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!

12 thoughts on “Walking with Tica: Andy Rooney edition”

  1. I agree that this is a serious problem, not only on the residential streets, but particularly in front of the Link station. That flashing light just isn’t cutting it.

    I would like to see our famous all-way stop at 15th and Beacon converted to a standard stoplight, and the all-way moved south to the Lander/Beacon/16th intersection. It’s sort of dumb to still have it at 15th, since the library isn’t there anymore, and when the festival street kicks in, it would be great to have that freedom. Plus, it would slow traffic down along there. If Columbia City can have a light on every corner of Rainier, why can’t we? 😉

  2. We could also use a marked crosswalk at 17th and Lander (the East exit from the station/festival street). The offset streets make it a bit of a funky crossing to begin with and most cars speeding down 17th just don’t pay attention to the “any intersection is an unmarked crosswalk” rule.

  3. YES to both ideas. That offset intersection at 17th & Lander is treacherous. People fly down Lander and act shocked when they see an obstacle–such as a pedestrian. The library intersection is also hit-and-miss (pun fully intended). Some folks are cautious and respectful, others are in their own world.

    Beyond increased lights/stops, I’d like to see police issuing more tickets. McClellan, Beacon, and 23rd all need to be slowed down.

  4. McClellan is tough. I live one house to the south and see all sorts. The bad driving doesn’t descriminate either. Just as likely to see the guy in the BMW blazing down at close to 50 as anything. Not too long ago, I saw a guy passing another guy going down the hill between 17th and 18th. Really? You need to pass on a neighborhood arterial? Not to mention that there is no way to pass on that street without breaking the rule of passing at an intersection. MORONS! The worst is at night. I regularly hear the sound of some punk bottoming out trying to get down that hill as fast as possible. Luckily, I have only witnessed a couple accidents there, but the potential is very high. I would welcome an occasional speed trap half way down that hill.

    Also, the cross-walks crossing McClellan are completely ignored. Recently, one of my neighbors ended up on the hood of a pickup after getting off of the 60 bus. It sounded like it was clearly the driver’s fault but I’m not sure how that ended up. The pedestrian was ok. I was actually honked at once crossing 18th on the sidewalk on the south side of McClellan. The guy in the car actually had to slow down and stop because I entered the intersection. God forbid!

  5. I hear the bottoming out as people approach 18th, and I’ve seen the passing. I’m just as flabbergasted–passing? Really?

    I parked on the street for a while, as a traffic calming measure. It worked–people slowed–but I gave up because it’s only a matter of time before my car gets hit. If we staged a “park-in” and got 2 cars per block to park on the north side of McClellan between 20th & 18th I think traffic would slow waaay down.

  6. I have been honked at more times than I care to count while walking my dog across the street that cuts up to spokane from 15th right by the reservoir. They really need to repaint the crosswalk there!

  7. These are great ideas and we need more of them. It would be great if these were in our neighborhood plan update so that when SDOT gets money for pedestrian improvements in the coming years there would be some direction on how it should be spent in our neighborhood.

    It’s too bad that the proposed neighborhood plan update doesn’t have a matrix of actionable ideas like this. The plan from a decade ago did and a large majority of those items were completed. SDOT and the other departments don’t look on neighborhood blogs for ideas on what projects to spend money on, they look in the neighborhood plan. And if they don’t, we have a tool to make them do so.

  8. The update wasn’t supposed to and didn’t address issues outside of Urban Village zoning. The 1999 neighborhood plan is still very much in effect.

    As a community, we have many tools available to help us brainstorm. The blog is a great way to share ideas & provides a jumping-off point for folks to pursue funding and/or volunteer projects to make those ideas happen.

  9. The update didn’t address anything outside Urban Village zoning because DPD created a process whereby it wouldn’t. So we got a predetermined result. The 1999 plan addressed issues in the wider community. Because it is so limited, the update might be more correctly called an appendix to the neighborhood plan. Terminology is important.

    Our matrix needs an update as well as most of the items in it are completed or don’t apply anymore. DPD and the city don’t currently have any plans to add to the matrix and validate it. The departments are run by bureaucrats who work off of validated plans. They have no incentive to take on projects that aren’t on paper.

    You say that we have many tools as a community to accomplish these changes, what are they? Please name them and give us a plan of how this can be accomplished since you are essentially advocating abandoning a very valuable tool by letting it become out of date. Specifically, what are you going to do to pursue the ideas that you just talked about other than post on the blog?

  10. I have no opinion on whether the neighborhood plan should be scrapped or kept, but I hope we don’t have to wait for another round of “community meetings” to determine whether we need more traffic lights. Can’t we just talk to SDOT?

  11. Speaking from my experience working with my neighbors to improve public safety, usability and beautification on the Walker, Hill and Holgate Stairways (between 16th & 17th Aves S), I can say that going directly to a city department can work, but it can also be a complete waste of time, for the citizen advocate and for the city worker.

    We were successful in getting SDOT to do some work mainly because we had an alert neighbor who heard the mayor talking about a specific budget item to fix stairways throughout the city. By calling Steve Louie, our Neighborhood liaison (find him in the office at the Library), we found out that, yes, the budget line item was there and, no, SDOT did not have a list yet. Steve put us in touch with the guy in charge of assessing conditions and assigning work crews. He was great and SDOT got stuff done in a pretty efficient manner (as far as public-sector construction projects go).

    We also wanted some pedestrian lighting and wanted some trees trimmed or cut down for safety. That was the opposite experience, and included tours of the site with many city folk, staff changes that meant re-stating the case we were making, and finally using Dept of Neighborhoods Matching Fund money to hire a consultant to produce a report to support our case. When SDOT said OK to tree cutting, we then spent DON money to do the work by a private contractor.

    City Light was ten times more frustrating than SDOT.

    Having a written, specific plan for projects in the neighborhood makes it easier and more efficient for the city to do its work. It also means that we don’t feel that we have to beg and plead, protest and demand or take up a petition for every stinkin’ streetlight or crosswalk that needs to be installed.

  12. One great thing about the blog is that conversations can happen in a convenient location and at a time that works for the people interested. It’s more spontaneous and easier than in-person meetings.

    If we all contacted agencies at our convenience, those emails/phone calls would add up. If 2 people call SDOT because this blog post reminded them how bad a certain crosswalk is, that adds to the file on that crosswalk. Same with suspicious activity, noise complaints, etc.

    The thing that I think would make the most difference in traffic calming is parking on the street. If those of us who live on or near McClellan agreed to park as a group for a few days, we would see a tremendous difference.

    As for crosswalks & lights…my guess is that David’s experiences are typical. I’ve contacted SDOT about my concerns re: speeding on McClellan. The person who responded seemed engaged, but disappeared.

    Changing/improving things almost always takes longer and is more difficult than it should be…but it’s worth it. I’m willing to participate in meetings and volunteer my time in groups, but the more action I can take the better. Sometimes that action is as simple as sharing my complaints about bad drivers on a blog…

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