Tag Archives: safety

Opinion: Mountains-to-Sound Trail doesn’t end well

Amazing views greet cyclists on the Mountains-to-Sound Trail. Photo by Willie Weir.
by Willie Weir

(This article is cross-posted, with permission, from the blog Yellow Tent Adventures. — Ed.)

Recently ribbons were cut and speeches were made at the opening of the new segment of the Mountains-to-Sound Trail. Any additional trail miles that provide needed access for bikes and pedestrians is cause for celebration. Except that the Mountains-to-Sound Trail now officially ends at a blind corner of a very steep hill.

Holgate, which rises to and descends from Beacon Hill, is legendary on this side of the city. It is the type of road that even some seasoned cyclists choose to avoid. If you are descending it from the top of Beacon Hill, you can easily hit 40mph without a single pedal stroke. You just take the lane and fly. The road crosses I-5, and at this point as a cyclist, you need to be hyper-aware as you dump out onto the left lane of traffic. Cars turning from Airport Way S. are speeding to make the light at 6th Ave. S. Many motorists like to make a left hand turn across your path as they exit the Office Depot. And the road surface is a photo op for the “repave our streets” campaign.

On the way up Holgate you are in a narrow lane with a high curb on your right as you climb over I-5. The thought that a car clipping you could send you catapulting onto the freeway is enough to have many cyclists choose to ride on the left hand sidewalk and then cross over at the blind corner as the sidewalk ends. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Can you imagine parents riding their bikes along with their two young kids tackling any or all of this? It sounds rather nightmarish.

And yet it is a possibility. The Mountains-to-Sound Trail is a separated recreational path. The type of trail that is desirable for riders and walkers who aren’t comfortable in traffic. The recently opened extension expands the trail from 12th Ave. S. to Holgate. The path is a delight and offers beautiful vistas of downtown Seattle. I had a hard time wiping the grin off my face the first time I rode it.

The end of the Mountains to Sound Trail at the blind corner of Holgate and Beacon Ave. S. Photo by Willie Weir.
My grin faded at Holgate. The sign simply reads, “End. Mt. to Sound Trail” That’s it. No more information.

What is the family with their two kids going to do? They’ll look at the option of crossing the road at the blind intersection and climbing the steep hill to their left. But what’s up there? They don’t know, because they are visiting from Spokane or Missoula and they don’t know that at the top is the business district of Beacon Hill with a light rail station, bus connections, stores, restaurants, a library, and a huge park. No, to them it’s just a big scary hill to destinations unknown.

Then they’ll look down the hill and think, “The Sound is that way.” They’ll opt to walk their bikes down the sidewalk because the hill is steep and their kids are scared. This is good. Because that sidewalk ends in a flight of stairs. To their credit, SDOT has posted a sign regarding this about 200 feet before impact.

The sidewalk down Holgate quickly becomes a stairway, dangerous for bikes. Photo by Willie Weir.
Now our visiting family is stuck. Because to continue forward means having to lift their bikes onto a narrow road with speeding traffic and “take the lane, kids.” Beyond this dangerous move there is no signage letting them know that they are three blocks away from the bike path that runs parallel to light rail.

But I’m guessing at this point our family will opt to turn around and push their bikes back up the sidewalk. The kids will be crying and Mom and Dad will think, “This is unsafe and crazy.” They will finally reach the trail and backtrack from whence they came.

What the family doesn’t know is that the Mountains-to-Sound Trail will eventually be completed. There will be a switchback trail that crosses under the freeway and connects to the bike trail and light rail station at Royal Brougham. But construction of that section isn’t even scheduled yet… so it’s years away.

In the meantime, information needs to be posted that gives everyone an option. Experienced city traffic cyclists can take a right at Holgate and shoot into the Sodo District or take a cautious left and climb to the Beacon Hill business district. Others can backtrack and follow the bike route signs to downtown, or be routed that way to begin with.

The dangerous conditions at the blind curve where Holgate becomes Beacon Ave. S. need to be addressed. This is now more important than ever! This is one of the few accessible routes up to Beacon Hill and it should be made safe for everyone.

The Mountain-to-Sound Trail extension is great! It will be better when it is finished (South Seattle’s missing link?). But until then, we need signage that explains the current conditions, and improvements that give everyone safe options. Without them, the ride doesn’t end well.

Traffic safety meeting presents calming options

Photo by Peter Blanchard via Creative Commons.
If drivers speed recklessly on your residential street and you’d like to do something about it, you or someone from your street should attend the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program meeting on Wednesday, May 25, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Beacon Hill Library.

Neighborhood Traffic Operations (NTO), a workgroup within the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), is hosting the event to meet with neighbors who are concerned about speeding on their residential street. NTO representatives will present a brief overview of traffic calming options (such as chicanes, traffic circles, radar speed signs, etc.), what steps a neighborhood must take to be considered for traffic calming, the criteria staff use to prioritize projects, and possible funding sources. They will also teach the proper use of radar speed guns.

If you wish to enroll your street in the traffic calming program, a representative from your street must attend this meeting or one of the other meetings (the next one is in Queen Anne in July).

You can find more information about the traffic calming program on the SDOT website.

The Beacon Hill Library is located at 2821 Beacon Ave. S.

Public safety topic of next NBHC meeting

Public safety on Beacon Hill is the focus of next week’s North Beacon Hill Council meeting, Thursday, March 3 at 7 p.m.

Here is the planned agenda as forwarded by Judith Edwards:

  • 7:00 Hellos and Agenda
  • 7:05 Public Safety on Beacon Hill
    (10 minutes each)
    • Sgt. Ann Martin, South Precinct, Seattle Police Department
    • Lt. Fowler, new South Precinct Lieutenant
    • Craig Thompson, Community Leaders for Public Safety Committee Member
  • 7:35 Q and A
  • 8:00 Other Community Reports and Announcements
    • Food Forest at Jefferson Park
    • Community Planting on Beacon and Forest, March 20
    • Advisory vote from Council on supporting parking at El Centro for 80 vehicles, and acting on discussion at our last meeting there will be no fencing around the parking lot.
  • Announcements and upcoming events
  • 8:15 Executive Board Meeting – Vote on parking at El Centro, approval of meeting minutes from previous months.

The meeting is at the Beacon Hill Library, 2821 Beacon Avenue South. All are welcome.

Free breakfast and other Halloween happenings on the Hill

Photo by TheCulinaryGeek via Creative Commons.
Tasha’s is offering free breakfast to kids in costume today (Halloween).  The kids’ menu has tasty treats for every little monster’s palate, and the family-owned business welcomes children of all ages. Mom and Dad might want to prepare for a long day by enjoying one of Tasha’s mimosas with breakfast.

Head to El Centro on Monday for the opening ceremony for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The Ofrendas (altars) are always amazing, and this event is a wonderful combination of solemn and festive celebration of those who have passed on.

Here are a few tips to keep your monsters safe while they’re being spooky (from the Centers for Disease Control—experts on scary!)

  • Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
  • Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
  • Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
  • Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
  • Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.
  • Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Otherwise, stay outside.

Bad behavior in Stevens Place Park

Neighbor Tess writes with concerns about Stevens Place Park (commonly known as Triangle Park, located on Beacon Avenue South between South Forest and South Stevens):


View Stevens Place/Triangle Park in a larger map

I don’t know if a blog post is the best venue for this query, but i would love to get feedback from the community. I live on Beacon Ave S, right across the street from the little triangle park at S Stevens near the library. I also live very close to the #36 bus stop. Obviously, where we are situated we get a lot of traffic and noise from passers-by. However, we also get a lot of drunk people who hang out on the benches in the triangle park, sometimes cross the street and sit in the bus shelter and sometimes also migrate to the dentist’s office parking lot. We get a lot of yelling, screaming, singing, smashing bottles, foul language, and even public urination (against the tree in the triangle park or against the hedges in the parking lot). We have a family with little kids that lives downstairs and they often play on their toy bikes in front of the house. It’s hard to know what to do. Does anyone deal with this? Any suggestions?

The BHB headquarters is very near Stevens Place, and we have noticed the same occurrences, including public urination, confrontational behavior with neighbors in the park, and activity that looks very much like drug transactions; this has been the status quo at this park for a while now. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Sunbathing, sleeping, or worse? One Saturday this summer, four men were sleeping on the grass in Stevens Park. Aid cars arrived slightly later to attend to one of these men. We don't know about the men in this particular picture, but often the sleepers in the park are intoxicated or worse. Aid car and police visits to the park have been very frequent this summer. Photo by Jason.

Walking with Tica: Andy Rooney edition

Photo by Dru Bloomfield (CC).
(For all you youngsters out there, Andy Rooney is a commentator on 60 Minutes.)

Hey Beacon Hill drivers: what’s the rush? I’ve been walking these streets for six years, enjoying the peaceful community, friendly neighbors, and quiet streets. Something changed lately… the streets are not as quiet.  Maybe the construction traffic for Sound Transit slowed traffic on McClellan, and now people are back to their Speed Racer habits.  It’s not just arterials, though.  Folks are flying down side streets, too.  My older dog and increasing belly are slow—is there some reason we should hurry?

Is your kid late enough to school that you need to rush a pregnant woman crossing 23rd? Did you forget to Tivo your soap opera, making it necessary to drive 40mph down 20th, narrowly avoiding parked cars and cats dashing across the street?  Is there any reason you absolutely must turn right on red as that senior citizen loaded with groceries is making his way across Beacon?

Unless you have flashing lights to go on top of your car or are driving someone to the hospital—SLOW DOWN!  Per SDOT: 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.

Pedestrians (and our pooches, strollers, toddlers) have right of way. Stop, look, and wait for pedestrians at intersections. Perhaps you could use that 20 seconds to meditate… or maybe you could hang up your cell phone, put down your sandwich, and remember that you’re in a metal cage capable of killing someone.

Other Andy Rooney editions that probably won’t be posted in the blog:

Why do teenagers text while crossing the road?

Is it too much to ask for people to pick up after their dogs?

You darn kids get off my lawn!

Walking with Tica: Crime and safety edition

Neighbors walking their dogs can be helpful as a crime watch force in the neighborhood. Photo by melanie b.
Neighbors walking their dogs can be helpful as a crime watch force in the neighborhood. Photo by melanie b.
Like most of you, I’ve been following the posts and news stories about break-ins, robberies, car prowls, and other crimes in and around our neighborhood.  One of our close neighbors had their car window smashed in a few weeks ago—and none of us heard a thing.  I try to balance between wariness and paranoia, common sense and complacency.  Mostly, I try to focus on what I can do to keep our community as safe as possible.

Many people travel during December, leaving their homes for a few days or weeks.  I encourage you to consider a safety plan for your home while making your travel plans.   Here are a couple of sites with basic safety/crime prevention tips, and here’s my list:

  • Inform your immediate neighbors that you’re going to be gone and ask them to keep an eye on your car and the exterior of your house.
  • Lock everything—windows, doors, sheds/garages, cars.
  • Leave keys (house and car) with at least one trusted neighbor, along with local emergency contacts and a way to reach you while you’re gone.
  • For short trips, ask someone to check your mail—just so that there’s foot traffic up and down your porch and to prevent possible mail/identity theft.
  • Ask someone to brush leaves/snow off your car or to keep an eye on your garage.
  • For longer trips, either put a hold on mail and paper delivery or ask someone to pick up daily (same with the promotional materials people leave on doorknobs, yellow page books, and other deliveries).
  • Keep things normal: consider putting a couple of lamps on a timer; if you have holiday lights or use exterior lights, put them on a timer, too; ask someone to bring trash/recycle/yard waste cans to the curb and back.
  • If you’re planning to be away for more than a few days, consider asking someone to come in and check on your house. There are some very responsible teenagers in our neighborhood.
  • Find someone you trust to stay in your house.  Check references and have your neighbors check in on this person.
  • If you have pets, you’ll need to take them into consideration as well; these tips are for property safety only.  Special considerations for pets: let your vet know you’re traveling and leave a check or credit card number with them in case of emergency; make sure your pet-sitter has access to travel carriers and driving directions to the emergency clinic; keep copies of pet license numbers and/or microchip numbers current.

Our entire community is safer when we get to know each other.  Offer to help your neighbors, and ask for help.  Bring in the trash cans for an elderly neighbor, deliver cookies to a newcomer, and talk to people when you see them outside.   If you see something suspicious or have concerns, share them—not just with the neighborhood mailing list or the blog, but with the household involved.

Those of us with dogs spend a lot more time on the sidewalk than most people—especially now that it’s dark earlier and the weather isn’t welcoming for an after-dinner stroll.  Tica and I are both very aware of the patterns of our neighborhood: what kind of cars people drive, when folks are home, new neighbors… and of course, who has dogs and what time they’re out.  We know most of the regulars out walking at various times. I feel like I could reliably identify someone who was out of place, and I’m confident I would notice someone suspicious loading your TV into a van.

Tica and I are a great team to enlist for help watching your house.  Your block probably has a few dogs out every night for a constitutional—do you know them?  They’re potential allies.  The missing piece is knowing how to reach you if there is a problem. Does your next door neighbor have a cell number for you while you’re on vacation?

Wishing everyone a safe, warm winter—at home or away!

Be alert when out in the dark mid-afternoon

Colette shares a suspicious situation her husband witnessed last night:

Around 7pm my husband was walking our dog on 22nd and McClellan and passed a gentleman walking with a backpack. Continuing his walk, my husband noticed two males walking at a fast pace. One of the individuals crossed the street and walked in the same direction as the gentleman and my husband noticed some sort of hand signal between the two of them. They then noticed my husband and stopped their pursuit. It may have been nothing, but it seemed as though it could have been a robbery situation… Now that it is getting darker earlier it’s a good idea to be aware of what’s around you, especially if you’re walking alone.

Stay alert! Report suspicious activity and keep your neighbors safe. Thanks Colette!

Beacon Bits: Street food, dangerous planting strips, and the Swinery… again

This guy is darned happy with his food from Marination Mobile. Photo by Daryn Nakhuda.
This guy is darned happy with his food from Marination Mobile. Photo by Daryn Nakhuda.
Lots of Bits today, so here goes…

David Gackenbach reminded us of something we haven’t mentioned on the blog, but have via Twitter: Marination Mobile brings their truck o’ deliciousness to North Beacon Hill (near Amazon and Jose Rizal Park) most every Thursday around lunchtime. Check their web schedule, or follow them (curb_cuisine) on Twitter.

* * *

Keyunda Wilson at Van Asselt Elementary writes to invite everyone to a Community Play Day at the new Van Asselt site (the former African-American Academy, 8311 Beacon Avenue South) on Thursday, September 24 from 3:30-5:30 pm. The event will feature active playground games, face painting, and environmental education. Everyone is invited to participate.

* * *

Among King County’s new liquor license applications, we notice this one:

Notification Date: 9/18/2009
Business Name: JAVA LOVE CAFE’
Business Location: 2414 BEACON AVE S, SEATTLE, WA 98144-5035
Applicant(s): LATIN BROTHERS INCORPORATED; RODRIGUEZ, OSCAR; CESTRO,
GUADALUPE; PRICHARD, TIMOTHY; RODRIGUEZ, JOSE LUIS
Liquor License Type: SPIRITS/BR/WN REST LOUNGE +
Application Type: ADDED/CHANGE OF CLASS/IN LIEU
License Number: 085750

Continue reading Beacon Bits: Street food, dangerous planting strips, and the Swinery… again

Beacon Bits: Street repair, home values, and the Great Seattle Fire

Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives
Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives
  • The Seattle Department of Transportation will be working on 15th Avenue South this Saturday, June 6, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, repairing pavement. The street will be closed to all traffic except for local access, pedestrians, and bicyclists, between South Atlantic Street (on the north) and South College Street (on the south). 14th Avenue south is the detour route. The street will open to northbound traffic at 3:00 pm, and for both directions at 6:00.
  • June 6 is also the 120th anniversary of the Great Seattle Fire. Commemorate it by checking your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
  • While housing in the rest of King County lost value last year, Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley home prices went up, perhaps a result of the soon-to-be-open light rail line. This news gives at least one Beacon Hill resident reason to smile.
  • Art On Airport, an artists’ open studio event, is happening just down the hill in Georgetown on Saturday, June 13, from 11:00 am – 7:00 pm. Artists in the Sunny Arms Artists Cooperative, the Old Rainier Brewery and the 4810 Building will welcome visitors into their studios to see painting, sculpture, photography, and printmaking, as well as performing arts. It’s free and open to the public.
  • Following up on a post from December 12: the elderly woman found in her home on 26th Avenue South covered in maggots and filth, is now being cared for in a nursing home. Her daughter, Margaret A. George, has been charged with criminal mistreatment and theft. She is scheduled to be arraigned June 9 in King County Superior Court.
  • Don’t forget to check our events calendar to see what’s going in the next few days, including the SNAP Disaster Preparedness workshop on Thursday and the Beacon Hill Festival on Saturday!