A plea for Delridge drivers

If you use Delridge to get onto the WS Bridge, one of your neighbors has a request for you … they say it much better than we could (especially since that’s not our route), so here’s the whole e-mail, after the “jump”:

I live near South Seattle Community College and travel each day down Delridge and onto the West Seattle Bridge on my way to work. I”ve lived here (a long time). Ever since the bus-only lane was created, Delridge Way commuters have had a tough time. The problem is not the bus lane but rather the insistence of folks coming down off the hill that they need to move over to the far right lane (to get ready to go north on 99) at the earliest possible moment. This means that they are crossing two lanes just at the point that everyone coming down Delridge is simply trying to get onto the bridge. The result is that Delridge on-ramp traffic simply stops whenever one or two folks choose that moment to wait to get into the right lane line. Moving over at that point not only snarls traffic for the Delridgers, but is simply unnecessary. The whole mess could be solved if drivers coming down the hill from upper West Seattle would simply wait a bit to change lanes, even a hundred yards or so. The bus lane doesn’t start until just past the top of the bridge, more than a quarter-mile beyond the meager Delridge ramp. When folks actually drive in the lane until to top of the bridge and split off right and left while moving rather than stopping and waiting, things work out surprisingly well.

30 Replies to "A plea for Delridge drivers"

  • Sue March 7, 2007 (4:13 pm)

    I agree – I take the 120 bus on Delridge to downtown, and that wait can be maddening, all because of the crossover of traffic. I have a feeling people have this urgency because they want to get over before the bus lane starts. Whatever the reason, my 20 minute trip downtown took 45 today as a result of those exact delays.

    And one thing I’ve never understood is why there is such a backup on the right lane (heading to 99, after Delridge), and yet when we take the exit lane to 99N there is no traffic on 99 and we start flying . . . if there’s no back up on 99, why on earth is is backed up before the ramp?

  • Michael March 7, 2007 (5:09 pm)

    Coffee almost shot out my nose when I read this.

    Puget Sounders have this problem (I call it exitlineupitis) pretty much everywhere a lane starts that will end in an exit. They simply *must* get in that lane ASAP, and then glare/honk/cut off anyone who dares try to merge at a later time. This happens on 405, I-5…you name the road, I’ll show you the backup.

    You can even see it on the WSB in the Eastbound direction, when drivers move into the far right lane immediately after the onramp from 99…even though the vast majority of those drivers are not getting off until Admiral.

    You’ll have about as much luck getting drivers to change this behavior as you’d have convincing them to take the bus instead.

  • jd March 7, 2007 (8:51 pm)

    I am so sick of people racing ahead and cutting in line I could spit.

  • dunsany March 7, 2007 (9:26 pm)

    I agree with jd. If everyone played nice and merged at the proper time, then fine, we don’t need to line up in the right lane. But that never is the case, as the lane is long, crowded and slow. And then after I spend 10 minutes patiently waiting to get to the ramp, some suckwad zooms down from top and zips in front of me from the far lane… well, who can blame me for a little road rage moment.

  • Bill March 7, 2007 (9:26 pm)

    Getting riled up over traffic and “bad drivers” is a waste of time and energy. Know what to expect and deal with it. Consider yourself lucky if traffic is what “ruins your day”.

  • EM March 7, 2007 (9:34 pm)

    There is actually a lane jumping “law” out there that you can be ticketed for waiting too long and trying to cut in. see this article…

  • Lou March 7, 2007 (10:05 pm)

    I agree with Michael. I noticed this behaviour immediately when we moved up here last May – it’s definitely unique to this region. I hope it’s not contagious.

  • The House March 7, 2007 (11:35 pm)

    Yup, Seattle drivers are sissies. I’ve been so fed up with waiting to get on the bridge that I have resorted to going all the way around (Delridge through WC down to 99S to Michigan to 1st). If you work Downtown its quicker than screwing with the bridge and NEVER backed up.

  • Ali March 8, 2007 (2:30 am)

    Drivers in Washington suck! Lets talk about the people that sit behind the line at a green light. The light changes and they just sit and wait. Inch on out there you stupid drivers so a few cars can make the light! I hate WA drivers!!

  • beef March 8, 2007 (8:32 am)

    sigh. why don’t you just take the harbor island bridge? except for the rare occasion when the bridge is open (they have a yellow flashing light in both directions telling you beforehand if the bridge is open), it’s always quicker during times of high traffic. go try it out once to feel it out, it’s not as scary as it seems driving around that area.

    i hope they don’t hunt me down for revealing this little tip.

  • Hills March 8, 2007 (9:42 am)

    I totally agree that getting in early mucks it up! I *always* cruise down a little ways, but stay in the dashed-line zone, before changing lanes. Anyone that thinks that’s lame should just stay parked.

    To add to the frustration, you know the l-o-n-g backup down Admiral Way? More people should use the little shortcut/connector road that connects you to Avalon Way right by Luna Park Cafe. Again, any self-righteous driver (ahem, you miss, in the white mustang yesterday, and you the guy in the silver Murano behind her that bandwagon-ed) that doesn’t let people in is really only adding to the problem.

    FLOW. FLOW. FLOW. That’s what we’re working toward.

    PS Any way we can lobby the powers that be to never open the lower bridge before 9am??

  • Michael March 8, 2007 (10:13 am)

    BTW, merging is fully legal wherever the lane dividers are dashed. (In fact, it’s illegal to obstruct people from merging.)

  • herongrrrl March 8, 2007 (10:58 am)

    Think how much lighter the traffic would be if everyone who gets a burr under their saddle about how the other drivers here “suck” or are “sissies” took the bus!

  • Sue March 8, 2007 (10:58 am)

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/transportation/306501_traffic08.html – article in the PI about drivers being ticketed at a Bothell on-ramp for merging too early. A little different, but related.

  • Sue March 8, 2007 (11:01 am)

    >>Think how much lighter the traffic would be if everyone who gets a burr under their saddle about how the other drivers here “suck” or are “sissies” took the bus!

  • Sue March 8, 2007 (11:02 am)

    As I was trying to say above, but got cut off, I *do* take the bus, but the bus shares the same road as the “sucky” drivers who cause all these problems for buses and cars alike.

  • Angela March 8, 2007 (1:11 pm)

    Hills – I use Avalon every day to drive and park under the bridge and catch the bus. I refuse to let people cut in front of me who choose to run down the right-hand lane of Admiral and cut in front of me. I’ve been waiting in the line of cars forever and you want me to let these jerks in? I don’t think so!! Let them wait in line like the rest of us.

  • Hills March 8, 2007 (1:49 pm)

    Angela – that thinking is precisely the problem. Why SHOULDN’T drivers be using every road/route/lane available?? Why do you think some people ditch Avalon and go over to Delridge and vice versa? When waiting in the long line of cars, don’t you ever look at an empty lane and think ‘huh. People could be moving.’
    No one appointed you or anyone else the keeper of the lane but everyone acts like they got a gold invite from the DOT.

  • WendyHJ March 8, 2007 (1:52 pm)

    1) I got sick of the WS bridge/I5/I-90 commute (and the viaduct the job before that) that when I was looking for a new job last year I insisted only looking in the south end. Now I work in Renton or at SeaTac, depending on the day. Both are about 10 miles from my house near SSCC, and never take more than 15-20 minutes to get to either thanks to 599 or 509.

    2) Half of Washington drivers are from other states to stop blaming us natives.

  • Gina March 8, 2007 (3:55 pm)

    Thank goodness water taxi season is coming.

  • KMM March 8, 2007 (5:41 pm)

    I’ve been commuting from West Seattle to Kirkland for 4.5 years now and I’ve seen it go from semi-manageable in 2002 to totally unbearable today. There are days when I spend 4 hours in my car (not exaggerating!). Most days it is at least an hour each way. And unvariably the worst part of every morning commute, is the approx. 2 mile stretch from my house to I-5. It can take upwards of an hour to go those 2 miles. I don’t have any solutions, just using this forum to vent a little. IS there a solution? Any other West Seattle to east side commuters out there??? I’m listening!!!!!!

  • Admiral Janeway March 8, 2007 (6:49 pm)

    “Seattle drivers” is a sure fire hot button topic. I have driven in a over a dozen major cities, and Seattle drivers are NOT the worst. Go to Southern California, and you’ll also see cars queing up for exits. Plus, if you try to jam your way in, expect an angry horn blast for a minute or two. Drive in Chicago or Dallas or Houston or Atlanta or DC or NY or Boston or Phoenix, and then try to make the claim Seattle drivers are the worst. Every major city I have visited claims to have traffic problems. Outsiders blame the natives and vice versa.
    I would like to see the name of a city that has great drivers for a change.

  • frustrated March 8, 2007 (9:22 pm)

    This morning was a 85 minute drive from WS to Redmond (ok, there WAS an accident on I-5, but still). After reading these posts I was really conscious of lane merging! I came down Admiral (not my usual route) and found myself in the right lane before remembering it turns into exit-only at Avalon; I didn’t want to try to “cut in” on the line waiting to get on the bridge, so I thought to just take the Avalon connector (I use that route a lot when driving around WS). Luckily no one dissed me and I was able to get in the lane inching to the bridge. I noticed the cars all merging into the far right lane IMMEDIATELY after the Delridge on-ramp – dang, you’re right! The problem, I think, is that if you don’t get in there right away then you are forced to “cut in” and then everyone thinks you’re an a**. So – you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. *sigh* I don’t know what’s gonna help the WS Traffic Blues … more condos and building = more cars = more congestion and whatever happens with the viaduct is gonna be a bad deal for WSites no matter what.

  • The House March 8, 2007 (10:57 pm)

    Those of you that say “Ride the bus”, keep in mind that not everyone has a job that takes them to an office job every day. Some of us work in the field and can’t simply wait around for a bus or it doesn’t go everywhere we need to be.
    I have driven in dozens of cities across this country as well. I’ve never see an area where drivers are so confused merging or an area that lowers speed limits on Interstates to 55 in rural areas (IE…up North of Everett and South in between Tacoma and Olympia). Like I said earlier, don’t use the bridge….drive down Delridge and go around. It’s a heck of alot easier.

  • Jan March 8, 2007 (11:31 pm)

    in defense of Angela….drivers in the right hand lane going down SW Admiral Way are in a “right turn only” lane….they’re not supposed to use it to horn in on the drivers that have been waiting patiently (unpatiently?) in the left lane. The fact that she doesn’t let them in isn’t the problem…they aren’t supposed to be cutting in at the bottom of Admiral Way. Maybe the city needs to change that, but until then, I wouldn’t let them in , either. What makes them so special that they get to be ahead of me when I waited my turn legally? Just an opinion. (by the way, I live AND work in West Seattle…at home…no commute – it’s great !)

  • TTop March 9, 2007 (5:16 am)

    I think there’s a big difference between going with the flow of traffic and merging in when an opening presents itself and “cutting in line”. Cutting is when you drive up to right where the exit is and then merge. If you call anyone who doesn’t merge immediately at the start of the exit lane a “cutter”, well, you’re part of the problem. If people just kept rolling and merged smoothly rather than stopping at the beginning of the exit lane and blocking traffic until somebody already in that lane *stops* to let you in, you’re the one causing the problem. I will usually merge over to the 99 exit lane on the bridge about 1/3 – 1/2 of the way up, and it goes much more smoothly. After I merge, I make sure to leave a few car lengths so that others can easily merge over. This is much more conducive to traffic flow than trying to push your way in right where the Delridge traffic is coming onto the bridge.

  • Chet Desmond March 9, 2007 (11:20 am)

    This is just one of the reasons I am against razing a house to put up multi family units. It equals more people and, most likely, more cars all trying to get downtown. I know it’s a free country, etc .. but atleast look at traffic impacts before allowing the whole stretch of CA Ave and Fauntleroy to go condo.. ooops too late. See y’all on the bridge :)

    Lovin’ it,


  • Angela March 9, 2007 (1:31 pm)

    Thanks for the support Jan :)
    I do let opposite traffic on Harbor turn left in front of me because they have been patiently waiting just as long as I have. And, I also let people coming down from the Admiral onramp to get over in front on me when they need to get under the bridge. Unfortunately, I don’t think there will ever be any “flow” in WS with all these cars trying to get to the same place at the same time. Sure, we want to promote urban living, but doesn’t that include responsible transportation as well?
    I do have to agree with Hill though, they shouldn’t allow the lower bridge to open between 6 am and 9 am. It really messes things up down below.

  • Chet Desmond March 9, 2007 (3:18 pm)

    Sue, the ramp backs up because poor design makes the turn so sharp getting on to 99 that people slow way down and it just compounds up the hill. That’s my theory anyway.
    Amen Michael.
    JS and Dunsany, et al. – I hate lane jumpers too.
    Wendy rocks.
    Amen Angela, like I always say, Get in line! Funny how people cut in line in traffic but wouldn’t think of it at the post office or maybe they would?
    I think the bus only lane makes things worse but I was not here before the bus lane was instituted. So, maybe it was worse before? ANyone care to comment on the bus lane or BS lane, I mean.

  • Ginger Rodgers March 19, 2007 (1:06 am)

    Let’s get one thing straight: Whether you merge early or late, the exit ramp cannot handle more than a certain volume of cars per hour, minute, whatever. When there are more cars/minute than the exit ramp can handle, things are going to slow down so everyone can exit that needs to.

    The “cutters” don’t cause this, nor do the “early mergers”: It’s caused by the fact that there are more cars taking the exit than it can handle.

    So, TRAFFIC IS GOING TO SLOW DOWN EITHER WAY, and it not caused by individuals’ driving habits as much as the roads’ capacity.

    That said, there are two options for drivers in this situation:

    1) Merge early, wait your turn, then the exit is first-come, first-served.

    2) Fly up to the head of the line and cut in, tell yourself the traffic is slow because everyone else does not wait till the last minute and cut in like you do (If you’re enough of an idiot to think that cutting in at the last minute will somehow increase the amount of cars the exit can handle).

    Option (1) rewards patience, option (2) rewards aggressive driving. I, personally prefer option (1). I just moved from a city where option (2) was the only option, because it just didn’t pay to wait in line (too many cutters). The result, traffic IN ALL LANES grinds to a halt within 100 yards of an exit, because EVERYONE wants to wait ’till the last minute to cut in. More aggressive driving, more high blood pressure, and more accidents is the result.

    There are volumes written about this and other reasons for “phantom traffic jams.” Go to the library and read about it. Continue cutting if you’d like, but don’t tell yourself that traffic would “flow” better if everyone did that. Deal with the fact that you are selfish.

Sorry, comment time is over.