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Couple healing up after struck by car while walking across Stone Way

This beautiful photo was posted to the gofundme webpage
This beautiful photo was posted to the gofundme webpage

A couple active in the Seattle theater scene was struck by a car while crossing Stone Way January 11 on their way to a show at Stone Soup Theater.

Both Zach and Ashley Adair were hospitalized, though Zach’s injuries were a bit worse than Ashley’s and he was in the ICU for several days. He finally went home Thursday, but has more surgeries in the near future.

The couple has been recovering, and friends started an online fundraising campaign to help with unexpected costs the couple will likely encounter.

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They do have health insurance and the person driving did stop and remain at the scene. But don’t let that stop you from pitching in, because they are sure to encounter many unexpected costs and it could be a while before they are able to get back to work.

We wish them both a speedy recovery.

They were struck crossing Stone Way at N 41st Street, a notoriously dangerous crossing that has remained dangerous despite a high number of people using it including many children headed to Hamilton International Middle School, Wallyhood reports:

Approximate location, via Google Street View
Approximate location, via Google Street View

That intersection at 41st and Stone, the site of several “crosswalk sting operations,” has been a problem for years. In 2005, a 12 year old Hamilton International Middle School student was hit by a driver who pulled around cars that had stopped so that the boy might cross. He survived, and his mother has been advocating tirelessly for pedestrian safety ever since.

Despite her efforts and NINE years of further accidents (including another one involving a pedestrian and a car in October), this crosswalk is no safer. SDOT put Stone Way on a “road diet” a few years back, reducing the number of lanes with the hopes that this would improve pedestrian safety. As the road did not get narrower, it seems like that was a bit of magical thinking. Visibility has not been improved and people are still getting hurt.

With many Hamilton students using that crosswalk, the Fremont Neighborhood Council has been petitioning SDOT to install a pedestrian-activated crossing light at that intersection.

Unfortunately, Seattle’s dangerous streets continue to take a terrible toll on residents. The city is getting better at responding to traffic violence with safety projects for dangerous streets, but its too little too late for those injured or killed.

As we reported earlier, community members are holding a memorial walk Saturday for James St. Clair, who was killed December 30 while walking to the grocery store in West Seattle. The walk meets 1 p.m. at the High Point Branch Library.

The Ravenna-Bryant Community Association reports this week that the city will conduct a study of NE 55th Street following a terrifying hit-and-run in November. Susan Aylesworth, 58, was walking home from the grocery store with her husband when she was struck and seriously injured. The traffic study could lead to safety improvements in the area.

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18 responses to “Couple healing up after struck by car while walking across Stone Way”

  1. Matt

    I find it interesting that the Seattle Times has nothing about this incident. Yet when a cyclists got a speeding ticket on Fremont, it was front page news. How come we are the most liberal and educated city in this country yet we have one of the most right-wing, anti-cycling papers in the country?

  2. Thank you so much for posting this.

  3. Fnarf

    It’s hard to think what could possibly done to this street and the many, many other super-wide freeway-sized streets in Seattle to make them safer. They can reduce the lanes, and add bike lanes, and so on forever, but the real problem is the vast swathes of asphalt that absolutely demand speeding, and even when cars move slowly it still takes a pedestrian a long, long, unprotected time to get across. This is a design flaw in this city that probably can never be corrected, not without plopping new buildings down in the middle of them — and cities never but never give up right-of-way.

    So many streets in this city are like this — ultra-wide, and with separate lanes that veer off and merge instead of being normal left and right turns. This is a legacy of Seattle’s idiotic “parkway” mentality from a hundred years ago. It’s tragic and unfixable.

    Putting in true segregated bikeways, with jersey dividers, to physically narrow the right of way, would help, but that’s extremely expensive.

    1. I don’t think Stone Way, by the standards of American urban streets, is all that wide or unusually designed aside from the Bridge Way mess (which I think was a really bad mid-20th-century hack). Many streets of similar width in Seattle and around the world work fine for pedestrians. Still there’s something weird about that crosswalk and I’m not totally sure what; even before the half-assed median island and crosswalks were installed at 43rd it was easier to cross there than at 41st. Maybe it’s that the sidewalks are always in shadows? Maybe it’s the layout of parking? Maybe there’s something unusual about the grade there? Maybe the offset side streets don’t give the effect of a clearing typical at intersections?

      I think this crosswalk would work better if it were between the two halves of 41st instead of south of both. This would have the following benefits:

      – It would bring the ends of the crosswalk, especially the west end, out of the shadows
      – It would provide natural clearance from parking, improving sight lines between the road and the ends of the crosswalk.
      – It would be easy to install a median island without blocking any left turns (it would be harder to turn left from the side streets, but with 40th a block away that’s easy to avoid).

      1. An example of the style I think would work better at Stone/41st is at another intersection where the side street jogs similarly, NE 65th/39th. The median island style would be more like the one at Stone/43rd, since Stone has a median all the way, though it wouldn’t be shocking for 65th to gain one, too, next time it’s redone.

  4. Andrew Squirrel

    I’m still amazed Seattle has not installed a single flashing crosswalks triggered by pedestrians that you see all over Olympia, especially in high speed areas.

    I know that parked automobiles have been said to cause traffic calming but, as a cyclist, the parking on Stone Way continues to mask the presence of pedestrians. I usually keep a reasonable speed while descending yet still get surprised by a pedestrian popping out. I honestly feel that if the parked cars didn’t impede our vision, cyclist and drivers alike would have a much better time seeing a pedestrian attempt to cross the road.
    I truly feel removing parked cars and bike corrals are the silver bullet to making major arterials safer.

    1. Charles B

      They have tried flashing crosswalks before, and people still run pedestrians over. The real solution is a red light with standard protected crosswalk signals.

      I suspect cost is the major reason we don’t have more of those.

      1. Josh

        The always-flashing crosswalk signs lose their effectiveness for the same reason as standard painted crosswalks — where they’re usually empty, it’s usually safe to blow through them.

        RRFB crosswalks are different, they only flash when the crosswalk is actually in use, they flash more intensely, and they’re visible at quite a distance because of the multiple beacon locations. They can actually be more effective for pedestrians than standard red light traffic signals, since again, red lights don’t always mean there’s a pedestrian; many drivers make rolling right on red and fail to yield for occupied crosswalks.

        No idea why Seattle has been slower than car-dominated suburbs to adopt RRFBs.

    2. sb

      They’ve tested one on Alaskan for over a year. This past year they even made changes to it.

    3. Leif Espelund

      There is one on 24th in Ballard by the new(ish) QFC complex. I think as part of the Ballard greenway.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        You’re correct.

        Studies show they increase the rate of people in cars yielding to people walking dramatically increases with the beacons. In some places, it can increase from 20% compliance to 80%.


        But, of course, we have to ask ourselves: Is 80% good enough? That’s what I hope we can decide from studying and observing the one in Ballard.

      2. tonrix

        There’s also one at the I-90 onramp from NB Rainier. When I’m a driver, I find it handy (no reason to use it as a pedestrian, personally). Seems like other drivers stop more as well. Still a dangerous crossing but it’s helpful.

  5. abject funk

    The “road diet” dig is pure nonsense. Stone used to be 2 lanes in each direction, it is now one lane in each direction, with a middle turn lane. The 12 year old mentioned was hit before the road diet, when one car in one lane stopped, while the car in the other lane continued (traveling the same direction) did not, hitting the child because he did not recognize why the first car had stopped.

    That situation can no longer happen on Stone Way, unless a car purposely pulls AROUND a stopped car (which, yes, may be what happened here, and is simply stupid and reckless if that is the case, and I’m not sure how you design around that scenario). Meanwhile the bike lanes, sharrows, crosswalks, and single lane traffic have all made Stone much, much safer than it was before, with limited impact on traffic volumes and a general reduction in speed (which is still too fast, like most larger streets).

    I wish everyone a speedy recovery, but including ill-informed comments about “wishful thinking” regarding road diets ignores the real improvement they provide and plays into the hands of all the pro-car advocates who don’t want to do anything about improving multi-modal use of our roads and associated infrastructure.

    1. I totally agree. The road diet is a big improvement overall. The crosswalk at 41st might be a problem, but we should be able to solve it!

    2. ArtFart

      They did the same thing with NE 75th St east of 15th Ave NE after a drunk driver struck four people and killed two of them last summer near Nathan Eckstein Middle School. Sadly, it didn’t take long for the idiots to start using the two-way left-turn lane as a passing lane. We haven’t seen anyone pulled over yet for doing this.

    3. Becka

      The road diet made Stone Way safer, but there is more work to be done. I would like to see curb bulb-outs – this would aid pedestrian visibility and reduce the crossing distance of a still-wide street.

      (To remember how bad it used to be, check out the pictures from this SDOT presentation)

  6. Richard

    I see a definite change in the Seattle driving culture in that drivers are less and less willing to stop at crosswalks and will often continue rolling forward even when someone is in the middle of the crosswalk. I notice this more with my pregnant wife who cannot walk fast and drivers seem to assume that she is taking her sweet time to cross.
    As a driver I have been aggressively honked at by the person behind me for allowing a pedestrian to cross.
    What’s going on people?

  7. Eric

    Solar powered push button beacons seem like an obvious and economical solution to this crosswalk and several others with visibility issues. They’re even compatible with existing SDOT signage:

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