Updated April 9, 2008
Cyclists rejoice! In mid-March 2008, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) reconfigured a 6-block stretch of Stone Way to be safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and vehicle drivers. The city’s decision follows a major grassroots advocacy push by Cascade Bicycle Club, local residents, citizen groups, and businesses to make Fremont more safe and accessible.
In the summer of 2007, a section of Stone Way in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood was “rechannelized” by the City to improve safety and traffic flow. Four general purpose lanes and sidewalks were replaced by two through-lanes, a center turn lane, and an uphill bicycle lane. The sidewalks remained unchanged. SDOT undertook this change, sometimes called a “street completion” or “road diet,” to improve the safety of the street. Four-lane roads without turning lanes tend to have high collision rates due to a relatively high number of conflict points places where road users are most likely to come together in a crash (for an illustration, see pages 6 and 7 of this presentation). This holds true for pedestrians as well as bicyclists and automobile drivers; the City currently has a policy of removing crosswalks from four-lane roads because of the dangers inherent in a four-lane environment.
Unfortunately, due to pressure from local businesses, SDOT refrained from completing the improvement on a section of Stone Way between 40th St and 34th Street. This left a gap for cyclists between the region’s most heavily used nonmotorized facility the Burke Gilman and the businesses and residential areas to the north. Stone Way is one of the region’s main arteries for bicycle traffic and a key route as identified by the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan.
In response, Cascade Bicycle Club mobilized support from the local community, helped organize a demonstration ride with Seattle Likes Bikes, and commissioned an independent analysis to show that a completed Stone Way would improve traffic conditions for drivers on Stone Way. We also led a series of traffic counts with the help of Cascade Bicycle Club volunteers to fact-check the City’s prediction of massively increased car traffic on the route (there was no increase). Meanwhile, the City committed to a reevaluation of their initial decision six months following the initial changes and a series of traffic counts of their own.
Six months later in early March, SDOT announced their decision: they would complete Stone Way.
We at Cascade Bicycle Club applaud SDOT and the City of Seattle for their commitment to the execution of the Bicycle Master Plan and the improvement of safety for all road users.
Please take a moment to send a note of thanks to Mayor Greg Nickels and SDOT Director Grace Crunican today, congratulating them on their decision:
SDOT Director Grace Crunican
Stone Way Campaign Partners: