We need walking and biking improvements to N 145th St

EDITOR’S NOTE: I am still coming down from the most amazing wedding anyone could ever ask for this weekend. Forrest Baum, knowing I wouldn’t have much time to write, got in touch saying he went to this interesting meeting about 145th Street and asked if I wanted a write-up about it. Turns out, this could be one of the cooler complete streets projects in the area. But Shoreline and Seattle residents both need to get involved to make it happen right. So thanks for the report, Forrest!

I’ve recently moved to the NW corner of Seattle, just a few blocks from the city limits. I have a brand new baby, and to prepare, my sweetie Aimee and I were able to buy a house up here! (I was as surprised as you, believe me.) After biking as long as possible, even while pregnant, we’d resigned to commuting, mostly carpooling, and attempting to avoid the freeway as much as possible.

On occasion, however, we drive. In traffic. And It Sucks.

So when I heard that Shoreline was having a 145th Street Corridor Open House, I headed on down to talk about plans to make things better.

145th St Project Extent

145th is the direct route connecting to I-5, and it’s a quick drive.
(Unless, of course, you’re trying to get anywhere during rush hour…)
At other hours, it’s almost too quick… 145th is half owned by the city of Seattle, half by the state (it’s really confusing, see below), and so it’s also known as State Route 523.

145th Boundaries

Yes, people that live on 145th, live on a highway. And it feels that way. As on most roads, cars drive about 10 over the posted 35mph limit. It also seems that much of the traffic is single occupancy vehicles (SOVs). 145th is a street ripe for improvement.

It’s amazing that Shoreline is heading up this project, as their city limit actually starts past the north edge of the street, but it’s an important corridor to people living north and south. As Shoreline Sr. Transportation Planner Kurt Seemann notes, 145th is the only through E-W corridor until 205th (the other border of Shoreline), so it’s very important for access.

I spoke to people who lived and worked on 145th, one only 10 blocks away from work. He drove because he refused to walk. It just felt too dangerous. Many take the bus, and they need to cross the 4+ lane street. Another I spoke to was nearly hit in a crosswalk.

Intersections, the places where it should be safe to cross, turn out to be some of the most dangerous places. There are plenty of vehicle collisions, but people walking and bicycling are most vulnerable.

145th St Collision History 2010-2014

A new Light Rail station will be opening at 145th and I-5. It’s definitely time to get ready for the surge in people using the corridor.

The City of Shoreline Traffic Engineer Kendra Dedinsky says they intend to “improve all modes” of access (walk/bike/transit/SOV) across the 145th corridor. Hallelujah!

Let’s break it down, currently.

Walking:
The current sidewalk blows. It’s nowhere near the current legal standards, being only three feet wide in places, and that meager space is often bisected by poles. Disability access is a good barometer, and in that regards 145th fails miserably: wheelchairs often can’t even make it through the narrow walkway, and there are no curb ramps, either. All of this takes place right next to four lanes of speeding traffic.

145th St. Sidewalk BarriersTo reiterate, walking here sucks.

Biking:
Biking? Would you ride on the side of a four-lane highway? Biking is miserable, just delve into the collision info… and the sidewalk, usually a safe fallback position, makes a terrible refuge. See above.

Transit:
There are hardly any transit routes using 145th, because of the peak-hour congestion, and lack of adequate sidewalks. I took one of the express buses to get downtown, but it has few stops and only runs during rush hour. With a bus-only HOV lane entrance, you’d expect more transit here.

Car Traffic:
Driving is pretty rough. 145th is old and pothole-ridden. Definitely in need of repair. A lot of 145th traffic seems to be funneling cars on and off the freeway. People in cars are in a hurry, either to get to the freeway, or to make up for being stuck on the freeway… but there are simply too many of them, and nothing but bottlenecks. Two lanes become one all over the place. Despite the HOV lane, there is no access for 2+ people in cars, and therefore no incentive to carpool.

So… 145th is a mess.

It’d be great to cut down on single-occupancy vehicle traffic, and improve, well, everything else.

Shoreline has done some amazing ground work on this. Peruse their extensive study process materials for more. Their Traffic Engineer gets it. In her presentation she described equity, actually calling out planning for everyone, even those without the means to own a car. Color me impressed. After hearing one suggestion, she explained that we couldn’t only have sidewalks (ahem, sidewalk) on just one side of the street. 145th Street has a 60′ right of way, c’mon!

Their team did a great job, coming up with streetmix mockups of possible street treatments. They’re definitely upgrading sidewalks to be ADA compliant, but many of their other more hopeful suggestions could hit some pushback.

So how do we make them happen?

We need to leave comments (you have until Sun, Oct. 11) about how important a safe corridor is for all modes, but especially walking and biking. We need to stress safe crossings, especially of I-5, the busiest and potentially most dangerous section. We need to show up to the upcoming meetings.

I can’t wait to ride to the Light Rail. Let’s do this.

Edit: Shoreline has posted the display boardsslides and presentation from the event if you’d like to relive the excitement!

All diagrams courtesy of the City of Shoreline 145th Street Multimodal Corridor Study.

About Forrest

Dad to kids 10 years apart, Science enthusiast, storyteller, I bike *everywhere*.
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20 Responses to We need walking and biking improvements to N 145th St

  1. Tom Fucoloro says:

    Thanks for covering this, Forrest!

  2. biliruben says:

    I have in the past taken the ST 512 with my bike, which is essentially a parallel route to what Link will be serving. When getting off at 145th with your bike and wanting to go East or West, there are absolutely no good options. I generally choose to weave around the poles and garbage cans, and dabble with being on the road on down-hills, but either option is just awful. Scary, dangerous and absurd.

    In the absence of actually making 145th a complete street, with, you know, an actual place for bicyclists to do there thing, the best hope is that they build a station at 13oth.

    While they absolutely should do something at 145th, it’s just a disaster in so many ways, that I really don’t expect it to happen, no matter how loud the outcry. There just isn’t the right-of-way to provide proper facilities without taking car-traffic lanes. And that, with 3 jurisdictions, is not likely to happen.

    130th, however, has many great biking options. Going east, it has it’s own lane for most of the way, and only has small segments near I-5 where SDOT dropped the ball, but can be fixed. Going West, between I-5 and Aurora, their is a massive gap, but that’s in the master plan, and with the High School there, there will be plenty of support to get that done.

    My secret passage, however, which is ripe for turning into an official bike route (Greenway), is Roosevelt, going from 130th to the NW. It’s low, slow traffic, and very direct. With a bit of work, it could comfortably connect to the interurban.

    To the Southwest, there is a Northacres park, which fairly screams to have a bike path through it. City owned and under-used, it would be cheap and perfect.

    To the Northeast, the gravel walking path right-of-way that were hard-fought and wonderful around the golf-course could be improved to handle bikes.

    While sidewalks on 145th and absolutely essential, I doubt very much bikes will be accommodated, sadly. Therefore, focusing our energy on a station at 130th and radial bike infrastructure emanating in all directions from there is the best chance to bear fruit.

    With apologies to those close to I-5 and 145th, this is a car-traffic wasteland, and ever even considering siting a transit station there was completely moronic. It’s a quagmire only a lover of Park and Rides could love. 130th is where we need to focus our considerable bikey energy.

    • Forrest says:

      Thank for sharing your experiences. Sidewalks (usable ones, even!) are definitely going to happen on 145th. It’s the law, & a necessity Shoreline seems to get.

      I definitely agree with 130th and Roosevelt. It’d make a great Licton Haller Greenway… but we still need it to connect to the stations. I don’t see this as a choice between 130th OR 145th. Both will need access, and there’s no reason to leave those living near 145th high and dry.

      There are some plans for a ped crossing of I-5, and options for an off-145th bicycle network. One aspect I didn’t even get into is the talk of land acquisitions for this project. That can be a big push, but you can see from the mockups that all options are being considered: extra room for bikes/buffers/bus lanes. Getting anything beyond the 60′ ROW would be great, but if extra space is only allocated to make the connections necessary to get to these routes, it will be a huge improvement.

    • R says:

      I agree about the potential of Roosevelt Way North of 145th as a greenway, it’s my usual route to/through the area.

  3. blaeloch says:

    Forrest, thanks for covering this, and welcome to the neighborhood. I live on 25th NE just south of 145th, where 25th is part of the Olympic Hills Greenway. The GW was jogged up to 25th from 27th specifically to take advantage of the signal on 145th at 25th, but that intersection is lousy with red-light-runners. I see the collision history for 25th is worse than LCW. Are there hard numbers available, in addition to the size bubbles?

    • Andres Salomon says:

      Hi Janine,

      FYI, Seattle’s collision data includes NE 145th. The database is here:
      https://data.seattle.gov/Transportation/Seattle-Collision-Data-SDOT-/v7k9-7dn4

      The interface is incredibly slow, buggy, and awful. I used to export to CSV and process it using other tools, but I triggered a bug that has made the data incomplete: https://twitter.com/NEGreenways/status/649783187086770176

      But in theory, it’s there. Here’s data from an old dump for 2010-2015 for ped-related collisions mentioning 145TH and 15TH, for example. As you can see, 3 of those happen right at the intersection (15th Ave NE & NE 145th), they’re all injury collisions, and they’re the result of a right-turning car. Seems like a good place to improve safety against right-turning cars, eh?

      97357,”(47.733951725000054, -122.31274859399997)”,120616,120616,Intersection,Pedestrian,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_DIAGRAM\11240086.bmp,0, ,,0,,10/26/2011 07:00:00 AM +0000,10/26/2011 2:41:00 PM,1,35851,At Intersection (intersection related),Daylight,15TH AVE NE AND NE 145TH ST,1,0,Y,2,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_REPORT\3553098.pdf,3553098,Dry,24,MOTOR VEHCILE STRUCK PEDESTRIAN,11299005,16685,0,2,Injury Collision,,1,Vehicle Turning Right Hits Pedestrian,Matched,0,1,Overcast,0,0,521265,N,2011 349341

      123816,”(47.73393649700006, -122.31139964699997)”,150806,150826,Block,Pedestrian,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_DIAGRAM\33241980.bmp,332.5, ,,0,,12/09/2012 08:00:00 AM +0000,12/9/2012 5:43:00 PM,0,,Mid-Block (not related to intersection),Dark – Street Lights On,NE 145TH ST BETWEEN 15TH AVE NE AND 17TH AVE NE,1,0,,0,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_REPORT\E215597.pdf,E215597,Wet,24,MOTOR VEHCILE STRUCK PEDESTRIAN,,16685,0,1,Property Damage Only Collision,,0,Vehicle Going Straight Hits Pedestrian,Matched,N,1,Raining,0,0,0,N,

      126433,”(47.73396449100005, -122.31409728699998)”,153386,153406,Block,Pedestrian,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_DIAGRAM\17245974.bmp,331.5, ,,0,,01/09/2012 08:00:00 AM +0000,1/9/2012 6:43:00 PM,1,,Mid-Block (not related to intersection),Dark – Street Lights On,NE 145TH ST BETWEEN 12TH AVE NE AND 15TH AVE NE,1,0,,1,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_REPORT\E148365.pdf,E148365,Wet,24,MOTOR VEHCILE STRUCK PEDESTRIAN,,16684,0,2,Injury Collision,,2,Vehicle Turning Left Hits Pedestrian,Matched,N,1,Raining,0,0,0,N,

      131817,”(47.733951725000054, -122.31274859399997)”,177309,177329,Intersection,Pedestrian,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_DIAGRAM\13245371.bmp,0, ,,0,,08/22/2014 07:00:00 AM +0000,8/22/2014 2:20:00 PM,1,35851,At Intersection (intersection related),Daylight,15TH AVE NE AND NE 145TH ST,1,0,,0,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_REPORT\E352567.pdf,E352567,Dry,24,MOTOR VEHCILE STRUCK PEDESTRIAN,,16685,0,2,Injury Collision,,1,Vehicle Turning Right Hits Pedestrian,Matched,N,1,Clear or Partly Cloudy,0,0,524663,N,

      144287,”(47.733037409000076, -122.31273633199999)”,185502,185582,Block,Pedestrian,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_DIAGRAM\11247974.bmp,333, ,,0,,02/13/2015 08:00:00 AM +0000,2/13/2015 3:39:00 PM,1,,Mid-Block (not related to intersection),Daylight,15TH AVE NE BETWEEN NE 143RD ST AND NE 145TH ST,1,0,,2,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_REPORT\3695544.pdf,3695544,Dry,24,MOTOR VEHCILE STRUCK PEDESTRIAN,,2096,0,2,Injury Collision,,0,Vehicle Going Straight Hits Pedestrian,Matched,N,1,Clear or Partly Cloudy,0,0,0,N,15-50661

      153947,”(47.733037409000076, -122.31273633199999)”,175719,175739,Block,Pedestrian,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_DIAGRAM\55247974.bmp,333, ,,0,,09/16/2014 07:00:00 AM +0000,9/16/2014 2:35:00 PM,1,,Driveway Junction,Daylight,15TH AVE NE BETWEEN NE 143RD ST AND NE 145TH ST,1,0,,2,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_REPORT\3695993.pdf,3695993,Dry,24,MOTOR VEHCILE STRUCK PEDESTRIAN,,2096,0,2,Injury Collision,,0,Vehicle Going Straight Hits Pedestrian,Matched,N,1,Clear or Partly Cloudy,0,0,0,N,14-310 346

      160149,”(47.733951725000054, -122.31274859399997)”,184538,184618,Intersection,Pedestrian,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_DIAGRAM\12247571.bmp,0, ,,0,,01/30/2015 08:00:00 AM +0000,1/30/2015 11:08:00 AM,1,35851,At Intersection (intersection related),Daylight,15TH AVE NE AND NE 145TH ST,1,0,Y,2,\\sdotnasvfa\sdot_vol1\H8\PROD\ATTACHMENTS\COL_REPORT\3575362.pdf,3575362,Dry,24,MOTOR VEHCILE STRUCK PEDESTRIAN,,16685,0,2,Injury Collision,,1,Vehicle Turning Right Hits Pedestrian,Matched,N,1,Clear or Partly Cloudy,0,0,0,N,15-33983

  4. Dave F says:

    Thanks for covering this important issue. This looks like a great project, and I’m glad Shoreline is pushing this project in the right direction. My aunt lives in a nursing home on 145th, and is wheel-chair bound. I would love to see improvements that would make it easier for her to do simple things the rest of us take for granted, like travel down the sidewalk. Where can we submit comments? I’d be happy to speak up on her behalf.

  5. ronp says:

    Nice positive post! Shoreline planning staff did an awesome job on the boards at http://shorelinewa.gov/home/showdocument?id=22164

    I know it will take time to implement but they are on the right track for sure.

  6. Don Brubeck says:

    Forrest.
    The study could include staff and student access to Lakeside and Evergreen Schools. They draw from many zip codes. The light rail station would make it possible for a good number to rely on transit and walking or biking instead of driving. Meridian N and N 155th are important streets to look at.

  7. Jeff K says:

    I did notice that they had options that showed bikes on a “parallel” route. I don’t think that is reasonable in this case. Any alt route I could find more than doubles the trip time and has much more elevation changes.

    • MikeG says:

      I lived in this corridor when I first moved to town and was commuting to Kirkland by bike. I used NE 150th St from 15th Ave NE almost to the SR-522. From 15th Ave NE to points further west, I would use NE 155th St. These are safe alternatives to NE 145th St today.

      The deviation of 5-10 blocks can be more of an issue than the terrain which is hilly whether on 145th or 150th/155th.

      I don’t have much confidence that 145th can ever be made safe enough for bikes to use (without a road diet) and consider myself somewhat daring.

  8. Kirk says:

    143rd looks like it could be a really good route, if a few missing links could be closed. A path on the east side of Jackson Park golf course from 12th Avenue NE and along the golf course on the north end next to 145th to 5th Avenue would work well. I5 has to be crossed at 145th, do it on the south side, and then go down 1st Ave to 143rd. Or it would be nice to get some access across Lakeside from 4th Ave. NE to connect to 143rd. Then connect the missing link between Bagley and Meridian with a short MUT. This route would then have a nice connection to the Interurban trail at Linden.

    • Al Dimond says:

      Unfortunately the parks department just did a trail around Jackson Park, and apparently used the sidewalk along the north edge of the park for lack of room to do anything else. Of course, anything is possible if you’re willing to move enough stuff around… and the trail project was more of a recreation project than a transportation one designed to address east-west mobility beyond the park… but it’s not encouraging.

      • R says:

        The atrocious sidewalk along 145th that is part of the Jackson Park Trail could be greatly improved by replacing the fence and cutting back the blackberry vines. The real-estate is there, all it take is money and political will. Other parts of the trail are steep enough to require stairs and aren’t likely to ever become bike friendly but will help create a walk-shed for the 145th St. Station. .

      • biliruben says:

        Yeah, the golf-lobby is inexplicably strong in this town. It’s a revenue stream the city needs, and they just invested a million or 10 in a new clubhouse and such.

        Why, in the part of town with the least amount of parks, we tolerate that vast amount of land to be used in such an exclusive, single-use manner is beyond me. Money and political influence are usually the standard answers.

      • kirk says:

        I’ve played golf at Jackson pretty much my entire life. There is plenty of space available to expand the sidewalk south of 145th into a wide MUT that would take nothing away from the golf course. In fact, if it was done right, with a nice barrier fence by the fifth green and the sixth tee, it would be a big improvement from the current chain link fence. I’ve never been on the path circling the course, but I’m sure a connector from 12th Ave. NE could be graded up to 145th through the thick woods next to the 12th green.

      • Morgan Wick says:

        Naturally, Sound Transit thinks it’s a fantabulous idea to put a light rail station in a place where a quarter of the walkshed is taken up by a huge golf course, to say nothing of the freeway, and won’t put it in the corner where bus service might actually be useful!

  9. biliruben says:

    It also sounds like congratulations are in order, to both Mr. and Mrs. Seattle Bike Blog?

    Awesome, if I read the note correctly! Congratulations!

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