Category Archives: Safety

SDOT Looking for Neighborhood Feedback Regarding Parking

If you’ve ever struggled to find a parking spot, been amazed at the speeds and recklessness of some drivers as they navigate Columbia City’s streets, or have some great ideas on how to improve the driving and parking conditions of the neighborhood, SDOT wants to hear from you.

In addition to this survey which I encourage you all to fill out, SDOT is hosting a drop-in session on Columbia City Community Access and Parking later this month. Here are all of the details:

ccmap2Do you work, live, or play in Columbia City? If so, please take our short online survey about neighborhood parking and access by March 19, 2016.


Through the Community Access and Parking Program, SDOT works in neighborhood business districts throughout the city to improve parking and access.  SDOT is beginning work with businesses and residents in the Columbia City neighborhood to better understand current parking and access issues in the neighborhood. The goal of this work is to improve parking and access in the neighborhood for customers, visitors, and loading needs, while maintaining access for local residents. The effort is focused around the Rainier Avenue business district (see existing conditions map).

Upcoming Outreach and Events

  • SDOT will be hosting a parking and access drop-in session at the multipurpose room at PCC (3610 S Edmunds St) on Saturday February 20th from 9:30 to 11:30 AM.  Come join us to share comments and questions in person.  Click here for more information on our outreach.
  • In spring 2016 we will be partnering with a survey firm to conduct intercept surveys of customers and visitors in the neighborhood.  Questions will include how people get to the neighborhood, how long they stay, and what are the main reasons they visit Columbia City.  Results from a similar survey in 2011 are available here.

KCTS on “Fixing Rainier”

KCTS has a new piece up on Rainier, its reputation as the most dangerous street in Seattle, and the road diet. Check it out here:

    What is the most dangerous road in Seattle, perhaps in all of Washington State? One might guess Aurora Avenue, especially after last fall’s deadly collision of a Ride the Ducks tour vehicle and a bus. But it’s not. It’s Rainier Avenue South, which runs 8.5 miles through Rainier Valley in South Seattle.
    Rainier Avenue has one-fourth the vehicle volume of Aurora, but twice the accidents per mile — over one a day. Part of the problem is that Rainier used to be part of State Highway 167, and it still acts like a freeway.
     “So, it was very much a state route where people were going excessively fast through the corridor, and the design really encouraged those higher speeds,” says Jim Curtin, a Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) traffic manager.
    “I’ve seen so many car crashes, people coming through speeding, you know,” says Hikeem Stewart, who works in Columbia City. In the last three years, there have been over 1,200 accidents, 600 injuries and two fatalities on Rainier…

…and another car runs into a building

Just one day after SDOT hosted a meeting to review plans for changes on Rainier Ave., another car has slammed into a building. This one is (again) at Rainier and Orcas–the last time this location was hit was December 20th, 2014.

Adding them all up, that’s about seven car vs. building incidents in just under a year. If you think that’s about seven too many, be sure to check out the proposals SDOT is considering (just one post below) to help stop these types of avoidable and dangerous incidents.


Photo by Matt C. From: Columbia City Facebook group


SDOT Proposes Three Potential Options for Rainier Ave. Safety Project

Option 1b, showing protected bike lanes between Columbia and Hillman City

Option 1b, showing protected bike lanes between Columbia and Hillman City

Tonight’s packed meeting at the Columbia School was the current step in SDOT’s ongoing efforts to tackle Rainier Ave’s major safety problems. The meeting began by quickly establishing that Rainier has, without question, some alarming safety concerns and that the road is in dire need of some major rethinking and redesign.

In addition to some easy changes that can be made right away–lowering the speed limit through Columbia and Hillman city to 25mph (which got a big applause), re-timing pedestrian crosswalks (more applause), making sure lanes and signals are visible, etc.–SDOT proposed three different options for significant redesigns of Rainier Ave S:

Option 1A:

  • A road diet from S. Alaska to S. Henderson
  • Reduction from four lanes to two lanes…with a designated turning lane in the middle.

Option 1B:

  • Same as option 1A but with the addition of protected bike lanes between Columbia and Hillman City (the most involved and expensive option)

Option 2:

  • Essentially the same as option 1A but with designated transit lanes running intermittently the whole four-mile stretch. No bike lanes.

Although there are variations with separate benefits and limitations to each plan, all share essentially the same key features:

Reduce top collision types (left turns, sideswipe, parked car)

Lower vehicle speeds

Better conditions for people walking

Opportunities for new crossings

Improved efficiency

Easier turning movements – especially for large vehicles

The full presentation can be viewed here and, of course, SDOT’s slideshow goes into much more detail than the quick summaries provided above. To better understand the implications of each option, be sure to really explore the data provided and the ideas behind each proposal. Comments, questions, and concerns regarding each proposal were welcomed and addressed at the end of the meeting. Continued input from the community was encouraged.

The next meeting (addressing much of the same info that was provided tonight as well as some additional, specific information for areas of concern north of Hillman) will be:

Tuesday , March 3, 2015
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, The Ethiopian Community Center,
8323 Rainier Ave S

In the months to come, SDOT will continue to review and study the options, continue to seek out feedback and input from the community, and come back with a decision around May. From there, implementation will begin–which, depending on the decision, may be a very long process. Questions and comments about the proposals can be directed here:

(206) 684-8874

Reminder: SDOT Rainier Ave Safety Meetings (2/26 and 3/3)

SDOT is hosting two follow-up meetings in the coming weeks to the Rainier Ave. Safety Project that’s underway. As many in the neighborhood are well-aware, the past year proved beyond any doubt that action needs to be taken to keep pedestrians (and buildings) safe from Rainier’s often-dangerous traffic. Neighborhood involvement and turnout at the last few meetings and events has been high and that is absolutely one of the main reasons SDOT is now paying attention and working on this project. If you can, be sure to attendRainierPostcard:


SDOT invites you to review potential safety improvements for Rainier and to provide feedback on possible design changes at one of the following meetings:

Thursday, February 26, 2015
6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, The Columbia School – Cafeteria/Commons,
3528 S Ferdinand St (use the Edmunds St entrance and parking area)

Tuesday , March 3, 2015*
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, The Ethiopian Community Center,
8323 Rainier Ave S

*Additional information will be presented about upcoming transportation
projects in the Rainier Beach neighborhood at this meeting

Launching November 2014 – the Rainier Avenue South Safety Corridor Project – a multi-year effort to improve safety for all through street improvements, increased enforcement efforts, and educational outreach.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is launching a collaborative process to review roadway conditions along Rainier Avenue South. As safety is our number one priority, we are committed to preventing collisions and improving safety for all users of the transportation system.

Together we will determine the specific nature and design elements of these changes through the process described below. New safety measures to be considered through this project will include: arterial traffic calming, traffic signal modifications, pavement repair, and pedestrian and bicycle safety enhancements. To address behavioral issues like speeding, distraction and impaired driving, we will develop targeted enforcement strategies and area-specific educational outreach.

This project will focus on the segment of Rainier Avenue South from Letitia Avenue South to Seward Park Avenue South.

Facts about Rainier Avenue South

  • Principal arterial classification
  • Adjacent land uses:
    • Single family and multi-family residential, commercial, industrial
    • Libraries, parks, community centers, senior housing and senior centers
    • More than 10 schools and daycare centers within three blocks of Rainier
  • Speed limit 30 mph
  • Busy transit corridor
  • Average Daily Traffic – 19,700 to 26,600 vehicles per weekday
  • 1243 total collisions, 630 injuries and two fatalities January 2011 through September 2014


Columbia City and Rainier Valley Part of Murray’s Vision Zero Traffic Plan

This week, Seattle’s new “Vision Zero” plan to eliminate traffic deaths was announced by Mayor Ed Murray. Since this past year’s alarming spike of dangerous collisions in and close to Columbia City, there’s a been a strong push to make Rainier Ave. safer. While by no means a solution, Rainier and MLK did get specific mention in the plan

 Map TrafficMayor Murray, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) launched Vision Zero, Seattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 through innovative engineering, enforcement and education.

“Our Vision Zero campaign will educate people who drive, bike and walk on how we can all work together to make our streets safer,” said Murray. “We are rolling out a range of new safety improvements that will help get our kids get to school, reduce fatalities on city arterials and make our neighborhood streets safer. Our transportation system must work safely for everyone and this plan will save lives.”

While Seattle is consistently recognized as one of the safest cities in the country, more than 10,000 traffic collisions occur each year. In 2014, 3,449 injury collisions were reported to the Seattle Police Department. Fifteen people died in traffic crashes, including five who were walking or riding a bike.

At the core of Vision Zero is the belief that death and injury on city streets is preventable. The Vision Zero approach emphasizes smarter street designs – forgiving streets that account for human error. When paired with targeted education and enforcement, the effort will save lives.

“Implementing the Vision Zero initiative is vital to creating a safer transportation system,” said Tom Rasmussen, Chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee. “The way we design our streets, enforce the rules, and educate the public does make a difference. But, most importantly, each of us whether we walk, bike or drive must do our part to make our streets safer for all.”

To make Seattle streets safer all, Seattle’s Vision Zero effort will include the following actions in 2015:

  • Reduce the speed limit in the downtown core to 25 mph by the end of 2015.
  • Improve safety at 10 high-crash intersections downtown by eliminating turns on red lights, installing leading pedestrian intervals to give walkers a head start, eliminating dual turn lanes and other engineering improvements.
  • Install 20 mph zones on residential streets in up to ten areas near parks and schools with documented collision histories.
  • Enhance safety on arterials — like Rainier Avenue S, 35th Avenue SW, Fauntleroy Way SW and 5th Avenue NE where 90 percent of serious and fatal collisions occur — by installing speed reductions, radar speed signs and enhanced street designs.
  • Add twelve new school zone safety cameras in six school zones to improve safety for kids as they make their way to and from school.
  • Add seven miles of protected bike lanes, more than 40 crossing improvements and 14 blocks of new sidewalk to make travel safer across all modes.
  • Conduct targeted enforcement throughout the city for school, pedestrian and bike safety, along with enhanced DUI enforcement. SDOT and SPD will work together to educate people in advance of these patrols, so everyone will expect enforcement and better understand the rules of the road…
More specifically:
Reduce Arterial Speed Limits
Review arterial speed limits and reduce to 30 mph or lower. Pair speed limit reductions with tools like radar speed signs and street design changes. Review speed limits through our annual programs and Road Safety Corridor projects. Work with State partners to make changes to State Routes like Aurora Avenue North, Lake City Way NE and Sand Point Way NE. Lower speed limits on the following corridors in 2015:
  • Martin Luther King Jr Way S
  • Rainier Avenue S…
Urban Center Safety
Bring a higher level of safety to Seattle’s Urban Centers, where high volumes of vehicular traffic, transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists merge. Data-driven improvements may include modified signal phasing, traffic calming, protected turn phases and leading or lagging pedestrian intervals at the following locations:
  • Lake City at NE 125th Street and Lake City Way NE
  • White Center/Westwood at SW Roxbury Street and Delridge Way/16th Ave SW
  • Columbia City and Hillman City on Rainier Ave S…

Road Safety Corridors

Reduce collisions through low cost engineering, enforcement and education efforts on targeted corridors including:

  • Rainier Ave S


Car Collides with Light Rail: MLK and Dawson


Photo from King5

The Seattle Times has the details on Friday night’s collision at MLK and Dawson:

Light-rail service resumes after car hits train

Update at 7:50 p.m.:  Light-rail service has resumed at all stations, according to Sound Transit.

All lanes have reopened at Martin Luther King Way Jr. South and South Dawson Street.

Update at 7:10 p.m.:  Central Link light-rail service is not operating between Mount Baker and Othello stations, according to Sound Transit. Service has resumed at all other stations with minor delays.

For service toward downtown Seattle from Othello, board the Route 8 bus on Martin Lither King Jr. Way South and transfer to the Mount Baker station. For service toward Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from the Mount Baker station, board the Route 8 bus southbound on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and transfer to the Othello station.

Original post:  Central Link light-rail service has been temporarily interrupted while Sound Transit officials work to remove a car that hit a northbound train in South Seattle on Friday evening.

The tracks are blocked in both directions near Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Dawson Street, according to Sound Transit. No one was injured in the crash, which occurred around 6:30 p.m.

Buses are transporting light-rail passengers until the car is removed, Sound Transit said.

Another Car, Another Building


Photo from CC Facebook Page

…this time in Hillman City around 10:30am on Saturday 12/20. This marks the 6th (!!!!!!) car vs building collision in under a year on Rainier Ave in the general Genesee/Columbia City/Hillman City area (click below for details):

For more information on these accidents as well as SDOTs ongoing efforts to involve the community and attempt to tackle this problem, click here.

Crosscut on “The Rainier Ave” Problem

Crosscut’s Josh Cohen is the latest to chime in on Rainier’s safety problems and the neighborhood’s (as well as SDOT’s) efforts to address them:

Rainier Avenue S is one of Seattle’s most dangerous streets. On Halloween this year, a man driving a pickup truck at over 65 mph near 52nd Ave lost control, slammed into 10 cars and injured 10 people before hitting a tree and coming to a stop. In August, seven people were injured when an SUV crashed into a salon in downtown Columbia City. From January 2011 through September 2014, the street saw 1,243 total collisions, 630 injuries and two fatalities.635514250058519179-RainierAvenueSouthSafety

“There’s nothing we can compare Rainier to in the City of Seattle,” said Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Community Traffic Liaison Jim Curtin, referring to its traffic volume and high rate of crashes.

For anyone who has driven, walked or biked the road, the high collision rate is likely no surprise. The wide, four-lane arterial allows cars to drive fast. Its curves and “skewed” intersections (non 90-degree turns), obscure driver’s sightlines and allow for high-speed cornering.

There’s heavy vehicle traffic — an average of 19,700 to 26,600 vehicles per weekday. And the road connects many of the Rainier Valley’s main business districts, adding lots of people on foot and bike to the mix. High speeds plus heavy traffic plus vulnerable people is a recipe for tragedy…

Click here to read Cohen’s complete article.

KUOW Covers Rainier’s Safety Problems


Photo by KUOW’s Jamala Henderson

KUOW’s Jamala Henderson had the following to report on Rainier’s speed problem’s this morning. Click here to listen and remember, the next SDOT meeting is tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. at the Ethiopian Community Center (8323 Rainier Ave. S)

Rainier Avenue, one of two main arterials in Seattle’s southend has a notorious problem with aggressive, speeding drivers.

Some residents say they’ve known about it for years, and their complaints about it to the city have gone unanswered.

New collision and injury data from the Seattle Department of Transportation shows those residents were right – more than a thousand people every day drive 10 miles or more over the 30 mile-an-hour limit.

A Near Miss

Late last summer, Phyllis Porter  was walking down Rainier Avenue to have lunch at The Grecian Deli. She changed her mind, though, and stepped back out.

“As soon as I stepped on the curb, all I could see was an SUV coming at me,” she said.

Seconds later that SUV crashed head on into the Carol Cobb Hair salon and the Grecian Deli. Porter remembers screaming. Debris flew everywhere. People in the deli were pinned to a wall inside.

Seven people were injured, including children.

As it happens, Porter is an advocate for street safety in the community. The accident that nearly took her out is what she tries to prevent.

“It’s really hard because I work in this area,” Porter said. “I’m at the point where I really don’t want to walk on Rainier Avenue.”

Alarming New Data

Porter was at a community meeting, hosted by the city transportation department, that revealed new statistics about collisions in the area. The data made one thing clear: There’s a lot of speeding going on through South Seattle.

Dongho Chang, Seattle’s traffic engineer, said the focus is on controlling speeding behavior.

“If you look at a similar corridor like Lake City Way — that has much more volume but significantly less collisions,” said Chang. “That tells us that this roadway needs some attention.”

Speeding is a problem on Rainier, but the biggest issue is the number of collisions. There have been 1,243 collisions between Columbia City and Seward Park on Rainier Avenue in the last three years. Those have resulted in 630 injuries and two deaths.

In the last decade, there have been 11 deaths due to traffic accidents on Rainier.

Residents have a long list of safety ideas for SDOT. They include improved signal timing, better police enforcement, and adding traffic cameras along the corridor. City officials said they expect to put solutions in place by spring of next year.

For Phyllis Porter, those changes couldn’t happen soon enough.

“The things that are happening in Rainier Valley, Columbia City, Hillman City,” she said, naming the neighborhoods off Rainier Avenue, “these things are unacceptable. And something needs to be done now.”

SDOT will hold another community meeting on the Rainier Traffic Safety Project at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at the Ethiopian Community Center, 8323 Rainier Ave. S.