No, SDOT does not need more 125th studies

Let’s make this clear, yet again. NE 125th carries a little over 16,000 cars per day. SDOT’s experience and research clearly shows that the proposed three-lane configuration can carry up to 25,000 vehicles per day. They have done similar projects on similar streets a couple dozen times in recent decades. No further study is necessary.

A letter being circulated for signatures in the lead-up to tonight’s town hall meeting with the mayor makes some demands that, as Josh at Publicola points out, are really just tactics to stall the project. Some of the demands are reasonable enough. People want to know, block-by-block, how many parking spaces will be removed. SDOT should be able to provide that data easily.

But the other requested studies are unnecessary and burdensome. Go drive down Greenwood Ave between the pre- and post-road diet sections and see for yourself what it will be like. Start at 95th and drive to 75th. Did you notice the change at 85th? Was that really such a big deal? Isn’t it actually nicer to drive on the section south of 85th? Same traffic levels, but a better, safer road design.

That’s what the 125th project is about. If this were a really experimental project, I would agree that SDOT needs to do as many studies as it can to better predict the effects of the project. But this is not experimental. There are examples all over the city of what will happen. You don’t need a new study, you just need to go drive down Greenwood or Stone Way. Hell, even 45th through Wallingford still works, and it carries 6,000 more cars per day than 125th (and it doesn’t even have bike lanes).

125th is dangerous. The 85th percentile of motorists feel comfortable going 10-12 miles per hour faster than the speed limit. This neighborhood arterial is designed like a highway. It is not a highway. Collisions on 125th are 18 percent more likely to cause a serious injury than the city average on similar arterials.

I say that SDOT knows what it needs to know for this project. Twenty years ago, it could maybe have been argued that it was experimental, but not today. We need safe streets that are easy to cross on foot, protect all road users (cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians) and reconnect neighborhoods. There is a lot of support for this project and the goals it represents.

The information concerned residents are requesting is available in streets all over the city. SDOT has laid out fact after fact proving that they understand how this project will affect 125th. Some people may remain unconvinced. Well, that’s fine. But when research and actual experience both support the changes, unfounded fears cannot be allowed to alter or further delay the project.

Lake City town hall with the mayor:

Show up tonight and voice your support for complete, safe streets that connect neighborhoods and protect the health of all road users.

About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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