Opinion: Alley speeders need to slow down

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by Jennifer Zwick

I live on 14th and South Hinds Street, an area right by the freeway exit. People often drive very fast on this almost one-lane neighborhood street, in order to cut down to the freeway (thus bypassing 15th and therefore saving seconds of time). Since we don’t have sidewalks, and the road has two curves, it is very dangerous—poor visibility, and literally nowhere for pedestrians to go.

When even this shortcut takes too long, they also often bypass even 14th/South Hinds Street, and instead cut at high speeds through my alley. This is even worse, since it’s very narrow and abuts right next to all property—and of course, no alley sidewalks as well.

A few days ago, I was walking in the alley to my house (I take the alley due to lack of street sidewalks) when a man, smoking and driving a silver Lexus SUV, sped towards me up the alley from the freeway. Please keep in mind that I am very obviously pregnant, which makes me slower than normal. Regardless, apparently this short pregnant pedestrian didn’t move out of “his” way fast enough, so, barely stopping, he rolled his window down and shouted “this road is for cars.” No sir, it is not. It is an alley. It is for property access. There are actual roads to the left and right of this alley. This kind of thing is, unfortunately, common.

I feel this is very unsafe but don’t know what to do. My dream would involve a speedbump or two in the alley to prevent speeding impolite people shaving off fractions of a second of their drive by taking the alley instead of a road, and sidewalks on the curved stretch of South Hinds Street.

(Anyone have any advice for Jennifer? We suggested that she check out the SDOT Neighborhood Traffic Operations: Traffic Calming Program website, but we hope some of you have better advice.)

9 thoughts on “Opinion: Alley speeders need to slow down”

  1. i definitely sympathize, as i frequently use that alley to get to the bus stop at spokane & columbian. i also live on 15th (a.k.a. NBBH raceway) and have had it with inconsiderate and unsafe drivers. i wish the city had a permit that would make it legal for me to launch water balloons at chronic speeders (those of us on 15th know who you are, scofflaws!) from my front porch.

    ahhh, venting felt good.

    seriously though, one thing you could certainly do is contact SDOT NTO. explain the issue just as you’ve done above.

    the city probably has the most power to help, so SDOT is your main POC. can’t promise anything will come of it, but i wish you good luck!

  2. Where I used to live in West Seattle (in the very pedestrian oriented Junction), the alleys had signs posted that listed the speed limit as 7 MPH. I would ask SDOT to install these at a minimum.

    For what it’s worth, SDOT has been one of the most responsive city agencies that I’ve contacted – I highly recommend calling over email. Be safe in the meantime.

  3. I used to live in the apartments in that Alley, you are correct it is very dangerous. Maybe changing 14th & Hines to Local Access only/ One Way would slow the problem down.

  4. Being an alley I wonder how much SDOT would do since alleys are owner maintained. It’s promising to see the comment by tlp and speed limit signs would be very easy and low cost. Personally, you could purchase products designed to slow cars when kids are playing. I’ve seen nets you can pull across a driveway and various neon colored children at play products. These however might impact actual residents on the alley if they were trying to get to garages. Good luck.

  5. I had no idea that was actually an alley. I bet a lot of other drivers like myself don’t know that either. It has a sidewalk like area on the west for part of the side, doesn’t it?

    Anyway, if it really is an alley maybe the Spokane Street entrance should be blocked off to cars. That would sure slow things down. Residents would have to exit up the hill and no one would turn down there anymore.

    The Spokane entrance is extremely tempting and dangerous for cars too. Lots of potential head-ons right there. Do garbage trucks use it?

  6. Are you sure that the alley you are talking about isn’t South Hinds Place? Maybe not, but I don’t see anything near there that resembles an alley. I don’t want to suggest that your argument isn’t valid, but the rules are different for an actual street versus an alley. Your options are probably different as well. As Shelly suggested, SDOT probably won’t be much help with an alley, but you may get some support for a combined 14th ave/Hinds Pl. solution.

  7. Good call, Chris
    I always thought that miserable stretch behind the apartments was an alley, but DPD Imap shows it as Hinds Place S.

    Hmm… That would mean it is legally an intersection, and anyone could stroll across S Spokane street at 14th PL without waiting for a light, and still have the right of way.

    Anything that slowed traffic on S Spokane street would be welcome.

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