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FamilyRide: My least favorite intersection

34th-fremont-sign 34th-fremontThe Bicycle Master Plan public comment period is over so now we just sit back and wait for the magic to happen. But while we’re waiting, who’s to say we can’t complain about our least-favorite intersections?

The bulk of my commute is along the Burke-Gilman Trail, but when I leave the trail at Stone Way (and I hope someone will compain about this intersection!) to ride in the N 34th Street bike lane into Fremont, things get less awesome. I’m particularly bothered by the westbound approach to the N 34th St/Fremont Ave N intersection because it’s possibly the most bike-oriented intersection in Seattle:

  • Green bike lane and one of Seattle’s few green bike boxes for westbound bikes
  • Bike traffic signal (Seattle’s only one) for eastbound bikes
  • Eastbound bikes enjoy a bike-only lane (not that I don’t often see cars sneaking into it for a quick right turn) on either side of the intersection
  • It’s half a block north of the bike counter

I know it’s sacrilegious to suggest removing parking spots for bike infrastructure, but the westbound parking spots (two-hour parking 7am-6pm weekdays) near the corner of N 34th Street often render the bike lane useless during commute hours. There’s a well-meaning yield-for-bikes sign and dotted white lines on either side of the green bike lane, but if even one car parks in any of the five spots to the west of this, right-turning and straight-going motorists wait in the bike lane.

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I feel very badly about this, since it turns out there’s no war on cars, but I scared a minivan driver here last week. She repeatedly wove in and out of the bike lane, getting stopped up behind parked cars, never checking for bikes. Eventually I got impatient waiting for her to cut me off a fourth time and pulled alongside her while she was momentarily stopped in the bike lane, trying to make her way back to the left lane. Her window was up, but I imagine she could lip read my yelled “Stop!” (yes, both kids were on board my cargo bike–lovely example I set) because she stopped and I made my way to the bike box. The light was red and she had a clear path to her right turn, but she skulked in the right turn lane behind my line of sight. Apparently she wasn’t in so much of a hurry to brave the wrath of the [smiling mom with singing children] bicyclist again. I’m sorry, minivan driver!

So tell me, which intersection or street makes you want to yell “Stop!”?

Madi is Seattle Bike Blog’s Staff Family Cycling Expert. She lives in Wallingford and bikes all over town with her two kids’ in tow. You can read more of her adventures and thoughts on family life on two wheels at FamilyRide.us.

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73 responses to “FamilyRide: My least favorite intersection”

  1. Tom Fucoloro

    It’s telling that this intersection, which is our city’s best textbook example of a NACTO intersection design, still doesn’t meet the level of comfort needed to be a truly all-ages-and-abilities intersection. I agree that it doesn’t go far enough to feel truly safe, especially during rush hour as Madi notes.

    It’s clear that anything less than true separation will simply not be enough. The city has designed this intersection almost as well as possible short of installing a cycle track (though, come on, let’s get rid of those couple parking spaces). So if you need proof that painted bike lanes aren’t enough, here it is.

    Relevant video: http://seattlebikeblog.com/2011/12/05/its-time-to-start-designing-safer-intersections/

    1. Michael

      As you have pointed out just slapping on some green paint does not always result in the intended outcomes, but I have to disagree that anything short of separation can’t work. The thing about the NACTO guide is that it presents a lot of great concepts, but not a whole lot of basic engineering principles related to sight lines, geometrics, signal operations, etc. Engineers must make a deliberate effort to seek out additional design guidance in order to get the design right. The 34th/Fremont intersection looks like it was taken right from the NACTO guide, which may help to explain why some of the nuances such as restricting parking were not addressed. That and what I am sure is a very resistant business community.

  2. Bill

    “…which intersection or street makes you want to yell “Stop!”?

    All of them. But to pick just one, Alaska & California in West Seattle. Actually it’s the combination of that one and Alaska & 42nd Ave SW. Westbound on California the bike/bus lane allows right turns for cars at 42nd. The left, straight-thru lane becomes a forced left at California. Cars wanting to go straight across California have to move into the right lane after 42nd. Frequently at 42nd cars ignore the mandatory right and go straight. If I have stopped in the left lane to leave the right clear for cars to turn right, I often find myself riding alongside a car that ignored the forced right. Compounding all of this there is no shoulder so it is impossible to move past cars stopped for the signal and cross during the pedestrian cycle (pedestrians cross all ways at Alaska & California).

    The new bus-only lane striping on Alaska is widely ignored by drivers. We need the SPD to do an emphasis patrol here to force the West Seattle old timers to adapt to change.

    1. A

      I can’t believe someone thought all that business would be a good idea. I ride through that intersection ~5 times a week and it is on drugs.

      Another weird situation, on the way to/from west Seattle at Spokane and marginal, where the new part of the path that was detoured through the semi truck parking lot for a while is: they made a nice path and then spread huge jagged rocks as “landscaping” on either side. It’s more like what I’d expect from a hazard in some bike video game as opposed to something anybody would consider suitable for infrastructure in real life. Terrible.

      1. Bill

        The new sidewalk/path is nice except for the slippery-when-wet metal utility covers in the middle of the turn.

        I noticed the spreading of the jagged rocks, wondering what the final result would be. (Did it really take two weeks? This rock thing is so weird I can hardly trust my memory.) I cannot believe someone thought this would be a good idea. It’s not even small gravel. It’s big pointy rocks! I would rather crash on asphalt.

        If this is supposed to be low-maintenance landscaping the place to put it is at the crossings at Terminal 18, where the shrubs grow too high to see over. Even when they are cut down I can’t see over them when I ride my recumbent.

    2. Chad

      I agree, the intersection of Alaska and 42nd/California is awkward. In the right hand turn lane as I cross 42nd I have resorted to taking the lane which I feel bad about because people cannot take their free right there. Then, going straight most cars from the left lane will merge right after the light, but they don’t expect the bike to go straight. I suspect they think it’s not legal for the bike to go straight, even though there is a huge sign that says it’s permitted.

      I also find the intersection at Avalon and 35th (heading westbound) awkward. My goal is to turn left on 36th. The bike lane ends and there is no shoulder once you cross 35th. I typically (depending on traffic) take the left lane just before 35th, cross 35th, and then turn left onto 36th, but this takes a lot of effort to accelerate and keep up with traffic because it’s uphill. This would not qualify as an intersection that would be biking family friendly.

  3. Leya

    Oooh, definitely the one where Stone Way, Green Lake Way and 50th all meet. All of a sudden bikes are left with NO safe way to get across as the lanes appear and disappear. It’s like a magic show…but a deadly kind.

    1. Yes! I usually hit this intersection from the north side. If it’s busy and dark I’ll sometimes take to the sidewalk before the intersection since I’m so slow on that false flat. It takes forever to cross using the crosswalk and is incredibly tricky to maneuver near the walk button.

    2. Fnarf

      That’s the one I came here to whine about. The lane drift into the go-straight lane, going south, is sometimes scary. And it’s worse for peds — the light doesn’t always turn. I’ve stood there northbound waiting two turns — seven and a half minutes — for my walk signal. I timed it.

      Frigging two-three-two lanes — it’s a nightmare when I’m driving as well.

      The other thing to watch out for northbound is cars cutting the right turn through the vet’s parking lot. That’s why I carry double rear lights.

      1. Ben Morris

        This intersection is my “favorite” as well. Just this evening I was stopped at the southbound part of the intersection at the ‘little bike island’ between the right turn lane and the south-bound through lane. The light turned green, I ‘got on it’ through the intersection, about three cars passed me, but the third car got stuck behind me when the right lane started to end. The car passed me with an aggravated engine rev and the (dumb-ass-presumably-frat-boy) passenger hung a middle finger out and yelled something indiscernible. I presumed he was drunk. This type of shit happens all the time.

      2. Ben Morris

        …fourth car, or second…. who knows. I’m on pure adrenaline through there… :)

    3. There’s a conceptually simple but probably implausible way to fix the intersection of Stone, Green Lake, and 50th: delete Green Lake Way between 46th and 50th. Seriously. It wasn’t there in the original street plan, presumably added some time after Aurora was built up into the highway it is now. The five-way intersection requires a very long, confusing, pedestrian-hostile signal cycle. A standard four-way intersection could have a more standard, more efficient cycle and it would allow people to bike and walk more comfortably and efficiently for short trips.

      1. Ooh, could you imagine! Here I’m just hinting at the removal of a few parking spots. A whole diagonal street gone!

      2. Doug

        I think it was added in 1936 or so.

      3. Want to start a petition campaign? I doubt this section of Green Lake Way even improves traffic throughput much (if at all) because of the size and complexity of the intersections at 46th and 50th (sort of like how closing Broadway in NYC to traffic hasn’t actually made traffic worse because it’s made intersections smaller and simpler). The street has no historic or commercial value and isn’t situated right for a linear park — I’d just reconnect the side streets that cross it and sell the land.

        One interesting fact is that the onramp to SB Aurora from EB 46th is called Phinney Way. The only logical reason to call it that is a plan to build a mirror-image of Green Lake Way from 50th/Phinney to the ramp. For some reason it never happened. We should make it un-happen on the east side.

      4. Tom Fucoloro

        Or, you know, we could just give it an ambitious redesign geared toward safety and crossing movements. I don’t know traffic numbers b/c they’re not on SDOT’s map, but I’m sure the numbers are well below the threshold for a big redesign.

        Imagine a protected bike lanes on both sides of the street, crossing islands at every intersection, and, thus, much slower traffic. Wouldn’t be so bad and would actually be a pretty good bike route.

      5. @Tom: I’m pretty convinced that removing Green Lake Way between 46th and 50th would open up possibilities better for cycling and walking than any bike lane and island configuration requiring reducing vehicle lanes or slowing speeds and with much less impact on automotive traffic backups in the area.

  4. […] I’m the new Seattle Bike Blog Staff Family Cycling Expert! I’ve just written a post whining about my least favorite intersection. […]

  5. The city just spent a fortune on the Ravenna scramble (NE 55th and Ravenna PL NE) and it still stinks. There’s just too much speed in every direction.

  6. biliruben

    The 34th St intersection is the one of the few places that I’ve got so worked up I’ve hit a car with my fist (stupid I know). Maybe it’s because of raised expectations. Some jaguar blithely hits my with his side-view mirror while I’m in the bike lane. I catch up and whack his mirror back. He was not happy. But neither was I.

    The other time was when I cabby just runs right into my rear tire after we have both been stopped at a red light for a while down at 3rd and Pine. I pounded on his hood and yelled at him, then looked left and noticed their was a cop sitting right next to us with her window rolled down. She looked at me, then pretended not to notice the ruckus.

    My least favorite intersection is Denny and Boren. You almost have to take Denny for at least some stretch coming from the NE, but the mix of people driving West, still at highway speeds, and those going West cresting the hill at 50. Scary scary.

    1. biliruben

      East cresting the hill, that is.

    2. Oh, I’ve whomped on a car before (but just once! and never again!)–on 45th crossing the freeway exit lanes where the red light was not convincing enough for a driver to stop before barreling into the intersection. It is an impossible impulse to fight sometimes.

    3. Tom Fucoloro

      Also: Denny and Stewart! If you’re coming down the hill on the Denny Bridge, you basically have to hold your breath that nobody in the always-backed-up left lane waiting to turn gets frustrated and suddenly pulls into the right lane.

      Once you get past that, you then have to hold your breath and hope nobody on Stewart makes a right onto Denny directly in front of you. And once you get through all that, you can’t even exhale because now you’re on a wide-open stretch of Denny and everybody behind you is angry and impatient. I find this stretch of road to have among the highest honk-potential of any in the city. And THEN you get to Boren. Ugh.

      1. biliruben

        No doubt. I only take the hill if I need that extra jolt of adrenaline in the morning. It’s a rush, for sure. I usually drop down on Lakeview, which has it’s set of hazards, once you get onto Eastlake. Then I do a jog onto John. They need to make one of those E-W in Cascade bike-friendly. The plan is Thomas, right? Greenway?

  7. A

    Not that unusual, turning mirrors is a near daily pastime on 2nd ave bikelane. Some people need a good whack to shake them out of their naps.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Just please take care of yourself. You never know when somebody will just lose it and go after you. Driving has a way of bringing out the worst in people, and road rage is an unpredictable and powerful force.

      1. A

        Fair enough, but I have no qualms about making examples out of people.

  8. MMcC

    Dearborn & Rainier. I have to go through this to go anywhere and it is usually an all out multi-modal mess, with the cyclists blocking the pedestrians, the pedestrians blocking me trying to take my son on the bike to school, the bus blocking the pedestrians, and the cars and trucks blocking everybody including themselves.

  9. EB Pine at Broadway and 10th. Not as bad as many of these already mentioned, as it’s congested and low-speed. But it’s a constant annoyance given how many bikes go through. The bike line disappears at Broadway, then re-appears 3 cars down on Pine. Problem is, the lane is so narrow that you can’t use the bike lane at first, there are pedestrians everywhere, and half the time the Molly Moon’s truck is blocking your view of the heavily-used crosswalk AND traffic turning onto/off of 10th. But take the lane (which is the only safe thing to do) and some asshole will honk at you for not being in the bike lane.

  10. Hafoc

    Could part of the problem be this is the only route to the Fremont bridge to Dexter? I agree, there is no reason to take away the few parking spots. Why do we always have to wait for death or serious injury before something is done?

    1. Do you mean for bikes or cars? Either way, more bridges would certainly help, but I don’t think that’s in the cards! Bike-wise, it’s a good route for getting to Dexter and to the Ship Canal Trail–I see bicyclists heading to both. Personally, I just need to go a couple blocks along Nickerson for preschool dropoff.

  11. Hafoc

    How about this. Just STOP this insane Sharrows/bike lanes unless there is a >constant< flow! I have seen "Bike Lane Ends" for ONE block then "Bike Lane" Really? why??? Why have a Sharrow along 1st Ave S then as it gets a little tricky END for a couple of blocks to 1st Ave? Just when we really need it! Would we build roads this way? Could you imagine if roads all over Seattle just ended?

    And, I am sure, cyclist can read so why not end parking and open cycle paths during the early morning commutes! Make the cars happy and cyclist safe (hint: 1st Ave and 1st Ave S).

    1. Favorite examples of this:

      – Lake Washington Boulevard south of downtown Bellevue.
      – The ridiculous bike lane on N 45th in front of Dick’s.
      – The bike lane gap between 36th and Nickerson on Fremont Ave (I’m not totally sure what the best solution for that area is… but it probably includes a bike lane in the climbing direction behind a bus bulb).
      – Albro heading toward Swift.
      – The unceremonious northern end of the Duwamish Bikeway.
      – Both ends of the SODO trail.
      – The end of the bike lane heading north on Market Street from Kirkland.
      – Bike lane gap on Old Redmond Road/NE 70th over 405.
      – 124th Ave NE has some sections where it seems like there’s a shoulder on a climb, but then it becomes a semi-sidewalk, but then sometimes it has stuff in it.

      And of course the king of them all, the Ballard Missing Link.

  12. Bill

    At 35th I use the left turn lane and turn onto 35th. Approaching the signal I find the cars give me space to cross to the turn lane if I signal. Then I ride up 35th and turn right on Snoqualmie (the first right). Riding on 35th is not so bad. Not much traffic turns left, and the signal remains red for traffic on 35th for a couple of minutes. Plenty of time to get to Snoqualmie. If you’re leery of 35th you can turn left onto the sidewalk and proceed to 36th, but you have to deal with traffic at the KFC and the sidewalk puts you on the wrong side of the road at 36th.

  13. SW Avalon at 36th SW, westbound trying to turn left to avoid the high speed squeeze on Fauntleroy. No graceful way to get over and turn. Most cross and use a congested sidewalk for a block. Next: the 5-way mess at SW Chelan St/West Marginal Way/ Delridge, Spokane, especially coming down from the bridge to the blind corner with oncoming traffic speeding around the curve behind the bridge pier. BUT, City Council listened to us, and has the engineering design funds in the 2013 budget for re-design of this intersection!

  14. Breadbaker

    Dexter/Seventh and Denny. At the south end of Dexter or the north end of Seventh, right-hand turning traffic don’t just block the bike lane, they seem to park in it, and to resent cyclists no matter what they do. The bus stop just south of there on Seventh requires the buses to cross the bike lane twice. And the number of cars I’ve seen drive in the bike lane on Seventh the whole way down is infinite. Luckily, this is at least an area that is scheduled for redevelopment into a cycle track. We’ll see how it works.

    1. biliruben

      I was heartened to see a cop pull over someone doing this on the new Ravenna striping. I’m sure it was just a warning, but it’s a start.

    2. Andreas

      I hate that intersection too, but IMHO the blame is fully on SDOT’s design. There’s little to indicate to drivers that the middle lane ends, so they just keep driving in their lane, quite reasonably expecting the bike lane to keep going on their right. But instead their lane becomes the bike lane and the bike lane becomes a parking lane. And coming from 7th the road paint routes cars right into the bike and parking lanes. It’s basically two vehicular lanes and one bike lane all merging into the same lane at once, with completely shit signage as to what anyone should do. And less than a block later, the shortness and skinniness of the right-turn area forces cars to at least partially the bike lane if they’re trying to turn onto Bell.

      If drivers continue in the bike lane south of Bell, it’s less excusable. But north of Bell and south of the 7th merge, SDOT did a ridiculously piss-poor job.

  15. Southbound on 2nd Ave through downtown. The bike lane is a de facto left hand turn lane or parking spot, depending on drivers preference. I also really like the previously discussed 35th Ave/Avalon area in West Seattle.

    1. Clint

      Second Ave southbound is my candidate for worst piece of bike infrastructure in the city too (and there are many!). It’s not really an intersection, but since it includes so many consecutive hazardous intersections it certainly qualifies.

      Tom and Madi — you should just leave this post up near the top of the blog for a while. Seems like this could be the first truly endless conversation on Seattle Bike Blog, as there are a seemingly infinite number of very gnarly intersections to choose from!

      1. MMcC

        Hunh. I enjoy my time toodling along on 2nd downtown. In the morning it is pretty empty by the time I get to 2nd, and at night it the motor lanes are so packed that I am the only one moving. Maybe I am slow enough that the troubles disappear before I get there?

  16. Clint

    I guess to add one more to the list: NE Ravenna Blvd and Green Lake Drive.

    That intersection just works so poorly for bikes, despite Ravenna Blvd just having extensive repaving done last year. It’s not as hazardous as some others, but just represents such a colossal missed opportunity given the recent project.

    Ravenna Blvd should be a superhighway for kids and families on bikes riding to soccer games, picnics, and playground time. Unfortunately the confusion at the west end, whether trying to get into the park, or trying to turn onto Green Lake Dr., greatly reduces its potential.

    1. Speaking of multi-way stops that are mostly slow enough to not pose much physical threat, but still intensely socially awkward: 40th st. NE / NE 7th / BGT / the other 40th st. NE. Particularly now that the construction on the Burke routes everyone to the cycletrack on NE 40th – if you’re westbound on 40th/Burke, you reach the intersection on the left of the cars, so have fun turning right!

      Prime location for classic Seattle behavior of stopping smack in the middle of the intersection to wave you through the crosswalk.

      1. I’m in that situation sometimes (if I’m coming west on 40th from the U Bridge) and I usually switch over to the general traffic lane if I’m making a right turn.

  17. Andreas

    My personal favorite is northbound at the north end of the U Bridge. It’s awkward enough if you’re turning right onto Campus Pkwy or looping under to 40th, as you have to merge with cars going about 35, but it’s worst if you’re trying to go straight. There’s a green bike lane, but green paint does little to stop drivers from cutting you off to try and make that right turn in front of you, plus then the green bike lane immediately disappears and you’re forced to merge with 40-mph traffic to get around a median island. Hopefully someday SDOT will take a jackhammer to a couple feet of that island. I suspect that lane still won’t be wide enough to continue the bike lane through the intersection, but it would give bikers enough room to feel considerably safer than now.

    1. Becky

      And then there is south/east bound after the U-Bridge trying to merge from the bike lane to make the left onto Harvard. Riding from Capitol Hill to the U-District could be so awesome/popular, but the intersections really kill the buzz.

      1. MMcC

        I think that hill is awesome, but not in the sense you mean ;) It strikes fear and awe in my legs. Better bicycle infrastructure at that intersection would definitely help unite two bikey-populations, though!

      2. hubrisroyale

        There’s real potential for a good bike route to CH from Eastlake — after making that difficult left on Harvard, there’s the path under I-5 at Allison Road. After that asphalt path and fifty feet of sidewalk riding, you are on Boylston and a much gentler grade up to Roanoke than Harvard gives you.

        I don’t think a bike access path from Eastlake to this shortcut is coming anytime soon, but it’d be a good one.

  18. AiliL

    To add to the list of woes for West Seattle (in agreement with what has been posted)…SW Avalon and Yancy. This is a busy, marked bike route, of course not even Sharrows and westbound involves a steep climb to the stop sign at the top where one has to deal with a five-way intersection. The roadway is juuuust wide enough where no matter where a cyclist chooses to wait till the street is clear there is just enough room for a driver to manouever around. Because of course the motor vehicle can magically make traffic disappear, right? I have had driver pass me in the oncoming lane almost causing head on crashes, been honked at, yelled at, gestured at and usually in the summer someone uses the sidewalk as a driving lane to pass me to make a right turn. One cannot trust the turn lane in the street that looks so handy because drivers tend to not signal before they use that turn lane and enter it at a high rate of speed. Don’t get me started on the only other intersection option just north of there at SW Spokane and Harbor/Avalon. It is hardly any better so it is a coin toss of exactly what kind of motor vehicle avoidance you want to choose that day. Until the intersections are fixed there is less hole that willing but wary riders will convert to riding more often.

    1. Bill

      If you go one block past Yancy to Dakota the climb is easier. But the turn onto Avalon is no better. I have given up on Yancy westbound. I go to Harbor/Avalon and use the pedestrian button to cross Harbor. I make damn sure cars turning right off Spokane stop. Then I wait for the green light for Avalon. So I usually have to wait two light cycles. Watching bikes sail off the curb and turn left up Avalon is unsettling. I don’t think the riders who do that have seen a car hit a cyclist. I have, so I can wait.

      1. AiliL

        Yes I agree. I have tried the alternative to Yancy and when the hill is an easier climb the left turn could be worse as drivers from Yancy don’t pay attention to anything south of them once in their turn. Sometime I use the Spokane interchange depending on my mood. That crosswalk crossing gives me the shivers. At least at Yancy I can see everything even if they are crazy. Coin toss.

  19. Jonathan Mark

    For me it is 7th & Pike at the convention center. Heading eastbound on Pike is about the only way to go from downtown to Capitol Hill. At 7th St. the right lane is usually blocked by right turning cars which are blocked by pedestrians. After somehow getting across 7th, I often bail onto the sidewalk out of simple fear for my safety (but there tend to be a lot of pedestrians so I may have to dismount).

    The hill is steepening uphill, lanes are narrow with no shoulder, there is heavy car traffic which is fairly fast with a lot of trucks and buses, and no bike facility of any kind.

  20. Here’s one that I really hate: Michigan and East Marginal Way, approaching from the east. You’re headed west trying to get to the bike path on the 1st Ave S bridge. That means you need to go straight through the intersection. Both lanes are marked by an overhead sign as heading toward the 1st Ave S bridge southbound, but that’s the car ramp so it means nothing to you (fortunately you know this, or you’d be in some trouble). But there’s a straight-plus-right-turn marking in the right lane! That means you can go straight through from the right lane! Hooray!

    Except for some fucking boneheaded reason, “straight” actually means “a 45-degree right turn onto an onramp.” Oops. You are not going to space today, or anywhere else. Also, fuck you for not being in a car, time to get honked at.

    So you’re stuck. You can’t go straight because there’s right-turning traffic to your left. You can’t go onto the onramp because it takes you to a freeway. All you can do is turn right onto Marginal Way, loop back onto the sidewalk, and stare, perplexed, at this horrible piece of shit of an intersection. You can either (a) take the crosswalks south and then west or (b) start down the south crosswalk, plant yourself in front of the left lane of traffic, then take off at a sprint when the light changes and pray you don’t get run down from behind. I don’t recall what I did when I was there very recently — repressed memories or something. Based on what I know of myself, I probably did (b) but wish I’d done (a).

    Going east on from the bridge trail isn’t much less confusing. I ended up accidentally salmoning east on the one-way-westbound part of Michigan once (from the path to Marginal) because it didn’t look wrong until I was committed and the right way looked like private property. Fortunately that’s a pretty lightly traveled bit of road on weekends.

    In conclusion, fuck all freeways. May they crumble and burn in the darkest pits of firey hell.

  21. merlin

    So many horrid intersections! It’s hard to pick a “worst” . The one that irritates me the most frequently in my Capitol Hill wanderings: I use 25th as my north-south thoroughfare (I live on 25th). Crossing Madison on 25th is awful – whether on foot or on a bike, or often in my case, pushing my mother-in-law in a wheelchair. The 8 and 11 buses stop at this corner so there are always people who need to get across Madison to get to and from the buses – but people driving cars are completely oblivious to pedestrian right of way. To make this worse for wheelchair-using bus riders, the sidewalk by the eastbound bus stop – which is VERY steep – is all broken up. If the driver doesn’t stop in exactly the right spot, it’s like rock climbing in a wheelchair.

  22. AiliL

    Is it me or as I am reading these thinking to myself, if drivers just calmed down and yielded the right of way as ‘the law’ reads many of these intersections would work with just a little tweak? Now we are planning separated paths with barriers because of drivers?!

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Sure, if every single person obeyed road rules and laws correctly and politely, we wouldn’t need any bike infrastructure. But that will never happen. Seattle drivers are very friendly, in my opinion. But if even just five percent of them choose to be aggressive, then the whole system falls apart. Throw in people not paying attention and the whole “share the road” idea turns into a joke.

      Separated bike lanes are simply the only way that will work on busy streets. We’ve tried everything else.

      1. A

        Everything apart from adding psychological testing to drivers license exams and taxing private gasoline purchases appropriately to the negative effect they have on society that is.

      2. AiliL

        Yes, I agree and that’s what makes it so frustrating!

      3. Separated bike infrastructure only solves the problem between intersections. At intersections you’re basically in a crosswalk. How many movements does it take a pedestrian to get from one corner to the opposite at Green Lake/Stone/50th, and how long does the pedestrian have to wait to do it? Three, and over a minute at each corner. As for safety, protected bike facilities without a complete overhaul of the signal cycle would do basically nothing for safety within intersections, because the intersection collisions are largely from uncontrolled turns across your path. 34th/Fremont is home to lots of bike infrastructure, but people biking southbound and walking in the west-side crosswalk are hit ALL THE DAMN TIME by northbound drivers making left turns (it’s a difficult turn that should certainly be banned).

        The benefit of separated bike infrastructure between is that it gets more cyclists out there, increasing driver awareness and building support for real intersection solutions that remove turning conflicts but don’t delay cyclists unduly.

  23. Bill

    This comment thread should be brought to the attention of SDOT, the council, and the mayor.

    1. Clint

      Great idea to share this thread with the mayor and council. In fact, I was wondering whether anyone involved has the ability to map all these intersections. They would make a great short list for early action projects for the Bike Master Plan update. I’d trade a lot of miles of sharrows and maybe even a short cycle track for a successful intersection solution or two.

  24. Eastlake & Boston. Not really my most burning of hates, but it sucks for a reason that hasn’t been mentioned yet: It took me a year of riding through it to realize that cross traffic does *not* have a matching stoplight.

    Almost no one drives westbound down Boston… but when they do, they have terrible visibility onto Eastlake, and they tend to either blow the stop sign, or stop and then enter the intersection juuust as a red light on Eastlake is turning green. Meanwhile, everyone on Eastlake assumes that green=go.

    This is ridiculous on purely car terms. Only sucks extra for bikes because there’s often a delivery truck in front of Serafina’s during “no parking or stopping” morning commute hours so you get a sudden merge *and* a weird cross-traffic hazard happening at once.

    1. Andreas

      Seattle has several of those sorts of intersections where the arterial has a signal while the cross-street just has stop signs—Westlake at Crockett and 8th NW at NW 58th come to my mind. I suppose cross-traffic can use the pedestrian signal to figure out the status of the arterial signal, but that doesn’t really seem like a good system. I honestly don’t understand how these sorts of crossings are allowed under the MUTCD.

      1. Chuck

        These types of crossings are not allowed in the MUTCD.

        If you have a signal at an intersection, it must control all legs of the intersection.

  25. NE 28th St and 84th Ave in… err… Hunt’s Point or Medina or some ridiculous place.

    This one is more annoying than dangerous, and it’s mostly on here because it’s new, and we should know better by now. The annoyance is sort of similar to that at Green Lake/Ravenna — it’s an intersection with a fair amount of traffic controlled by an all-way stop, where there’s a common bike access point that’s different from the common car access points, and the intersection is just too big and oddly-shaped for people to see what’s going on. From the east and north the stop signs are set back really far, but from the south and west they’re set in really close. Maybe they should all be set in closer.

    1. The amusing thing about this intersection is that if I approach this intersection from the east during evening rush hour, as I do when I work in Kirkland, there’s invariably a backup that stretches all the way from the ramp from 84th to WB 520 down the right lane of 28th all the way back to where it bends to the north. The good thing about the general road design here is that it insulates everyone not going to 520 from this mess — people going to Evergreen Point (like me), Hunt’s Point, or Medina can just fly by in the left lane. I don’t think this benefit would be compromised if the stop signs were brought in, and the pedestrian crosswalks brought to the intersection instead of set back (what decade is this anyway?).

  26. Clint

    One more to add to the list: all of Fairview Ave. near the southeast corner of Lake Union, but most especially at the intersection with Valley. This intersection was challenging even before the Mercer/Fairview construction began, but now it’s truly hazardous. I’ve seen numerous close calls and a couple of bike/car accidents through there (the “detour routes” haven’t worked at all).

  27. […] my misery is loving the company my least favorite intersection post generated last week, I’m in the mood for something lighter this […]

  28. Jack in Seattle

    Clearly you have touched a nerve here.

    However, I bailed on Stone Way (North Bound) many years ago. I ride up the street immediately to the East- can’t even tell you the name. It can be a more challenging climb, and eventually you go the wrong way on a One Way near the school, but I lots less traffic and only one really busy intersection to cross.

  29. […] Madi Carlson wrote about her least favorite intersection here on Seattle Bike Blog, it created a stir. Lots of folks — myself included — wanted […]

  30. Gary

    I have another “I hate intersection” “lack of bike lane”… 4th Ave where 3rd branches off to the left. The bike lane is on the far left, but from Jackson to that intersection there is no bike lane, however there are sharrows, then a lane appears to the left, and the lane you are forced to ride in, also optionally turns left… then the bike lane paint disappears as you go under a dark bridge where the cars cut the corner as the whole thing vears to the left.

    Monday I had to show a new rider how to navigate this mess without getting killed and I was ashamed at how bad this was and for how long I have accepted it as “just what it is.”


    1. Madeleine Carlson

      I just rode that yesterday–it was awful! It is so dark and I certainly would have gotten squished had I gotten on my bike three seconds earlier.

  31. […] moved a block over to 3rd before the awful dark bridge and shared space with bunches of buses. Seattle buses are great–very courteous and aware of […]

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