The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) said it will make changes to the configuration of 35th Avenue Northeast following a fatal collision and numerous complaints from residents in the Wedgwood neighborhood.
In a highly controversial move, SDOT recently restriped several blocks of the road after abandoning plans for a bike protected lane. Last week, a 22-year-old motorcyclist was killed after another driver made a turn near the intersection of 35th Ave NE and NE 75th Street.
"The intersection is a s***show," said Dr. Darcy Fox, who has been in the neighborhood for 30 years. "They tried to slow down traffic, and it's not working."
Seattle City Councilmembers Mike O'Brien and Sally Bagshaw called on a review of the configuration on Monday. SDOT responded within 24 hours.
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"Some adjustments have already been identified based on observations of driver behavior. Over the next few months, SDOT plans to modify the striping and install vertical posts at key locations to transition the center turn lane to left-turn pockets,” SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson said Tuesday. “This treatment will help shorten the center lane and discourage its use as a passing lane. This adjustment, as well as any others, should not be viewed as an indication of shortcomings but as part of SDOT's ongoing data-driven approach to roadway improvements."
Mitch Haldeman, an avid cyclist who usually commutes on two wheels, acknowledges he was disappointed by the city's refusal to add a bike lane. Haldeman has been documenting the traffic every day by wearing a GoPro to show how dangerous 35th Ave NE can be for cyclists.
"I don't feel safe," said Haldeman. "Almost not a day goes by where I'm not passed in that center turn lane.”
No one seems to have an immediate answer for a fix that will please everyone. Businesses want sidewalks and parking, drivers want open lanes, and cyclists want a protected lane too. But Fox said the recipe is not working right now.
"It's not controlled to protect pedestrians, it's not controlled to protect bicyclists, it's not controlled at protecting cars from one another," Fox said.