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.