In September, the RBCA board adopted a mobility safety action plan that identified advocacy for safety improvements to NE 65th Street as our top priority. This was our rationale: NE 65th Street has been identified as one of the most dangerous streets in the city. Over the last three years, 68 people have been hospitalized after crashes on NE 65th Street between 5th and 35th Avenues. One person died. Injuries were sustained by motorists, bikers, and pedestrians.
Since then, 3 people crossing NE 65th Street in crosswalks have been struck by motorists. One person died and 2 were sent to the hospital with critical injuries. Every month, multiple collisions between motorists are reported on NE 65th Street.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has heard our concerns and is now starting a process for identifying specific safety problems, developing a plan for addressing them, gaining community input about those plans, and implementing final plans between next fall and 2019. In partnership with the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, they are hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, February 28, 6:00 p.m. at Roosevelt High School to talk with neighbors about safety concerns.
Last week, members of the #Fix65th coalition, including members of the RBCA board, put our heads together to come up with some possible quick changes that could be done this year, as SDOT prepares for road design changes that require more planning. In the comments section, please share your thoughts about each of these ideas.
Remove peak hour parking restrictions. Currently, no parking is allowed on westbound NE 65th Street during peak hours in the morning and no parking is allowed on eastbound NE 65th Street during peak hours in the afternoon. By removing these restrictions, more parking would become available in our business districts and, at the same time, the road would be narrowed, reducing motor vehicle speeds. Reducing speeds is a research-based strategy for reducing pedestrian – motorist collisions.
Change speed limit to 25 mph. In addition to changing parking rules, SDOT could change the speed limit on the road to 25 miles per hour. With 2 busy business districts and the location of Roosevelt High School, this may make most sense between I-5/Ravenna Blvd and 25th Avenue NE.
Install curb bulbs and posts at some corners. Curb bulbs extend the sidewalk into the street, reducing the time and distance it takes a pedestrian to cross. Curb bulbs can also prevent drivers from parking in front of crosswalks or blocking curb ramps. The visibility between drivers and pedestrians is also improved with curb bulbs because pedestrians are brought farther out into the street, making crossing locations more recognizable.
Following are a few drawings to help imagine what curb bulbs could look like at certain intersections. Photos of low-cost curb bulbs appear at the end of this post.
NE 65th Street & 15th Avenue NE
This intersection is of particular concern because of the number of students who cross here to get to Roosevelt High School, the multiple bus stops on both streets, a significant increase in housing in the area within the next few years, and the width of the roads. The drawing above includes curb bulbs in green as well as dedicated left turn lanes on NE 65th Street.
NE 65th Street & 20th Avenue NE
The intersection at 20th Avenue NE is of particular concern because it is the gateway to the Ravenna business district, many bikers use 20th to access the ravine footbridge, and because of shortened sightlines due to the hill. Anyone who has been following #Fix65th on Twitter has seen multiple videos of children trying to use the crosswalk on their way to school and being blocked by motorists making right turns while the light is red. Curb bulbs could shorten the cross and help motorists see pedestrians. Prohibiting right turns on red could keep motorists from blocking crosswalks.
NE 65th Street & Ravenna Avenue NE
Bisecting the Ravenna business district, Ravenna Avenue NE is an important spot for pedestrian safety improvements. Pedestrians coming from the ravine, accessing local businesses, and going to the community center all use this intersection.
Create dedicated left turn lanes. The diagram (above) of the intersection with 15th Avenue includes dedicated left turn lanes. Lanes like this could also help the intersection with 25th Avenue NE.
The intersection with 25th Avenue NE is an especially busy one since it leads to University Village, the Montlake Bridge, and SR 520. While traffic lights for people driving north and south include turn arrows, people driving east and west often get stuck behind drivers making left turns. This often leads to driver frustration and angry driving behaviors. Left turn only lanes both east and westbound could help traffic flow more efficiently and safely.
Make improvements to traffic signals. At NE Ravenna Blvd, where many motorists access I-5, where many bikers take advantage of the protected bike lanes, and where many pedestrians catch buses, signal improvements could be made including the elimination of left turn flashing yellow arrows and inclusion of dedicated pedestrian walk signals. For better traffic flow, adding a left turn only lane could help.
Install flashing crosswalk beacons. All along NE 65th Street, flashing beacons on either side of the road that are turned on when a pedestrian pushes a button could be used to increase motorist’s awareness of pedestrians trying to cross the road. Many motorists report that they are not aware of people waiting to cross the street and flashing beacons could help.
What are your thoughts for making NE 65th Street safer for everyone who uses it? Leave comments below and attend the community meeting on the 28th. Have your voice heard!
Two examples of low-cost curb bulbs that are created with some paint, street markings, and posts. If they don’t improve safety, these bulbs can easily be removed.