On Wednesday, March 27, Ravenna resident Megan Watzke shared her thoughts on NE 75th Street with members of the NE Seattle Moms Yahoo Group (a private Yahoo group of which I am a member [added April 26 for clarification]).
After I read her words, I thought the community-at-large might like to read them as well. Watzke agreed, and here they are:
My feelings about this are very strong because my partner and I live with our three small children in our house that has its side facing NE 75th St, but I will try to be as objective as possible in my comments.
In the past year, I have contacted SDOT, the Mayor’s Office, and the offices of the members of the Seattle City Council who serve on the transportation committee regarding 75th. It’s no secret to those of us who live near this street – or those who even travel on it occasionally – that people drive recklessly and dangerously on this road.
The response from SDOT has been, at best, muted. They claim that it is technically wide enough to be a 4-lane road. They also claim that recent studies do not show a problem with speeding on 75th. Without this proof, there is little, the officials I spoke to say, that can be done.
If you have ever walked along 75th or even poked your car out slightly to make a turn onto it, you will have experienced how dangerous it is to have four lanes of traffic on the road. The cars traveling closest to the sidewalk are often just inches away from the parking strip or curb. While this is anecdotal, cars often seem to be traveling much faster than the unmarked speed of 30 mph.
My feeling is that one of the worst aspects of 75th – in particular the stretch between 35th Ave NE and 12th Ave NE – is that it is unclear whether the road supports one or two lanes of traffic in each direction. This leads to confusion and bad driving, with people passing on the right, weaving in and out of the “lanes,” and more. This ambiguity is dangerous and maybe, as we have all heard about tragically in the past couple of days, even deadly.
SDOT claims that 75th needs to be the way it is for the exodus of UW football games. I don’t believe that this reason – that only applies to a handful of Saturdays each fall — warrants keeping the status quo. They also claim that it is understood that arterial roads have a speed limit of 30 mph. I would bet significant money that most drivers who use this road would *not* know this.
At the bare minimum, I feel there should be lane markers to designate the supposed two lanes of traffic. Better yet, let there be a dedicated and painted bike lane and a parking lane as there is on stretches of NE 65th St and other nearby roads. Undoubtedly, there are other traffic solutions to correct the situation on 75th that a professional traffic engineer could provide. The important thing is that something needs to be done.
I hope that the city takes some sort of action as soon as possible. I ask that each of you who feels like this road is unsafe takes the time to make a phone or write an email to SDOT and/or the Mayor’s Office to encourage this to happen. My partner and I have taken to parking our car on 75th when the parking restrictions allow it to force cars into one lane. While this makes us feel mildly better, it certainly does not fix the problem. Until the city does something, consider parking your car there as well when possible. Ask your neighbors to do the same if you live nearby.
I love living in NE Seattle. It is a wonderful and welcoming community. We knew we were signing up to live on a busy road when we bought the house. We accept this as part of living in a rich urban environment. I do not, however, accept living on a dangerous and now fatal road. Please join me in demanding some sort of change so that we may all have a safer neighborhood for everyone.
Megan Watzke (and Kristin Crymes)
Megan Watzke, her partner, Kristin Crymes, and their three children live in North Ravenna. Watzke is the press officer for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the co-author of “A Ticket to the Universe: A Guide to Exploring the Cosmos.” (She happens to be doing an author event at Ravenna Third Place Books on Thursday, April 25.)
Watzke and Crymes have started a “Make NE 75th St Safe” Facebook page to help gather people interested in the cause.
And don’t forget: There are three community meetings about NE 75th Street coming up where residents can share their frustrations about and ideas for the arterial, as well as discuss these issues with SDOT staff.