Meet your new improved NE 75th Street roadway design (PHOTOS)

Residents living near NE 75th Street between 15th Avenue NE and 35th Avenue NE are coming home today to a postcard from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) outlining the changes that the department has chosen to make to the arterial.

additionally, at about 2:30 PM this afternoon, the NE 75th St project email listserv received an email also outlining the changes (excerpt below):

After five public meetings, numerous on-site observations, and a review of traffic data, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) reached a final recommendation for the corridor, involving the following changes to Northeast 75th Street between 15th Avenue Northeast and 35th Avenue Northeast:

  • Providing one general purpose travel lane in each direction
  • Installing a two-way center left turn lane
  • Adding a new marked crosswalk at 28th Avenue Northeast
  • Striping bicycle lanes in both directions
  • Removing on-street parking on Northeast 75th Street, except at Nathan Eckstein Middle School where parking will be maintained for school buses and general parking
  • Adding photo enforcement cameras for the Nathan Eckstein school zone

To summarize, the above is essentially Proposal 4 with some adjustments made to accommodate buses and event parking in front of Eckstein Middle school.

Meet your new NE 75th St configuration -- Proposal 4 (with some Eckstein Middle School adjustments).

Meet your new NE 75th St configuration — Proposal 4 (with some Eckstein Middle School adjustments).

SDOT will begin the rechannelization of the street the week of August 26, with the goal of completing striping before the school year starts on Wednesday, September 4.

Jim Curtin at SDOT was kind enough to send us the plans for the new-and-improved NE 75th Street (783 KB PDF), which include the following bits we’d like to highlight (red lines and figures indicate features to be ADDED, green lines and figures represent current conditions that will be REMOVED):

NE75th_15th

NE 75th Street at 15th Avenue NE (north at the top).

Where NE 75th Street meets 15th Avenue NE, the new, separate bicycle lanes start/end on the east side of the intersection. Left turns are now made from a separate left turn lane.

NE75th_20th

NE 75th Street at 20th Avenue NE.

At NE 75th Street and 20th Avenue NE (a long established bicycle north-south route), the bicycle lanes continue. Left turns are made from the dedicated left turn lane from 75th to 20th.

NE75th_25th

NE 75th Street at 25th Avenue NE (north at the top).

At NE 75th Street at 25th Avenue NE, the bicycle lanes continue, and left turns from 75th to 25th have their own lane.

NE75th_EcksteinW

NE 75th Street at 30th and 31st Avenues NE — West front of Eckstein Middle School (north at the top).

Here’s where things change up a bit: Eckstein Middle School. To make room for a school bus zone/event parking in front of the school, the dedicated left turn lane disappears, tapering away as the eastbound travel lanes and the bicycle lane move toward the north/center of the roadway.

NE75th_EcksteinE

NE 75th Street at 33rd Avenue NE — East front of Eckstein Middle School (north at the top).

Then, on the east side of the front of the school, at 33rd Avenue NE, eastbound travel lane and bicycle land move to the right/south as the left turn lane becomes available again.

NE75th_35th

NE 75th Street at 35th Avenue NE (north at the top).

The new left turn lane continues through the intersection with 35th Avenue NE (the green lines on the plans above are removed). The separate eastbound bike lane ends at this point (but may continue to connect with the 39th Avenue NE Greenway in the future).

For a look at the before and after of a similar project, SDOT recommends we check out the changes that were made to Nickerson Street in 2010. A study on the roadway before and after rechannelization was released in March 2012, and can be viewed here (429 KB PDF).

Comments

  1. At 75th and 25th (and I think 75th and 35th), the new dedicated left turn lanes will be a big improvement. I wonder if left arrow signals will be incorporated? The current left turns at 25th (from 75 onto 25) are super scary for pedestrians when traffic on 75th picks up and drivers try to beat two lanes of oncoming traffic before the light turns. And whenever I’m waiting on the corner to cross, I’m always wondering when I’ll need to attempt to dive out the way of a collision. One day a young man, probably from the middle school was sitting on the sidewalk at the corner reading a book– I didn’t hesitate to tell him I thought he was in a dangerous spot.

  2. Tom Braun says:

    Sent to SDOT, the Mayor, and Seattle City Council:

    My wife and I live on The 1600 block of NE 75th St. I bike to work downtown every day, and I also frequently bike east or west either to access the Greenlake neighborhood, Lake Washington, or the Burke-Gilman Trail. Although I am not against bike lanes on 75th, I do not believe they are necessary. There are easier and safer east-west bike routes, regardless of whether the City puts bike lanes on the street. Personally, I would still take other routes.

    More importantly, our neighborhood is extremely competitive for parking options due to an influx of UW students and other higher density living situations. Tensions are high amongst neighbors who live on the side streets near 75th when other people park vehicles in “their parking spots” in front of their houses. Even visitors to the homes on 75th would have to fight for these limited parking spots under Proposal 4, adding to this tension. Implementation of Proposal 4 is not worth the cost of dramatically reducing parking and increasing neighborhood tension.

    Completely eliminating parking on 75th St. also would severely inconvenience anyone who lives on the street. For example, residents of 75th St. would no longer be able to be picked up in front of their houses in a carpool situation or otherwise, because there would be no legal place for the driver to pull over. Deliveries to the homes would become much more difficult. Many of the homes have narrow driveways requiring a driver to “swing wide” to get into the driveway, and it is not clear how this would functionally work under Proposal 4. I believe Proposal 4 would actually create new dangerous situations and traffic back up due to these issues.

    If safety, speeds, and bike lanes are all high priorities for the City, what is wrong with Proposal 3 or some modified version of that proposal? It would give every benefit apparently sought by the City, plus it would not take away necessary parking and short-term stopping or negatively impact the actual residents of 75th.

    I ask that whomever is responsible for choosing Proposal 4 without real input from the actual residents it impacts reconsider this decision. Implementation of a different plan would better serve the most people and would create a safer 75th St. for all.

  3. I live with my family about a half-block south of 75th, and anyone looking at this blog knows that 75th is dangerous for bikers. I’ve witnessed or witnessed the aftermath of dozens of collisions of all types on this street, and I can imagine the stats are awful. The reasons seem to be two-fold: (1) vehicle speed, and (2) no clear marking or turn lanes for two lanes of traffic in each direction at rush hours.

    The current proposal being considered is an improvement over the status quo, but will have unintended and potentially serious safety impacts because it does nothing to address the vehicle speed issue, and, more importantly, would encourage inexperienced bikers to use this road under the false impression that they will be safe in these bike lanes.

    My son rode his bike to Eckstein, and my daughter will be doing so starting in the fall. I never let them ride on this road because of the high-speed traffic. They are only allowed to take side streets or the sidewalk. And in general I see very few cyclists on 75th because there are abundant side streets that offer parallel and much safer routes that are generally traffic free.

    Personally, I am a daily bike commuter and avid cyclist, and quite comfortable and confident in traffic. Even so, I too avoid riding on 75th street because of the high speed of traffic and unmarked lanes, and I would continue to avoid 75th if Proposal 4 is adopted as is because the bike lanes will not be safe.• It won’t slow down traffic.
    • It will encourage inexperienced cyclists onto this dangerous road because they tend to think bike lanes are safe, when in fact these ones could be quite dangerous.
    • It is very hilly. Bikes will be traveling fast where stopping times are very slow on the downhill sections, and right next to fast-moving traffic that will be trying to pass and sometimes turn in front of them.
    • A lot of cars use this road and, when trying to turn left from the center turn lane, there is often a long wait, with the drivers looking for short windows where there are gaps in traffic and they can turn. This will put inexperienced bikers directly in their turn path.
    • In general it sets up the classic “right hook” and “left cross” motorist/cycle accidents, with drivers turning across the path of the cyclists. This is always a concern, but especially so in scenarios where bikes are in a turn lane hugging the curb going fast downhill next to a similarly fast-moving lane of traffic.

    As my two cents, my fix for this would be the following:
    • Most importantly, for the downhill sections of 75th, use “sharrows” in lieu of bike lanes, and install signage to warn drivers to share the road. This will get bikers to flow with the traffic on the downhill sections rather than forcing them into dangerous parallel bike lines next to fast moving cars. It is just super dangerous to be in a bike lane in this scenario. (And personally I would ride in the car lane every time rather than put myself at risk like this.)
    • Have one lane of parking on the downhill sections of 75th (going east from 15th to 25th, and west from Eckstein to 25th). This will make the road feel somewhat narrower, which slows traffic. This is critical.
    • Have a center turn lane in key intersections only. There should be no parking in a buffer surrounding these intersections.
    • Put bumps in the bike lane lines next to traffic, or at a minimum in the sections near the intersections. Cars routinely move into the bike lanes way too early as they prepare to turn right, and that can create dangerous scenarios.

    Basically, this is just Proposal 4, but with turn lanes at the intersections only, and with parking on the downhill side of the street. Think it would be a real improvement.

    Anyway, glad that something is being done to address the safety concerns for cyclists in this corridor, but I just think we can do a little better with these adjustments.

    • Carolee Mathers says:

      Is it too late to voice an opinion with DOT on NE 75th or is this a done deal?
      I voiced my opposition to the NE 65th plan, but not sure if anything will change, despite the fact that the majority of people attending the town meeting spoke out against that proposal, including bikers.

    • Sharon Friel says:

      There are many of us, who are older, and rely on our cars . Please do not condense the
      traffic flow for us and there is the Burke Gilman trail and other routes that bikers can
      use. We have many small businesses in this area that depend on on-street parking and
      many need the east-west route to get to their destinations, Many bikers do not respect
      stop signs or cross walks. I feel that there have been fair considerations for the bikers
      but those of us who need our cars need to be taken seriously. We live in an area of
      lots of hills, obstructing, on coming traffic. Please consider the population living in this
      area; there is increased traffic and those of us with cars need to move forward too.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        This is not about bikes. Repeat after me: this is not about bikes. This is not about bikes. NE 75th changes are not about bikes. Bikers are not asking for NE 75th to be changed. Very few bikers care about NE 75th. This is not about bikes. The Burke Gilman has nothing to do with NE 75th. This is not about bikes. No one is stopping cars from moving forward. This is not about bikes. Bikes are an afterthought in this conversation.

        This is about stopping people from driving into other people because they were going too fast for their own good. This is about stopping people from driving into other people while they’re rushing to turn left. This is about stopping people from driving into other people while they’re trying to pass someone else on the right. This is not about bikes.

  4. Where exactly will neighbors on 75th park? How will they receive deliveries? How will they be picked up for carpools? Changes are good but we should not settle for mediocre options. “Presenting” the plan to the neighborhood is different from getting real public input and collaborating on ideas.

    • Re: Deliveries. I was driving south on on 25th Ave NE today, the block north of the intersection with Blakeley and the Burke-Gilman Trail. There was a large delivery truck with flashers parked in the turn lane running down the middle of the street. I’ve seen the same happen on other streets with no parking/full parking spots.

    • Joshua Newman says:

      @Marc, park in your own driveway. The government doesn’t give you space to store your lawn mower, clothes, or old furniture. Why should the government give you space to store your car?

  5. Per Johnson says:

    Many people commenting here didn’t seem to have come to the 5 community meetings that SDOT held, which is a shame. SDOT holds public meetings and invites community feedback and some people choose not to share their perspective until their unhappy and not informed about all that’s gone on. PLEASE PROACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

    SDOT had 3 community meetings that were as well advertised as I think it is realistic to expect. No, postcards to every home in all of NE Seattle weren’t sent out, but I think that’s unrealistic of a request. If you’re commenting on this blog, then you can look back in time on the Ravenna Blog’s posts, Facebook page, and Twitter feed to see all that she’s done to get the word out. Similar groups, including the Ravenna Bryant Community Association and Wedgwood Community Council did likewise. If commentors had come to the initial 3 community meetings, you would have heard from drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike asking for channelization of some sort to define the lanes. SDOT has listened and done this. Not only this, but SDOT has pointed out that what they’re proposing is just PAINT. This is a relatively cheap and quick fix to NE 75th Street which they said they will monitor and make revisions/corrections as needed. So, if they are making a mistake, they will presumably notice this mistake in the future and correct it.

    As Andres wisely points out above, THIS IS NOT ABOUT BIKES whether or not drivers believe this or not. But since it’s been brought up, I have two points to this phobia of bikes on streets from drivers.
    First: YES, SDOT has added bike lanes to NE 75th Street because this is the 21st Century and the world (and City) accepts, embraces, and encourages biking as a legitimate form of transportation, whether its on the Burke Gilman, greenways, or arterials. Bikes have a right to be on any City road they choose…and many (not all) choose to ride on NE 75th Street and NE 65th Street because it has lights and topography that’s safer and easier for bikes to navigate and feel safe. Are there jerks out there on bikes? Of course. Are there jerks out there in cars? You betcha. Welcome to society where we have jerks everywhere, including (dare I say it) Mark Mullan who was allegedly more than a jerk driver when he killed 2 pedestrians and changed the lives of 2 families. But, we all know that we have awesome people who are responsible drivers and bikers, like you of course.
    Second: There are few businesses along NE 75th Street though, so please don’t try to conflate the concerns about NE 65th Street with NE 75th Street as they’re different corridors with different land uses. And whether you think bikes should only be on the Burke Gilman is not the point, they will be using NE 75th Street with or without bike lanes. However, the argument about bikes should be on the Burke Gilman and not any other roads is about as silly as me suggesting a driver only drives on NE 28th Street to get to every one of their destinations.

    Lastly, channelization WILL help reduce speeds. This has been proven all over the City where this type of road “diet” has occurred. Why? Because the visual clues narrow the boundaries of where drivers feel like they’re able to travel and confines their travel lanes. Driving down narrow streets, or travel lanes with with visual cues narrowing narrowing their travel lanes, tells the driver to slow down as opposed to 2 undefined travel lanes that seem like they come out of some Wild West movie. This is a well known traffic calming method, so yes speeds should improve (become safer) which would make driving and biking on NE 75th Street more comfortable as well.

    The moral of the story is that it’s not a good strategy complaining about decisions after they’ve been made following a thorough public involvement process. Please get involved in your community for those things that you believe in. Don’t be a spectator but a participant. You’ll enjoy it and you may like, or at least better understand, the outcomes more.

    • Hi Per.

      The first meetings I heard about were the ones held on July 24th and 25th. I received a flyer from SDOT in my doorknob, realized the importance of the issue, and attended both meetings, as you know. And I voiced my opposition to Proposal 4, as well as my concern about the fact that that Dongho Chang was not really interested in what NE 75th Street residents thought about his Proposal 4 because he had already made up his mind. You admitted to me in person that you realized Proposal 4 would probably go forward regardless of what residents thought. You told me in person that you knew that Mayor McGinn wanted Proposal 4.

      But that’s water under the bridge now. Bright yellow lines and no parking signs are now the backdrop to cars still speeding by my front door just as fast as they were one week ago, when my street only had one faded dotted line down the middle. They aren’t going any slower. Perhaps this is because even though the lines demarcate a narrower driving lane, the empty bike lane on one side and the empty mile-long stretch of left turn lane on the other do not provide enough of a visual deterrent to slow them down.

      There are two differences, however: 1) these speeding cars are about five feet closer to my house, and 2) there’s nothing between us but paint.

      As passionate as you seem to be about community involvement, my sincere hope for you is that you never experience what I just experienced–that is, finding out that your elected officials and their appointees don’t really care about your and your neighbors’ concerns if they aren’t aligned with their political agenda. You can disagree with me about whether this is truly the case, but that would be beside the point, which is simply that I hope you never experience it yourself.

      See you in the ‘hood, Jo

  6. Jeff Weissman says:

    If there is to be any bike lanes on 75th. please consider Cycle Tracks. Making biking safe for kids and mothers should be one of our top goals. And Cycle Tracks help do that better then anything we now have. Safety is the most important issue on all streets. It doesn’t make a difference if its walkers, bikers, car, adults, or kids.

    Car speed plays a big part in safety.

    All of these things need to work together.

  7. Below, I have copied the message just sent to residents and homeowners on and near NE 75th Street who voiced their opposition to Mayor McGinn and SDOT’s Proposal 4 by signing our petition entitled SDOT: Keep NE 75th Street Residential:

    _____________________________________
    Dear Neighbors,

    Heartfelt thanks to each of you for the time and energy you put into trying to stop the Mayor and SDOT from forcing Proposal 4 upon our neighborhood. I’m sorry I didn’t begin organizing sooner, when I first discovered that the late July “community meetings” were just for show. Despite the fact that the Powers that Be chose to ignore our opposition to Proposal 4, I’ve been positively blown away by the kindness and support I’ve encountered talking with neighbors up and down our mile stretch. Wonderful people live here, and I’m grateful to call NE 75th Street my home.

    To sum up numbers, by the time Ann-Marie and I submitted our petition to the Mayor and Mr. Chang on Thursday 22 July, we had documented 55 individual voices opposed to Proposal 4. This might not sound like much. However, we collected this support by putting fliers in no more than 180 doorknobs, and circulating the petition to a few other residents via e-mail. Only residents and homeowners on and near NE 75th Street were invited to sign, and we only had 3-4 days. In light of the circumstances, your turnout exploded my expectations—I thought we’d be lucky if we got to 30.

    Even though the Mayor and SDOT ignored us and others who expressed opposition to Proposal 4, we got their attention. I’m not sure what we do going forward. I do know that this experience has made me feel more jaded about our elected officials and their appointees, but more delighted about my neighbors and new friends.

    Thank you all again, and please be in touch via e-mail or phone. If I haven’t met you in person, I’d love to. You know where to find me.

    Warm Wishes, Jo

  8. Deirdre Brownlow says:

    This was never about safety, rather about McGinn politics. It is about bicycles and adding more road diets wherever possible. The public meetings held which I attended were presentation, designs were already done. The tone of Mr. Changs responses were biting if you wanted to discuss concerns about the proposed plans. Right turning vehicles at 25th will be very dangerous for bicycles coming down the hill westbound. I travel 75th daily and have lived in the neighborhood for 25 years, it’s a shame that this plan has me considering where to move to next. I haven’t seen McGinn take any strong steps to implement compliance to our drunk driving laws, now that would help public safety. Maybe the 45 million dollar lawsuit against the city will open voters eyes. I don’t oppose the suit – our city failed to keep a drunk driver off the streets by not verifying an interlock device was installed, resulting in death of two people and damaging families. McGinn used this tragedy to impose his activism and biking agenda. That’s politics.

  9. Deirdre Brownlow says:

    This is about politics – McGinn and bicycles. If he wanted to improve safety he would have directed his activism towards drunk drivers and improving the system of removing them from the roads….45 million dollar lawsuit because of bad policy and Mullen – killing a beautiful family – politics.
    If McGinn was truly concerned about safety, he wouldn’t have done interviews on the corner of the tragic accident and brought up bike and pedestrian safety, he would have done it at the jail and discussed Mullen and our way too lenient catch and release drunk driver laws.

  10. Road diet rage says:

    F***ing idiocy, pure and simple.

    And yes, going to SDOT meetings when they have already made up their minds to create arterial congestion is an exercise in futility.

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