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Rules of the road not optional

August 21st, 2013 at 3:23 am | 5 Comments | 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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Opinion: Crosswalks needed at unsafe intersections

August 19th, 2013 at 4:43 pm | 16 Comments | Posted by admin


View 14th Ave. S. dangers in a larger map. This unsafe stretch of 14th Ave. S. should be improved, says Mark Holland.

by Mark Holland

The intersections at 14th Avenue South and College and Walker need crosswalks.

I live on the corner of 14th Avenue South and College. On August 6, the night of the rollover accident, I was on the street within 10 seconds of the impact which was deafening. I had to pull my car away from the wreck as it burst into flames, after stopping the passenger from fleeing as the driver ran down College toward the greenbelt.

In the last wreck at this corner, five teenagers in a stolen Honda roared up College eastbound toward 14th, crashing into the curb, taking out two trees, up onto the sidewalk where they nearly hit a group of kids on the corner. The suspension was damaged and they all jumped out of the moving vehicle which rolled up onto the sidewalk across 14th and landed against a retaining wall. The motor was still running and I saw there were no keys. I had to pop the hood and pull the plug wires to stop the engine. Every six months or so my neighbors and I have to deal with carnage on this corner. Luckily we have great neighbors around here. Any time something happens everyone is out on the street within seconds. Police and Fire respond within minutes. It’s a great place to have a disaster. Everyone does their part. I wish I could say the same for SDOT.

The bicycle lane on 14th gets painted every three months, but the center yellow line does not. SDOT just painted the center line after the accident, but before it was barely visible.

Cars speed on this section of 14th because it is engineered to be a speedway. Northbound Beacon traffic hits the “slip lane” (SDOT’s term) at 14th and takes the turn at full speed, bypassing the four way stop intersection, just as the traffic engineers designed it to. At the end of the “slip” lane the driver looks north on 14th and sees a green light three blocks down at Hill, and nothing in between. There is no cross walk, curb bulbs, signage or anything on 14th to tell drivers there is a lot of activity at College, or at Walker.

I just had an application for a crosswalk at 14th and College turned down by SDOT. It costs $15,000 to install a crosswalk. More if you want curb bulbs. For $30,000 we could install crosswalks at College and at Walker in front of the store.

SDOT said they did not see 20 people per hour cross at College, and the intersection is under bus trolley power lines, which is apparently a problem. Those are their reasons for doing nothing.

For comparison our lovely “Greenway” just cost $420,000 for a little over two miles and there were no accidents recorded at any of the intersections affected by the Greenway, according to SDOT. Except for the weirdness at Beacon and Hanford, most of the Greenway seems to consist of lots of stop signs in inexplicable locations and bicycle stencils on a quiet neighborhood street. Other than that, 18th is the same as it’s been for the last 100 years: missing sidewalks, curbs, and gutters north of College.

SDOT has the police reports. They know the accident numbers. Why is all the focus on an already safe Greenway, when we have truly dangerous roadways that are due to “bad” driving, but also due to “bad” traffic engineering, or lack of any engineering at all, like at College and Walker?

We need crosswalks, curb bulbs and ramps with “Stop when pedestrians are present” signs at College and at Walker. SDOT is installing crosswalks like this all over the city but there is not one on Beacon Hill. Why not?

The “slip” lane has got to go. It sends cars speeding through the intersection creating conflict with traffic merging onto 14th from the four way stop. Often vehicles “slip” through in a train of several cars. If the first car accelerates, they all do, while tailgating. That is when the honking and screeching of tires happens at College where the northbound vehicles are moving 40+ mph. The vast majority of honking and tire screeching interactions involve a speeding northbound vehicle on 14th and a westbound vehicle on College turning in either direction onto 14th. Most accidents involve a northbound vehicle on 14th.

The light at Hill is always green unless someone presses the button to cross. It simply draws drivers forward. Drivers think they need to make the light before it turns red, but it never changes unless a pedestrian pushes the button. Even the buses speed down this section of 14th. Maybe the light at Hill should be replaced with a yellow yield or crosswalk light with curb bulbs and a more visible crosswalk. What is the point of a 24/7 green light?

Beacon Hill should be paying more attention to what SDOT is doing or not doing in our neighborhood. The thing to remember about SDOT is the Mayor pretty much has all the control. There is little the City Council can do except approve or disapprove the Mayor’s plans. Just like the rest of us.

Mark Holland is a long time Beacon Hill resident, a founding member of the Jefferson Park Alliance (JPA), and served on the Jefferson Park Planning Committee (JPPC) during the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood planning process from 1998-2000.

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


View Larger Map. The “slip lane” shown on the right in this satellite image is hazardous, says Mark Holland.


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Pedestrian safety project kicks off at Asa Mercer Middle School

June 6th, 2013 at 5:39 am | 2 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Photo by Wendi Dunlap.

Safe Kids Seattle, the Seattle Department of Transportation, Feet First and FedEx are starting a year-long partnership with Beacon Hill’s Asa Mercer Middle School, with a goal of improving safety and conditions for pedestrians in the area around the school. The kickoff event for this program is tonight (June 6) at 6 p.m., during the Sixth Grade Parent Welcome Night at Asa Mercer Middle School, 1600 S. Columbian Way.

As part of the project, FedEx is presenting the Safe Kids task force with a grant of $25,000 for work throughout the upcoming year to improve permanent walking conditions for child pedestrians in the Asa Mercer community. The task force will create both environmental changes in the area, and educational campaigns to increase pedestrian awareness.


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“Love that dirty water”: Brown water reported on North Beacon

May 7th, 2013 at 4:10 pm | 3 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Not very appetizing! Photo courtesy of Greg Martinez.

Not very appetizing! Photo courtesy of Greg Martinez.

Last Sunday we started getting tweets and emails about discolored drinking water in part of North Beacon Hill in an area including 18th and Massachusetts and 18th and College.

The water did clear up after some hours, but Andy Ryan at Seattle Public Utilities tells us:

Discolored water has been reported in recent days in some areas of Seattle, including Beacon Hill. A likely cause is testing of fire hydrants by the Seattle Fire Departments. The water is safe to drink, but it may be unappealing, so we recommend that you wait until it clears before drinking it.

The water should clear on its own. Try running the cold water for a few minutes to see if it is clearing or still discolored. If the water does not clear, let the water sit for an hour. Then run the water for a few minutes and flush the toilet a couple of times.

If your water remains discolored, please contact Seattle Public Utilities Customer Service at (206) 684-3000.


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Shape up at Van Asselt CC this spring

March 19th, 2013 at 4:25 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Get rid of your old exercise albums and tapes and try Van Asselt’s fitness courses instead. Photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr/Creative Commons.

Two upcoming classes at Van Asselt Community Center will help neighbors aged 18 and older shake off those winter pounds and get more fit.

The first class, Aerobics, will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m., starting on April 2. Longtime instructor Noel Montgomery will lead the class. The cost to join is $75, or $65 for adults 65 and up.

The second class, Boot Camp, is an “intense evening workout” to gain strength and endurance while losing weight. The Van Asselt neighborhood is the exercise arena for this class, which will run on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. starting on April 16. Cost for the Boot Camp class is $65.

Call 206–386–1921 to register or for more information.


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Fitness classes still open at Van Asselt Community Center

February 8th, 2013 at 1:22 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

It may be February, but it’s not too late to make or keep your New Year’s resolution. Yoga and aerobics classes are still open at at Van Asselt Community Center, 2820 S. Myrtle St.

Class information:

Aerobics
Ages: 18 and Older
Tuesday/Thursday
1/14 – 3/4/13
6 – 7 pm
Cost: $75/$65(Seniors 65+)

Adult aerobics on Tuesday and Thursday nights with health and fitness expert, Noel Montgomery. No class 3/12.

Beginning Yoga
Ages: 18 and Older
Wednesday Nights
2/6 – 2/27
3/6 – 3/27
Cost: $30 per month

In this class you will learn the fundamentals of yoga. It is taught at a slower pace to allow you to experience postures fully and to learn to incorporate modifications specific to your abilities and limitations. The class is appropriate for both new yoga students and students with some experience who want to develop a regular practice. Please provide your own yoga mats and water bottle.

For more information, call 206-386–1921.


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Flu vaccination clinic in Columbia City today and next week

January 24th, 2013 at 9:04 am | 2 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

If you haven’t yet gotten a flu shot, it’s not too late. Seattle and King County Public Health are providing free flu vaccinations today and next Thursday for all people over 6 months of age without health insurance or who are otherwise unable to pay for vaccination.

The vaccinations will be at the Columbia Public Health Center at 4400 37th Ave. S. in Columbia City. from 3-7 p.m. today, January 24, and next Thursday, January 31.

A few things to know:

  • No other vaccinations will be offered at the time of the clinics.
  • You will be able to get flu shots or nasal spray vaccines; preservative-free, gelatin-free and latex-free vaccines will be available.
  • You do not need to be a regular client at Public Health Centers and you do not need to show proof of citizenship to get the vaccination.
  • If you are pregnant, elderly, or you have a health problem such as diabetes, heart disease, or asthma, the vaccine is especially important for you. Go get it!

For more information, see the website.


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Open letter: Coal train impacts need to be studied

January 22nd, 2013 at 6:44 am | 2 Comments | Posted by admin

Today at 5 p.m. is the end of the “scoping period” to submit written concerns about the proposal to run new coal trains through South Seattle near Beacon Hill from the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. Comments submitted in this scoping period will help in defining the impacts to be included in the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Neighbor Mira Latoszek wrote this commentary letter:

Dear Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Ecology and Whatcom County Council:

I am a resident of the North Beacon Hill neighborhood of south Seattle. I live directly to the east of the train tracks that would carry an increased number of trains to and from the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. Beacon Hill is a large Seattle neighborhood of approximately 40,000 people. I am asking that you study impacts associated with the increase of trains at crossings in south Seattle, specifically at Spokane St., Lander St. and Holgate St. These are major intersections connecting Beacon Hill to the Industrial District, the Port of Seattle, the waterfront, and downtown.

I, along with many of my neighbors on Beacon Hill, are dependent on goods and services from the SODO area which would be directly affected by the increase of trains at these crossings. In addition, many of us work in an around the SODO area and the southern end of downtown Seattle, including several owners of small businesses. I travel by car and bike through these intersections on a daily basis to get to my job on Second Avenue in Pioneer Square. Being able to get across the train tracks quickly and safely is an important part of my life.

According to the applicant’s Project Information Document (Feb. 2011), full build out of the coal export facility would result in nine full northbound trains along this line a day, which equates to 18 train trips a day; however, nothing in the project materials specifies a maximum. The 18 trains per day round trip could be increased if export capacity of the proposed port were expanded in the future. The current port proposal occupies 350 acres of a 1,000-acre site. Each train may be over 1.5 miles long, which at 50 miles per hour would mean approximately 3-4 minutes between train approach warning/gate closure and ultimate gate opening. At 35 miles per hour it could take approximately 6-7 minutes to clear a crossing as the siding near
this area is rated for 35 mph. The 18 trains per day would equate to approximately one additional coal train every 1.3 hours, all day long, in addition to existing train traffic. That would translate to an addition of approximately two hours per day that vehicles and people would not be able to cross these major intersections in south Seattle.

More »


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WSDOT warns neighborhood: construction to be noisy

December 28th, 2012 at 7:14 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Enjoy holiday peace and quiet while you can. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), neighbors living near I-5 need to prepare for noisy construction work over 11 weekends starting on January 4, 2013 and ending in April. This is to replace 31 steel expansion joints in ramps on northbound I-5 near Georgetown, and between I-5 and the West Seattle Bridge, 6th Avenue South, South Spokane Street, and Columbian Way South.

WSDOT warns that nearby neighbors may hear jackhammers, sawcutters, air-powered tools, and other noise. Work crews will use noise shields when feasible. If you want to ensure your sound sleep, free earplugs are available to nearby residents; call 206-440-4699 for more information.

Along with the noise, there will be complete closures of the affected ramps during work weekends, and occasionally during the week. Detours will be provided.

See more about the project here.


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Coyotes seen in the neighborhood

November 22nd, 2012 at 5:01 am | 3 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Neighbor Vinna wrote with a warning:

“On Tuesday, Nov 20th around 1:30 a.m. I was driving home and on the corner of College and 21st Ave South I believe I saw a coyote. It was dark and I was able to take a picture. The next day I learned that my neighbor of four cats was missing one and found another half eaten.

“I want my fellow neighbors to be aware and thought this might be the best way in case others had pets that may be outside.”

Coyote sightings were also the subject of some discussion on the Beacon Hill mailing list this week, where neighbor Waldene wrote:

Around 9:30 pm Monday evening a coyote was on the SE corner of 12th and I believe Lee Street right across from PacMed. He acted like a scared, lost dog. I didn’t know what to do so I pulled up next to him/her and blew my horn. I was hoping to scare it back into Lewis Park but instead it ran across 12th. It looked confused.

Coyote sightings aren’t unusual on Beacon Hill. We also see raccoons and possums visiting our yards sometimes. Please keep your pets safe.

Photo by Vinna Nanola.


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