Ira Appleman ran for the Mercer Island City Council with his opposition to changes to Island Crest Way as the key to his campaign. He lost. The council originally voted to go ahead with the controversial road changes, which would have changed the four-lane road into one in each direction and a turn lane. Then, earlier this month, they changed their minds.
The July 10 incident came two weeks after the City Council voted to scrap the road diet in favor of two pedestrian-actuated crosswalk signals at the 42nd and 47th Street crosswalks.
A 17-year-old Mercer Island teen was hit as he walked his bike across a marked crosswalk in the 4600 block of Island Crest Way on Saturday at 11:20 a.m.
“It sounds very similar to the last one,” said Mercer Island Police Cmdr. Leslie Burns, referring to the early June incident when 15-year-old Alec Langston was hit while in a marked crosswalk in the 4200 block of Island Crest Way, located four blocks north of Saturday’s accident.
A group called “Citizens for a Better Island Crest Way Corridor” have a website that explains the dangers posed by the current four-lane configuration. As is the case with many four-lane roads, the configuration is dangerous for pedestrians, bicycles and cars. In many situations, roads can be “tailored” to better fit the needs of all users without reducing car capacity significantly (and, in many cases, without reducing capacity below current levels).
Knee jerk reactions by drivers who are afraid they will never be able to drive on these roads again after the evil road diet is put in place keep logical and important street changes from being implemented. This Mercer Island corridor is clearly a large safety hazard, given the number of people who have been hit. Drivers will still be able to get where they are going, and they will be able to travel at speeds near the posted speed limit (though speeding will decrease).
Across the lake, proposed changes have often faced these knee jerk reactions. It’s important to do our best to get the word out that these changes are better for absolutely everyone (except speeders). The roads are simply overdesigned, and that makes them a menace.