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Rules of the road not optional

August 21st, 2013 at 3:23 am | Posted by Melissa Jonas

Cars do not stop for pedestrians here as often as they should. Photo by Wendi Dunlap/Beacon Hill Blog.

How do you navigate our neighborhood? Do you stroll the sidewalks, amble the arterials, bike on Beacon or hike on Hanford? Perhaps you’re no pedestrian; do you prefer to press the pedal and speed on Spokane?

We can all get along if we understand and follow the rules of the road–and maybe add some Beacon Hill courtesy and respect to our commute. As this lovely summer continues, remember that everyone has a right to be safe as we travel through the neighborhood. Next time you see your neighbor struggling to cross Beacon Avenue, remember to stop (not slow, not rush past so she can go behind you) for her. That gaggle of small children crossing McClellan on bikes and scooters? Whether they’re crossing on the Greenway at 18th in a marked crosswalk or 20th at the curb, stop and allow each and every one of them to reach the opposite curb safely.

Special heads-up: if you’re not stopping for pedestrians at the crossing on Forest and Beacon Ave, you might end up with a big ticket. The Seattle Police Department is considering an undercover pedestrian sting operation in that area–that slow stroller-pusher may just be a police officer. (Not that anyone reading this would ever speed past someone pushing a stroller across Beacon Avenue.) SPD may also choose to go with a good old-fashioned marked police car near the library to encourage drivers to slow down (obey the speed limit) and stop for pedestrians. This intersection is a well-known danger zone and SPD is taking community concerns seriously.

Here’s the law of the land:

“In Seattle, the speed limit on residential streets is 25 mph and 30 mph on arterial streets unless otherwise posted. Drivers are expected to know and obey the speed limit.”

That means that McClellan and Beacon have maximum speeds of 30 mph and all side streets have maximum speeds of 25. Notable exception: the Beacon Hill Greenway, which runs from I-90 to Lucile Street and has posted speeds of 20 mph.

Stopping for pedestrian. The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk unmarked or marked when the pedestrian is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.” (emphasis author’s.)

Bottom line: slow down and be alert for people trying to cross the street. It’s responsible, it’s respectful, it’s neighborly and it’s the law. If you’re interested in making it safer to walk/bike to school/work/shops in the neighborhood, consider contacting Feet First and/or Beacon BIKES for ideas.

Melissa Jonas has been regularly walking the not-so-mean streets of Beacon Hill since 2003, first with a dog and now with a preschooler. She’s the Chair of the North Beacon Hill Council, which meets next on Sept 10, 7pm in the library community room. All opinions are her own.

Do you have something to say? Send us your own opinion pieces on this or other Beacon Hill-related topics.

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