Well, that didn’t last long. We reported earlier this week on the University of Washington’s efforts to improve safety where the Burke-Gilman Trail crosses Pend Oreille Road by adding stop signs for cars about to cross the trail’s crosswalk.
After some traffic backups on 25th Ave NE during peak travel times, the UW is pulling the plug on the idea and taking out the stop signs, reverting the intersection to its previous dangerous and confusing state (as pictured above), the UW announced Friday.
“These are not the results we were expecting, and certainly not the results we were hoping for,” said Director of Transportation at UW Josh Kavanagh.
The number of people biking and walking on trail is high enough even in rainy November that too few cars were able to get through the crossing, leaving a line of people waiting to make left turns from 25th to Pend Oreille. This was seen as unacceptable, so they are going back to the drawing board to find a different solution.
The problem (if you want to call it that) is that people on the trail want to treat the crossing like any other mid-block crosswalk, where cross traffic is required to yield. But Kavanagh and UW transportation would like it operate more like a typical four-way stop intersection with all directions taking turns.
However, people are not accustomed to treating crosswalks this way, and most people continued to enter the intersection as though they have the right of way (which, since there’s a crosswalk, they do). This gave people driving on Pend Oreille waiting at the new stop signs too few chances to get through, causing the backups.
Unfortunately, UW is relying on a minimal design in a slow-to-adopt national road design manual that leaves a lot to be desired in terms of prioritizing the safety and movement of people on foot and bike: Continue reading