Lanes changed on 15th Avenue South

It looks like the restriping on 15th Avenue South north of Spokane Street has finally happened. The new right-turn lane at Spokane when heading southbound is much nicer than the old “squeeze into the de facto turn lane that isn’t really a lane, and hope you have room to make the turn” situation that used to be there. The new bike lane is nice, too. The parking situation has changed a bit, though. If you live, drive, or ride on 15th, how are you handling it?

15 thoughts on “Lanes changed on 15th Avenue South”

  1. Love it! Looking forward to when cars start parking on the street in the new 24hr zones and slowing down the moving cars.

  2. Love it as well, but it is definitely catching some people by surprise since they are going too fast to stay with the curves. I watched one person drive down the left lane for at least a 100 yards. They will learn, hopefully not the hard way. I do agree with Rob that the actual parked cars out there is what will really slow people down. I didn’t notice if the parking signs have been changed yet.

  3. The changes are great! It does say something about the situation we are in that we are hoping for more parked cars on a street. Shouldn’t there be something more useful than parked cars? Why do we spend so much of our property tax on socialized parking?

  4. Not too thrilled with northbound through Spokane on the bike. Sure, the two southbound lanes help hold drivers hands and point them to where they need to line up (good), but at the expense of a bike lane on the north side of the intersection (bad). Then there’s southbound from McClellan (north of here is well done from my first impression). That’s one narrow sharrow! Cars must swerve into a narrow lane of oncoming traffic, inevitably forcing the northbound into the new bike lane. We’ll see if I warm up to it and drivers adjust to it,, but for now its got me on edge.

  5. Giving it a few more days, I agree with Ryan. While the 2 southbound lanes @ Spokane seem to be helping, it seems at the detriment of the narrower northbound lane. This is a bad pinch location for cyclists.

    One other big issue. I also emailed Brian @ SDOT ( to say “nice work” and he informed me the northbound Metro stop just north of Spokane is staying instead of being removed, as originally planned. This upset me, given the fact it compounds the pinch spot for cyclists and in general creates a clusterf#&$ at the intersection directly behind it, worse than before whenever that bus needs to stop there. I explained to him that I always felt this stop was poorly located because it forces a snarl into Spokane, and there are two other northbound stops each within a half block either direction. The safety issue was mainly why I was glad for its removal, but with the other two stops so close, it is also obviously redundant.

    What do you think? Consider emailing Brian to share your thoughts too.

  6. As you are northbound on 15th Av So and stopped at Spokane
    Street, the very disconcerting experience you encounter
    is that you are face-to-face with opposing traffic. When
    the light changes, each opposing vehicle must make an imme-
    diate right maneuver to offset or they will strike each

    Both North and Southbound traffic is forced to do this because
    it is a single lane in each direction. Nbound, to the right, the it is restricted to BUS ONLY. Sbound, to the
    right, it is Right Turn Only.

    That is the easy problem. Let’s say that the light is
    green. Opposing traffic are forced into a Blue Angels
    maneuver. Head on, let’s say 20 mph…or faster, as they
    try to beat the light. Then, at the last split second,
    both must make a dogleg right…then left…all within 10

    It is my opinion that this design is a potential accident
    waiting to happen.



  7. The various swerves really worry me too. Once it’s raining and the lane markings become difficult to see, I can only imagine how people will accidentally go straight ahead into oncoming traffic.

    (Incidentally, why doesn’t Seattle use reflectors that remain easily visible during nighttime rain?)

  8. The last four comments seem to missing the point.
    15th is both better flowing and safer than it was.
    Why so much sour grapes?

    Should SDOT have widened the road, taking more of a tiny parking strip? If so, what cost would have been reasonable?

    SDOT doesn’t control where Metro puts stops. You may want to send feedback to the group that could change what you don’t like.

    They cost more, and don’t last as long.

    What would you prefer, given that 15th south of Spokane ST was out of scope for the redesign?


  9. PSF- i disagree that it is necessarily safer. the changes
    serve to blend a myriad of problems and needs in somewhat
    of a patchwork approach.

    When you factor in cost, you shortchange other options which
    may be more ideal. To make a thoroughfare safer, you provide
    *more* room for moving vehicles, not by shoehorning room for
    stationary vehicles within an existing, highly traveled

    What the recent lane markings have done is to set aside
    marked lanes for folks to see and understand where we
    should be positioning the vehicles.

    Now, as you approach 15th / Spokane southbound, drivers are
    being stretch out more in single file, lengthening the same
    number of cars (all things being equal)along 15th Ave
    instead of dbl lanes during rush hour. Making room for
    all-day street parking effectively removes two lane travel
    during peak times.

    Fortunately, it appears the City does agree that N and Southbound through Spokane St is not viable and will
    restripe so that the opposing lanes do not intersect each

    I don’t think we are missing the point at all. I think we
    post our opinions because we are sharing our observations
    …even if they may not coincide with SDOT’s. We live here.
    We travel these streets regularly. We see how function fits
    the form…and we speak out when they don’t.

  10. Neighbors-

    I’ve sent the following to Brian at SDOT, and I’ll second Rob in recommending sending your comments straight to him. 15th from Spokane to Lucille will be re-striped in 2011, I believe, and our comments now will help determine the final configuration.

    Here are my notes:

    The southbound stop line for traffic continuing straight may need to be moved back (north) to allow more room for cars and especially trucks turning onto NB 15th from Spokane. I was in a line up there one morning last week (in my truck), and the three vehicles in line backed up to allow a school bus to turn north onto 15th from the WB lane of Spokane. I can see this being a problem from the EB lanes as well.

    Moving the stop line north will also give a little more room for the NB and SB cars to negotiate the lane shift through the intersection. Ultimately though, I think the NB lane on 15th should be aligned before the intersection, doing away with the bus only lane.

    Which leaves the northbound bus stops. Has it been considered to move the bus stop to the island south of Spokane? Placing it there and eliminating the two stops that now exist could be beneficial. I don’t know what it would do for the traffic flow, but putting the bus stop closer to the marked and signaled crosswalk should be safer for pedestrians. As it is now, I see pedestrians cutting across 15th south of Spokane to get to the bus stop. Its a long crossing, cars speed, and visibility is less than optimal. The current location encourages this risky crossing from west to east. If the bus stop was on the island, just south of Spokane, it’d be closer for folks walking from the west and would allow eliminating the stop north of Spokane.

    Thank you for your consideration,

    David Gackenbach
    Beacon Hill

  11. another update:

    “The lane changes on 15th Ave S are not yet complete. The lane alignment at 15th and Spokane will be more in line when the changes are complete. Unfortunately the rain
    started while we were in the middle of the work, leaving the lanes as they are now. As soon as we get a break in the weather this work will be completed and the lanes will be more in line with each other.”

  12. Thanks everyone for the comments. I’m the project manager for this project at the Seattle Department of Transportation. The contractor started the striping job early last week. Unfortunately the rain started on Thursday and they had to stop before it was completed. As soon as the pavement is dry they will begin work again. The final lane alignment at Spokane will more in line when the changes are complete.

    After the striping is done, SDOT will observe peak traffic to monitor how it’s working. We will look at right and left turning vehicles at Spokane and 15th. We will ride the bike lanes. We will look at the new alternate side of the street parking setup. We will also look at the Metro stop at 15th and Spokane. If we observe problems with the new configuration we may consider additional changes.

    If you have any other concerns please feel free to contact me directly at

  13. Very nice of you to drop by, Brian. Welcome to Beacon Hill Blog. I appreciate the information update vis a vis 15th
    Avenue So Intermodial project. You have my gratitude!

  14. has anyone tried going north on 15th in the morning at beacon and 15th the backup is now 3 blocks long this is no improvement to anything at all

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