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Rainier Ave safety project kicks off, two meetings this week

Photo from Seattle Fire
Photo from Seattle Fire

Rainier Ave has been the scene of far more than its share of death and injury, serving both as the main commercial drag through Rainier Valley and one of the city’s most dangerous streets. There were 1,243 collisions, 630 injuries and two fatalities between January 2011 and September 2014.

But the city is no longer ignoring the problem, and SDOT Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang announced a Road Safety Corridor Project in early October. The first public meetings are this week, including one today:

  • Wednesday, November 12
    6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, The Columbia School – Cafeteria/Commons, 3528 S. Ferdinand St (use the Edmunds St entrance)
  • Tuesday, November 18
    4:30 PM to 6:30 PM, The Ethiopian Community Center, 8323 Rainier Ave S

In recent months, Rainier Ave has been the scene of some particularly terrifying collisions. In late August, a person driving down Rainier in Columbia City lost control and ran up on the sidewalk and sped through Carol Cobb Salon, then through the interior wall into a restaurant next door. Seven people were injured.

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On Halloween night, a person driving a truck lock control and sped down Rainier Ave in Rainier Beach, and for three blocks he smashed into nine cars, sending ten people to the hospital. I guess you can add at least ten to the injury count mentioned above. Here’s how one family described the experience:

These extreme instances are just the most eye-catching ones. Hundreds of smaller collisions kill and maim people on this street, and residents above 60 years old are disproportionately killed. Most people killed are inside cars during collisions, but many people have also been killed and seriously injured while crossing the street on foot.

This must end. Rainier Ave is packed with destinations, and Rainier Valley residents should be allowed to cross the street without fear. This dangerous street runs through the heart of Seattle’s most diverse and affordable neighborhoods. The city has the tools and know-how to slow speeds, make crosswalks shorter and improve safety and comfort for everyone.

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10 responses to “Rainier Ave safety project kicks off, two meetings this week”

  1. merlin

    I’m trying to be optimistic – but SDOT’s website still celebrates the COMPLETION of the Rainier Traffic Safety Project in 2008. http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/rainier.htm “Key findings include:
    · The total number of injuries decreased eight percent
    · The total number of collisions decreased by one percent”

    ONE PERCENT? That was something to brag about?

  2. I went to the meeting last week. It felt like a get to know you kinda of meeting. We did break up into groups and talk about where we want to walk or bike and what are limits us from doing it more. Many people brought up lack of lighting. I really hoped for a more diverse crowd. Lots of people who bike were well represented but what about people who just bus and walk? We don’t own a car so I find these meeting really important as a way to make where I walk/bike a safer place.

  3. Gary

    If all of Rainier is reconfigured into 3 lanes for cars (center turn lane, and one directional lane each way) plus some bike lanes, then I’d consider riding on it. Until that time.. no way. There is no shoulder along the part from Seward park, north to Dearbourn. With buses stopping to pick up riders blocking the right lane, I don’t see this configuration happening anytime soon.

  4. Cheif

    There needs to be a separated cycle track running the length of rainier from the bike lane south of seward park all the way to jackson with a clear connection to the broadway cycle track.

  5. […] As Seattle looks to make effective changes to its most dangerous streets, it’s important to realize that protected bike lanes are only partly a tool for helping people get around town on bikes. They are also a way to make a street safer for everyone. That why at times it may make sense for the city to install bike lanes on a street that is not listed on the Bike Master Plan. Like Rainier Avenue. […]

  6. Dan Kingsbury

    Given the volume of car/bus/truck traffic on Rainier, there won’t be much support for dedicated bike lanes on Rainier. I think SDOT’s approach is to encourage riding on the side streets. BTW, I see car spillover to 50th-Wilson-Seward Park Ave during commute times, the signal timing at Genesee allows for a lot of bypass traffic.

  7. […] you’ve already heard about this from Seattle Bike Blog. But check out this excellent story by KUOW featuring the […]

  8. […] the city is finally getting serious about addressing dangerous road design issues that have plagued the Southeast Seattle street for […]

  9. […] Bike Works and the local Greenways chapter to ensure it works for all users. The project started last fall and SDOT is expected to present draft design solutions this month. Changes will likely include […]

  10. […] Bike Works and the local Greenways chapter to ensure it works for all users. The project started last fall, and SDOT is expected to present draft design solutions this month. Changes will likely include […]

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