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Neighbors march for a safer NE 65th Street

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4) addresses the crowd.

IMG_5194Standing next to the ghost bike painted white in memory of Andy Hulslander, Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4) lamented that the city had not acted fast enough to make NE 65th Street safer.

“I stated [in my campaign] that we needed to take action before something like that happens again,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we missed that window.”

In May — ten months after Lucas McQuinn drove drunk and killed Hulslander at NE 65th St and 15th Ave NE — another man biking on 65th was critically injured in a collision with someone driving a Metro VanPool.

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Yet the street remains dangerous, and neighbors are no longer content waiting for the city to get around to fixing it.

Around 60 people, including many children, joined an 8 a.m. walk and rally calling on the city to make the street safer for everyone. And they have a champion on the City Council in neighborhood resident Johnson.

“This street is not safe if you’re in a car, this street is not safe if you’re a pedestrian, and this street is not safe if you’re on a bike,” said Johnson. He talked about how unsafe his young daughters feel around the street and noted that there are so many kids who need to cross the street to get to area schools. The need for a safer street is big today, but it will get much more so when the under-construction Roosevelt Station opens in a few years.

Photo taken at the height of the morning rush. There is plenty of space for safe bike lanes, better crosswalks and safer traffic flow.

The goal is for the city to put 65th on the fast track for safety improvements, perhaps as part of the Road Safety Corridor program that led the wildly successful remake of nearby NE 75th Street in 2014.

The street sees far less traffic than NE 75th Street, yet its very wide and essentially undesigned driving space leads to speeding and unpredictable traffic movements.

A man who drives a large truck for a barricade company saw the march and ran across the street to talk about all the dangerous driving he sees regularly on the street (particularly people passing on the right). He wanted to know how he could get involved (start by signing the petition at fix65th.org).

Andres Solomon on the bullhorn
Andres Salomon on the bullhorn

A modern redesign of the street could fix so many of the street’s dangerous problems, and it might not even require a lot of funding or time. Paint, reflective plastic posts and some planter boxes or cheap curbs could be nearly all the city needs to transform the street for all users, at least in the near term. Neighbors need safe crosswalks at the many unsignalized intersections, people biking need protected bike lanes, and people driving need clear and obvious lanes.

IMG_5209Businesses on the street are also significantly hampered by the dangerous street. People just don’t like to spend time in uncomfortable spaces, and NE 65th Street is unnecessarily uncomfortable. If people could walk across the street easily or simply hop on their bikes to patronize local shops, it would be a boon for businesses. This street is surrounded by homes within what should be easy walking and biking distance. A compete street would make this into more of Main Street for Ravenna instead of a divider.

Data from #Fix65th
Data from #Fix65th

But most importantly, we know for a fact that more people will be seriously injured or killed if we continue doing nothing. We’re already waited too long to help the 68 people seriously injured or killed on the street in just the past three years.

But it’s not too late to help the 68people who will otherwise be seriously injured or killed in the next three years.

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15 responses to “Neighbors march for a safer NE 65th Street”

  1. Yakima Rob

    So good to see the strong turnout for this necessary improvement. On Tuesday June 14th we here in Yakima hopefully turned a critical corner also. Our city council established a Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, with council participation from new council member Carmen Mendez a bicycle supporter. We will be pressing the council to adopt a Complete Streets ordinance soon.

  2. Kari

    I love NE 65th st, especially around Roosevelt Way, it it would be awesome to see safety improvements along this corridor. It’s becoming more transit-friendly, so improvements for pedestrians and cyclists should happen sooner rather than later. The lanes are wide in some areas, giving drivers the illusion that it is safe to go faster than they should. I’d like to see that change, at least.

  3. Tim F

    As I was leaving I saw a textbook example of cars backed up in one lane waiting to take a left and others swerving around them (pretty close to me) to continue straight. 65th has the illusion of four lanes and it makes everything far more chaotic and dangerous: turning, crossing, going straight, biking, driving and walking.

    Street films does a better job of explaining than I do: http://www.streetfilms.org/mba-road-diet/

    1. ChefJoe

      Well, back in 2006 the position of SDOT for 75th NE between I5 eastward (which previously only had a center stripe separating halves of the road and no additional lane markings) was –
      “Wentz said city code and state law say that a multiple- lane street is “any street the roadway of which is of sufficient width to accommodate reasonably two or more separate lanes of vehicular traffic in the same direction … whether or not such lanes are marked.” ”


      They’ve since added a center turn lane, bike lanes, removed some of that parking, etc, although adding lane stripes as requested back then might have done a bunch to narrow lanes and reduce speeding but que sera sera.

    2. Dave

      “The illusion of four lanes” is a great description. I visit Seattle occasionally and live near Portland. Portland’s Hawthorne Blvd. is a similar street with a bit less speeding problem–it’s the kind of street that makes you pull your elbows in even when you’re driving a car. The same fix should be considered for both streets–two car lanes, one turning lane down the middle, bike lanes and wider sidewalks.

  4. William

    Great to see this happening but we need a total change in our culture to make our streets safe. I am sick of driving along arterials in NE Seattle, up to 10 miles an hour above the speed limit, with frustrated cars right on my tail or, on a street like NE 65th St, overtaking me on the inside. Single lane road diets help but a large proportion of the vehicles on streets like NE 75th St, are still going well over the speed limit. We need speed cameras everywhere like the UK.

  5. Pablo96

    If you want to change the driving culture, eliminate the opportunity to drive, permanently remove the opportunity for a car to have options and permanently install an alternative, urban mode of transportation (walk or bike or bus or some combo…).
    Stripes on the roadway is a signal from the morons the city continues to elect: “hey Seattle, thanks for paying your taxes, but by the way, we can’t really change the road, just add some paint, because, well, we have these $$$$ platinum union contracts to pay first, and whatever is leftover, we half-ass attempt to spend it on something to keep the masses quiet.”
    Rob Johnson seems like a nice man, but does he get things done or does he continuously pontificate until his term is up? Proof is in real progress, not tooting your horn of empathy and nothing happens.

    1. Law Abider

      If you ban driving, only the criminals will drive. Or something like that.

      1. Pablo96

        Sorry, I didn’t clarify the first sentence: ban the opportunity for drivers to swerve around “barriers” that really aren’t barriers, i.e., painted stripes. Even on 75th near Eckstein Middle, there are plenty of drivers that drive directly into the bike lane there simply by not paying attention. Simply take away the paint and install something more permanent.

      2. Andres Salomon

        Part of the problem with NE 75th is that it was never finished. We held a memorial walk, and the city re-striped the road and retimed the signals in under 6 months (which is light speed for a DOT, and super cheap – $200k or so). That was great, but after that.. nothing. No pedestrian islands, for example. No curb bulbs. No extension of the road diet. No sidewalk improvements. Outside of my house, there’s a turn-lane-to-nowhere that could easily and cheaply become a pedestrian island: https://goo.gl/maps/KJSwKzUEecr
        Driving west-bound there, there’s no reason to use that turn lane; 16th Ave doesn’t continue north, and there are no driveways there. There are numerous examples of this kind of thing, where improvements could be made to slow cars and improve crossings.
        I reported various utility poles in the middle of the sidewalk years ago via FindItFixIt, and nothing ever changed.

        From the perspective of people who live here, the appearance is that the city only cares about these things when there’s political pressure. We’re only now talking about extending the NE 75th road diet, and it wasn’t even going to address the most critical section! (See: https://www.theurbanist.org/2016/04/20/banner-way-improvements-should-go-further/ )

        I would LOVE to see physical barriers instead of just paint, but the city is still content to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on stuff like the seawall replacement, the Lander St bridge, Mercer, etc and let walk/bike safety stuff fight for scraps.

      3. Andres Salomon

        Sorry, I meant driving *east*-bound.

    2. Tuck

      Agreed with you statement until for the anti-union red herring. I like my union very much thanks, it allows me to ride a nice bike and afford to live in Seattle although I’m working class.

  6. […] zero: Residents in North Seattle marched along NE 65th St this week with Councilmember Rob Johnson to demand safer […]

  7. RTK

    I wish I truly believed that Rob Johnson was leading the effort to get this street changed. During the election and when forced into reacting to recent events he advocates for change. Not so much otherwise. I have engaged with him through his local office and neither he nor his staff seem to be able to articulate what they have actually been doing to create change. It appears to me has has bought into the Seattle Process. I hope I am proven wrong.

  8. ronp

    Sorry I missed this, it is way beyond time to address 65th Ave NE.

    Is the city worried about a driver backlash? It sucks to drive down that street anytime of the day.

    Fix it now!

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