Diet opposition in North Seattle

Publicola reports on opposition to a planned redesign of roadway along 125th Ave NE.

Following the familiar routine that has accompanied all of the road diets in Seattle this year, Lake City and Pinehurst community members have raised concerns about the Seattle Department of Transportation’s plans to reconfigure NE 125th St. between Roosevelt Way and 35th Ave NE and making efforts to stop the project.

SDOT’s proposal is to reduce travel lanes from two-lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction with a center turn lane. SDOT says the lane reduction would allow them to install traditional bike lanes in either direction, improve pedestrian crossings, improve “major signalized intersections by creating right turn only lanes for vehicles (excluding transit and bikes),” and reduce vehicle speeds. According to an editorial by Cascade Bicycle Club’s Chris Rule, the 85th percentile of vehicles travel 39 mph on the 30 mph road.

View Lake City road diet in a larger map

As we saw with the Nickerson St road diet a few weeks ago, these road diets can be controversial. A flier has been distributed in the neighborhood calling the redesign a bad idea.

If you support the increased safety for pedestrians that results from road diets decreasing vehicle speed, feel free to contact walkandbike@seattle.gov. The comment period closes tomorrow at 5pm.


15th Ave NE Bridge closure

The 15th Ave NE bridge over Thornton Creek near 105th St will be closed for the next 11 months for repair and pedestrian improvements.

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For anyone trying to walk across the bridge, the closest crossing is along Roosevelt Way, which is parallel to 15th and about a 5 minute walk west. This area has a walkscore of 78, so the bridge may likely be frequented by people who live in the area. However, the inconvenience to these pedestrians is not without benefit, as when the bridge re-opens, there will be a railing to separate vehicle traffic from the sidewalk.