Tag Archive for 'road diet'

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SDOT recommends 125th St road diet, opposition targets mayor

SDOT is recommending to move forward with its plan to rechannel the lanes along 125th St to make them safer for everyone, including pedestrians.

This idea had been discussed in August and SDOT has spent the past few months considering input from the public and doing additional analysis. The 85th percentile of traffic currently travels along this 30 mph road at 39 mph. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 40 mph is 85% likely to die, whereas a pedestrian struck at 30 mph has a 45% chance of death.

From SDOT:

The project would bring speeds closer to the posted speed limit, make turning on and off the street easier, allow safer crossings by pedestrians and provide dedicated space for bicyclists.

Tom Fucoloro with Seattle Bike Blog has a good writeup on SDOT’s decision to recommend this and on the opposition to the project. The project will delay vehicle travel time during peak hours by only 4-25 seconds, though opponents claim that buses will bottleneck the route. SDOT’s recommendation is currently pending Mayor McGinn’s approval and he will likely do so this month, however the opposition is urging people to call the mayor.


SDOT’s 2011 plans include more pedestrian projects

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s 2011 to do list includes many pedestrian projects.

One project starting in March is the West Thomas pedestrian / cycling bridge, which links Lower Queen Anne with the waterfront.

The Mountains to Sound trail will provide greater pedestrian and bicycle accessibility around and across I-5 and I-90 near Beacon Hill.

The exciting Linden Ave N complete streets project will give a full makeover to 17 blocks’ worth of curbs, curb ramps, sidewalks, bike lanes, and trees.

Seattle is putting significant resources into improvements for pedestrians even in this lean budget year.


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


Greenwood Ave improvements

Visit SDOT’s blog to see photos of the new road striping on Greenwood Ave.

This project, which is consistent with the Greenwood Neighborhood Plan, enhances access to businesses, improves pedestrian safety, maintains transit efficiency, and provides bicycle facilities while reducing vehicle speeds and maintaining vehicle carrying capacity.

Crews changed the number of travel lanes to one lane in each direction, extended turn pockets at the intersection of Greenwood and N 85th St, installed a new center turn lane, and added bicycle lanes in both directions.


Greenwood Avenue re-channelization

Another road will be re-striped to improve pedestrian safety. This time it’s Greenwood Avenue between 85th St and 105th St, which will be reduced from 4 lanes to 3, including a center turn lane.

View Greenwood Avenue road diet in a larger map

Unlike other road diets, this one was requested by the neighborhood and has not received many complaints. The project is planned to be completed this year and will help make things safer for pedestrians by reducing the number of lanes of traffic to cross.


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.


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.