Matches for: “traffic safety” …

King 5 on Last Night’s SDOT Meeting

King 5 was on the scene last night to cover SDOT’s Rainier Safety Meeting. Click here to watch their coverage of the event:

635514250058519179-RainierAvenueSouthSafetySEATTLE — The Seattle Department of Transportation is asking the public for ideas and concerns regarding traffic safety on Rainier Avenue South. SDOT hopes to improve the roadway after a series of accidents left people injured and buildings damaged.

One storefront unintentionally became a drive through. Anthony Carector remembers getting the call about the damage to his barbershop, Hodges Hair Quarters.

He says the catering business next door has also been hit in a separate incident last summer.

“Somebody T-boned him coming off of Genessee and both cars ricocheted up onto the sidewalk into the building. It’s just the sheer force,” Carector said.

A couple blocks south, a nail salon was damaged from a similar accident. Another block south, yet another accident.

Carol Cobb says her salon is still shuttered after a crash in August, when a driver lost control and careened into the building injuring 7 people. The cause still under investigation.

“It’s devastation,” Cobb said. “It’s like a catastrophic event. it takes a long time to recoup from especially when the business is structurally damaged.”

SDOT said in less than three years, there have been 1,243 collisions, 630 people injured and two people killed on Rainier Avenue South. So the agency is looking for ideas from the public on how to make the road safer.

Carector’s idea was to have the city install posts to create a buffer between traffic and the sidewalk. Cobb would like to see speed limit signs posted more often, and drivers to be more patient and courteous.

The city held the first of two community meetings Wednesday evening at the Columbia School on S. Ferdinand Street. The second meeting will be on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at the Ethiopian Community Center, on 8323 Rainier Avenue South at 4:30 p.m.

The Urbanist on the Need for a Rainier Road Diet

The Urbanist’s Will Green has a new piece on the need for a Rainier Ave. road diet. His piece looks at both the data from this 10403330_10152317746321476_3997250844905820567_npast year as well the historical push for such a plan. Read the whole thing here (and don’t forget about tomorrow’s SDOT Traffic Safety Meeting):

It’s been a bad year for Rainier Avenue South. There are the usually numerous car crashes, sure, but that’s normal. The same goes for the pedestrian collisions–regrettable, but normal. An unfortunate but inevitable side effect of the automobile, and are generally accepted with little comment.

But in April, a car slammed into a nail salon on the corner of Edmunds and Rainier, after hitting a truck making a turn. Speed was a factor, unsurprisingly, as were both vehicles attempting to beat the light. Residents grumbled; tensions rose. A temporary wall was built to replace the one torn away so suddenly, and life continued.

And then it happened again in August, when a speeding SUV lost control and crashed into the hair salon just one block south of the first such incident–this time in the middle of the day. Seven people were injured, including a family of three who found themselves pinned between the offending car and a counter at the restaurant next to the salon. The SUV was eventually dragged from its resting place, with hydraulic jacks holding the roof of the now-uninhabitable structure aloft.

Residents did more than grumble, this time. Leaders in Columbia City organized a “walk-in” rally where protestors crossed Rainier repeatedly, showing how inadequate the crossing time given was while reminding drivers to slow down. Online conversations swirled around, and it wasn’t long until SDOT amended the agenda for the already-scheduled Neighborhood Traffic Safety Meeting to include “Safety on Rainier”.

Click here to read the whole piece. 

Crosscut on Southend Jet Noise

Crosscut’s Eric Scigliano has an interesting article on jet noise in the Southend. The bulk of the article centers around Beacon Hill’s issues with air traffic and noise, but there is a section on Columbia City’s own Ray Akers’ ongoing battle with the FAA and his efforts to keep the Rainier Valley a bit quieter:SeaTac_mitigation_contours-550x440

Twice, in the late ’90s and in 2010, Columbia City realtor Ray Akers caught the FAA extending its northbound departure corridor to the east, past Beacon Hill and MLK Way and over the Rainier Valley (and Akers’ house), with no announcement or review. The first time, he says, the agency relented and restored the original routing. The second time it stonewalled, not even acknowledging the change. Akers got Congressman Jim McDermott’s office to demand an explanation. The FAA’s acting regional director replied that this “Plan Charlie” routing was necessary whenever “localized weather or clouds” impeded the ability of Boeing Field controllers to track Sea-Tac jets visually. Akers replied that this hadn’t been necessary for years previous, and that jets were being rerouted even when no adverse weather interfered.

Eventually the jets stopped crossing into the valley. FAA spokesman Kenitzer says the agency “corrected” the routing after “discovering” it had somehow strayed off course.

“It takes a lot to get the FAA to respond,” says Magnolia’s Robert Bismuth, a longtime private pilot himself. “The FAA has two mandates, safety and commerce, and no mandate about anybody on the ground. It traditionally hasn’t responded to noise and pollution concerns. If you want it to, you have to involve the congressional delegation.”

That’s what worked for Magnolia. In 2009 the FAA proposed lowering the Class Bravo “floor,” the minimum altitude for incoming jets, from 3,000 to 2,000 feet. In familiar fashion, it convened public meetings in Tacoma, Burien and Everett, but none in Seattle where the effects would be most severe.

Bismuth got McDermott and Sen. Patty Murray, both on committees overseeing the agency, to write letters. And he played the safety card: This would drop the floor for the Lake Union seaplanes and other “uncontrolled” aircraft that fly below the jets to just 500 feet. Besides consigning Magnolia and Queen Anne to noise hell, this would come too close to hilltop water and communication towers. The FAA conceded the safety issue and dropped its plans.

Beacon Hill doesn’t hold that trump card, but it may be able to play another: the National Environmental Policy Act, which bars environmental discrimination against poor and minority communities — the sort of neighborhoods that wind up under flight paths all across the nation…

Read the whole article here.

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.

Crosscut on the Rainier Road Diet: Not the Perfect Solution

Crosscut’s Eric Scigliano has a new piece on the proposed Rainier Road diet.

Unlike most of the recent coverage on SDOT’s three proposals (which has been primarily enthusiastic and approving),  Scigliano’s piece includes criticism of the road diet and limited bike lanes and reaches out to opponents (or at least those skeptical) of the plan. Vocal Columbia City neighbor, realtor, and long-time neighborhood activist, Ray Aykers (who dove into a lively discussion here on the same proposals), is included in the conversation

Late this spring, the Seattle Department of Transportation plans to put Rainier Avenue S.

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

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

from Columbia City to the city limit on a “road diet” — to squeeze it down from a four- to two-lane arterial, with a center turn lane serving left-turning vehicles going both ways. SDOT has presented three alternative schemes for doing this, all with the same traffic configuration. Only one of them includes any provision for bicycles, and that’s just 0.9 miles of separated bikeway from Hillman City to a little north of Columbia City, the stretch of Rainier with the most commercial and pedestrian activity.

This redesign will make notoriously perilous Rainier safer and more convenient for pedestrians and safer if somewhat less convenient for motorists. But unless it’s amended, it may actually make this notoriously perilous avenue less safe for cyclists, squandering an even better opportunity to bring a safe, widely accessible through cycle route to the most under-served quadrant of the city.

Before considering how that’s come to be and what can be done about it, it’s important to credit the need and motives driving the push for a Rainier safety fix. There’s no questioning the need. Rainier is far from Seattle’s busiest arterial, and, at 8 miles, it accounts for only about 1/200th of the city’s arterial miles, and 1/500th of total street miles. But Rainier claims 1/30th of the city’s traffic collisions, and an even larger share of traffic fatalities — two in the last three years, 11 in the last 10. On Rainier, as opposed to other hotspots, the victims are mostly pedestrians…

The piece goes on to include a number of areas of concern about the road diet’s lane reduction and offers some strong criticism of the limited bike-lanes:

[Ray] Akers predicts the lane reduction will be a disaster for Southeast businesses, most of which lie along Rainier, and for property owners there. “How many Safeways can you find located on a two-lane road?” he asks. “How about 7-Elevens or McDonald’s? Any major chain will seek a major arterial, and that means four lanes. Secondary and tertiary arterials do not command the attention or the value of a four-lane arterial. Real estate fronting on a four-lane arterial is always more valuable.”

[SDOT Director, Scott] Kubly and [Mayor] Murray contend that far from road diets starving retail, there is “a lot of data showing that when you do these kinds of facilities [road diets], retail does better,” says Kubly. “It’s only going to make this a more attractive place to be.” And anyway, he adds, “Most of the people using these retail businesses are using transit to get there.”

Really? Try parking in Columbia City.

I asked both Akers and Kubly and SDOT spokesman Richard Sheridan if they could send me their data. I didn’t hear back from SDOT. Akers replied that his data was “anecdotal,” with one notable example very close at hand: Many retailers closed when only two traffic lanes continued operating on MLK during light rail construction. Indeed, but that project caused (and continues to cause) much more disruption than a road diet, which would be speedily implemented.

I suspect that Akers and City Hall are both right to a degree: Fewer traffic lanes will be one more factor dissuading the sort of national retailers that Akers has tried for frustrating decades to lure to Southeast Seattle. But smaller, locally-owned, more pedestrian-oriented businesses may fare better in calmer traffic conditions (and be glad not to have SUVs crashing through their walls). Southeast Seattleites will continue to miss the convenience of Trader Joe’s and Target nearby, but Columbia and Hillman Cities will retain their distinctive, nearly all-local characters. Some residents would call that a fair trade.

The neglect of bicycles in the Rainier plans is more worrisome, and not just for the missed opportunity. Paring lanes may actually make Rainier Ave. more scary for cyclists. That’s because impatient motorists will no longer have another traffic lane for passing them. Asked about this, Jim Curtin said drivers could still use the center turn lane for passing. But that’s dangerous too — and illegal…

Be sure to read the whole piece here.

Seattle Times on the Rainier Road Diet

Over the weekend, The Seattle Times chimed in on the various proposals to calm the traffic on Rainier. Click here to read the whole post:

The city’s patience ran out last August, after a car slammed into the Carol Cobb Salon on Seattle’s busy Rainier Avenue South, pinning a 344a51ac-c479-11e4-93b0-814658681981-300x650family of three to the wall.

Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt. A neighborhood rally followed, the salon and the Greek restaurant next to it temporarily found other sites — and Scott Kubly, city transportation director, told staff to let loose their safety ideas.

Eight times in the past year, cars have smashed into businesses in and around the Columbia City business district. The city also reports 1,243 collisions in a 3½-mile stretch of Rainier Avenue South in the past three years, causing 630 injuries and two deaths.

Rainier’s road diet

The city is preparing to remove two general traffic lanes for 3½ miles between South Alaska Street and South Henderson Street. Also, the speed limit of 30 mph would decrease to 25 mph for one mile, through the Columbia City and Hillman City business districts. Options range from $500,000 to $2 million.

Option 1a: Reduce the four lanes to two lanes, plus a center left-turn lane.

Option 1b: Same as 1a, but add protected bicycle lanes in the Columbia City-Hillman City core.

Option 2: A “hybrid” layout that includes bus lanes in parts of the corridor. Some roadside parking would be removed.

Source: Seattle Department of Transportation

Twelve people have died on Rainier Avenue as a whole in the last decade, and there are twice as many collisions as on Lake City Way or Aurora Avenue North.

The problem is speed, safety officials say.

So in October, the road’s four lanes will be reduced to two between South Alaska Street and South Henderson Street, plus a left-turn lane in the center. In a mile-long retail core, the speed limit will be reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph.

Rainier Avenue will undergo the city’s 36th so-called road diet since 1972, on a former state highway that attracts nearly 20,000 cars a day. Another lane reduction goes into effect in April on 23rd Avenue through the Central Area, including the stretch in front of Garfield High School.

On Rainier, one of seven drivers exceeds 38 mph between Columbia City and Hillman City, city samples found.

Nationally, road diets reduce crashes some 29 percent, while a city study of Seattle’s 2007 road diet on largely commercial Stone Way North found injury crashes dropped by a third. Average speeds dropped 3 mph…

Seattle Bike Blog on the Rainier Proposals

The Seattle Bike Blog’s Tom Fuculoro has another recap of last night’s SDOT meeting:

Rainier Avenue will be safer by the end of the year.

Every option the city presented (PDF) at a public meeting Thursday evening in Columbia City included a significant redesign of the notoriously dangerous street. And the city is not going to wait long to take action.

Some signals and signage changes will roll out this spring, followed by some more significant safety upgrades starting in the summer and going into 2016.

Before we get into the solutions, let’s follow the city’s lead and outline the problem.

Jim Curtin and Dongho Chang of SDOT did a very good job explaining, step by step, why the street is so dangerous and how — though genuine community input and thoughtful design changes — the city will move quickly to dramatically increase safety on the busy commercial and neighborhood street.

The big crowd at the meeting seemed very receptive to the ideas the city presented and strongly in favor of safety changes. Cheers rang out when Curtin announced plans to lower the speed limit to 25 mph through the Columbia City and Hillman City business districts. People also cheered when Curtin said they will lengthen the crosswalk signal times.As we reported previously, a study found that traffic signals in Rainier Valley give people less time to cross the street than Ballard.

When Curtin showed the slide below, the crowd gasped. Rainier is way more dangerous than it should be, and it has been this way for a long time…

The post goes on in some detail covering the various plans. Even if you aren’t a biker, it provides a good overview of the presentation. It’s worth a read 

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.

RVP on a Possible Rainier Road Diet

Over at the Rainier Valley Post, Amber Campbell has an article covering the follow-up to all of the recent accidents on Rainier. Be sure to click here to read the whole post:CC_rally

Earlier this month, just a few weeks after an SUV plowed into two Columbia City businesses injuring seven people, including a child, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) quietly announced the Rainier Avenue South Road Safety Corridor Project to launch next month.

“We will work in collaboration with the community to consider changes to Rainier Avenue South in an effort to reduce speeds and collisions to make the roadway safer for all users,” said City Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang in an email to community members.

The busy arterial sees tens of thousands of vehicles every day. Several elderly pedestrians have been killed crossing Rainier in the last few years, and just last weekend, a car lost control, left the roadway and crashed into the Rainier Chamber of Commerce at Rainier and 42nd Avenue South…

…Some have suggested a traffic calming “road diet” for the busy south-end speedway. A road diet often involves reducing lane widths and/or number of lanes to promote slower vehicle speeds and accommodate other modes of traffic such as bikes, pedestrians and transit.

Others say Rainier Avenue South is already busy enough and that — instead of limiting traffic — conditions for motorists should be improved in order to create a calm, steady flow of cars through the corridor.

Chang said in his email that public meetings will take place in November 2014, conceptual designs between December 2014 and February 2015, design alternative review meetings in February 2015, announcement of preferred alternative in April/May 2015 with implementation in Spring or Summer of 2015.