125th Street Safety Improvements

There’s a great post on the Cascade Bicycle Club Blog talking about the 125th Street safety improvements.

http://blog.cascade.org/2010/08/125th-safety-project/

I recommend everybody head over to read the full article.  It isn’t too long and they make some great points about all the advantages of a project like this.  The part where they discussed speeds was especially interesting.  I’ve heard many complaints about the speeding that takes place on 125th but I didn’t realize that “nearly 15% of vehicles are more than 10 mph over the legal limit.”  It was also interesting to see just how many more pedestrian collisions at 40mph are fatal than 30mph.

[EDIT:]
Join us for the lively discussion in the comments and also take a look at the article that went up on Publicola, Battle Brewing Over SDOT Plan for Bike & Ped Friendly Redesign in N. Seattle.

http://www.publicola.net/2010/08/04/battle-brewing-over-sdot-plan-for-bike-ped-friendly-redesign-in-n-seattle/

Also, remember you’ve got until 5pm on Monday the 9th to submit your comments to walkandbike@seattle.gov.

24 comments to 125th Street Safety Improvements

  • My Other Car's the Tardis

    Thanks for posting this. If the readers of this blog support the city street diet in general and the 125th traffic revision in particular, take a minute to write an email expressing your support: walkandbike@seattle.gov

    Signed,

    A Pinehurst resident and fledgling bike commuter

  • Hey, if you’ve got the Tardis available why are you commuting by bike?

  • ScanMan

    And if you oppose this plan, I urge you to voice your concern as well: walkandbike@seattle.gov

    Signed,
    A Pinehurst walker concerned about drivers using residential streets to avert traffic along clogged arterials

  • 125th Mom

    ScanMan –

    I am a Pinehurst Mom and am THRILLED about this project.

    Without left turn lanes, cars go down my street on their way to other streets that are more difficult to get to without left turn lanes on 125th. The new configuration will take traffic off my street.

    Also, I don’t let my young kids go anywhere near 125th unless I am with them and holding their hands. Even then, I am very afraid to walk with them on 125th. People travel well over the speed limit on 125th because there is too much capacity.

    We will all be much safer when this project is implemented.

  • I do urge EVERYBODY to respond with their opinion on this project. But I personally think this is a very good idea.

    Also, I still haven’t seen any actual data showing that this is going to clog the arterial. Evidence that I’ve seen suggests that it has very little impact on traffic because of the addition of a turn lane and the current excess capacity. There are places this idea wouldn’t work. But 125th isn’t one of them.

    Well, that is unless you consider going the speed limit to be “traffic”… I’m sure the large percentage of cars going over 40mph won’t be happy with this change. But this is by far the cheapest way to address that problem. There are lots of things they can do temporarily (police presence, electronic speed signs) but those don’t do anything in the long term. Well, except get “Speed Trap” written in the street.

    Also, it’s my understanding that this is one of the worst arterials in the city for speeding. I think that’s good evidence that there isn’t currently a capacity problem.

  • ScanMan

    125th Mom-

    Sounds like we both share the same concerns.

    I too do not like it when people use our residential street as a short cut to get from Roosevelt to 15th NE when traffic is too heavy on 125th. Since this a problem now, what will it be like when traffic on 125th is restricted to one lane in each direction? I also agree that cars on 125th travel way too fast. My main concern is that in dealing with one problem, we make another existing one worse. It’s hard enough to encourage folks to walk in a neighborhood with no sidewalks. Every day at rush hour, NE 123rd is turned into a speedway of folks trying to avoid traffic snarls on 125th. At least 125th has sidewalks.

    Look, I’m not entirely opposed to this project (and paint is cheap ), I’d just like some assurances from the city that the impact of this change on the surrounding streets does not go unheard.

  • 125th Mom

    ScanMan -

    Sounds like we need to talk with SDOT about traffic calming on 123rd between Roosevelt Way NE and 15th. Regardless of what happens with 125th, I do agree that people drive too fast there and that the line of sight can be challenging. Also, there are so many cars parked on 123rd that pedestrians often need to walk in the street.

    If you want to take this on, you can start here: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/ntcp_calming.htm Phillip can also help you connect with SDOT.

  • I think sending comments to the city that they need to focus on the impact to surrounding streets would be very constructive.

    There are already a lot of side streets where I think the city could do a lot more to help mitigate traffic/speeding better. And this would be a good time to look at that. But I think that should be part of the discussion on the project, not an argument to try to derail the project which is what some of it has seemed like.

  • Concernedmom

    We need sidewalks on all of the streets that run from 5th through to Roosevelt and beyond. Cars drive way too fast and I constantly see people have to jump out of the road with kids, strollers and dogs.
    I wish that the city would just commit to sidewalks on all of these streets and make our area much safer to walk through.

  • MattW

    I agree with the all comments above and support the road diet and pedestrian/bike improvements for 125th. I also support traffic calming in all its forms: speed bumps, roundabouts, and dead-ending residential streets so they dont become alternative “thru-routes” – But these “calmings” can be hard to get implemented – the city wants to give you a radar gun and a traffic counter to prove your case before they do anything. Perhaps we can make these improvements part of the larger 125th plan and avoid the lengthy and time consuming “proof” step…. now would be the time to act and let walkandbike know…

  • JOHN

    I oppose the change on NE 125th St. If not because I think it will create more side street problems, at least because the process has been totally dictatorial and represents imposing the will of the minority on the majority. If speed on that street is the problem, there are solutions that don’t require bicylcle lanes. So the agenda here is bike lanes and the speed issue is a ruse. Note to bicyclists(and I also bike the roads), I have no problem sharing the road, but more than 50% of my encounters with a bicyclist on share the road streets is negative. I see too many cyclists disobeying traffic control and ignoring or aggressivly challenging the autos. I encourage bicyclists to behave. It might reduce the ill will and reaction the majority of folks have to these street changes.

  • Brad

    I guess I am one of a few voices against changing 125th from 4 lanes to 2 car and 2 bike. I study people and cars and how we all interact. It would be a better world if there were less cars and more public transit (train) options. We must bear in mind however that we are not there yet. We in Pinehurst are between thousands of commuter’s homes and I-5. My wife and I chose to move here 25 years ago because it is close to I-5. It is convenient and we like it here. Folks that live in Bothell and Kenmore and work downtown or in Ballard need to get through our neighborhood. As it stands now they can take 145th, 125th, Northgate or Lake City Way to I-5. I am not sure what “capacity” means to the traffic engineers but I am pretty sure that Northgate Way and Lake City Way are pretty busy around rush hour morning and evening. This pushes many people(cars) onto 145th and 125th. If we restrict 125th those people will still need to get home. Maybe they will go up to 145th. More likely they will use side streets through our neighborhood. Traffic circles have helped curb accidents at corners but people still go to fast mid block when they are transitting through our area at rush hour now. I would rather know that they are on 125th and not on my street.
    Two other points.
    The city should view 125th as a revenue source. Write more tickets and some of the speed problem will go away.
    Clean and repair the sidewalks on both sides of the street. Allow bikes going up (very slow from a car perspective) to be on the full width sidewalks. On the way down bikes do just fine with car traffic.

    Remember: You can make the road smaller but until people have another option to get to work you will have the same number of car miles travelled through OUR neighborhood. I would rather have the cars on the thoroughfare than fight with them inside on the little streets where we walk and ride.

  • ErikB

    Thanks for all who comment here in a civil manner. Four things about me: I commute by bike all year around, I race bicycles, I like bike lanes and I’m a resident just a half block south of 125th. The issue of altering 125th involves three main arguments: a reduction of speeding, increasing safe access to the residential areas north and south of 125th and increasing safe passage across 125th for residents, pedestrians and bicycles.

    Here’s my take on these issues: First, cars “speed” down 125th (east of 15th) because it’s a steep downhill. The only reason that restricting traffic to one lane eastbound (downhill) will slow traffic is because traffic is in front of other traffic. Read this as a congestion argument. I believe the more consistent and defensible argument is one of law enforcement.

    Second, left-turn lanes help those turning left, but only if the oncoming lanes are clear. Restricting the current two lanes to one will require the single lane to handle more traffic. Will this help the cars turning left? Maybe, but only if you can convince people transiting between Lake City Way and I-5 to take some other route. Good luck.

    Third, and dear to my heart, bicycle safety. Very few commuter cyclists will use 125th westbound (the uphill) as a commute preference. Why should they? If you travel four to five blocks north on, say, 25th NE, and then head west, you’ll get to NE 15th without having to peddle up the 7% to 10% grades (these are Tour de France race grades!). I see many cyclist using 25th NE to head north – none of them chooses 125th. Sure, their decision is affected by traffic and lack of bike lanes, but by far the most compelling reason is the very steep grade of 125th. Please, bike commuters moving through this area, ensure that bicycle lanes or routes are established by actual and reasonable standards. To note, Sand Point Way (a bicycle route established by the City of Seattle) and NE 15th (especially in Shoreline) need some “official” connection, but using NE 125th as that connector completely ignores the fact of current usage.

    Here’s the big picture into which fits our small but wonderful North Seattle area: Two major thoroughfares, I-5 and Lake City Way (aka 522, a state highway) run parallel roughly from Northgate Way to 145th. Users of both use Northgate Way, 125th and 145th to get from one to the other, with the worst case time-frames being morning and evening rush hours. Short of removing access to I-5 from any three of these streets, people commuting from there (Seattle, roughly) to the northern suburbs east of I-5 will continue to use “our” residential area. There are two way to affect change: First, and in our case, remove the exit from I-5 onto Ravenna/130th/125th. Furthermore, remove the “frontage road” that connects Ravenna/130th to 145th where traffic exits and enters I-5. In short, remove 125th as an option for the Lake City Way and I-5 commuters to access their way home and to work and we have a classic NIMBY solution to a very real issue.

  • Brad

    As sent to walkandbike: some changes and additions
    Brad
    August 7th, 2010 at 4:46 PM
    I am one of the voices against changing 125th from 4 lanes to 2 car and 2 bike. I study people and cars and how we all interact. It would be a better world if there were less cars and more public transit (train) options. We must bear in mind however that we are not there yet. We in Pinehurst are between thousands of commuter’s homes and I-5. My wife and I chose to move here 25 years ago because it is close to I-5. It is convenient and we like it here. Folks that live in Bothell and Kenmore and work downtown or in Ballard need to get through our neighborhood. As it stands now they can take 145th, 125th, Northgate or Lake City Way to I-5. I am not sure what “capacity” means to the traffic engineers but I am pretty sure that Northgate Way and Lake City Way are pretty busy around rush hour morning and evening. This pushes many people(cars) onto 145th and 125th. If we restrict 125th those people will still need to get home. Problems will occur at the traffic lights at 15th and the lights at 30th and Lake City Way. With 2 lanes of traffic at those 3 locations there are multiple light waits during rush hour. With a single lane this will be worse. Maybe they will go up to 145th. More likely they will use side streets through our neighborhood. Traffic circles have helped curb accidents at corners but people still go to fast mid block when they are transitting through our area at rush hour now. I would rather know that they are on 125th and not on my street.
    Two other points.
    The city should view 125th as a revenue source. Write more tickets and much of the speed problem will go away.
    Clean, repair and maintain the sidewalks on both sides of the street. Allow bikes going up (very slow and rare from a car perspective) to be on the full width sidewalks. On the way down bikes do just fine with car traffic.

    Remember: You can make the road smaller but until people have another option to get to work you will have the same number of car miles travelled through OUR neighborhood. I would rather have the cars on the thoroughfare than fight with them inside on the little streets where we walk and ride.

    Brad Green

    ps. At a very minimum if you have already decided to go through with this folly you owe our neighborhood a published traffic count on 16th Ave NE,17th Ave NE,23RD Ave NE, 25th Ave NE All just South of 125th and NE 120th St,NE 117th St. and NE 123rd St. at about 19th Ave NE. This needs to be done prior to implimentation of the changes to 125th so you and we know the true impact. This could save you and us an argument in the future.

  • Thomas Mercer

    I support the change, but agree with ErikB that very few bikers will go westbound on 125th between the creek (about 25th) and 15th. However, I don’t think a single lane for cars in that direction is going to be a problem for drivers. Admittedly I don’t drive that route westbound in morning rush hour, but I have gone east in evening rush hour and on weekends and etc and have never seen enough traffic to require 2 lanes. Now if the lights down at 30th an at Lake City Way had more capacity to cross those streets and more left turn capacity, that might help, but that is another discussion.

    It is notable that crossing 1 lane in each direction is safer because you don’t have to worry that although one lane has stopped for you the second lane in the same direction will have a speed-limit-moving vehicle that doesn’t notice that the adjacent lane has stopped for a pedestrian (or vehicle). This problem has caused many accidents for vehicles, bikers, and people crossing 4 lane roads in WA, especially with the prevalence of SUVs and large trucks that limit visibility.

    (I used to bike commute, but don’t anymore and I love to walk/run in Pinehurst, but wish we had a lot more sidewalks).

  • j

    I am a pinehurst home owner and support the proposed NE125th safety improvements.
    Not exactly sure why its always got to be cars against bicyclists maybe its that critical mass mess.
    I am of the opinion that more transportation options (biking,buses,light rail) could lead to less road noise and better air quality.
    It just totaly amazes me that anyone would be against SAFETY improvements,not to mention neighborhood improvements.

    http://walkbikeride.seattle.gov/ballot

  • ScanMan

    So if someone has concerns about how this change will impact already dangerous side-streets, we’re against SAFETY improvements? I’m totally amazed at your statement….

  • 125th Mom

    From this morning’s Publicola (http://www.publicola.net/2010/08/12/at-odds-with-gods-platform/):

    Describing a controversial proposal to reduce N. 125th St. from four lanes to three and add bike lanes and pedestrian crosswalks—a project many nearby residents oppose because it would require removing a lane of car parking for ten blocks—SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan gave two major reasons for adding bike and pedestrian improvements on the street.

    First, average speeds on that section of 125th are “in excess of posted limits,” endangering cyclists and pedestrians. Second, 51 percent of collisions on that stretch result in injuries, compared to 33 percent citywide.

    “Slowing speeds will reduce collision severity, making the roadway more accommodating for vulnerable users like pedestrians and bicyclists.”

  • Newton

    Uh…I’m confused. Is the link supposed to take me to a cartoon about Subaru drivers? I thought we were for bikes…

  • 125th Mom

    So wierd. The link is correct, but somehow gets rerouted to another page. http://www.publicola.net/2010/08/12/at-odds-with-gods-platform/

  • RachelB

    We need help on 123rd. I live on 123rd and only a couple blocks from the Pinehurst park but won’t even walk there with the kids because people race down our street at careless speeds. We have to drive to other locations for walks. We are walkers and that’s just bad for morale. There is also a major parking problem from the overflow of the townhouses on Roosevelt and 123rd. People have no place to walk and end up actually walking through my yard for safety. We’ve considered putting up a fence (for privacy and it just feels odd to have people traipse through the yard) but then where would people go when somebody is racing by? On the corner of 11th and 123rd if I put up a fence I fear people would get hurt. And where would they park? We need sidewalks and traffic calming!!!

    I’m all for neighborhood improvements and I hope this new 125th will help but it’s freaky to think that it could make 123rd even worse! I think/hope it could make the walk down to Lake City Farmer’s Market more possible. We tried it once and won’t again until things change. Hope the 125th changes are not at the cost of turning my street into an even more insane race course. But in the meantime, if you are walking and need a place to dive for safety, you can dive onto my lawn.

  • ScanMan

    There is an article on this very topic in the Seattle Times this morning:
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012625760_125thstreet15m.html

  • Geoffp

    I am opposed to this completely. I use 125th now as the only way to get to I-5 and Aurora.
    If this plan goes through.,I will be using neighborhood streets like 120th to get there I do lots of home improvements and I need to get to Aurora almost every weekend. Also my gym is located on Aurora. This plan makes the area even more unlivable.

  • WBrotnov

    I am opposed to the changes. The street has a four-lane level of traffic. Is there an objective study of the backups this will cause? or a rate of traffic count at the rush hours. It is already impacted by all the busses going e-w and up to Northgate. SDOT workers know how much it will be affected. When they do utility work they make sure to be buttoned up by 3:30 or 4 to avoid the backups.
    There is only 125th and 145th as an e-w route for all the neighborhoods from about Sand Point to Lake Forest Park and from the lake to Aurora and I5. Forget 110th thru Northgate. It’s our primary route to I5, Aurora and Ballard.
    The “speeding” argument is silly. That is a traffic enforcement problem. We don’t enforce speed limits by making traffic jams.
    Most of the speeding is downhill because the hill is steep. Ironically that is also why bikes will not use it. They go on side streets where the grade os less. And have you looked at the large drains on 125th at each side street. They are big enough to throw a bike over.
    This idea looks to me like part of a wish list that was put in a “Master Plan” years ago. It should have been studied more before going ahead with a bad design.

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