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Woman hit by driver at busy Broadway/E Olive Way crossing

dsc00446A woman crossing one of the busiest intersections on Capitol Hill was struck by a driver witnesses said appeared to be rushing to make the light in a Friday noontime collision at Broadway and E Olive Way.

Seattle Fire rushed to the scene of the collision after callers reported the woman down in the crosswalk in front of the Rite Aid. She was conscious and received treatment at the scene before being taken to the hospital with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries. One witness said the woman appeared to have stepped into the crosswalk as her signal turned green

Police were interviewing the driver at the scene. E Olive Way just west of Broadway was closed for westbound traffic for around 30 minutes during the response.

Already one of the busiest Capitol Hill areas for pedestrians, the Broadway/John/E Olive way crossings have become even more active with the opening of Capitol Hill Station on the intersection’s southeast corner. Last summer, CHS reported on a study showing street and crossing dangers around the station. Late last year, intersections from Capitol Hill Station to Miller Park were selected for major pedestrian improvements though the project does not seem to include the western edge of the intersection across E Olive Way where Friday’s collision took place.

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48 thoughts on “Woman hit by driver at busy Broadway/E Olive Way crossing

  1. This area is in desperate need of attention. Too many drivers trying to turn against the light or beat the light before the camera captures them. It really needs a turn light or just eliminate left turns all together.

    And, people running to make the light or ignoring it. Yesterday I had to stop quick after my light turned green so a guy could run to the train station through a red crosswalk light.

    • I would love to see two things happen at this intersection:
      (1) A turn signal as you suggest, but also
      (2) An “all-cross” signal for pedestrians a la some intersections in West Seattle.

  2. I see SO MANY DRIVERS going straight through red lights constantly. I walk through this intersection everyday.

    Desperately needs a turn light. Please SDOT!!

    • You’re right. Running red lights has become common in Seattle and it’s got to stop! Note to those who do it: your time is not that important.

    • @Bob because of the way the intersection is designed with no dedicated left turn signal, a single car could wait an entire light cycle trying to turn left from Broadway onto E John. Many times the only option is for the turning driver to wait until the light is turning red, the cars driving north on Broadway have stop, and the pedestrians have cleared the crosswalk. It’s not a matter of being in a rush, it’s literally the only time the driver has the opportunity to make that turn.

      A few suggestions that IMO would improve the usability and safety of this intersection:
      1) Make the crosswalk hand turn red 30 seconds prior to the light turning red. This will clear out the pedestrians in the crosswalk, making way for drivers turning left.
      2) Put in a left turn signal.
      3) Make it so left turns are not allowable at this intersection.

    • @BrianN: I understand what you are saying. I think it’s quite acceptable for a left-turning motorist to do so as the light goes from green to yellow to red, as long as he/she makes sure the oncoming flow (from the other direction) has actually stopped and that one of those vehicles isn’t running the red light (!), and as long as there are no pedestrians in the crosswalk (who would be crossing against the red hand). Like you say, this is sometimes the only option, when traffic is heavy.

      I disagree that a 30-second delay would help, because pedestrians frequently cross against the flashing red hand, and will continue to do so, unfortunately.

    • Thanks for the response Bob. Whatever the solution is, I think everyone in this comment section can agree that the use case conditions that this intersection was originally designed to no longer exist and that SDOT needs to fix it pronto!

  3. I’m so glad that she is ok! In general, it really feels like Seattle drivers have a hard time understanding that pedestrians are part of the flow of traffic and should not be disregarded and terrorized. I walk to and from Capitol Hill to Downtown every day. I am a law abiding pedestrian, stay aware, and only cross street when I have green lights. I would say that about once a week I am nearly killed by a driver who is not paying attention, is trying to “make a light” and almost drives over me, or who acts like I am a huge annoying problem to them because I am crossing the street lawfully, often pushing their car into the intersection in a menacing and threatening way. Please do not comment about how “some pedestrians just run out into traffic.” I know some do, but most of us are just trying to stay alive while crossing the street when we have the right of way. It appears that this accident below happened when the driver tried to “beat” the pedestrian once the pedestrian’s light turned green. This happens to me almost every day and it sucks.

    • This is an issue everywhere in Seattle. I’m constantly seeing *one last car* whipping through a crosswalk after the light has changed. It’s terrible at the Montlake Blvd crossing by UW light rail, where massive groups of pedestrians are waiting to cross at each signal change.

    • I’m with you…. I was waiting at the intersection down by 520 and Montlake the other day – I told someone waiting with me to watch out – that people regularly fly through after it turns red. Just to prove me right, not one but two drivers jammed through after it was fully changed…

  4. I wish police could better enforce “no turns while a pedestrian is in the crosswalk”. I was nearly hit by a truck in same intersection a couple of mornings ago and I had the light. The driver was clearly focused on something else and didn’t notice how close he came to hitting me.

    • While they’re at it, should they ticket pedestrians who walk when the “don’t walk” light starts flashing? There are intersections downtown where right-turning drivers get literally no time at all to turn because there are pedestrians completely filling the crosswalk for the entire green-to-red cycle. There should be exclusive time for both– pedestrians-only and at least some time for cars-only. It contributes to terrible gridlock.

    • Jim – while it’s flashing you’re still allowed to be in the crosswalk – just not begin walking once it starts flashing – the latter is the only thing they’d be able to enforce (allegedly).

    • That would be OK, and better than nothing (which they have now). Let it be solid ‘don’t walk’ and let cars turn for at least a little bit of time. Of course you have to let people finish walking once it starts flashing, the alternative would be horrendous. (run for it?)

    • There is no such law. If the pedestrian is a lane away the vehicle may turn or pass through an unregulated intersection. On the other side of the coin pedestrians have a right away. However that does not mean they get to step directly into the road. A reasonable amount t of time has to be given so a vehicle can stop.

    • Incorrect in several cases Larry – in this case it is not an unregulated intersection you are talking about and it is more than one lane away..

      SMC 11.50.040, regarding circular green signals: “Vehicle operators facing a circular green signal may proceed straight through or turn right or left unless a sign at such place prohibits either such turn; provided, that vehicle operators turning right or left shall stop to allow other vehicles or pedestrians lawfully within the intersection control area to complete their movements.”

      “When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation,” it states, “the operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop to allow a pedestrian using an unmarked or marked crosswalk or a disabled person using a curb ramp as provided in Section 11.40.090. to cross the roadway when the pedestrian or disabled person is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian or disabled person is upon the opposite half of the roadway and moving toward the approaching vehicle”

      So… if there is a pedestrian light at the intersection, following this law you shouldn’t even enter the intersection at all when there is a pedestrian crossing – no matter the number of lanes. When the intersection is uncontrolled the pedestrian needs to be walking away from you and be on the other half of the road – this is city and doesn’t entirely agree with state code… which states

      RCW 46.61.235
      (1) The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this section “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.

      what it comes down to… you really shouldn’t be trying to go through any intersection when there are pedestrians crossing…

      Personally I agree with the others who have advocated for “all way walks” downtown. It can be nearly impossible to turn right down there, but if we let the all the cars go through it would then be impossible to cross the street.. All walks with no walks during green cycles would solve that.

    • “So… if there is a pedestrian light at the intersection, following this law you shouldn’t even enter the intersection at all when there is a pedestrian crossing…”

      I don’t interpret it that way. If it says “…… vehicle operators turning right or left shall stop to allow other vehicles or pedestrians lawfully within the intersection control area to complete their movements”, you could seemingly enter the crosswalk, or at least the intersection, and then stop to let them finish, then proceed. If the entire light cycle runs out and there’s still a steady stream of pedestrians the whole time, you’d at least get to finish your turn after the light changes and they HAVE to stop entering the crosswalk.

  5. I am happy to read this woman did not have life threatening injuries; i hope she recovers quickly and does not have life long issues with any injuries she did sustain… my heart goes out to her!

    With that said, this is a HORRIBLE intersection! I have been “tapped” by cars, and ALMOST hit MANY times. I have seen far too many car accidents here too. In fact, this intersection is such a hot mess, i generally avoid it as much as possible — even walking blocks out of my way.

    The city needs to work with pedestrian and bicyclist groups to figure out a better way — especially with the light rail being right there.

  6. I drive through that intersection every day. Here is what they need to do to fix it:

    1) Put a turn lane for both sides (turning left or right) on the eastbound direction and put the throughput for that route in the center.

    2) Reduce traffic on that road by moving the buses onto another street (maybe Denny now that you can cut through)

    3) Do something to reduce street crossing foot traffic in that area. It might be good to just put all the lights on stop and let pedestrians cross the intersection as a whole.

    Right now we have an intersection that is ripe for accidents. It’s harrowing to figure out if the car in front of you is turning left or right AND keep an eye on pedestrian traffic AND knowing it’s camera monitored so your under even more pressure. It’s the least maintained intersection in Seattle compared to its foot and car traffic.

  7. I’m surprised it wasn’t a bicyclist; they’re the ones constantly going thru red lights, much more so than cars. Though I have noticed there’s an increase in cars going thru red lights though; not the rushing thru before the light turns red, but just blithely sailing thru after it’s red. People laugh at me for not jaywalking, but I point to the bikes/cars that run red lights; it’s safer to wait a couple seconds after your light turns green.

    And I sadly have to admit, being a pedestrian myself, that after bikes, I think pedestrians are the most lax. Esp on Broadway where all the young people have phones. I’ve seen so many just walk into traffic and not even look to see if the light’s green.

    I like the idea of having “all walk” lights, so pedestrians and bikes/cars aren’t crossing at the same time.

    • “I’m surprised it wasn’t a bicyclist; they’re the ones constantly going thru red lights, much more so than cars.”

      Data please.

      I’ll gladly sit at that intersection with you and count cars who run red lights. You can count bikes. If I count more cars than bikes, you’ll give me $200. Deal?

    • Disclaimer – I do not condone red light running in any form and do not personally run red lights or stop signs on my bike (or in my car for that matter), and do not like to see other people do it.. BUT…
      We cyclists know that it never feels good to hit the ground and ped-cyclists entanglements are relatively rare because we are very much aware that we will be hurt too, unlike car drivers who don’t feel a thing when their 2,000lb vehicle smashes into a soft human body..
      I’ve never hit a pedestrian, but I have had a few times where someone jaywalked without looking right in front of me and gave me quite a scare. Fortunately on a bike I am pretty nimble and real vocal, so I was always able to avoid damaging them or myself.

    • While I’d have to say I agree that cyclists do it pretty often, cars do it more often (maybe because more of them, whichever).

  8. Self-driving cars cannot come soon enough.

    Everyone has solutions to traffic accidents, but the bottom line is simply this: If you put a human being behind the wheel of a 3,000-pound piece of metal full of combustible fluid, accidents and death are inevitable. Historians in the 22nd century are going to look back at our beloved human-driven Single Occupancy Vehicles and say “What in the holy hell were they thinking?”

  9. Car drivers should be a lot more humble than what I read here. The facts: A car uses 8-16 times the space of a pedestrian. Cost for the driver: $0. A car poisons the air of everybody around it but not inside. Cost for the driver: $0. A car damages the pavement 20,000 times more than a bicycle or a pedestrian (law of physics). Cost for the driver: $0. A car makes excessive noise (the tires especially): Cost for the driver: $0. A car gets ¾ of the road while people are crammed on sidewalks that they share with poles, restaurant tables and signs. Cost for the driver: $0. An impact of metal vs. flesh will always end with damaged human, even at low speed. Cost for the driver: a scare. Cost for the unprotected human: potentially lifelong pain. What the driver actually pays for is the construction of roads and a fraction of their maintenance. The rest is paid by everybody else.

    • Going up and down a story — a tall story, to get over bus wires — is slow for everyone and prohibitive for many. To make it quick enough to handle *just* the subway traffic, not the considerable B’way foot traffic, the overpass would need to be about as big as the subway station — which is huge compared to city sidewalks.

      Also, now and here the combination of how well the public treats escalators/elevators, how we manage them, and how mechanically delicate they are means we can’t rely on them. I’d love to fix any or all of those, but (judging from how private buildings manage) it takes constant skilled observation and maintenance which is $$$.

  10. Just curious, is anyone (or any organization) actually doing anything to improve this interaction?

    I assume we have this nice outrage thread, SDOT does nothing, and then we happily go back to more of our neighbors getting mowed down by reckless cars here?

    • Unfortunately the city often seems to operate retroactively when it comes to pedestrian safety. For example, see the new crosswalk and signage at Bellevue and Belmont, or pedestrian improvements down in Madison Park). Community groups were lobbying the city for improvements in both locations for years, but it took tragic accidents in both locations to get crosswalks and visible “ped x-ing” signs put in.

    • Ryan, not trying to sound too skeptical but is Seattle Greenways set up to handle an issue like this? After reading the mission statement on the “about us” page it seems like the organization is more focused improving safety and multifunction use on side streets rather driving (no pun intended) traffic modifications along major thoroughfares

    • This is a reply to Brian re SNG.

      SDOT response and implementation is another thing, but short answer is that Greenways groups are well-versed and well-organized on issues around arterials and already doing this kind of work.

      The improved crossing at Denny and 12th was a result of Central Seattle Greenways work, for one example. A member of CSG applied for and won a grant to improve pedestrians crossings along E John/E Thomas corridor. For another, one major focus of the Rainier Valley Greenways group has been to push for traffic calming along infamously crash-prone Rainier, some of which has been implemented and the rest of which is being planned. The NE group is pushing for calming on 65th Ave NE. There are many more groups and those are the efforts I know off the top of my head. I expect there are many more.

    • Thanks for the info Mixte Feelings, sounds like the various Greenway groups are doing some great work making the arterial streets more accommodating to pedestrians/bikers.

      Personally, I think that this intersection needs a better solution for the drivers that use it. As been highlighted throughout these comments, this intersection no longer serves the purpose it was originally designed to and creates an environment for drivers that really puts everyone at risk. SDOT really needs to fix it – if the CGW can assist bringing this issue to their attention or better yet amplifying it so it gets immediate action then lets have it.

    • Hi again Brian. Most traffic calming does take into account drivers, not just peds and bicyclists. Generally, traffic calming designs slow individual drivers and in doing so, result in fewer crashes, which are highly correlated with higher speeds. That generally results in driving that is less stressful and less injury prone. Counterintuitively, these projects almost always result in very slight decreases (in the range of a few seconds) in travel time over the traffic calmed segment. Often times these project involve added protected left turns lanes and/or lights. I don’t have hard data, but in general it is reasonable to assume that an improvement for bikes/peds is almost always an improvement for drivers even when not obvious/overt, and that most SNG efforts are about improving safety for all users.

  11. I have no problem as a pedestrian at this intersection because I always look both ways regardless of the light. As a driver I avoid it any way I can because it is a clustercuss. And let’s face it, Seattle drivers at morons (except me, I’m different).

  12. For those bitching about modern drivers, while it’s possible every person who isn’t you is a terrible driver (especially those who are younger or who work for Amazon), it’s equally possible that when you take the exact same roads and add 100,000 people, the percentage of people running red lights can stay flat (i.e. back in your day, 10% of people passing through an interaction do so on red or yellow) but the absolute number will increase because math.

    Not that the intersection doesn’t need a significant redesign. It was always bad, and now it’s significantly worse.

  13. As much care should be taken to protect the safety of people outside of our cars as is taken to ensure the safety of our car’s occupants. To do it any other way doesn’t make sense, it is demonstrating that the lives of others are not as important as our own lives. This helps to create and perpetuate the very idea of ‘others’ in our culture.
    Our cars should not be able to crush us at low speed. And they should not be able to strike us at higher speeds without risk to the car’s occupants.
    The current situation is unacceptable. The effect it has on our daily lives is profound. It is the core of the reasons we don’t know our neighbors or ourselves, and in general terms is the main reason we live our modern lives at such a fevered pitch.
    We’re not talking about energy or ecological concerns. Instead we are considering the immediate physical and cultural environment we surround ourselves with daily. The one where as we go about our business, often just a few feet from us as we work or live, we are exposed to machines that can utterly obliterate us in a way that no other Humans have had to contend with in known history.
    Yet we ignore this situation and its effects on our relationships with each other and our world.
    A shiny new automobile, powerful and sleek, with lines that play off of organic forms, is the primary thrust for Western civilization’s consumer arms race and an elemental part of how our system rewards the common person for ignoring the greater good.
    The ubiquitous use of inhumanely engineered machines such as these has a powerful effect on our sense of self worth and is undeniably detrimental to our safety and our health.
    In the future, the vehicles we surround ourselves with now will be looked upon as just one more horrifically inhumane aspect of our culture, one that much needed social progress eventually managed to eliminate, and none too soon.
    Our cars should be engineered to be safe for everyone. They need to made much lighter than they are now, with wheels and bumpers designed in such a way as to minimize the hazards they present and reduce or eliminate the fears they create.
    The vehicles that city dwellers use as daily transportation do not need to be able to go 100mph. As exhilarating and convenient as that luxury is, it is too expensive in more ways than one. Dialing this metric back around 60 percent will result in a spectacular increase in the quality of life for all of us.
    Electric and other alt-fuel vehicles will suddenly make a lot more sense. People power will come first, as it always should. Our children will be more healthy and play more freely… everyone will be more healthy and interact more freely. Differences between us will be less deliberate. We will make more eye contact with each other and we will know our neighbors better.
    Adjustments will be made, leading to a more relaxed and refined pace of life in our great cities.
    More of us, if not most of us, will be able to afford the ownership of such a vehicle. We will all be better off, and we will have made our world a genuinely better place to live.

  14. Well if the city would actually put a protected left turn there (not to mention at Bellevue and olive, or 12th and madison) then maybe shit like this wouldn’t happen. Heaven for bid they put one by the Starbucks reserve but not where the hill actually needs them.

  15. This really sucks, and the driver will be held accountable, but in the end no one wins!… I want to know what happened to looking both ways before crossing?

    • I want to know what happened to slowing before continuing on through an intersection, especially a busy one where there are a lot of people walking and doing so with the expectation that people will be crossing the street and also I want to know what happened to stopping for red lights.

  16. How about making it unlawful for a car to enter the intersection once the light turns yellow? Possibly have the yellow light blink for 3 seconds as an end for cars to enter, solid yellow being only for cars to clear the intersection, treating solid yellow like red for entering cars. I know there are other tricks they use with delayed switching. I think the problem though is that the yellow light has become a signal to rush, to beat the closing gate instead of the caution it should be. For aggressive drivers the yellow light is like the starter’s flag at the Indianapolis 500.