Biking on Beacon: Why did the neighbor cross the road?

…To get to our brand new park!

Jefferson Park is a wonderful community gathering space located in the heart of Beacon Hill.  It offers amazing views, brand new tennis courts, playground, cricket, lawn bowling, golfing, a community center, and soon we will have a skate park and spray pad (which would not have gotten much use this summer, somewhat diminishing the sting of construction delays).  But the irony is this community nexus acts as a physical division within our neighborhood. The golf course is not permeable by car or foot, while the park is surrounded by arterial and collector streets (Spokane, Columbian, Beacon) that are wide and unsafe to cross except at stoplight-controlled intersections.  Due to the current configuration it is difficult to access the park in a safe and efficient manner without getting in your car and driving there, which I must say, though I love my car, does take the neighborhoodiness out of things a bit—when was the last time you had a meaningful interaction with a neighbor when driving past them on 15th?

Neighbors have noticed that many people try to access the park by foot by crossing Spokane between Beacon and 15th Ave. S. (at 16th, 17th, Lafayette, and Alamo).  Though legal, crossing Spokane at these intersections across 4 lanes of fast-moving traffic with no marked crosswalks and difficult sightlines is not the most relaxing stroll to the park.  A solution proposed in Beacon Hill’s Bike and Pedestrian Circulation Plan is to create a safe pedestrian crossing at Lafayette Ave. S.  The first step to adding a new pedestrian crossing is data collection.  Within the past month folks from Beacon B.I.K.E.S. have conducted pedestrian crossing counts and even shot a nice video at the proposed crossing.

The results from the counts indicate that during peak hours around 20 people per hour will cross Spokane at these dangerous intersections.  This is considered a high enough rate by SDOT to justify a pedestrian crossing.  SDOT will soon be conducting their own counts and studies and hopefully we will get the crossing installed next year!  Of cou, it won’t happen without a lot of community support, so if you are interested please contactBeacon B.I.K.E.S. and send an email to Peter Hahn (SDOT director) letting him know this is something the neighborhood needs.

See you at the Park!

5 thoughts on “Biking on Beacon: Why did the neighbor cross the road?”

  1. Personally, I don’t understand why we don’t just put more effort into developing a more pedestrian-friendly intersection at Beacon and Spokane, creating a gateway to the Park. Add to that some sidewalk improvements and right-of-way enforcement. I walk to the park with my 2 daughters all the time, but I am coming from the NE, so crossing at Beacon/Spokane is logical. Although, if I walk due south from my house, I have to walk just as far on Spokane from the east as someone would have to walk from the west to avoid crossing like in the video. I think it is quite an exaggeration to say that you have to get in your car to go to the park because it is not safe to cross Spokane between 15th and Beacon. Is it that much more difficult to walk to Beacon and use the signaled intersection? You have to live pretty close to the park for the increased distance to walk to the nearest crosswalk to be such a high percentage of the total trip that it doesn’t make sense. The irony is that someone who cuts across Spokane at an unsafe location probably walks 10x the distance they saved while they are actually using the park. Most of us could use an extra quarter mile walk every time we use the park.

    Anyone who regularly uses the crosswalk at the library should know that the only safe crossing method at Lafayette will be a full signal crosswalk. Anything less will create more problems than it will solve, particularly with 4 lanes and the resulting blind spots. Also, what would the immediate destination be on the other side of Lafayette? Would it be ADA accessible? In the video you can see what happens after you cross when the family with the stroller tries to get off the street, struggling to push the stroller up the hill. Unless the idea is to install a sidewalk along the north side of Spokane, which would be a great idea if you ask me, I think trying to create a legitimate crossing at Lafayette is problematic.

  2. The problem with trying to cross anywhere on Spokane west of Beacon Avenue is that eastbound traffic is coming up a hill and so they have less time to react when they finally see someone cross the road — a very dangerous proposition.

  3. Maybe I am coming late to this discussion, but for a park the size of Jefferson, doesn’t it seem like you should be able to get to it from more than one place?

    Norm says traffic eastbound has less time to react, so it seems prudent to put in a pedestrian activated signal. Lafayette makes sense because its not too close to Beacon and not too close to 15th. There also is a path in the park that leads there.

    As for Chris’s proposition to just head for Beacon to make a safe crossing and make that a better entrance to the park, I have two comments. First, not all folks north of Jefferson are on the east side of Beacon Ave, like you. Beacon Bikes has proposed and SDOT will be designating and installing signs for an on-street, non arterial bike route (Neighborhood Greenway) that uses Lafayette. The idea is that bicycle traffic doesn’t have to mix with the arterial traffic on Beacon or the pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk either.

    Second, the corner of the park at Spokane and Beacon is Fire Station 13. NOT an entrance to park. There are too many other functional needs for that corner, it can’t be a landmark entrance to the park.

    Jefferson Park is one of the best things going in our neighborhood, we should celebrate it and make it as acessible as possible to neighbors in all directions.

  4. I am high jacking this thread to bring up a Beacon Hill bike street crossing that I have been wondering about in light of the new bike trail connecting the Mountain to the Sound trail around the north head of Beacon Hill from the I-90 trail extending to Holgate (why isn’t this awesome new addition getting more press?).

    Biking south down this new trail, a biker will encounter Holgate to bike up to North Beacon hill. Holgate really stinks to bike on since it has no shoulders/bike lanes and cars are moving fast with many blind spots. Bikers will be forced to cross the street to the south side and take a crude sidewalk up to the hill.

    Does anyone know if there are short term street improvements planned to improve biking in this area when a cyclist leaves the new trail?

  5. I have heard of no plans for Holgate in the near term. The MTS Greenway has the goal of getting “To the Sound”, which requires getting over or under I-5, and at a reasonable grade for a mixed-use public path (ADA complient). That’s a costly engineering study and construciton project, so MTS Advocates, State DOT, SDOT, etc did what they could, and built out this section, without a specific next step.

    So, improvements to Holgate/Beacon Ave will need to be advocated for by walkers and bikers. Beacon B.I.K.E.S. meets next on September 6th at 6pm at BH Library meeting room.

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