Video: Safety rally, Tatsuo Nakata tribute @ 47th/Admiral

November 28, 2011 at 9:50 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

Five years after a deadly crash at 47th/Admiral – which stretches between the corners holding busy Life Care Center and Alki Mail & Dispatch, and is within a half-mile of two elementary schools – neighborhood leaders are still campaigning for a pedestrian signal. So this morning, the Admiral Neighborhood Association led a rally at the five-way intersection – in memory of 26-year-old Tatsuo Nakata, killed there in November 2006 (the 9th pedestrian killed in Seattle that year, it was pointed out at the time).

Speaking during the rally were former Seattle City Councilmember David Della, for whom Mr. Nakata had worked, and current Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Transportation Committee, as well as ANA president Katy Walum and vice president Karl de Jong – who lives across the street and heard the crash:

As Councilmember Rasmussen noted, “There have been a lot of changes at this intersection” since the deadly crash, “but I don’t think it’s enough.”

The light request is a frequent topic at ANA meetings (usually the second Tuesday of the month, 7 pm, Admiral Congregational Church at California/Hill); this past March, Walum read an SDOT letter turning down the request, but the group vowed not to give up. That was about nine months after they stepped up the campaign (June 2010 WSB coverage here), including a pitch to Mayor McGinn and Council President Richard Conlin at a meeting of the 34th District Democrats, whose chair Tim Nuse joined in this morning’s rally.

23 Comments

  1. I was almost hit crossing at this intersection just a few weeks ago by a minivan who I thought had stopped for me but apparantly had slowed down for a car turning right onto SW Waite. Luckily they accelerated slow enough so that I could jump out of the way. Ever since Tatsuo Nakata was killed here I have been very careful crossing here. A light would be great and in the meantime it would be nice if they would do more croswalk patrols at key times since it seems that lately everyone has become lax about stopping for pedestrians.

    Comment by rulefollower — 10:31 am November 28, 2011 #

  2. Thanks to everyone who showed up this morning, and to those driving by who honked their support of our efforts! We will continue to petition the City for improved safety measures at this crosswalk. In the meantime, especially with the shorter days and dicier weather, please be extra cautious and attentive when driving in our neighborhood. Part of what makes West Seattle so special is its walkability; we should honor our pedestrians and take measures so that they can get around safely. No more lives lost to inattentive drivers!

    In Tatsuo Nakata’s memory,

    Katy Walum
    Admiral Neighborhood Association

    Comment by Katy Walum — 10:56 am November 28, 2011 #

  3. To WSB: please remind your readers to slow down at all the uncontrolled intersections we have in West Seattle. Far too often people blow through an these intersections as if they believe there is a stop sign or yield for the other direction. And this isn’t just people unfamiliar with the neighborhood. Many local residents are driving this way too.

    As Katy Walum mentions below, it’s getting darker earlier and the weather and visibility are getting worse – please slow down in the neighborhoods.

    A reminder, the law states:
    When two (2) vehicles approach or enter an uncontrolled intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of
    the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right. (section 46.61.180 of the Revised Code of Washington and section 11.55.010 of the Seattle Municipal Code)

    Comment by Admiral MG — 12:20 pm November 28, 2011 #

  4. Today was a day to celebrate a great life lost and vow to keep the pressure on and prevent further tragedy. There were a multitude of examples, in just a twenty minute span, as to why this intersection is so dangerous and deadly. On two occassions this morning a car sped through the crosswalk with a pedestrian right in the middle… once it was me and the driver looked right at me. A traffic light is critically important as not all drivers are in the habit of looking for pedestrians but all know what a red light means. Pedestrian protection must be a city priority.
    Thanks to Karl and Katy and others for organizing today’s event.

    Comment by Tim Nuse — 12:59 pm November 28, 2011 #

  5. All the safety stuff is great, but the problem at that crossing is drivers not paying attention. I believe the one who killed Tatsuo a few years ago was talking on his cell phone? And had been involved in a previous pedestrian accident? Until drivers like that are banned for life from driving and/or put in jail, they will continue to kill people no matter how safe crossings are made.

    Comment by JJ — 1:30 pm November 28, 2011 #

  6. In all fairness to drivers, there is a serious blind spot when driving west on Admiral. I drive it every day and have had some close calls with pedestrians that I just didn’t see until the last minute.

    The crossing flags are so hokey that I thought a civic-minded neighbor had installed them because the city wouldn’t respond. A pedestrian-activated traffic light is needed at this intersection.

    Kudo’s to today’s activists, especially the little ones!

    PR Morris

    Comment by Paula Morris — 1:57 pm November 28, 2011 #

  7. A civic-minded neighbor did in fact install the first ten flags because the city wouldn’t respond. They were homemade and installed as the police were investigating the crime scene in which Tatsuo was killed. The Life Care Center donated land, supplies, and labor to install the western flag post. After those flags disappeared, they were replenished with flags bought from a safety supply company. I don’t see how professional crossing flags can look ‘hokey’ but the important thing is they work! However, they are continually disappearing and we need the whole neighborhood to become stewards of the flags.

    Comment by CJ — 3:38 pm November 28, 2011 #

  8. When I’m not a “driver”, I’m a “pedestrian” or a “rider”. Let’s try to see this thing from all perspectives and not demonize each other. Pedestrians can be careless also, talking on cell phones while darting out and crossing the street. They can wear dark clothes that make it difficult to see them in the dusk. When school lets out, not every pedestrian obeys the rules of the road. Our streetlights aren’t always great at lighting the area. And at this particular corner, the glare can be blinding on a sunny morning or in the late afternoon. Yes, drivers need to be responsible and safe. But speed isn’t the only factor in the equation. Some of our roads lack good engineering and their design contributes to the tragedies. There is a lot more we can do, but there is also a lot more the city and our elected and non-elected officials and experts can do to make things safer for all of us.

    Comment by Anomie 2 — 3:47 pm November 28, 2011 #

  9. This is a sad anniversary. I would have participated if I had known about it.
    I was walking to my bus stop on the day that Tatsuo was hit. I did not see the accident but heard it. While others attempted to provide assistance, I ran into ALKI Mail & Dispatch to call 911. It appeared our actions were too late. RIP Tatsuo.
    I still live in the area and frequently cross at this intersection. I am large in stature and not difficult to see. I also pay close attention to the drivers and attempt to have eye contact. Yet they still try to run me down. Many times I’ve been trapped in the center turn lane when crossing due to traffic failing to yield.
    Pedestrian safety at the crossing of Admiral Way and 47th is non-existent and needs immediate attention. The city of Seattle offers up excuses and inaction. If we have the funds to paint sharrows all over the city, we have the funds needed to fix this problem. Get with it.

    Comment by Tom Williamson — 3:52 pm November 28, 2011 #

  10. Tom’s comments are compelling. It’s been 5 years. What does it take to get a silly traffic signal put up here?

    Comment by Anomie 2 — 4:07 pm November 28, 2011 #

  11. The finger pointing at pedestrians in the comments here is sickening. If you’re driving and can’t see a person because of the weather, time of day, their clothing, or because they’re on the phone (?), you shouldn’t be behind the wheel. Period. Accepting that cars are a neccessary risk that is required to live is as outdated as buying a gas guzzler.

    Comment by Captain Obvious — 4:08 pm November 28, 2011 #

  12. Also, if you can’t see what’s around the corner in time to stop, you are going too fast, crosswalk or no crosswalk.

    Comment by KBear — 4:52 pm November 28, 2011 #

  13. If not a stop light, how about a roundabout — NOT the smaller “traffic calming circles” that are at many residential intersections, but the kind they have in the UK at major intersections. With the geometry of this 5-way intersection, there may be enough room to install a roundabout. It would slow drivers down so that they could more easily react to pedestrians, and it would make it easier for cars at the side streets to cross this heavily trafficked intersection with poor visibility.

    Comment by 2wheels a-go-go — 6:25 pm November 28, 2011 #

  14. Thank you Captain Obvious! (Never thought I’d actually say that in all seriousness) If you are unable to clearly see around a turn or bend, or there is glare, the responsibility is upon you as an operator of an extremely fast, heavy vehicle to SLOW DOWN until you are able to proceed along the road safely. The speed LIMIT is 30-35 along arterials, not the MINIMUM speed. This road is not a freeway, stop acting like because you are driving you always have the right of way.

    Comment by JN — 7:06 pm November 28, 2011 #

  15. Not sure about the roundabout idea–I have driven those in the UK and Europe and they can induce a certain traffic chaos–but worth consideration for sure. Don’t think I have ever seen one on a hill, though and i wonder about if there is adequate space. My thinking was if not a traffic light, why not an overpass or an underpass? Make it accessible to persons with disabilities if that becomes an issue. The experts in the field ought to have cost comparison data and can advise as to overall effectiveness/practicability as well as cost issues.

    Comment by Anomie 2 — 9:08 pm November 28, 2011 #

  16. For someone with a disability (wheelchair, esp.), a pedestrian overpass would have to extend probably half a block on either side for a suitably navigable grade to be reached, which is not possible. A traffic light is really the only feasible option, unless there were some sort of speed bump or other traffic slowing feature installed (maybe a 15-20mph speed limit approaching the crosswalk?).

    Comment by JN — 9:11 pm November 28, 2011 #

  17. Thanks Anomie 2 and Tom.

    Comment by todd_ — 8:23 am November 29, 2011 #

  18. This crosswalk is in a bad spot, down a grade and a bend as well as glare from the sun during certain periods as previously discussed. Why not move it down to the other side of the block, and add the pedestrian activated lights as well as a raised surface just like they have in the Junction? It can’t cost that much money – and is certainly more justified than repainitng all the bike paths in the city.

    Comment by M — 11:43 am November 29, 2011 #

  19. Of course bike paths and pedestrian facilities all work towards the same goal: safety from drivers. Bike paths are shown to calm neighboring traffic, so do double duty. This particular crosswalk is still in dire need of a light.

    Comment by JN — 12:35 pm November 29, 2011 #

  20. This intersection definitely needs a light. I drive it nearly every day and because of the curve of the road, you have to actively look around the front of the car to see if a person is there. I’m used to doing this, but don’t have faith that most people are.

    Comment by westseattleperson — 1:12 pm November 29, 2011 #

  21. Am I missing somethig here? What reason (or excuse) did SDOT give for rejecting the request?

    Comment by Sonoma — 3:11 am November 30, 2011 #

  22. I travel thru this intersection at least twice a day (at minimum)…

    First, I too am bewildered at WHY there is still no traffic light here! I can’t even count the near misses I’ve seen at this crosswalk and believe that despite the signs, flashing light and flags that this is still an extremely dangerous situation. The hill, the curve, the bus stop (where buses occasionally block your view of the crosswalk – on the left side as you’re heading UP the hill), the sun, dark clothing.. ..it’s all been said already.

    Second, what’s even MORE alarming is that the other rosswalk just about one block west (also on Admiral) hasn’t even got clearly painted white lines!! It ALSO is on a blind turn, but unlike the one where Tatsuo was killed, this crosswalk doesn’t have a flashing light, clear lines, or flags at all. I wonder if neighbors could organize a painting lines and flag holder work party for that corner too?

    Comment by inkgirl — 1:28 am December 2, 2011 #

  23. I don’t understand why there isn’t a stop light there. Why can’t one be installed, is the city to cheap to do it? Are lives not important?

    Comment by Rb — 1:51 pm December 9, 2011 #

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