Here’s why the signals changed at Walk-All-Ways and other West Seattle Junction intersections

Thanks for the tips. Readers noticed changes last week in the sequence at California/Alaska (aka Walk-All-Ways) – as Tala, for one, described it, “It used to be walk all ways after the Eastbound traffic signal. Now it’s walk all ways after the North / South traffic signal.” We asked SDOT about the change, and got the reply from spokesperson Ethan Bergerson today:

Last week, we optimized and upgraded traffic signal equipment at several West Seattle intersections. While doing this, we also adjusted walk signal timing to give people more time to cross the street and sometimes made other enhancements for pedestrian safety such as making walk-signals turn on automatically without pressing a button or adding pedestrian-first walk signals which give people a head start before cars get a green light.

Here is a list of all the locations where we have made adjustments:

California Ave SW & SW Genesee St
California Ave SW & SW Oregon St
California Ave SW & SW Alaska St
42nd Ave SW & SW Oregon St
42nd Ave SW & SW Alaska St
35th Ave SW & SW Edmunds St

News of this work apparently also explains why a few of those intersections had malfunctions last week. If you’re still noticing problems – at any of these, or any other, signalized intersections – you can report to SDOT, 206-684-ROAD during business hours, 206-386-1218 after-hours.

60 Replies to "Here's why the signals changed at Walk-All-Ways and other West Seattle Junction intersections"

  • LO April 10, 2023 (5:36 pm)

    While we are on the topic of lights. I thought the one at California Ave SW and SW Findlay was only supposed to turn red for pedestrians when they hit the button. But it turns red on its own pretty often. Did I misunderstand about it being pedestrian activated?

    • Oerthehillz April 10, 2023 (7:36 pm)

      Lo, I’m curious about that too. I’ve had to stop there a few times and nobody is anywhere near the intersection.

    • Sue H April 11, 2023 (12:40 am)

      I’ve had that happen there too. I have assumed, like I’ve seen at other intersections, that someone presses the button for it to change but then they find a way to cross before it turns to a walk signal for them, and then by the time it turns to walk their long gone and the traffic still needs to stop. It is frustrating when that happens. Also, I used to live at the intersection of Dawson and Fauntleroy where it is pedestrian activated, and sometimes when a car wanted to cross Fauntleroy I would see the passenger run out and press the button, run back into the car and then they would drive through when the light stopped the Fauntleroid traffic. So that could definitely be going on as well.

      • bill April 11, 2023 (8:20 am)

        It often takes so long for ped activated lights to respond that people run across the road instead of waiting. The delays are aggravating for peds as well as drivers. 

        • LO April 11, 2023 (7:48 pm)

          I’ve stood there and watched multiple times. No pedestrians pressing the button. Just turning red on its own. 

          • Kyle April 11, 2023 (9:36 pm)

            Pleas record the malfunction next time if you are watching it and send it to SDOT. Otherwise it is likely what the other comments are saying about someone pressing it and then crossing before the signal changes.

  • Michael April 10, 2023 (6:07 pm)

    I very much wish the 5-way at Edmunds/Erskine/California was on this list. This is a terrible intersection for both peds and cars. I’m not saying I have the answers, but people constantly drive through the parking lots or jaywalk because waiting takes forever.

    • Jeff April 10, 2023 (6:51 pm)

      I have to agree.  I’m no transportation designer, but I have a really hard time believing that is anything close to an optimized design.

    • Brayton April 10, 2023 (7:46 pm)

      Completely agree. I also don’t know of a solution, but you’d think with all that technology can do things would be smoother. For a non-technology thought, I often envision Erskine closed off to become a cul de sac, leaving the intersection a four-way. But it’s just a daydream every time I stand there waiting and waiting. 

    • Alan April 10, 2023 (9:46 pm)

      Yes, it’s nearly always the case that I need to make two crossings on foot and I’m sure it’s the same for many others. I can’t help but feel it would work better as an all walk.

    • Brad Knife April 11, 2023 (11:58 am)

      YES!! As a pedestrian, I avoid that intersection like the plague.

  • M April 10, 2023 (6:25 pm)

    How I wish we could get pedestrian assists in other parts of West Seattle as well. SDOT has turned down a request for an automated signal across 35th near the Southwest library/Birdhouse twice now. 

    • Burgerman April 10, 2023 (8:21 pm)

      Automated? As in stop traffic for no reason whatsoever? Yeah no thanks. Plenty of that already. It’s astounding that the citizens of Seattle, and City Hall, don’t understand how much danger they create via road rage when they do all this “pedestrian upgrading” to prevent cars from getting anywhere in a reasonable amount of time. All they want to do is force cars off the road. 

      • Pleaseseektherapy April 11, 2023 (6:10 am)

        I don’t understand how making it safer for pedestrians creates road rage. Adjust and plan your driving time. We live in a metro area with over 4,000,000 people. Everyone needs to get to Somewhere safely.  

      • Brian April 11, 2023 (7:20 am)

        Sorry but it is unacceptable that “this might make car brained folks mad and commit a car murder” is any sort of calculus that needs to be addressed. Cars aren’t an excuse for your rage fantasies to play out. 

      • WestSeattleBadTakes April 11, 2023 (9:42 am)

        You understand the reverse of this would be true too? That if there are no pedestrians the signal doesn’t need to change on a schedule?

        In that scenario, you possibly save time. I am sure you will consider this in your future comments.

      • Lagartija Nick April 11, 2023 (9:46 am)

        Hey Burgerman, if waiting an additional 20-30 seconds for a pedestrian crossing gives you road rage, perhaps driving in an urban environment is not for you.

      • WS Res April 11, 2023 (12:18 pm)

        You’re really telling on yourself here.

        • Burgerman April 11, 2023 (7:41 pm)

          Nah, not really. Thinking of the at least two times I can remember right now that someone popped out from behind a driver poking along under 25, and the other time avoiding a driver who slammed his brakes on immediately when the light turned yellow, both passed in the center lane at heavy throttle to get around the already dumb drivers in front of them. I’m worried more about light timing and these lights not just activating on their own to keep people from getting two green lights in a row on an arterial. Please read carefully before accusing, thanks. Need all of you above to do this when voting as well.

      • Transit is Better April 11, 2023 (1:05 pm)

        I hope you know I drive extra slow just for you :) 

      • Neighbor April 11, 2023 (6:34 pm)

        Reducing road rage isn’t compelling.  But the environmental impacts are.  How much gas are we wasting idling?  And even for PZEVs that shut the engine off we still have to accelerate which wastes energy.  Pedestrian safety is important but we should try to streamline traffic flows where possible through light timing.

        • Jort April 11, 2023 (8:55 pm)

          Speaking of environmental impacts, how many people are choosing to drive instead of walk because walking sucks in Seattle? We can play the “environmental impacts” game all day long (and folks do love to do that, here), but there is absolutely, positively, 100 percent completely no way that “making it easier for people to drive” is in any way, whatsoever and unequivocally, “better for the environment.” The weaponization of environmental “concerns” to make it easier for more and more cars to drive is an abomination of the concept of environmentalism. It’s revolting.

          • Burgerman April 12, 2023 (12:59 am)

            Lol Jort. “Walking sucks in Seattle.” Really?? I love walking in Seattle and it most decidedly does not suck, even with a disability. What does suck is people demanding walkers and a few bicyclists have decidedly better and more expensive (and wasteful) accommodations than vehicle traffic.As to your comment about solutions – the problem is, your solutions aren’t solutions. Hating cars and trying to get them all off the road in favor of mass transit and muscle power is an unattainable and unrealistic goal, especially in a city that has no accountability in place for its government, its government officials, or the agencies that would be in charge of all the things you have proposed directly or indirectly over the years.  You’re also advocating for the minority to get more than the majority, which doesn’t make sense. We get accountability and efficiency and intelligent, pragmatic design in place? Then we can start talking about being more progressive with our transportation.

          • Jort April 12, 2023 (10:08 am)

            Pedestrians are getting “decidedly better and more expensive … accommodations than vehicle traffic,” eh? Wait, what?! Pray tell, what pedestrian “accommodation” cost more and was “better” than, say, the $3 billion+ viaduct removal and tunnel project? The city of Seattle has 3,944 miles of streets, but only 2,293 miles of sidewalks. The city spends $5 million per year on sidewalk maintenance, but $13 million on managing car parking! SDOT is spending $100 million on the waterfront street project ALONE this year! Bike path maintenance gets $1 million per year, while road and bridge maintenance gets $122 million! Where on earth would anyone get the idea that the city and state are dumping giant piles of money on pedestrians and cyclists?! The city and state overwhelmingly dedicate their funds to car traffic. Overwhelmingly! And it’s not even close, by any metric! At all! Boy, would I love to live in the fantasy world you seem to believe exists. That would be a dream!

          • Question Mark April 14, 2023 (10:13 am)

            Sure, Burgerman. (Re: walkers and a few bicyclists don’t deserve more expensive accomodations.)

            Now tell me a story about the requirement to walk down to the next crosswalk just to get to the other side of an arterial.

          • AMD April 12, 2023 (6:17 am)

            I mean, walking does suck in Seattle.  I love walking.  If I could I would walk everywhere in my life, school, work, grocery store, everywhere.  This city has terrible pedestrian infrastructure.  The proximity of sidewalks to traffic is terrifying in many places, sidewalks are absent in others.  Signaling and signage for pedestrian street crossings is mediocre to scary in most places.  I’ve been to cities where walking paths are safe and well thought out.  Seattle is just not that city.  We pedestrians are a constant afterthought.  So I’m happy that you, Burgerman love walking in this city.  I love walking too, but there is a LOT of room for improvement for pedestrian paths here.

      • Jort April 11, 2023 (8:52 pm)

        If waiting 20 additional seconds in a drive causes somebody to enter a state of “road rage,” then I would argue it is imperative that these drivers permanently hang up the keys for good. These are not the kinds of people that we should be trusting with the privilege of driving on public roads. 

    • 1994 April 10, 2023 (10:09 pm)

      That intersection, 35th and Henderson, would give 35th AVE SW the red light too often when no one was waiting to cross 35th. That was prior to the pandemic. The 35th’s green light lasted barely 15-20 seconds and then cycled red. It was super annoying since no one was anywhere near the walk buttons needing to cross 35th.  

  • Burgerman April 10, 2023 (8:23 pm)

    Why would they add more time at the all-way walk at the Junction? It was already plenty of time for even a disabled person to get across. 

    • C April 10, 2023 (9:30 pm)

      Re: plenty of time for disabled people to get across, it actually isn’t. I am thinking of one individual in particular who can’t do the diagonal crossing because his mobility doesn’t allow it in that much time so he has to use several lights ti skirt around. Don’t assume you know every detail of every specific disability, it’s very ableist. 

      • Burgerman April 10, 2023 (10:25 pm)

        Don’t you label me, C. I have a disability as well and I clear that light with time to spare every time.  I will grant you that maybe somebody more disabled than I could have trouble making the full width, but they’d be fine if they were most of the way across when the light cleared. They must be significantly disabled to not be able to make that in the previously allotted time. You aren’t going to shame me into submission with your progressive labels, sorry. Take it elsewhere. 

        • T Rex April 11, 2023 (3:34 pm)

          Well said Burgerman, well said!

        • Jort April 11, 2023 (8:56 pm)

          Your gatekeeping on the validity of a person’s disability is, in fact, ableist. 

        • WestSeattleBadTakes April 12, 2023 (9:06 am)

          Ableist confirmed.

      • never enough April 11, 2023 (10:35 am)

        I doubt it’s meant to be enough for every single situation.  One time I saw a lady walking a dog and the dog stopped in the middle of the diagonal crossing to “do its business”.  The lady was super patient and had just enough time to pick it up and carry on before the crossing time was over.   Anyway, that’s a silly example, but there’s just no way they could be designed for every scenario.  There has to be an average time that generally works.  I don’t know exactly what ableist means, but I don’t think it means every situation has to be designed to accommodate every individual possibility.

        • C April 11, 2023 (12:35 pm)

          Totally agree with you Never Enough- BUT making comments and assumptions about someone with a disability is not ok in my book. Ableism refers to discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities, so that we value people with “typical“ abilities. It’s deep rooted in our society, and very problematic. My point was just that we shouldn’t make assumptions, and that whoever is designing these crossings should take into account people of varying abilities. I’m not saying I know what the exact answer or timing of the light should be.

      • D April 11, 2023 (2:18 pm)

        As someone who’s disabled. My biggest obstacle is lack of parking available. If there’s no nearby parking it hurts too much to walk a block sometimes so I will not go to that location.  Hence the reason I don’t go to capital hill anymore. 

  • Jon Wright April 10, 2023 (8:27 pm)

    Five-way intersections are inherently problematic. There isn’t any magic solution that overcomes the challenges of a five-way intersection.

    • Jort April 11, 2023 (8:57 pm)

      Oh, I can think of a few solutions!

  • Admyrl Byrd April 10, 2023 (9:15 pm)

    Now if we could let more than 2 cars pass per light when turning left SB California to EB Admiral that would be nice.

  • Johnny Stulic April 10, 2023 (11:07 pm)

    Same old tired “let’s make driving in Seattle an increasing nightmare and eventually they’ll all switch to bicycles”. Yessir, we’re going to be New Amsterdam. Any day now.

    • Frustrated April 11, 2023 (7:16 am)

      Cycling IS generally a much better way to get around the Admiral/Junction area. A good e-bike is usually more than sufficient, especially the cargo-style ones. You can treat the more powerful bikes like motorcycles in most situations, and they hold plenty (even kids). I know some people can’t use a bike, but many of us can and if we did it would leave more room on the road for those who can’t.

    • WestSeattleBadTakes April 11, 2023 (9:45 am)

      Look, the same old tired “I don’t understand urban environments and I will make no attempt to. Oh and blah blah Amsterdam.”

      Any day now these folks will educate themselves. I won’t hold my breath though.

    • Jort April 11, 2023 (8:59 pm)

      No city in human history anywhere on this planet in any country in the totality of our shared collective human experience has “solved” transportation challenges by doubling down on cars-first planning principles. Seattle will not be the first city in human history to make it work, either. 

  • John G April 11, 2023 (5:56 am)

    Every time I walk past the California and Findlay pedestrian signal whether I need to cross the street or not, I hit the button.Slows the traffic on California.

    • my two cents April 11, 2023 (8:20 pm)

      Find that type of action rather childish. Why not try to become a community organizer and address this with the city officials? Oh right, it’s a lot easier to push a button. SMH

  • Lola April 11, 2023 (7:25 am)

    One of the reasons why I now take the side streets to get anywhere in West Seattle.  Everything is geared towards the Pedestrians forget about the People in Cars Trying to anywhere.  I see they want to try and make the Street by Lafyatte Lander become a Pedestrian Walk only Street.  They are going to try it out they say.  It will become permenant. 

    • Jort April 11, 2023 (9:02 pm)

      If everything in the city is “geared toward pedestrians,” then how come car drivers are doing such a great job at killing and seriously injuring an ever-increasing number of pedestrians? If there is a “War on Cars,” it appears the cars are clearly winning. Pedestrian fatalities in Seattle and nationwide are way up, and not slowing down. And also, when you say, “forget about the People in Cars Trying to (get) anywhere,” just an fyi for you, the people walking are trying to get somewhere, too, and they’re trying to get where they’re going safely. You know, like, kids? Your neighbors? Take it easy. 99 percent of the city’s transportation network is still catering directly to car drivers. 

    • Lafayette Parent April 12, 2023 (4:38 am)

      I sure hope this becomes permanent. In fact, I’d like to see a permanent closure of Lander at California, taking away all need for cars to drive on that street. It’s is a gauntlet at drop off and pickup for those who walk.

    • Derek April 12, 2023 (9:04 am)

      Lola you’re making the side streets dangerous to actual walkers and bike riders by doing this. Cars should stick to arterials. If driving is a problem, we have public transit you can take. 

      • Matt April 12, 2023 (8:42 pm)

        I live near an arterial and it’s pretty common for lazy people to cut down my residential street and around the corner instead of waiting at the light on the arterial to save maybe 20 seconds. Often they’re easy to spot (e.g. they tailgate you down a neighborhood side street) so I slow waaaay down. Really pisses them off but hey, maybe don’t use my neighborhood as a high speed cut through. The worst ones I’ll drive past my house and continue at my slow pace down the cut through route just to make their journey a little longer, then eventually circle back home.

  • RW April 11, 2023 (8:14 am)

    If it gives pedestrians more time to cross at California & Alaska, I’m all in. It’s great being able to  diagonally cross the “big divide,”  but I panic when the flashing warning light starts counting down to red and the cars are revving up their engines, and I’m still far from the curb. I don’t walk as fast as I used to, and I’m sure there are many people slower than me who also struggle with this.

  • Rooster April 11, 2023 (8:48 am)

    The light cycle at California and Findlay is not just for pedestrians. It also gives car traffic approaching from East/West a break in traffic  to cross or turn on to California Ave. It may need the timing adjusted though. 

    • LO April 11, 2023 (7:51 pm)

      Interesting, this makes sense but when it was installed it was touted as being pedestrian activated.

  • Rose April 11, 2023 (1:04 pm)

    Oh man this is so exciting for me as a school bus driver, because I was already having to gun it a little to get across the intersection going east on Alaska.  At bus o’clock (that’s 2:35-2:45, then again at 3:35-3:45, aka Unhappy Hour for the rest of you plebians in private individual transportation) it gets pretty backed up as all of us buses go through in ones and twos on the formerly blink-and-you-miss-it eight seconds of green.  Didn’t even know you were allowed to make a green cycle so short…. So when I went through the other day and didn’t end up in the intersection on yellow or red, I thought I must be dreaming!  It’s very satisfying to see the city make little safety tweaks.

    • sam-c April 12, 2023 (8:08 am)

      Your comment made me chuckle, Rose. Thank you for dedication to getting kids around safely, while also trying to navigate the variety of conditions you encounter!

  • Side Eye April 11, 2023 (2:31 pm)

    Think of something to fill 20 seconds of waiting for a light to change to green. Mantra? Deep breathing?

  • Sue April 11, 2023 (5:42 pm)

    Wish all major intersections were All Ways Walk.  As a pedestrian, it’s so nice to not feel so exposed and feeling like a target when crossing.  

  • A-1 April 12, 2023 (10:13 am)

    The light cycle at the Alaska Junction is just back to the way it was 10 or so years ago. I lived right there for 17 years above East Street and ride the bus, I’m VERY aware how the lights are timed out. 🤣 I now live 2 blocks away and have figured out the Erskine light cycle, which was a mystery for years. At least with Erskine, if there’s no cars the light gets skipped.

  • Admiral April 12, 2023 (12:30 pm)

    Frustrated – I agree bicycling is a great way to get around and I had switched until my bike got stolen.  Bike theft is a big deterrent for me to make the switch again, now I restrict myself to recreational riding only and never let my bike out of my sight!

Sorry, comment time is over.