Serious crashes on major arterials in Capitol Hill, Central District and First Hill area up from 2018, long road to Vision Zero, SDOT data shows

In April, a car seriously injured a bicyclist at the intersection of 24th Ave E and E Madison. A few months later, a driver was severely hurt in a crash just a couple of hundred feet up the street, on the intersection of 23rd Ave E and E John St.

The locations of these two crashes don’t just point to the places where lives were wrecked. They also offer a first glimpse into the traffic pain points on Capitol Hill, which have clustered on and near Madison in the first six months of 2019, data from the Seattle Department of Transportation show. The Seattle Times first reported on the data.

The two crashes are among the 98 serious or fatal collisions that happened in the first half of 2019. Ten people were killed in traffic. 88 were seriously injured, of which six on Capitol Hill, four on First Hill and eight in the Central District (including a sliver south of I-90). The dataset showed no fatalities in these neighborhoods in the first half of this year.

One important caveat, per SDOT: The data the department provided are preliminary. Usually, there’s a “pretty rigorous auditing process” in which SDOT works with officials from the Seattle Police Department, Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington State Patrol and hospitals to review and filter out discrepancies for a report that comes out at year-end, SDOT said.

Still, the data provides a glimpse into Seattle’s long road to Vision Zero, its plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030, and problem zones for Capitol Hill, the Central District and First Hill, particularly on or near arterials.

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Part of SDOT’s Broadway safety fix will also roll out across Seattle: a head start for walk signals

We gave the coming Broadway “all way walk” the headline but one of the safety improvements coming to the busy area around Capitol Hill Station will be part of a simple but hopefully effective change to pedestrian crossing signals across Seattle:

At intersections where the city knows accidents are likely, SDOT will preemptively add what Murray called “pedestrian-friendly signals” — walk signs that allow pedestrians into an intersection before drivers’ light turns green, giving walkers greater visibility — and traffic lights with left turn signals, which reduces conflicts between left-turning cars and pedestrians (or trucks) heading straight through an intersection. By adding leading pedestrian signals at 40 intersections citywide, Kubly said, the city expected to reduce crashes by 50 percent at those intersections.

After SDOT analysis, the re-timed signaling will be deployed at the busy Broadway/John/E Olive Way intersection to give pedestrians an advance walk signal before drivers get a green light. SDOT is also planning to add left turn lanes on John and E Olive Way to help better control vehicular traffic flow.

Dongho Chang, city traffic engineer, said pedestrian collision reports including near misses contributed to the decision. “Pedestrian-wise we hear about a lot of close misses,” Chang said.

The department found the majority of collisions were left-turn related from east and westbound drivers on Olive and John. Drivers heading north or south on Broadway didn’t experience many left turn collisions but did have a few rear-ending incidents.

SDOT is planning to implement the changes before summer.

Citywide speed limit reductions are coming to Seattle streets — UPDATE

Council member Mike O'Brien announces the speed change proposal on First Hill. (Image: CHS)

Council member Mike O’Brien announces the speed change proposal on First Hill. (Image: CHS)

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-9-33-57-amUPDATE: Some of Capitol Hill’s busiest streets are poised to get a 5 MPH speed limit reduction as part of a larger speed reduction proposal announced by city officials Tuesday. Speed limits on Capitol Hill’s arterial streets would be reduced from 30 MPH to 25 MPH, which includes E Pike, E Pine, Broadway, Madison, E Union, 15th, 12th, and Bellevue among others.

Seattle officials announced speeds on all residential streets would be reduced from 25 MPH to 20 MPH — the same speed limit as school zones, which will remain unchanged. Officials said that slowing vehicles down by even 5 MPH can be significant in improving survival rates in collisions.

“Speed kills,” said Council member Tim Burgess during a media event outside the Horizon House on First Hill. The City Council’s transportation committee is slated to take up the legislation on September 20th.

Council member Mike O’Brien, who chairs the City Council’s transportation committee, said he was confident the speed change legislation would be approved by City Council within a month. Once the legislation is passed, around 500 new speed limit signs will be installed at $200-$300 per sign. The city would then enter a warning period before police officers begin enforcing the new speeds. The move is part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths by 2030Continue reading

Pike People Street tests continue in October with ‘art walk,’ ‘daytime’ editions

In any pilot program, there are winning ideas — and a few losers. The Seattle Department of Transportation is out with its Pike People Street – 2016 Work Plan complete with the framework for three trial dates this October testing further refinements of the original goal: creating a strong pedestrian experience in the middle of Pike/Pine.

Here is the schedule and the description of each of the three variations SDOT will be testing around E Pike next month:

  1. FRIDAY OCTOBER 7, 11 PM – 3 AM Full closure of E Pike St between 10th Ave and 11th Ave. This expanded pedestrian space will relieve pressure on the limited sidewalk space during nightlife hours. Continue reading

Witness to woman struck at 14th and Pine starts petition for improved safety

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 10.52.01 AMJen Kilchenmann provided police with an eyewitness account of what happened in the Thursday, August 25th collision that sent a woman to the hospital with serious injuries after she was hit by a driver while crossing the street at 14th and Pine. Now she has launched a petition and is seeking 1,000 people to add their names to a call for making the area safer:

The aim of this petition is to highlight the daily hazard that is crossing anywhere at 14th Ave and E. Pine St. This petition will be submitted to the Seattle DOT. I started this petition after witnessing an accident at this street corner in August. I am aiming to ask for stronger visibility of the STOP signs, including flashing lights, and early pedestrian crossing signs.

Kilchenmann declined to describe the specifics of what she saw as the truck traveling on E Pine hit the woman but says the problems in this stretch of E Pine need to be addressed. As CHS pointed out, the top of Pike and Pine haven’t been the most dangerous areas in the neighborhood for pedestrians — check out the intersections on E Pine, especially, below Broadway around Boylston and Bellevue or E Pike at Broadway for that.

The identity of the woman injured in the morning incident has not been reported and CHS does not have updated information on her injuries.


Now open: Sugar Plum’s 15th Ave E parklet — Meanwhile, Seattle making sidewalk cafes easier

Trading street parking for places to sit and mingle in front of businesses across Seattle, streateries and parklets have been mostly about planning since the first wave was created and installed a few years back. There has been a lull in the actual construction and placement of the features but it looks like the pace might be picking up — you’ll find a new streatery open this week on 15th Ave E. A Melrose parklet is coming next. Meanwhile, the Seattle Department of Transportation is also looking for Capitol Hill food and drink establishments that might want to test out its new program to make it easier to create a light-weight sidewalk patio set-up without some of the heavier design elements required in the past. Continue reading

You, citizen, can shape the Pike People Street plan


The community process to embrace and reshape last summer’s Pike/Pine “pedestrian zone” experiment is moving forward and collecting a new round of feedback on proposed formats for a round of test events being planned for September and October, according to an email sent to participants by a Seattle Department of Transportation planner Tuesday. Here are the details on the new proposals for the Pike People Street:

We’re happy to share with you a draft 2016 work plan report for the Pike People Street. Shaped by direct participation and conversations from you and others in the community, we’ve refined three options for streetscape tests and want your feedback before we issue our final report and timeline of events. Continue reading

Last day to add your Capitol Hill pavement park to Park(ing) Day 2016

Park(ing) Day, a celebration of people-friendly design in city spaces with some Capitol Hill roots, is expanding to a two-day event in Seattle. Today (Friday, August 5th) is the deadline to sign up for the 2016 edition: Continue reading

City report: Pike/Pine street closures can continue following community meetings

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Last summer’s pedestrian zone had mixed reactions in the neighborhood (Image: SDOT)

The City of Seattle has released its comprehensive report on last summer’s experiment with a Pike/Pine pedestrian zone. In a decision that’s unlikely to please supporters or opponents of the project, the city is reccomending more community discussions before any more street closures take place.

The report released Wednesday touts the promising impacts of the project and the predominantly positive neighborhood feedback it received, but also notes the vocal opposition lodged by some local businesses and property owners. Ultimately, the Seattle Department of Transportation recommended that a “diverse group of neighborhood stakeholders” be convened by the city this spring to discuss the report’s findings and determine the “best way to move forward” in the aftermath of the pilot.

“That’s exactly what we had been calling for,” said Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Sierra Hansen, who previously asked the city hold off on doing another street closure in 2016. “One of the things that we recommended is that we get all the diverse perspectives at the same table. We want to foster a conversation between critics and supporters.”

While the report indicates that the city—SDOT and the Office of Economic Development in this case—is not shelving the project for good, the agencies are definitely pumping the brakes. “Further conversation is needed with leadership in Capitol Hill about what a pedestrian street concept can become in Pike/ Pine,” the report says.

Updated-map-image-1024x6301-400x246-400x246The three-block pedestrian zone on E Pike between Broadway and 12th Ave originated as an attempt by the city and the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict to address issues of pedestrian congestion, aggressive crowd behavior, and LGBTQ visibility and inclusivity in the nightlife core of Capitol Hill. Funded by $30,000 of a $160,000 Only in Seattle grant awarded to the CHCC, the street closure was held over four separate saturday nights in August of last year. The first two nights were dedicated to a car-free street and the last two featured festive programming like a drag show, late night musical performances and queer-friendly partner dancing.

It appears the city landed on its talk-it-out recommendation primarily through analyzing its mixed feedback. Overall, 66% of 272 post-pilot survey respondents said they would like to see more weekend street closures, but favorability varied greatly when broken down among different groups.

Only 48% of business and property owners said they would like to see more weekend street closures (44% were opposed), compared to 70% of residents, underlining the mixed feelings in the Pike/Pine business community. When asked if they would prefer to see a street closure at other times of day, 44% of businesses and property owners said they would (37% were opposed), as did 60% of residents.Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.54.28 PM

The most common response to the question “what did you dislike most about the project” was that it catered too heavily to “bars and partiers” and “encouraged bad behavior.” Conversely, the most common response to the question “what did you like most” was that the street closure “made the project safer for pedestrians,” followed by “less street congestion.” Continue reading

Reminder: Work to change 23rd Ave from four-lane mess to three-lane transit paradise* begins

SDOT writes: "23rd Avenue is a narrow street. Maintaining two-way traffic request 22 feet, or 11-foot-wide lanes, at a minimum. Construction activities and equipment require approximately 30 feet of the roadway. The graphic below (above, here on CHS) illustrates why there is not enough space in the road to accommodate more than one lane of traffic during construction."

SDOT writes: “23rd Avenue is a narrow street. Maintaining two-way traffic request 22 feet, or 11-foot-wide lanes, at a minimum. Construction activities and equipment require approximately 30 feet of the roadway. The graphic below (above, here on CHS) illustrates why there is not enough space in the road to accommodate more than one lane of traffic during construction.”

Starting today, you’ll probably want to do everything you can to plan your travel to avoid 23rd Ave as 20 months of construction begins to rebuild the Central District artery in a three-lane configuration, with wider sidewalk, and safer crossings — *a modest version of transit paradise.

CHS wrote here about the $46 million overhaul of 23rd between S Jackson and E John — Starting June 8th, you’ll only have 20 months to wait for a much-improved 23rd Ave

An announcement from SDOT about the start of construction and detours in the area is below. Visit the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project page for more.

Much needed 23rd Avenue improvements start today
Construction means travel delays for Southeast Seattle commuters and neighbors

SEATTLE –The Seattle Department of Transportation started today rebuilding 23rd Avenue in the heart of the Central Area. This construction marks the start of a larger set of investments to improve safety and mobility for people who drive, walk, bike and take transit in the area. Commuters and neighbors are advised to plan ahead to avoid major travel delays. Continue reading