SDOT releases NE 75th St rechannelization options (PHOTOS, UPDATES, POLL)

[UPDATE (Friday, July 19): We've added a poll! Read about the design options below, vote for your preferred design, and then discuss in the comments.

And one more thing: Tom Fucoloro over at Seattle Bike Blog showed us this nifty online tool that lets you play around at redesigning a road for yourself: Streetmix. Choose a road width of 40 feet for NE 75th St, and give it a shot!]

At a press conference this morning at 33rd Avenue NE and NE 75th Street, Mayor Mike McGinn and the City Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang announced four different design proposals for a safer NE 75th St for all users.

[More information about this morning's press conference to come -- check back here later.]

ALL four proposed designs include marking the lanes off distinctly (“defining channelization”). Speaking prior to the press conference this morning, Chang said that this feature of a future NE 75th St was very strongly desired by residents, according to the community feedback the Seattle Department of Transportation had collected prior to the design phase.

Here is the full NE 75th ST design proposal (500 KB PDF) for you to read. But we’ve also taken the liberty to talk about the changes below ourselves.

 

Existing Conditions

NE_75th_proposal_0

Existing conditions on NE 75th Street (between 15th Ave NE and 35th Ave NE)

The above graphic shows existing conditions along NE 75th ST, between 15th Ave NE and 35th Ave NE: Two undefined lanes in each direction, with off-peak parking in the outside lanes.

And now, the four different proposals, combining various new roadway configurations to reduce speeds and improve safety, and in order of increasing changes and safety features.

Proposal 1

NE_75th_proposal_1

Proposal 1 for NE 75th Street (between 15th Ave NE and 35th Ave NE)

Proposal 1 is exactly what we have now, but with the painted white lines clearly indicating travel/parking lanes (“defining channelization”). Parking along both sides of NE 75th St would not be affected.

Some of the safety limitations SDOT sees in this design are that roadway crossing distances for pedestrians are not reduced, the efficiency of the roadway is not improved, cyclists are still mixed in with motor vehicle traffic, and little to no change to vehicle speed is expected.

Proposal 2

NE_75th_proposal_2

Proposal 2 for NE 75th Street (between 15th Ave NE and 35th Ave NE)

Proposal 2 sees one lane only in each direction of NE 75th St, but in wider travel lanes. Parking on both sides of the street would have no restrictions, and would be well marked with white lines (again, “defining channelization”).

Pluses for safety with Proposal 2 includes a reduced crossing distance for pedestrians and a likely reduction in vehicle speed.

Limitations with this proposal include no separation between cyclists and motor vehicles, again, and no designated left turn lanes (decreasing the efficiency of the roadway).

 

Proposal 3

NE_75th_proposal_3

Proposal 3 for NE 75th Street (between 15th Ave NE and 35th Ave NE)

Proposal 3 continues the defining channelization theme, and includes separated lanes for cyclists. As in Proposal one, there is one travel lane in each direction (again, slightly wider than lanes are currently), with permanent parking on one side of NE 75th St only*.

Safety improvements in Proposal 3 include reduced crossing distance for pedestrians, separated cycling lanes, and a likely reduction in vehicle speed.

Left turns are once again going to decrease the efficiency of the street.

 

Proposal 4

NE_75th_proposal_4

Proposal 4 for NE 75th Street (between 15th Ave NE and 35th Ave NE)

Proposal 4 combines all of the safety improvements we’ve seen so far — defining channelization, one lane travel each way (reducing pedestrian crossing distance), separate lanes for cyclists, a likely reduction in vehicle speed — and adds a designated left turn lane down the center. Roadway efficiency is said to be improved as left turning vehicles are removed from moving traffic.

Downside? Well, what is missing from the graphic above?

Parking.

The goal for the NE 75th Street Road Safety Corridor Project is, yes, safety. But what vehicular amenities will Northest Seattle residents be willing to surrender in the name of safety? Find out by attending one of the two community meetings next week to discuss these proposed changes to NE 75th St. If you are unable to attend either of those meetings, Ravenna Blog will have live coverage of the meeting on Wednesday, July 24 (available here the day of the meeting).

 

Poll!

UPDATES: Of course, we weren’t the only ones at the press conference this morning.

9:03 PM: Here’s Q13FOX’s coverage which, of the evening newscasts below, was the most on message about the proposed changes to NE 75th St. [Video removed for now, due to auto play.]

6:58 PM: Here’s KOMO 4′s coverage, which included some thoughts from Marilyn Schulte, daughter of Judy and Dennis Schulte:

Here’s KIRO 7′s evening coverage of the Mayor/SDOT press conference this morning:


*The SDOT PDF lists the south side of NE 75th St as the side of this proposed all day parking; however, it is our feeling that with Eckstein Middle School’s location also on the south side of NE 75th St, this may be in error. We will attempt to clarify this point prior to the meeting on July 27 (or bring it up there).

Comments

  1. Andres Salomon says:

    It’s odd that all the proposals (other than #1, which doesn’t seem like it increases safety at all) include widening the travel lanes.

    I’d personally like to see some combination of #3 and #4. On some areas of the street, no turn lanes and keep the on-street parking. At arterial (and other widely-used) crossings, get rid of parking and include center turn lanes.

    I also think that the bike lanes could be better. Taking away an additional 6 inches from the travel lane could mean separation via bollards on the side of the street that lacks parking, for example. On the other side, there’s the possibility of protecting the bike lane with parked cars (ie, locating the bike lane between the parked cars and sidewalk).

    • I’m also wondering about a climbing lane for the uphill portions only? Maybe not the safest option, but would it be better than zero bike lanes?

      I could see, though, that SDOT might like to keep the changes the same across the length of NE 75th.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        My mind’s not made up about bike lanes on steep downhills when it comes to safety for all ages and abilities. My wife likes to take downhills very slowly on her bike, where protected bike lanes/cycletracks would be the preferred option. Me, I like to ride quickly down them (wheee!), where sharrows might be safer. I’m not really sure. If anyone knows of research available about the safety of cycletracks/buffered bike lanes on steep downhills in particular, please let me know.

        Regardless, option #3 with a bike lane on only one side would free up 5ft. Shrink the travel lanes back down to 10ft, and that would only make 7ft available; still not enough for parking on both sides.

        • William Wilcock says:

          Unless you are worried about riding into the back of a slow bike rider, I cannot see why the meaningless sharrows we have on nearly every arterial will ever be safer than dedicated bike lanes.

    • I strongly agree with the idea of a combination of options 3 and 4. Options that end a 4-car-wide NE 75th St are a good thing. Next up, 25th Ave NE?

    • That’s my vote too: “Other.” 3/4 hybrid w/ parking on 1 side, dropping it out for turn lanes at major intersections, and a bike lane on one side if there’s room.

  2. Brad Mohr says:

    Having the parking on the same side as Eckstein gives school busses a place to pick up and drop off, too. With parking on the north side, they’d have to take up the bike lane.

    • Ah, true. I see what you’re saying. All day parking on the south side, with exceptions right in front of the middle school for bus arrival and dismissal times, like now? I can see that.

  3. Glamgrrl says:

    Analyze the accuracy of the drawings. Those parking lanes are much wider than represented, the cars are shown narrower in comparison and it will in actuality look much different than visually shown here. Plus, measure your car width and see how it would actually fit in the parking lane. An 8′ wide van or SUV actually can’t safely (or legally) park in the reduced parking lane. It’s politicking. I’m for proposal one if any. Proposal one and some turn lanes.

    • AndrewN says:

      I’m not too concerned about a 8′ parking lane being too narrow. There are plenty in Seattle closer to 6′ and work reasonably well.
      Also, a Suburban or Hummer H2 are both under 7′ wide, so pretty much any SUV fit just fine. Heck, a 26′ long U-Haul is less than 8′ wide.

  4. I think you asked THE key question: But what vehicular amenities will Northeast Seattle residents be willing to surrender in the name of safety?

    I think this is not only true for NE 75th Street but most, if not all, of our main thoroughfares in NE Seattle, and probably around the City. Are people interested in one driving lane in each direction to “calm” traffic and improve safety? I am, but I know many who disagree with me.

    • Thanks, Inga. I was writing my descriptions of all the proposals, and I got down to Proposal 4, tricked out with all the maximum safety features, and thought, “WHY does it ALWAYS end up being about PARKING?” I am hard pressed to come up with a NE Seattle decisive issue that *doesn’t *have parking (removal and/or displacement) as the core factor.

      I don’t think it’s a war on cars. I think it’s a war for parking, and the other things it can be used for.

    • The problem with “calming”/slowing via congestion traffic on arterials to improve safety is that it immediately makes all adjacent side streets less safe as drivers cut through. I live close to the intersection of NE 65th and 35th ave NE. when those streets were (separately) slowed by repaving/construction a few years ago the volume and speed! of thru traffic was shocking. And very dangerous. A turn lane is necessary if the arterial drops from 4 lanes to 3. 2 lanes is just asking for trouble on all adjacent side streets. a year or two out and all of the intersections a block north and south with be controlled/calmed themselves at great co$t . Better to let arterials do their job of moving cars/trucks/buses quickly in high volume, improve pedestrian safety & signage and find safer/alt streets for bikes.

  5. I would like to see options 3/4 (depending on whether the cross streets are busy enough to justify a dedicated turn lane), but keeping10′ travel lanes for cars. That extra 2-4′ would be more useful as buffers for the bike lanes

  6. May I humbly submit for your consideration, proposal number 5?
    http://state.tc/content/75th-Street_Proposal-5.png

  7. Jorgen bader says:

    The City should also address the intersection of N.E. 74th St and 35th Ave. N.E. by Starbucks. Vehicles park up to the sign that says “No Parking 7 A.M. to 9 A.M.” immediately short of the crosswalk. Outside these peak hours, trucks and vans parked so close to the intersection block the view of motorists going eastbound on N.E. 74th. As a result, the eastbound motorists have to pull forward to see and their front end winds up in the southbound travelling lane. There should be a sign saying no parking within thirty feet.
    [The earlier draft comment was sent off by the computer before it was complete. Disregard it.]

    • I deleted for you, Jorgen.

      Yes, the Starbucks corner is awful. 35th Ave NE and NE 73rd St, actually. Not 74th. A sign would certainly help. As would increased enforcement.

  8. Sigh, Mayor McBike does it again.

  9. Rebecca, thanks for the poll and your comments on each alternative. You show the percentage vote each proposal got, but can you also show the number of votes that represented?

  10. William Wilcock says:

    Nearly all the bike lanes on Seattle’s arterials sit outboard of parking and they do not work very well because parked cars pulling into traffic are a significant hazard for cyclists. If Seattle is serious about building a safe network of bicycle lanes then we need to get used to the concept of decreased parking on arterials and wide bike lanes possibly separated from vehicles by some sort of barrier. Since hardly anyone parks on NE 75th St it seems at first like a great place to start (certainly better than NE 65th St which is currently envisioned in the city’s bike master plan for such a bike lane). However, before rushing into this solution, it might be worth first thinking about how many bikes will use it. NE 75th St is a feeder to the freeway for cars but for bikes it is not a logical route to downtown, the UW, Northgate or anywhere else where many people work.

    • Proposal 4 makes no sense at all – I have lived in the area my entire life and have children who go to Eckstein. Parking on weekends for sporting events is absolutely needed as well numerous evening school functions. Less parking on 75th will only push cars further into the neighborhoods and create more foot traffic across the busy 75th street.

      What is the need for a bike lane up over one of the larger hills in Seattle when we already have a flat BIKE trial to the same location? The same cyclist could also use 39th to head North – which is a much more gradual incline.

      • 39th Avenue goes north-south. The Burke-Gilman goes north-south. How about traveling on a bike east-west? Proposals 3 and 4 both improve bicycle mobility and also calm automobile traffic. Sounds like a win-win.

        • A common complaint I have and hear from others is the dearth of east-west options available in this city for EVERYONE. Buses especially, in NE Seattle.

          But I think the Burke-Gilman does a good job of going east-west…west of NE Seattle, anyways.

        • The Burke Gilman Trail goes both north & south and east and west.

  11. Of the available options, I prefer option 4. But I would like to understand more about the case for the center turn lane. On one hand I would prefer to have buffered bike lanes given the speeding along this corridor, especially when I am riding with my small children. However, I have found that sometimes in the absence of a center turn lane, cars will use the bike lane to pass a left-turning vehicle. ACK.

    • I share your concern, Steff! Cars passing on the right are a concern now, for sure. I’ve been a pedestrian almost run into, and a motor vehicle driver who has stopped for a pedestrian, only to watch the car behind me turning to the right to go around me. Wow, would I like to see an end to both.

      Your concern is a good one to bring up at the meetings. Will you be attending?

  12. How on Earth would putting a bike lane on 75th St. make it safer? There are HUNDREDS of side streets that can be made into bicycle only streets. And I’d love to live on one!

    But the road didn’t kill those poor people, the drunk did.

    Make that into the road it is; a way from View Ridge/Wedgwood to the freeway.
    Just make it so the crosswalks are more visible, slow down the traffic by timing the lights (post signs that says “If you drive 25mph, you will not have to stop”). The way the lights are timed now, it doesn’t turn green unless you are at the light, so what do people do? Race to the light so it’ll turn green.
    You can’t be all things to all people. If a road is better for cars, keep it only for cars. Likewise for bicycles and people. Sometimes I think the people who plan the bike lanes are more interested in making sure the bikes are seen than in safety. Many “sharrows” actually funnel bikes onto busy streets even though there are quicker and safer routes.

  13. Ints Luters says:

    As a resident of NE Seattle and an everyday cyclist, the option #5 proposed by Tom over at Seattle Bike Blog is the best solution for a street that provides: significant improvements in bike and ped safety, keeps on street parking where feasible in contrast to the center turn lane model of option #4 (which does reduce the number of travel lanes but also eliminates all on street parking), allows for parking and bus queuing at Eckstein (if the cycleway is put on the south side of the street), and provides a safe route for students to and from Eckstein.
    I would just like to see the improvements extended eastward to at least the greenway on 39th AV NE.
    Gotta get option five up there as an alternative for SDOT to consider!

  14. I really think this is a knee jerk reaction to a tragic event. I think the focus should be on reducing drunk driving. This is a very hilly road with a large middle school onsite. Safety is an issue and should be addressed. More marked and ligthed crosswalks, school lights with camera speed monitoring etc. However, minimizing lanes on this very busy corridor seems like it will just congest traffic more. Throwing bicycle lanes in seems to be another agenda and does not fix/change the current situation.

  15. Check out “option 5″ from Tom Fucoloro. It keeps a lane of parking, makes it safer for people accessing buses, safer for people crossing the street, and safe enough for everyone to ride on not just those people who feel safe riding next to fast moving traffic.

    http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2013/07/24/ravenna-blog-whats-the-best-ne-75th-street-safe-streets-redesign-option-one-of-our-own/

  16. Dishonorable Mayor, Leave Our Streets Alone, you are making our roads UNSAFE for cars, pedestrians and bicyclist. None of these proposals would have prevented the tragedy that occurred on NE 75th Street. You are using this tragedy solely to cater to your hidden agenda and to that of the cascade bicycle club. The road configuration DID NOT cause this accident a drunk driver did, none of these changes would have prevented it.

    This poll does not represent the will of the people; it represents the will of cascade bicycle club. Less than 1% of the traffic on NE 75th Street are bicycles, you are wasting taxpayer money and making our roads unsafe in the process.

    • James Callahan says:

      Mike,

      Thanks for saying exactly what I believe. The Mayor is a Tyrant and so are the government staffers who are catering to 1% of the population. So sad we’ve lost the ability for public involvement and input.

  17. 75th is the main arterial, NOT the best option for bike lanes. These would definitely slow down traffic and potential causing more accidents. We bike and we don’t take 75th due to the hills and partly due to car traffic. We understand this. Bike lanes should be on other parallel roads. We’re in favor of 2 lanes roads with white lines for easy flow during peak hour. There are those who hogged the road with their leisure Sunday speed during peak hour, AND additional traffic lights for pedestrians or bikers.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Wednesday’s joint Mayor’s Office/Seattle Department of Transportation press conference was held at the intersection of last March’s DUI tragedy, the topic was overall street safety [...]

  2. [...] adding five-foot bike lanes and a center turn lane is pulling ahead as the clear favorite option according to a poll on Ravenna Blog. Seattle Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang also told media and residents that it is initially his [...]

  3. [...] The Ravenna blog is running a poll to gather feedback on the reconfiguration options for NE 75th Street. Check it out and vote. [...]

  4. […] summarize, the above is essentially Proposal 4 with some adjustments made to accommodate busses and event parking in front of Eckstein Middle […]

  5. […] rather have dangerous empty parking lanes than bike lanes, even though neighbors of the project clearly favored the bike lane option? That’s not only a troubling stance to safe streets advocates, but it’s also a stance […]

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