Tag Archive for 'Worst Intersection in Seattle'

2017 Worst Intersection In Seattle: Denny And Stewart

See the announcement on The Urbanist.

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Vote for Seattle’s Worst Intersection: 2017

The nominees are in and it’s time to Vote on Seattle’s Worst Intersection. See the options and place your vote at The Urbanist. The polls will be open until June 9.

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Nominate Seattle’s Worst Intersection: 2017

Update: Vote on Seattle’s Worst Intersection at The Urbanist

This is the fifth year of our annual tradition of selecting the worst intersection in Seattle and the selection process starts with you.

What do you think is the worst intersection in Seattle?

Looking south on Green Lake Way

Last year’s worst intersection

We’re looking for those intersections that are worst for walkers, maybe because of noisy traffic, missing sidewalks, poor signal timing or possibly all of the above, like last year’s worst intersection: Green Lake / 50th / Stone Way.

Previous worst intersections in Seattle:

Update: Vote on Seattle’s Worst Intersection at The Urbanist

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2016 Worst Intersection in Seattle: Green Lake / 50th / Stone

Note: This post is also published at The Urbanist.

This year’s Worst Intersection in Seattle is the car-choked crossroads where Green Lake Way N intersects with N 50th St and Stone Way N.

Looking south on Green Lake Way

Looking south on Green Lake Way N

So many cars are coming from and going to so many different roadways that nobody wins. People stuck in their cars often wait through multiple light cycles as backups can stretch for several blocks in multiple directions. And it’s worse for pedestrians, who also have long wait times and often have to cross more than one street.

The worst experience is walking north from the west side of Stone Way N. People on foot cross a right turn lane and have to wait on a little island, surrounded by a sea of metal and concrete. Then, there’s the wait to cross at least two streets. Yasmeen, who nominated this intersection, says: “There are so many intersections at that point that it can be several minutes before you get a walk light.”

Once through the intersection, it’s a walk in the park – but only in a literal sense as the sidewalk disappears and there are unpaved paths on the edge of Woodland Park. Good luck enjoying yourself if you’re pushing a stroller with small wheels or just wanting to keep your dark shoes clean. This area is busy with joggers, walkers, bicyclists – all sharing a narrow path and wondering what happened to the sidewalk. If you want the luxury of a paved sidewalk, you’ll have to cross yet another intersection to get to the east side of Green Lake Way N.

Seattle Bike Blog calls the intersection “a complete mess,” though people on bikes may be the only ones who don’t completely hate the intersection as North / South bike lanes have been added in recent years.

Of course one main reason why this intersection is so bad is that so many streets intersect here. But, that wasn’t always the case. As shown below, this intersection used to be just one of many four way intersections in the city.

Clipping from 1912 Baist Map of Seattle

However, when the Pacific Highway was built in the early 1930s, traffic engineers sliced through the existing residential grid so that motorists could get to downtown faster. The new road was labeled Green Lake Way N and, like Bridge Way N ten blocks south, required tearing down existing homes to provide access to the new highway, now called SR-99.

N 50th St / Stone Way N / Green Lake Way N

N 50th St / Stone Way N / Green Lake Way N today

So, is this intersection fixable? What if, to borrow a software development term, we rolled the intersection back to a previous version? As suggested by blogger Al Dimond, we could improve the intersection by removing the diagonal route to Aurora and turning it back into a four-way intersection. This extension of Green Lake Way might be a real-world Braess’ Paradox, meaning that removing it could actually improve travel times for everyone. At the very least, as Dimond says, it would create a “more cohesive and walkable neighborhood with more pedestrian-friendly intersections.”

If you’re not sold on that, then commenter Izaac Post recommends a roundabout.

Roundabout concept

Roundabout concept

Roundabouts are proven to reduce collisions and fatalities. And, while this intersection isn’t one of Seattle’s deadliest intersections, pedestrians would welcome the decreased vehicle speeds that a roundabout would bring. However, the intersection is already pretty complicated, so would a roundabout make it even more confusing? This would be the busiest roundabout in the city and drivers and bicyclists would need to share it. Would bicyclists feel comfortable sharing a roundabout with drivers?

While the city has a Vision Zero plan to eliminate roadway fatalities, the ten terrible intersections we had to choose from and recent rollbacks to the bicycle master plan show how far there is to go toward creating a safe street network that is comfortable for all users. This intersection configuration at the corner of Woodland Park has been with us for over 80 years and it may not change in another 80 years. We should have hope, though, that at least by then there will be paved sidewalks.

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Vote for Seattle’s Worst Intersection in 2016

Another year, another solid crop of nominees for worst intersection in Seattle; these are 10 of the most dangerous and unpleasant crossings that Seattle has to offer. While all of these need some serious re-engineering from SDOT, only one of them can truly be the worst intersection in Seattle. Read the descriptions, view the photos, and cast your vote.

  1. Leary Way NW & 20th Avenue NW – The Urbanist wrote almost 1000 words on why this intersection sucks, “It’s a safety hazard to both drivers and pedestrians. And, if it’s dangerous for both of these groups, it has to be even worse for bicyclists.”

    Leary Way NW and 20th Avenue NW

  2. N 50th St & Phinney Ave N – Skylar nominates this one, “Drivers will barrel through the crosswalk at 30+ mph without regards to pedestrians, and in fact probably cannot even see them until they are about 30′ away due to the way the street curves around the zoo”
    50th & Phinney

    N 50th St & Phinney Ave N

  3. Rainier Ave S & I-90 – Al Dimond nominates this one and the next one, saying “About half of the top 10 worst intersections in Seattle have got to be along Rainier!” One example is the on ramp onto I-90 “Crosswalk across two exit ramp lanes. One is HOV, so it may be moving while the other is backed up, and it’s also set up so pedestrians can’t tell whether a driver in that lane is going to exit or not until the last second.”
    Rainier at I-90 onramp

    Rainier at I-90 onramp

  4. Rainier Ave S & S Henderson St “…was called out recently on Twitter as one of the most dangerous in the city. It’s a pretty straightforward design, but I guess that much fast traffic right by a couple schools is a bad combination.”
    Rainier Ave S & S Henderson St

    Rainier Ave S & S Henderson St

  5. 5th & Stewart – Hayden B nominates this one, “The buses cut across all four lanes of Stewart from 7th to turn left on 5th. It’s awful.”
    5th & Stewart

    5th & Stewart

  6. Montlake Blvd & 520 – Lisa nominates this top vote-getter from last year, saying, “Angry drivers, all on their phones waiting to get on 520, buses, lots of pedestrians, very long lights, pedestrians darting across to catch their bus, bikes routed to sidewalks and crosswalks because of construction. It is a disastrous spot.”

  7. Montlake Blvd & NE Pacific St – Jim S says, “Beg button takes forever. lots of light rail passengers trying to cross.”
    Montlake & Pacific

    Montlake Blvd & NE Pacific St

  8. Sand Point Way & 50th Ave NE – Another one nominated by Jim S, “Really bad visibility crossing sand point from east to west, cars going way too fast in both directions.”
    Sand Point Way & 50th Ave NE

    Sand Point Way & 50th Ave NE

  9. Ravenna Ave NE & NE 54th St – Yasmeen says, “I nominate Ravenna & 54th, ‘The Ravenna Park Triangle’ for being utterly unpredictable. Cars can go both ways on all three of those intersections, and during rush hour traffic backs up and people get impatient. Walking through, especially during that time, is a disaster.”
    Ravenna Ave NE & NE 54th St (Ravenna Park Triangle)

    Ravenna Ave NE & NE 54th St (Ravenna Park Triangle)

  10. N 50th St / Stone Way N / Green Lake Way N – Another nominated by Yasmeen, “My least favorite for walk wait times. There are so many intersections at that point that it can be several minutes before you get a walk light.”
    N 50th St / Stone Way N / Green Lake Way N

    N 50th St / Stone Way N / Green Lake Way N

[poll id=”18″]

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Nominate Seattle’s worst intersection for 2016

NE 40th St & 7th Ave NE

Complicated intersection at NE 40th St & 7th Ave NE

We are now accepting nominees for the worst intersection in Seattle. We’re looking for those intersections you hate to cross because of an unsafe design, loud traffic, or long waits. Is there somewhere you feel like a second class citizen because you have to push a button and wade through a sea of cars just to get to your destination? Submit your nominees in the comments, below.

Previous winners are:

Accepting nominations through April 24. The top most-frequently nominated intersections will be selected to advance to the voting round.

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2015 Worst Intersection in Seattle: Denny & Terry

This is the third time we have asked you to select the worst intersection in the city and this has been the most popular and tightly contested race. Five options received over 15% of the vote and it’s clear that many people have a strong opinion about the bad intersections in the city.

Once voting started, Montlake and 520 surged to an early lead, bolstered by support from yours truly. However, over time, the top choices emerged as 1) Terry and Denny and 2) NE 40th St and 7th Ave NE.

In the end, among many bad options, there can be only one worst. As the vote count climbed, Denny and Terry pulled away.

A mere quarter mile from previous winner 5th and Denny, Denny and Terry is one of many high-conflict intersections along Denny Way, a street with few redeeming qualities. With the emergence of South Lake Union as a major employment center, there are many more people walking at Denny & Terry than in years before.

Denny is often completely gridlocked, making it hard for pedestrians and drivers alike to enter from Terry. At other times, eastbound traffic flies quickly downhill, giving pedestrians and drivers mere moments to cross Denny.

Terry is also one of the few intersections along Denny where turning left isn’t expressly prohibited. These left turns across a busy street threaten pedestrians walking along Denny.

And, while people can legally walk across Denny along Terry, it never feels completely safe to do so. Also, people walking along Terry north of Denny will find themselves feeling completely out of place walking in a parking lot masquerading as a road.

Denny is a critical transportation link that too many people rely on. It’s one of the worst roads in the city for drivers, riders of bus number 8, and as this poll shows us again, pedestrians.

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Vote for Seattle’s Worst Intersection in 2015

Due to the recent coverage on MyNorthwest.com and the close competition, the poll deadline has been extended through Wednesday, May 20.

The nominations are in and it’s time to vote. Vote for one of these these unsafe, complicated, and downright disappointing Seattle intersections as the worst pedestrian intersection in Seattle!

  • I-90 offramp at Rainier Ave

    Plenty of distance for drivers to build up speed


    I-90 & Rainier Ave – Commenter Al Dimond suggests this one: “On both sides of Rainier the interaction with traffic entering from I-90 is OK but the interaction with traffic exiting from Rainier is right in the middle of an onramp whose design encourages drivers to accelerate! It’s also somewhat timely because the Rainier safety project doesn’t extend quite far enough north to cover it.”

    .
  • Terry Ave & Denny Way – Just half a mile from the last “winner”, 5th and Denny, Ryan Packer nominates Denny and Terry: “Impossible to cross Denny here, and getting more and more dangerous to even cross Terry. With a 40 story tower about to be constructed here, this one’s only going to get worse.”

  • 24th & Madison & John

    Turning left? Watch for pedestrians!

    24th Ave E & Madison St (& John) – A gigantic intersection on the east side of Capitol Hill where left-turning drivers often don’t notice pedestrians crossing due to the long distance across this intersection on a steep hill.
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  • NE 40th St  & 7th Ave NE

    Complicated intersection at NE 40th St & 7th Ave NE

    NE 40th St & 7th Ave NE – A bad intersection for people on foot, on bikes, and in cars! Skylar says: “My nomination would be NE 40th St and 7th Ave NE come together, on the west side of the U-District and a block east of the Ship Canal Bridge. This is a five-way intersection involving four (4!) different branches of NE 40th St (upper and lower forks that split, come together, split, and come together at various points), the Burke-Gilman Trail, and a poorly-thought-out cycle track that just dumps westbound cyclists into the intersection going the wrong way, with no visibility at all from the upper fork of 40th. The cycle track isn’t marked well so often drivers will continue on it east, forcing cyclists to take evasive action.”
    .
  • 15th Ave NW & NW Leary Way

    Concrete pillars and shadows make pedestrians vulnerable at 15th Ave NW & NW Leary Way

    15th Ave NW & Leary Ave NW – Liz says: “The Ballard Bridge makes visibility awful, and turning cars rarely look out for pedestrians. Moreover, the push-button activated walk signals don’t last long enough to get one all the way across 15th Ave NW. With bus stops for east/west and north/south lines on nearly every corner, it’s a recipe for encouraging peds to cross against the light. This intersection is the worst!”
    .
  • Montlake Blvd E & WA 520 – Narrow sidewalks, tons of traffic, and limited pedestrian crosswalks. If you’ve ever transferred buses here you know it can take 2-3 light cycles to get to where you need to go. A tip to avoid the lights is to take the stairs down to the freeway level, cross Montlake underneath, and then take the stairs back up. But, to be completely honest, any intersection that needs tips in order to be navigated effectively is a lousy intersection.

[poll id=”17″]

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Nominate Seattle’s worst intersection for 2015

Pine St & Boren Ave near Capitol Hill / First Hill

It’s time again to select the worst pedestrian intersection in the city.

After a two-year hiatus, you will have the opportunity to choose the worst intersection in the city. In 2011, voters chose Aurora and its interrupted cross-streets in South Lake Union as the worst. A year later and a quarter-mile away, 5th & Denny (also known as the 5th Avenue onramp) took top honors.

To kick things off, we’ve already nominated Montlake and SR-520:

But is it the worst? Or is there somewhere else you have in mind? Feel free to nominate more than one. The top 10 most-frequently nominated intersections will be selected to advance to the voting round. Submit your worst intersection here or comment in support of others’ nominees. Passion is a tie-breaker so tell us how you really feel!

Accepting nominations through Sunday, May 3

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2012 Worst Intersection in Seattle: 5th and Denny

5th and Denny, no crossing

The worst intersection in Seattle

The 2012 winner of the Worst Intersection in Seattle is 5th and Denny. This intersection has a lot going for it, but a missing crosswalk and a dangerous one, along with a pedestrian signal that works only if someone hits the button, impede mobility in the area and undermine the city’s efforts to promote walkability.

You could pick dozens of bad intersections in Seattle from an era of car-friendly road building. However, in the case of 5th and Denny, the concrete that was poured decades ago isn’t the biggest problem; it’s the regulated, almost deliberate hostility to pedestrians in an area that demands the opposite. Four blocks away from last year’s worst “intersection” of Aurora and its non-crossing cross streets of John, Thomas, Harrison, and Republican, 5th and Denny is an active intersection for multiple modes of transportation in a very walkable area in the heart of the city. The sidewalks are relatively wide and smooth and the intersection has two plazas and street-friendly retail.

5th and Denny push button

Push to cross

Bordering Belltown, this intersection is host to substantial foot traffic from residents. Unfortunately, pedestrians aren’t allowed to cross Denny on the east side of 5th/Cedar, and instead must cross three streets instead of one. On southeast-bound 5th Avenue, which some call the “5th Avenue onramp,” pedestrians are forced into areas outside drivers’ lines of sight and cars veering onto Fifth speed by.

One of the most remarkable problems of this intersection is the one that is the easiest to address. People trying to cross Denny often find themselves stuck waiting for the signal to change, not realizing that they have to push the button to cross.

5th and Denny looking northwest

This intersection has potential

In much of this area near the Space Needle and multiple hotels, tourists from Tucson to Toronto and Spokane to Sequim experience what walkable, urban, Seattle has to offer. With high pedestrian traffic, frequent bus service, and the monorail soaring overhead, this intersection could serve as an example of what a pedestrian-friendly city can be like. However, the 5th and Denny intersection treats them like second-class citizens with the same “no pedestrians” sign they might see if trying to cross a freeway in Fargo and the same push button signals they would use to cross an 8-lane suburban highway in Houston.

For all of Seattle’s progressive urban undertakings – greenways, road diets, and the proposals to lift parking requirements – what does it say about the city if we can’t be practical enough to make an important urban intersection work well for walkers? What does it say if we don’t allow pedestrian to cross an urban intersection without hitting a button? What does it say if we’re ok with pedestrians being forced to cross three streets instead of one? What does it say if we allow pedestrians to be hidden behind a pillar?

It says that despite the city’s progressive urban ambitious, we will never reach our potential as a city until we rethink intersections like 5th and Denny that put cars first and put pedestrians last.

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