RBCA & RNA ask SDOT to make more safety changes to NE 65th Street

A year ago, neighbors marched along NE 65th Street in the Ravenna and Roosevelt neighborhoods to increase awareness about the many pedestrians, bikers, and motorists who had been sent to the hospital after being involved in collisions on NE 65th Street. The march launched the #Fix65th campaign started by the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association (RBCA), Roosevelt Neighborhood Association (RNA), and NE Seattle Greenways.

June 16, 2016 at the corner of NE 65th Street and 15th Avenue NE. Photo thanks to the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association @roosieseattle

Since then, two pedestrians were killed while crossing in marked crosswalks on NE 65th Street, one in the Ravenna neighborhood and one in the Roosevelt neighborhood.

Since then, the Seattle Department of Transportation launched a NE 65th Street Vision Zero project that included two community forums and some short-term improvements to the road. Plans are being made for further improvements in 2019.

However, RBCA continues to be concerned about the safety of our neighbors who walk, bike, and drive on NE 65th Street. While the short-term improvements are certainly welcome, RBCA is concerned that more people will be seriously injured and killed before large-scale improvements are made.

Today, in partnership with RNA, RBCA sent a letter to City officials in follow-up to the letter sent last July:

June 16, 2017

Dear Mayor Murray and Councilmembers Johnson and O’Brien,

In July of 2016 the Ravenna Bryant Community Association and Roosevelt Neighborhood Association sent a letter expressing our neighborhoods significant safety concerns regarding NE 65th Street and requesting a study of the corridor. We outlined specific issues that needed to be addressed as follows:

Excessive speeding and a lack of enforcement

Insufficient number of safe crossings

Long waits for walk signals

Driving lane orientation

Dangerous intersections

Unsafe sidewalks

Unsafe bicycle infrastructure

Insufficient parking

In response, SDOT committed to fixes that would come in two stages, with quick, short-term fixes happening in 2017. More comprehensive improvements would occur in 2019. The 2017 changes, which are now complete, involved repainting crosswalks, making traffic signals larger, adding flex posts at 65th and Roosevelt, and reducing the speed limit to 25 mph in the Roosevelt business district. But other than the flex posts, we consider this work to be essential maintenance on aging infrastructure.

Increased density along NE 65th Street is not going to wait for 2019. Seattle In Progress shows at least 650 new housing units being built adjacent to 65th, and approximately 1,000 more units pending approval. Most of those buildings include retail and a limited number of parking spaces. The next two years will see dramatically increasing numbers of residents and visitors traveling the corridor by foot, bike, bus, and car.

In the year since we submitted the above referenced letter, two people have died and two more have suffered life-threatening injuries. All of these tragedies have occurred at intersections over a one mile stretch of NE 65th Street and yet there are no further safety improvements planned for two more years. SDOT’s Community Forum on May 18th did not even include potential safety treatments at intersections or future crosswalks, two of the neighborhood’s greatest concerns as determined in surveys by RBCA and SDOT alike.

The short-term fixes are inadequate and fail to address the most dangerous aspects of NE 65th Street. We are painfully aware of what two years can mean for members of our community and are not willing to accept what has been done as an adequate response to a persistent danger to our community. We formally request that the scope of completed work be reviewed and further short-term treatments be developed to address intersections and crossings before the end of July with follow-up work to be completed before the end of the summer.

Respectfully,

Ravenna-Bryant Community Association

Roosevelt Neighborhood Association

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