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Seattle neighbors call for change after deadly crashes on Rainier Avenue

A section of Rainier Avenue has been a long-time concern for the city of Seattle and the people who live and work nearby. Now, neighbors are calling for change after another deadly hit-and-run.

SEATTLE — Rainier Avenue is a place where Derek Johnson has seen or heard about many tragedies. On Monday, he drove by minutes after another one had happened in the 9200 block of Rainier Avenue South.

"The crews were just starting to arrive," said Johnson.

Seattle police say a man was struck by a white sedan while riding his bike. Traffic Collision Detectives are investigating the fatal hit-and-run.

"It brought back memories of my friend Alex that passed away. His was also a hit-and-run accident," said Johnson.

Johnson’s friend, Alex Hayden, lost his life on Rainier Avenue this past Summer.

"It is devastating. I mean, to hear about somebody that is a father, the sole breadwinner of the family, he has a house, two kids, a wife," said Johnson. "It always makes you think about your mortality, and how many times is this going to have to happen before people slow down."

Susan Davis, the executive director of the Rainier Chamber of Commerce, has been paying attention to the traffic problems in the neighborhood.

"Especially on Rainier Avenue. It's not safe. We know it is not safe," said Davis.

A Washington State Department of Transportation report found people walking or biking accounted for 22 percent of statewide traffic fatalities in 2017. In that year, there were 109 pedestrian fatalities and 13 bicyclist fatalities, making for a combined total of 122. That is a significant increase when you consider the combined total in 2013 was 60.

"Things don't happen until there is an accident. Until there is a death," said Davis. "That is really sad because why do we have to wait for that."

Davis is ready for changes now on Rainier Avenue.

"I want to see physical concrete barriers that will keep the bicyclists safe," she said.

Johnson is calling for more caution.

"There are people’s lives at stake and your own life. I think people would be doing a lot of service to themselves if they just slow down a little bit," said Johnson.

Seattle Department of Transportation began working with the community to make improvements along Rainier Avenue in 2015. Currently, the city is in Phase 2 of the project. Click here to learn.

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