Tag Archive for 'West Seattle'

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: 35th Ave SW in West Seattle

35th Ave SW, a good road diet candidate

One of Seattle’s deadly streets that deserves more attention is 35th Ave SW in West Seattle. This street appeared twice in our list of locations of fatal pedestrian collisions that deserve further study. Walking in Seattle nominates this street for special consideration by SDOT as a road diet candidate.

A lane rechannelization, or road diet, involves re-striping the roadway, and in the case of 35th Ave, would add a center turn lane and bike lanes, and have one lane in each direction for motor vehicle traffic. The effect is that traffic flows more smoothly, thanks to the center turn lane, drivers go more slowly, and all users are able to use the roadway more safely.

The road carries 4 lanes of vehicle traffic in addition to a lane of parking on each side of the street. This makes the road width around 54 feet, which takes someone walking a normal speed more than 13 seconds to cross – a long time to be in the middle of a deadly roadway. In one area, marked crosswalks are half a mile apart.

An 85-year-old man was struck and killed on this street in 2007 at SW Othello St. A 39-year-old man was also killed on this street when he chased after his dog. This incident was covered by West Seattle Blog when it happened. While the speed of the vehicle who hit him isn’t available, road diets do reduce vehicle speeds. A pedestrian hit at 40 mph is about 85 percent likely to die; a pedestrian hit at 30 mph is about 40 percent likely to die.

Between 2001 and 2009 there were also two non-pedestrian fatalities on the roadway as a 27-year-old female cyclist was struck and killed at SW Graham St in 2006 and a 77-year-old driver was killed in a collision at SW Thistle St.

According to SDOT’s traffic volume data, the daily traffic volume on this road ranges from 16,100 to 22,700 vehicles per day. SDOT’s maximum threshold for implementing a road diet is 25,000 vehicles per day.

Right now the road has no bike lanes or sharrows and limited crosswalks. While it’s not certain that a road diet would have prevented these needless deaths, safety improvements are needed and could be provided by a road diet.

What do you think?

Should SDOT implement a road diet on 35th Ave SW?

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Summer Streets on Alki this Sunday

Alki Ave SW will be fully closed to vehicle traffic between 63rd Ave SW and 56th Ave SW for the Summer Streets program. It starts at 11 and includes special demos, kids activities:

With the streets car-free and fun-focused expect the unexpected…random yoga; intermittent acts of dance; sidewalk chalk…outside the lines! So plan on playing in the street this weekend – the Summer Streets – and…bring your creativity!

It’s everybody’s street. Imagine the possibilities.

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Overhead crosswalk sign added in West Seattle

West Seattle Blog reports that a flashing-light crosswalk sign has been installed at SW Findlay Street across California Ave. Previously there had been a hanging sign (without flashing lights). While California includes only two lanes of motorized traffic and a center turn lane, this project was requested by community leaders and funded through the Neighborhood Street Fund. According to one commenter, drivers rarely stop for pedestrians at this intersection, so hopefully the flashing lights will change that.


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SDOT stairway repairs

An SDOT press release describes two ongoing stairway repairs:

SEATTLE — The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is currently rehabilitating two public stairways—one in West Seattle at SW Genesee Street between SW 22nd and SW 23rd streets, and one in Southeast Seattle at South Ferdinand Street and 31st Avenue South near the Columbia City light rail station.

The crews working on the Genesee Street stairway in West Seattle expect to complete the work by March. Work on the Ferdinand Street stairway in Southeast Seattle (Phase 2 of work that was completed last year) is scheduled for completion in May.

SDOT maintains approximately 480 public stairways. The stairs are important for helping pedestrians to get around in the city, since they traverse steep hills where streets do not continue through to the next block. They provide local access to schools, parks, bus stops, and business areas. Many are located in wooded areas, providing pleasant walks for recreation and exercise.

Have you used one or both of these stairways?  What kind of condition are they in?

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Triangle Walk and Talk

In case you missed the Walk and Talk with Councilmember Rasmussen on Tuesday, there’s a write-up on Seattle Transit Blog:

Last night Feet First (great pedestrian advocacy group) hosted their second Walk & Talk tour guided by Tom Rasmussen. The tour started in the Triangle of West Seattle (bounded by 35th, Alaska, and Fauntleroy) and headed east stopping at destinations along the way, ending at a casual reception.

The first stop was the YMCA followed by the new “Link” development. The Triangle is an interesting area. Up until just a year or two ago the whole area consisted mostly of light manufacturing and auto dealership, a large number of which are out of business now. The area is prime for redevelopment, due to its location and underlying zoning. As a casual observer of developments in this area over the last few years it’s interesting how omnipresent the themes of transition and parking are.

There are also some more details over at STB about the implementation of RapidRide bus service.

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Walk & Talk tonight

Just a reminder, despite the wet weather, Feet First is hosting a Walk & Talk in West Seattle with City Council Member Rasmussen at 6 pm tonight. Click here for event details.

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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.

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Walk & Talk with Councilmember Rasmussen

Feet First, the Seattle walkability advocacy organization, is hosting a walk and talk with City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen in West Seattle.

Take a short walk (1.5miles) and learn how walking and transit are becoming a key part of supporting health, economy, and vivrancy of this area. Thie ‘Triangle’ is in the heart of the West Seattle peninsula and soon will be home to West Seattle’s first Bus Rapid Ride network.

Find out how the City of Seattle is creating a more pedestrian friendly future, which retains locally-owned small businesses. Senior Planner, Susan McLain from the Department of Planning and Development will be on hand to answer your questions.

Enjoy meeting and chatting with new people and also browsing small local businesses along California Ave SW! The Walk & Talk will end with an evening deck reception overlooking the Puget Sound at a local sustainable urban farm in West Seattle.

The event is on Tuesday, August 31, at 6 pm and there is a cost of $15 for non-members ($10 for members).

You can RSVP via the facebook invitation.

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New sidewalks at Junction Plaza Park

If you’re strolling in West Seattle, you might notice the new Junction Plaza Park, but also be sure to note the new sidewalks (SDOT).

If you stop on the way to the West Seattle Junction to enjoy the handsome new Junction Plaza Park at 42nd and SW Alaska Street, you might notice that there are also new sidewalks along the street surrounding the park. The sidewalks are the handiwork of SDOT’s South Concrete Paving Crews, happy to have a part in the creation of the community’s newest attraction, dedicated on Tuesday, June 29. The park provides an enjoyable pass-through retreat on the way to shopping or parking, as well as providing a location for small performances or festivals.

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