Tag Archive for 'Queen Anne'

Map of stairways on Queen Anne Hill


Seattle has many urban stairways, with quite a few of them obscured and only known by the people who use them. Queen Anne Hill, which accounts for more than a hundred of the 550 stairways in Seattle, has its own map of the stairways.

To proud Queen Anne resident, architect and newly minted mapmaker Thomas Horton, there are some stairways in Venice that are “almost” as cool as Queen Anne’s steps.

“One of the jokes on my map is that the stairways are ‘oft’ pedestrian,” Horton says. “Obviously, they’re for feet, but the other meaning of pedestrian is mundane or everyday, and this is not always true with stairways … sometimes they’re really quite exciting.”

Horton likes the “hidden in plain sight” quality of Queen Anne stairways — how the delightful is revealed in one simple backward glance over the shoulder on a well-placed landing; yielding an unexpected view, or framing a historic detail hidden in stone.

You can buy the map for $5 from Queen Anne Books or buy a poster-sized version for $10.


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.


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.