Local News Covers Yesterday’s Rally for a Safer Rainier

As many noticed on the way home or to the market, yesterday marked another rally to raise awareness about Rainier Ave’s ongoing safety issues. Local news outlets were on hand to cover the story. Here’s the report from KOMO:

SEATTLE — Rainier Avenue South averaged one crash every day over the last three years, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation.

From 2011 to 2014, there were 1,243 accidents along Rainier, and community members say that’s unacceptable.

City data also found that each year, between 10 to 25  pedestrians and two to five bicyclists are involved in collisions on Rainier.  The city says the likelihood of injury is nearly 100 percent in pedestrian and bicycle collisions.

Last year after a string of crashes, SDOT promised changes are coming, but some community members would like to see the changes sooner.

Activists organized a protest and rally outside Columbia City’s popular Farmer’s Market Wednesday to keep pressure on the city. Residents, business owners and crash victims carried picket signs, signed a petition calling for action and signed a giant Get Well card for all the businesses and people hurt by accidents along the busy stretch.

Activist such as Phyllis Porter with Rainier Valley Greenways insist the stats have earned Rainier the title of “most dangerous street in the city.”

“Something is definitely going on, a lot of speeding going on down here,” said Porter.

In a short stretch of Rainier Avenue there have been three recent harrowing crashes. In August an out of control pickup rammed into 15 vehicles.

A couple weeks later an SUV jumped the sidewalk, nearly killing several people. The driver plowed through steel posts, rode the sidewalk, crossed the street and plowed into a busy salon. The driver rammed through a wall and crashed into the neighboring Greek deli.

“I believe they’re estimating she was going  60 or 70 miles per hour,” said Rainier Avenue S. business owner Emily Kopca.

And just three weeks ago, another speeding car jumped the curb, less than a block away, nearly careening into a storefront.

“We’re calling out to the city today to act now to fix the most dangerous street in Seattle,” said Porter.

Kopca, who Columbia City Bouquet on Rainier, has had a front-row seat to much of the destruction.

“Rainier Avenue is a street in which the car takes priority over the pedestrian,” said Kopca.

SDOT promised safety changes last year and came up with several proposed options. They include putting Rainier Avenue on a Road Diet — shrinking it down to just two lanes with a center turning lane — or possibly adding a bike lane or a transit lane. SDOT expects a decision by mid-June.

“Something has got to be done,” said Kyoto Pierce, a Columbia City resident.

SDOT research found one in every three collisions in the city involves speed.

“I almost got hit crossing the street,” Pierce said. “And these people making the turn, they don’t care.”

SDOT says it will reduce the speed limit from 30 to 25 mph from Hillman City to Columbia City, as requested by the community, as well  as extend Cross Walk times, add better signage and striping at crossing points and enhance the timing on traffic lights.

“People just want to make sure it does happen. We’re not going to stop until it does happen,” vowed Porter.

KIRO was also on hand to cover the event.

2 thoughts on “Local News Covers Yesterday’s Rally for a Safer Rainier

  1. Mike B. says:

    Something not mentioned enough regarding the hazards of Rainier Avenue South: The absurd number of pedestrians who illegally cross the street, often in heavy traffic, and frequently when it’s dark out and very difficult to spot them. I’m amazed that there aren’t more pedestrians hit by cars on Rainier Ave. People, use crosswalks! That said, there should be more skybridges added for pedestrians–the only one south of I-90 is the bridge that spans Rainier and MLK Jr Way. Another suggestion: supply orange crossing flags to increase visibility for those who cross legally at crosswalks.

  2. Scott (23 year resident of CC) says:

    Another idea would be to look both ways before you cross the street. Plus, when you are the one behind the wheel you should drive how you want others to drive. No cell phone or texting, no other distractions.

    I also see pedestrians jay walk in the Columbia City area all the time! Are your baked goods and coffee sooooo important that you are willing to get hit or cause an accident to get to them? I tell people all the time not to jay walk and they act as if I am the one committing a crime.

    Ms. Kopca makes some interesting statements. The one about the driver’s speed and how she believes it was 60-70 miles an hour. Maybe it was but as a journalist the person writing this piece should have researched the accident and given factual information about it.

    I also enjoyed here statement about vehicles taking priority over pedestrians on Rainier Ave. That is true. Just as Pedestrians take priority over cars on the city sidewalks!!

    I have lived in Columbia City for 20 plus years and have never been struck by a car or struck a pedestrian and I walk and drive everyday through the neighborhood and on Rainier. You know why because I look out for myself.

    I found it interesting that the article failed to mention that bikes are a part of the problem on our city streets. They need their own separate streets for their own safety and to allow real transportation to flow more smoothly.

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