Report #2: 35th SW safety rally … and a crash hours later

crashgrab1.jpgThree hours after the safety rally at 35th/Juneau ended, a minor car accident tonight briefly blocked part of 35th at the exact same spot. No major injuries, and it cleared fairly quickly – police were pulling away as we pulled up, so the image at left is all we could get – but it underscored what neighbors like Lynda Bui told us at the rally — this is a spot with frequent problems, and they’re pretty sure they know why:
The rally wasn’t just about that spot on 35th, but the speeding (and other) problems that have earned it the nickname “I-35.” Organizers chose this spot because it’s where a crash injured a High Point teenager last month. The city didn’t let today’s rally go unanswered. In fact, we got e-mail from SDOT communications director Rick Sheridan hours earlier, noting that city reps had met with organizers ahead of time and that the two groups “had a very positive discussion about making 35th Avenue SW a better corridor for all. As noted in our handout, drivers can help this effort by obeying the speed limit and being more aware of pedestrians.” More on that handout – a city-prepared document – plus organizers’ reaction and other followup, ahead:

First, the scene of today’s rally – our camera recorded from the dashboard as we drove up minutes after it began at 3 pm:
From the sidewalk behind the participants, here’s how the scene looked – as mentioned in our first report, several local organizations were represented, including the High Point Neighborhood Association (whose president Andrew Mead was there), Neighborhood House, Safe Futures, Elizabeth House, and more:
Several of the participants with whom we spoke today say they want a light at 35th/Juneau (a block north of the newly upgraded light at 35th/Raymond), like this woman who told us through a translator that she was hit by a car this past spring on 35th and had had to undergo extensive leg surgery:
A 35th/Juneau light, however, is not in the “handout” prepared by SDOT – which you can see here – which lists other area improvements past and future, starting with one near the area where Gregory Hampel was hit and killed just last month:

New radar speed signs to be installed on 35th SW by October 31st – SB at Brandon (just south of Camp Long entrance) and NB at Willow
*Recently upgraded signal at 35th & Raymond from a pedestrian signal to a full signal.
*Marked a new crosswalk on the north leg of this intersection.
*Improved signal at 35th & Morgan by adding a left turn signal & countdown signals for pedestrians
*Worked with Seattle Housing Authority & Seattle Public Schools to improve walking route to West Seattle Elementary by installing a new signal at Sylvan Wy & Lanham Pl SW
*Provided a temporary crosswalk at 34th & Morgan during construction of new signal at Sylvan Wy & Lanham Pl SW
*Installed new fl ashing beacons to highlight the ‘school speed limit 20’ signs on Sylvan Way
*Installed new school zone signage for West Seattle Elementary & Our Lady of Guadalupe (including new ‘speed limit 20’ signage on 35th SW)
*New sidewalk to be constructed in spring/summer 2009 on 30th Ave SW from High Point to SW Brandon St
*SDOT is currently studying the feasibility of a road diet to address traffic calming concerns.

This list was presented to rally organizers Denise Sharify and Miranda Taylor, who have long campaigned for safety improvements; we asked Sharify about it as the hourlong event drew to a close:
By the way, West Seattle pedestrian matters are on the mayor’s agenda tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, as he joins in two events – a celebration of the new sidewalks at Sanislo Elementary (WSB coverage here) and an announcement of future Safe Routes to School projects, followed by a stroll with Alki Elementary students in honor of International Walk to School Day. We’ll bring you coverage of both.

14 Replies to "Report #2: 35th SW safety rally ... and a crash hours later"

  • Scott B. October 8, 2008 (12:50 am)

    “…drivers can help this effort by obeying the speed limit…”

    The SPD squad that enforces speed limits works office hours. Most drivers go like hell on 35 SW at all hours.

    Asking drivers to obey the speed limit is a waste of time. Drivers are already asked to obey the speed limit via the posted speed limit signs.

    More enforcement is needed.

  • Michael October 8, 2008 (1:22 am)

    Risking your life at an unmarked intersection on an arterial is a better option than walking a block to a signal?

    And as such worth protesting to get the very same thing that already exists a block away?


    Don’t blame the city when it can’t pay police officers or repair potholes…

  • WSB October 8, 2008 (1:33 am)

    I’ll amend the copy because it doesn’t appear I wrote it clearly. They are concerned about 35th in general. That’s also what the city addressed in its response. This happens to be the spot they picked because it was the most recent crash, and it’s an ongoing troublespot – for drivers as well as pedestrians.

  • Magpie October 8, 2008 (6:22 am)

    I have a family member who lives between Juneau and Findlay on 35th. I don’t even like getting out of the car when parked on the street because of how fast people are going. I think the weekends are pretty bad. I can’t understand why someone would cross at Juneau and not at the light at Findlay as I value my life, but regardless, they are pedestrians with the right of way and it is true that from my experience, people think 35th is like Aurora.

    I think a few speed traps are in order, especially between Alaska and Morgan. I have seen many a car gunning up the hill and keep going. (Even when we use Findlay, we still wait to be sure that the cars are stopped because they run that light a lot)

  • Rick October 8, 2008 (7:48 am)

    Peds have responsibilities too. In the laws of nature (2 ton vehicle going 35+) versus man (or woman) @ 100-200lbs, nature always wins. I contested a right of way with a truck while in a crosswalk over 20 years ago and it still hurts today. Look,look,look. Expect the worst and you might live another day.

  • old timer October 8, 2008 (8:33 am)

    Just for fun,
    what if we gave all those rowdy, lookin’ for sumpin’ kids hand held radar guns, cameras, and the right to write tickets?

    Instant patrol, and no one would know when/where they would pop up.

    Could also deputize responsible adults to do the same, and they would probably organize things to get 24/7 coverage.

    Downside – speeders on side streets.

  • Brandon October 8, 2008 (9:02 am)

    yes, 37th is already a speed way needing attention as drivers try to avoid the signal lights on Alaska and Fauntleroy. And Juneau is the same shortcut. Both parties on the road need to be accountable and the things I see tend to be peds as much as drivers. People reading books in cross walks. Peds crossing and not even looking up as they cross a street. Use the marked crosswalks!
    As the headstone reads “But I Had The Right of Way”.

  • Ken October 8, 2008 (9:18 am)

    I was driving 35th during the protest and also noted the motorcycle and unmarked cops working the street in the past few days and once last week. They appear to only stay a few minutes each day and snag a small percentage of the speeders, them leave. I was passed by 11 cars between Alaska and Findley, all doing an estimated 45-55 mph. I do 35 since I have an elementary school aged kid in the booster seat and it is the damn legal speed limit.

    The group doing the protesting should also add an education component to their activism. The Highpoint neighborhood has millions of dollars worth of sidewalks and yet many residents insist on walking in the street, crossing mid block, and forcing confrontations on narrow streets as both drivers and pedestrians.

    The back way to Highpoint from Delridge (Brandon and 30th) nearly always has several people walking in the street, at dusk or dawn, wearing either all black or urban camo in an area with low light, no sidewalk and overgrown shoulders with a meandering ditch. This area is 99% city owned property and therefor no homeowners to tax for any improvement. The pedestrians should at least be made aware of the danger they are in.

  • Ken October 8, 2008 (9:41 am)

    Also note. The area chosen for the protest is in my precinct. I recognize only one or two people from that part of the neighborhood. I assume the rest might be from sea-34-1485 which makes up the Highpoint SHA redevelopment area.

    Advocating a traffic light at that intersection is unrealistic in my opinion though a pedestrian light for several million dollars might be possible. There are however several more important uses for those dollars when there are two active lighted crosswalks in the area.

    I feel an expensive lighted crosswalk would be ironic if it allowed the cracked and potholed pavement to get worse in the area.

    A painted crosswalk with flags might be a compromise solution.

    No matter what the choice or goal, those involved should contact their precinct committee officers who can perhaps facilitate communications with Democratic party leaders and officials who represent the neighborhood.

    Regardless of my personal opinion as a resident of the neighborhood, the decisions at this level have a political component and the party structure is available to help.

  • momon35th October 8, 2008 (1:10 pm)

    Just to defend the police. I live on 35th right where the police do most of their speed traps. They are normally there several hours in the morning, take off for lunch and then come back in the afternoon. The problem isn’t that the police aren’t there long enough, its that too many people use 35th as a freeway.

  • LyndaB October 8, 2008 (11:10 pm)

    While driving on 23rd Ave (Central Area) home this evening, it made me think of 35th Ave to which I compiled my own list of things I do to keep me out of harms way, hopefully, as a pedestrian and driver.

    1. If you’re waiting to make a left turn onto Juneau, be prepared to wait awhile if you want to escape unscathed. Otherwise go to the next block and turn at the light at the library. Yeah, you could use Findlay.
    2. If you’re waiting to make a left turn onto Juneau, be cautious if the other driver waves you through. Especially if that vehicle is so big you can’t see behind it.
    3. If you are ready to make that turn onto Juneau, watch out for pedestrians crossing there (continuing south on 35th). They show up just when you want to turn.
    4. If there is a pedestrian at the corner and you have the green light, still be cautious about that pedestrian. (I add this because some of those Joes look maybe drunk.)
    5. If there is somebody stopped, perhaps waiting to make a left turn or perhaps letting a pedestrian cross, approach with caution. As evident in recent weeks.

    It’s like think as a pedestrian while you’re a driver and as a pedestrian think as if you’re a driver. If we know what kind of scenarios that arise, we can try to avoid it. Be in the other’s shoes because you’d rather not get knocked out of your own. :)

    I share because I care. :)

  • Scott B. October 8, 2008 (11:20 pm)

    Ken wrote:
    “No matter what the choice or goal, those involved should contact their precinct committee officers who can perhaps facilitate communications with Democratic party leaders and officials who represent the neighborhood.”


    To sum up, your advice is to vote for a “Democratic” “Great Leader” socialist who hates the United States of America.

  • Ken October 9, 2008 (12:20 am)

    Scott B:
    Care to explain your remarks or should I just assume based on the bitter prattling of your Nerf barbed wit.

    You are no doubt aware that the city council members, King county council members, State Senator, and both state reps are Democrats here in West Seattle. Do you know of any Republicans who would be willing or able to help local residents with this issue?

    Several of the Republicans in the area seem to have forgotten to put up their McCain or even Rossi signs this year.

    When next you read of an endangered species threatened by encroaching civilization, perhaps you can conjure a tiny spark of empathy for their fate by remembering the destruction of a once powerful political party by the greed, intolerance and superstition of its remaining radical authoritarian members.

    If you have an interest in learning what actual socialist do and how they live, I can explain it to you on one of the political threads. My friends in Sweden explained it quite clearly. Doing inarticulate drive bys of front page articles cannot be nearly satisfying enough for the impotent rage that must be consuming you.

    Drop on in and cast you bait upon the waters and see what you can hook.

  • M October 9, 2008 (11:58 am)

    I have to agree with kids and the speeding issue on the 35th – I have few comments to say to these people who speed on this 35th street have no common sense. what’s the rush on the 35th? the world is not going to end.

    people who is on the cell phone while driving do cause an accident, cause slowing down for other drivers frustrated, and also PLEASE USE YOUR EYES, NOT EARS to look out for any pedestrians at any corner of any street. I almost got hit by high school driver yesterday near Sleath High school. Come on, cool off your gas and the kids need to cool off their egos to show off they could do.

    the reason why I am saying use your eyes, not ears because I am deaf and I do not hear any noises whats surrounding me. Do put cell phones away while walking crosswalks.

    For Parents of High School kids, I could promise you whoever the kid is: they could get couple speeding tickets, charge for reckless driving would not be a fun for asking parents to take them to shopping mall, sports, and any activities. Kids need to think twice about their futures.

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