Retiming Columbia City’s Traffic Lights

Have you noticed the cameras that went up this week at Columbia City’s intersections along Rainier? Looks like SDOT is retiming the lights. Safiya Merchant at The Seattle Times has all of the details:

For 68-year-old William Wingert, a man with self-described “bad legs,” making his way across Rainier Avenue South in Columbia City is a challenge


Crossings at South Edmunds, South Hudson and South Ferdinand streets are problems for Wingert, who said they present two issues: It takes too long for the signal to turn for pedestrians, and the time given to cross is too short.

“As it is now, just about every time when I get across the street, especially if somebody is trying to turn left onto Rainier Avenue, I’m forced to either rush or stop and wait for them to get there and it’s hard to make the light,” Wingert said.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will be making changes to Rainier Avenue South this year that aims to improve the traveling experience for many types of users.

Dongho Chang, city traffic engineer, said the Rainier corridor will be retimed this year. Rick Sheridan,

SDOT’s communications director, wrote in an email that the effort was directed at 30 intersections along the street.

Chang wrote in an email that traffic signals would be modified to lengthen the time of green lights for approaching buses, as well as to change to green earlier if a bus comes during a red light on Rainier Avenue South.

“The signal retiming is balanced to have the shortest wait time for all users, while providing for the best traffic flow at the intersection,” Chang wrote.

2 thoughts on “Retiming Columbia City’s Traffic Lights

  1. This is good news. I have complained to the city about the timing of the lights for pedestrians repeatedly. In the morning when it’s been dark my 13 year old daughter has been nearly hit by left turning vehicles at Rainier and Hudson trying to get to her bus stop ( total about 11 seconds permitted to cross IF you hit the button , 4 seconds with a walk signal then a 7 second count down, miss the button and forget about it). I walk her to the bus stop when it’s dark partly to keep an eye on left turning cars. This is ridiculous.

    And one time another young woman on her bike did get hit right after my daughter crossed, thankfully she was just barely hit and was not injured, but come on!

  2. Chris Osburn says:

    I agree with giving buses priority over cars, but not over pedestrians. If an intending bus rider is on the wrong side of the street when the “transit priority” kicks in, that person will be trapped there until after the bus has left–without them. This encourages jaywalking and other unsafe shenanigans.

    Look at the signals along Martin Luther King near the light rail. Pedestrians NEVER wait for the walk lights…the system is too rococo. At least they don’t have to cross both directions of travel at the same time.

    We know when a car wants to enter the intersection from a side street (road sensor) and we know when a pedestrian wants to cross the street (pushbutton). So we should be able to prioritize, pedestrian-bus-car, right?

    If a two-minute cycle is too long, imagine an interrupted two minute cycle turning into three to four minutes.

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