Tag Archive: Complete Streets

Celebrate the Opening of Roosevelt!

University Greenways members talked to 43 business owners about safety on Roosevelt Way

Andres, Atom and other local Greenways leaders prepare to do small business outreach along Roosevelt in 2013. Side note, two other Greenways leaders pictured here are now fathers — Orion and Alma’s dads also want safer, healthier streets for their new babies.

November 2 2016

Atom, the little tyke in the photo, was not quite two years old in 2013 when his dad, Andres, got together with a group of other safe streets advocates from NE Seattle Greenways and University Greenways to run a campaign to turn the Roosevelt Way NE repaving project into the Roosevelt Way NE repaving and Protected Bike Lane project.

The group pictured here, plus a few others, went out and talked to small businesses about the business benefits of having slower traffic, safer places for people to bike and walk, and great public spaces in the Roosevelt neighborhood.

Thanks to their focused local campaign, and the local business support it generated, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) decided late in 2014 to turn Roosevelt into one of Seattle’s premiere Complete Streets.

Fast forward three years. Atom is five and the Roosevelt Way NE Protected Bike Lane will officially open, this Saturday, November 5 2016.  Kidical Mass riders will wield the scissors at a grand ribbon-cutting event with SDOT around noon at the University Food Bank 5017 Roosevelt Way NE.

Meet Andres, Max, Scott, Bob, Orion, Forrest, Drew, Alma, Madi, Rjider, Brandt, Barbara, Hank, and many more of the people who made this project possible for this generation and for future generations.

  • If you want to join the Kidical Mass Ride, come to at Mighty-O Donuts 2110 N 55th at 10:30 AM
  • Otherwise, join the fun ribbon-cutting at University Food Bank 5017 Roosevelt Way NE at noon!

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Lane Width

Cathy Tuttle
September 26, 2015
jointly published on The Urbanist
Crosswalk wet pavement

Lane width helps to control speed on urban streets.

People driving tend to slow when streets are narrow.

Urban Streets

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) recommends a default of 10-foot lanes.

“Lane widths of 10 feet are appropriate in urban areas and have a positive impact on a street’s safety without impacting traffic operations. For designated truck or transit routes, one travel lane of 11 feet may be used in each direction. In select cases, narrower travel lanes (9–9.5 feet) can be effective as through lanes in conjunction with a turn lane.”


Seattle’s current standard is 11-foot lanes
and 12-foot bus-only lanes. Many of our streets were laid out in a time when wider was always better — and ended up with dangerously wide lanes, dangerous because wide lanes encourage people to drive fast, and when cars go faster, collisions do more harm. Narrower lanes in urban areas are shown to result in less aggressive driving, and give drivers more ability to slow or stop their vehicles over a short distance to avoid collision.

Lane Widths and vehicle sizesWhile tooling along city streets, unless you are a transportation engineer, you aren’t aware of street width.

You aren’t thinking, “Hey, I’m in a 14-foot lane. And now I’m in a nine-foot lane. And now I’m in a 10-foot lane.” (Note, transportation engineers really do think like this.)

Instead, you, the average mortal, just thinks (if you are driving a car), “I can go fast here. Whoa! This street is narrow, I’d better slow down. And now I can speed up a bit again.”

Seattle’s standard width for parked car lanes is eight feet wide, while adding a bike lane that avoids the “door zone” (the distance a car driver can accidentally fling open a door into the path of an oncoming person on a bike) requires a a 14-foot lane (parked car plus bike lane).

With our elbows akimbo, we’re about two and a half feet riding a bike, taking up about as much space as people in wheelchairs. Both protected bike lanes and sidewalks require a minimum of six feet of street right-of-way to accommodate people riding and rolling respectively.

20 is Plenty fatalities graphic

“It’s surprising to see how a difference of 20 miles reverses the survival rates of people hit by moving vehicles.”   Seattle Department of Transportation 2015

Highways

Highways are a different case entirely when it comes to lane width.

You may have read the lane width on the Aurora Bridge was a factor in the recent collision fatality between a Duck amphibious vehicle and charter bus. It is up to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to determine causes, but Federal standards for highways recommend 12-foot lanes, in addition to shoulders wide enough for emergency parking and median barriers. Most lanes along I-5  are 12 feet wide. The Aurora Bridge lanes are 9.5 feet wide. Read the rest of this entry »

Rainier Embraces Transportation Transformation

Mayor Murray at Rainier Ave S Open House 7-301-15

Mayor Murray at Rainier Ave S Open House 7-301-15

Cathy Tuttle July 31, 2015

In a sweltering and packed gymnasium, with the Mayor, City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly shouting through a rolled up paper megaphone (the sound system had failed), three of the most transformative projects SDOT has proposed to date were launched.

Harrell tossed down his megaphone and shouted, “We are DONE with Rainier Ave S being a freeway! People live here! We need this street to work for all of us!”

Here are the three transformative Rainier Valley projects (including SNGreenway’s top 2015 priority for Council District 2):

Click on image to see project details of Accessible Mt. Baker

Click on image to see project details of Accessible Mt. Baker

  1. Rainier North-South Greenway stretching from I-90 to Rainier Beach. Will be completed in 2016. Route identified with extensive input from Rainier Valley Greenways and Seattle Bike Advisory Board.
  2. Accessible Mt. Baker signals an SDOT commitment to prioritize people around transit. It’s too long been the norm for Sound Transit to plop in light rail stations and blithely leave it up to local municipalities to make their stations accessible to people who need to walk or bike to them. Accessible Mt. Baker takes up the challenge with a real station area planning.
  3. Rainier Avenue South Safety Corridor Pilot begins construction on Monday August 3 and wraps up construction on August 14. Not only is did SDOT’s Vision Zero Strategic Advisor Jim Curtin present an unprecedentedly short project timeline, the Rainier Ave S project has the potential to transform what is Seattle’s most deadly street.

Read the rest of this entry »

PARK(ing) Day 2015 Design Competition

Free CoffeeIs there a street or intersection that you use on a regular basis that feels unsafe?  Do you have ideas for how things like sidewalks, bike lanes, curb bulbs, pedestrian crossings, or traffic calming could be added?  Submit your ideas for how you’d like to see the street changed, even if you’re unable to commit to doing a PARK(ing) Day event.

PARK(ing) Day is an annual international event that gives people the opportunity to bring much-needed human space to asphalt.  Last year, members of NE Seattle Greenways and University Greenways took advantage of PARK(ing) Day 2014 to successfully redesign a bridge, intersection, and adjacent road, making it feel safer and more comfortable for all users. Read the rest of this entry »

“Dear Neighbor” Letter Backfires

Roosevelt Way NE SDOT May 2015Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB) member Jacob Struiksma took one look at a May 26 letter from Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and called into question the plan for a Complete Street along a busy retail corridor.

Jacob, who is blind, has strong opinions about what constitutes safe streets for all. He wrote:

This is crazy that curb bulbs not going to happen at all the intersections on Roosevelt Way. Why do people that walk have to be second to everything? Why do people that walk get the short end of things all the time?

Jacob’s quick response alerted fellow SPAB members and the Washington State pedestrian group Feet First about safety improvements as SDOT repaves Roosevelt Way NE. Both groups will review this new twist on Complete Streets and Vision Zero in their policy discussions in the near future.

A robust Complete Streets Policy is one of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways 10 advocacy priorities for 2015

SDOT’s letter read in part:

Dear Neighbor,

SDOT will periodically distribute project updates about the Roosevelt Paving & Safety Improvement Project.

We write today to let you know that the expected start of construction has been moved back from late September until the end of the year.  Perhaps more significant, fiscal constraints have forced SDOT to remove construction of most of the curb bulbs and expanded tree pits, which we’d previously indicated would be included in the project.  (The one positive benefit of dropping these elements from the project is that construction will likely be significantly shorter than the ten months previously expected.)

Curb bulbs extend the sidewalk out, typically into a parking lane at intersections, in part to ensure that curb ramps (wheelchair ramps) meet the federally mandated standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  They have the additional benefit of making pedestrians more visible to motorists, and vehicles more visible to those pedestrians.  They also have the effect of shortening the crossing distance for these pedestrians.  As such, curb bulbs increase safety for pedestrians, and seem to enjoy broad community support.

Sadly, the curb bulbs and enlarged tree pits were determined to be the most logical project elements that could be eliminated and bring the budget back into balance.  The curb bulbs were initially included in part to provide adequate room for standard curb ramps.  However, we were able to accommodate the ramps and meet design standards without the curb bulbs in most locations.

We look forward to using a safe, welcoming Roosevelt Way NE in the coming years.

Rainier Valley Greenways: Safety Over Speeding

February 2, 2015

Rainier Valley has been the site of multiple horrific incidents of traffic violence. In just the past six months, a multi-car pileup on Rainier Ave S sent 10 people to Harbor-view Hospital, and seven people were injured when a driver crashed into a hair salon in Columbia City. A hit and run left 7-year-old Zeytuna Edo, walking in a crosswalk with her sister, with multiple life-threatening injuries. In the past three year, there have been 1,243 crashes on Rainier Avenue South, the highest crash corridor in the City of Seattle.

The people of Rainier Valley Greenways have had enough. Working closely with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Rainier Valley Greenways supports 25 m.p.h. speed limits along the length of Rainier Ave S that could prevent traffic violence in the future. Following the guidelines of Vision Zero, Rainier Valley Greenways has also chosen intersections in the heart of three commercial corridors (Columbia City, Hillman City, Rainier Beach) where they will advocate for intersection improvements intended to slow speeds to 20 m.p.h.

Safety Over Speeding is the new direction for Rainier Valley Greenways.

A speed table may be one way to engineer safer 20 m.p.h. streets in the heart of the Hillman City business district.

A speed table may be one way to engineer safer 20 m.p.h. streets in the heart of the Hillman City business district.

Facebook: Rainier Valley Greenways
Twitter: @RVGreenways
Google Group (request membership)Rainier Valley Greenways
Contact: Deb Salls 206-695-2522 deb@bikeworks.org

Rainier Valley Greenways Prioritized ACTION PLAN 2014

 

 

 

Seattle Neighborhood Greenway Coalition 2015 Priorities

February 1, 2015

From six people in a church basement in 2011 working to bring neighborhood greenways to Seattle, we’ve grown to a coalition of 20 neighborhood groups working on all aspects of safe & healthy streets across Seattle. We’ve had enormous success getting our greenway routes and intersection priorities funded and built, as well as building coalitions and funding for larger safe street infrastructure projects.

For 2015, our coalition decided to focus on three citywide priorities and seven priorities from groups in the new City Council Districts. Ten priorities in all. Here they are:2015 SNG Priorities Map

CITYWIDE PRIORITIES

  • Vision Zero. Advocate for strong local and city support for engineered speed reduction, enforcement, education, and more
  • Renew Bridging the Gap. Improve and get out the votes for a citywide funding package focused on healthy transportation as Bridging the Gap expires in 2015.
  • Complete Streets. Make sure our own Seattle Complete Streets Ordinance is enforced. Make sure major SDOT improvement projects are funded and tied to walk/bike safety improvements.

COUNCIL DISTRICT PRIORITIES

  • District 1: Create safe intersections across 35th Ave SW and build a parallel greenway.
  • District 2: Redesign Rainier Ave S so that it is no longer the most dangerous street in the city.
  • District 3: Design and fund better walking and biking connections as part of the SR-520 project.
  • District 4: Bring the Wallingford Greenway up to current standards and connect it to the future light rail station on Brooklyn NE.
  • District 5: Elevate the N/NW 92nd St. as the major cross-town all ages and abilities connection in North Seattle, and connect people across Aurora and I-5 with direct links to Wilson Pacific School, North Seattle College, and Northgate Light Rail Station.
  • District 6: Make 6th Ave NW, including its NW Market Street intersection safe enough for children to get to school.
  • District 7: Ensure the Lake to Bay Loop is an all ages and abilities route.

 

Sawant Aide Tours Central Seattle Greenways

February 1 2015
Brie Gynclid, Central Seattle Greenways Co-chair

click map for full project description

click map for full project description

At long last, construction has started on Phase 1 of the North/South Central Area greenway! That’s the greenway that travels roughly parallel to 23rd and 24th Ave from Rainier Ave S to E. Roanoke St. Central Seattle Greenways identified and began advocating for this project in 2012.

Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) hopes to complete the entire length of the greenway by the end of 2015, but the first phase, from E John St. to S Jackson St, should be essentially complete within a couple of months. Once Phase 1 is completed, SDOT will finish designing and begin constructing Phases 2 (from S Jackson St to Rainier Ave S) and 3 (E John St to E Roanoke St).

Unfortunately for us, the most exciting element of the Phase 1 portion of the greenway won’t be included initially. For efficiency’s sake, the new pedestrian/bike signal at 23rd Ave E & E Columbia St will be put into place later this year when SDOT crews are doing the street construction portion of the 23rd Avenue repaving project. Until then, greenway users will be temporarily detoured to E Cherry St to cross 23rd Ave E safely.

Meanwhile, Central Seattle Greenways leaders recently had the opportunity to meet with Ted Virdone, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s legislative aide, to share our plans for future improvements in the central neighborhoods.

We gathered on a chilly, drizzly January morning, but our conversation was warm and lively as we discussed street safety needs, progress, and setbacks in the local neighborhoods and throughout the city. Then we took the last sips of our coffee, donned helmets and raingear, and headed out to experience the roads we’d discussed.

Tour of healthy safe streets in Central Seattle Greenways

Tour of healthy safe streets in Central Seattle Greenways

With the help of Madison Greenways, we started the ride with a tour of the newly completed McGilvra Greenway, which provided inspiration as we discussed the planned greenways and protected bike lanes on the route we rode. Ted bikes to work, and is very familiar with the challenges people on bicycles face in our city. He was enthusiastic about improving Seattle’s streets.

We look forward to working with Councilmember Sawant’s office in the future.

The best way to receive updates or get involved with our Central Seattle Greenways community group is to join our Google Group. Our community group works on projects on Broadway, First Hill, Yesler Terrace, Atlantic, Leschi, south half of Madrona and south half of Mann.Welcome!

You can also follow us online:

 

 

What’s the most important acronym on Seattle streets?

click here for ROWIM community comments

click here for ROWIM community comments

The Seattle ROWIM or Right Of Way Improvement Manual may be the most important acronym guiding the development of Seattle streets today.

How wide are sidewalks required to be? Where can driveways go? What sorts of street lighting do developers need to provide around new condo buildings? These questions are always important, but they are of critical importance now.

You might be forgiven for not knowing that more than 10,000 housing units are in the works in Seattle and $2.8 billion worth of projects are under construction, but you have been sleeping if you have missed the 40+ big cranes massively  transforming our city in Ballard, U-District, South Lake Union, First Hill, and downtown.

Fortuitously, Seattle is also mandated to do a 10-year update of its Right of Way Improvement Manual.

The current ROWIM was written before there was much attention paid to bikes as transportation, parklets, street furnishings, or safe and healthy street architecture for people who walk. Note that SDOT will also be updating its Complete Streets Ordinance as it updates the ROWIM.

The City of Seattle hired the Toole Design Group as a consultant on the project and expects to complete the ROWIM update as a web-based on-line document by the end of 2015. Expect the new and improved Seattle ROWIM to have some of the same flavor of Boston Complete Streets Guidelines that Toole worked on last year. We hope to see lots of new street typology — greenways, historic boulevards, festival streets, play streets, home zones and maybe even the elusive woonerf.

A group of Seattle people who are passionate about the wonky aspects of streets began meeting in December of 2013 to discuss the ROWIM. The group represented people in Seattle who serve on City Boards & Commissions, people who staff active transportation advocacy groups, students, and interested community members. They met because they all believe the ROWIM has the potential to reflect the aspirations of a Vision Zero, carbon neutral, equitable, healthy city that prioritizes people who walk, bike and use transit.

The ROWIM community comments are summarized in a 9-page document, with highlights below. Some comments are about policy, some are really digging into the weeds. We hope you find them all helpful. Read the complete community comments here.

  1. Mode hierarchy. Choices about mode hierarchy will happen from now on with every project. SDOT has uncompromising standards for level of service and safety for the movement of motorized vehicles. We need to invest in equally rigorous standards for all modes and a have clear expectations for level of service for all modes of travel. Our recommendation is to place the comfort and safety of people walking and biking at the top of our mode hierarchy.
  2. Build to Vision Zero standards. Safe streets are SDOT’s number one concern. The ROWIM needs to include information on traffic control devices, traffic calming on arterials, and traffic calming on residential streets.  In order to reach Vision Zero by 2030, every project — especially every major capital project — needs to be designed to achieve zero deaths and serious injuries in the ROW, not just “improve” safety conditions.
  3. Reflect anticipated land use strategies on a 20-year timeframe. Seattle will be denser and greener. We will thrive without prioritizing the use of single occupancy vehicles in the allocation and design of our limited right of way resources.
  4. Be context sensitive. Make street improvements be context specific. There is a huge difference in residential, commercial, industrial property, yet many street uses have a one-size-fits-all approach for street trees, curb ramps, sidewalks, driveways, lighting and so on.
  5. Demand excellence. Allow SDOT to innovate and encourage pilot projects.  Seattle is known as an innovative city.  We’ve embraced NACTO, and we’re one of the most highly educated cities in the nation. Our ROWIM should allow us to continually experiment and learn.
  6. Make safe streets legal. We want to see new concepts and ideas in this version of the ROWIM. There are a variety of street classifications, safety tools, livable street elements, and intersection treatments that need to be defined and permitted for future use.
  7. Collaborate interdepartmentally, with other agencies, and with the public on right-of-way improvements. From a community perspective, public land is public land. We don’t much care if it is managed by Parks, SDOT, SPU, Schools, Libraries, Metro  etc. It belongs to all of us. Let’s start making plans and rules for our public spaces collectively. This approach will be needed if we are to build a new connected, citywide grid of low-stress biking and walking routes.
  8. Format the ROWIM for easy use.