City looks to extend NE 75th St safety project, open house Wednesday

BannerWay_Project_MapBuilding on the success of the NE 75th Street safety project, the city is heading west to improve safety on more of NE 75th Street and Banner Way NE.

The 2013 safety project on NE 75th cut speeding 60 percent and nearly eliminated high-end speeding (10+ mph over the limit). Traffic volumes increased slightly, travel times decreased (yes, decreased) and collisions were cut in half.

Obviously the question you should be asking is: Why aren’t we extending these safety efforts in all directions? Well, you should take that question to the open house 5:30 – 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) at Fairview Church, 844 NE 78th St.

Looking at the map on the project page (posted above), the first obvious missing piece is the connection between Roosevelt and the end of the previous safety project at 15th Ave NE. It seems silly to look at the safety record of the 75th project and then decide to keep a couple-block gap of danger that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 10.51.15 AMThe scope of this safety project should connect to the previous safety project, making the whole corridor more predictable and consistent. And as you can see, there’s plenty of road space to work with.

And though the project is not specifically a bike project, bike lanes definitely need to be part of it. There is space for protected or at least buffered bike lanes for most or all of the project area.

The existing safety project included paint-only bike lanes, which function more as a traffic calming feature than as a bike route connection (though they are a great help for people who do need to bike on the street). But bike lanes are even more important on the section from 15th Ave NE heading west, making key connections between 12th Ave NE, Roosevelt, 5th Ave NE, neighborhood bike routes (like 4th Ave NE) and I-5 crossings at 5th Ave NE and NE 80th Street.

In other words, this one project has great potential to extend the safety benefits demonstrated on NE 75th Street while also making some major bike route connections.

There are certainly challenges, however. A fossil of the nation’s freeway craze, Lake City Way turns into a mini freeway passing under the street grid in this area. This creates strange traffic patterns and blocks off huge swaths of land. Streets (like 12th Ave NE) unexpectedly turn into freeway on-ramps, which is a particularly challenging for people biking and walking.

That makes the route under study that much more important: It’s the only option.

We put together this satellite map via Google. The solid blue line is the project scope shown on the city’s website. The dotted blue lines are opportunities for the project to do more.

bannermapMore project details from SDOT:

Following the collaborative work with the community for the NE 75th Street project, we’re continuing this work through Banner Way NE to implement the Pedestrian Master Plan and Bicycle Master Plan. We are committed to building a transportation infrastructure that supports a safe and vibrant community.

We’ll work with the community to consider changes to this street in an effort to bring down speeds and make the roadway safer for neighbors and all travelers, as part of our Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on Seattle’s streets by 2030.

Together, we will determine the specific nature and design elements of these changes through the process described below.  New safety measures may include, but not be limited to: signage improvements, arterial traffic calming, roadway design changes, traffic signal modifications, pavement repair, and safety enhancements for people walking and biking.

Since collision data tells us that the majority of collisions are caused by behavioral issues such as speeding, distraction, and impairment (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs), we will pair roadway changes with new enforcement strategies and area-specific educational outreach.

If you have questions or would like to share your perspective on Banner Way NE, please contact James Le at (206) 684-3174 or james.le@seattle.gov.

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14 Responses to City looks to extend NE 75th St safety project, open house Wednesday

  1. Matt says:

    That center piece they’re not doing …

    The one thing I would want from a project like this is a safe & comfortable way to cross Lake City Way.

  2. William says:

    I do not think I can go to the open house but this is an absolutely fatuous plan.

    Yet another snippet of bike infrastructure which misses the 3 opportunities to make it more interconnected as outlined with dotted lines above and raises the question of why on earth the imminent work on Roosevelt does not extend to 10 blocks further north to meet up with NE 75th St.

    Furthermore if the NE 75th St corridor works so well in calming traffic and reducing travel times, why isn’t it being tried on NE 65th St which is both clogged with automobiles a lot of time and unsafe for bicycles (i.e., not working well for anyone).

    Finally, can SDOT be encouraged to sweep the bike lanes on NE 75th St on a more regular basis.

  3. James says:

    Damn… that bit by the Safeway they’re ignoring is by far the worst part! I was up there going to the Safeway with my non-transportation-focused friend the other day and he even commented on how awful it is (and how it makes no sense to go from 2 lanes to 5 lanes to 4 lanes to 3 lanes to 4 lanes in just a few blocks…)!

  4. Ben P says:

    I used to commute on 75th through banner then 5th to get to NSC (the NSCC). 75th became so much nicer to ride. Hell, it became nicer to drive. Everything between where the bike lane ends and 5th remains sketchy. It’s super exciting that they’re planning to fix banner, but im a little confused why they didn’t go all the way.

  5. Tim F says:

    I’ve been doing some mapping with city data and I happened to have a first look at the collision records from SDOT up when I saw this. That stretch of 75th really jumps out compared to the surrounding area. As far as having fewer lanes through there, most of the time driver just confusion muddles the whole thing. Much better to have one obvious lane to be in.

  6. Andrew Squirrel says:

    When are we going to move beyond these stupid in-person meetings at difficult to attend hours of the day?
    Why can’t all of this be accomplished digitally in online forums? These discussions could include marked up maps, passionate plea Youtube videos and exhaustive text discussions that can be more easily fact checked on the spot?

    The shitshow democratic caucus last weekend really brought to my attention how outdated our discussion methods are.

  7. Carl Hulit says:

    I submitted a comment online asking for the section by safeway. I live in the area and 75th between 15th and roosevelt is super sketch when I want to ride to the safeway and sucks to drive too.

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