March 1, 4:29 PM click here to comment > 3
Nickerson Street project improves safety
The city of Seattle today released data demonstrating that the Nickerson Street rechannelization project has enhanced safety along the roadway by reducing speeding and collisions.
Completed by the City in August 2010, the modifications have produced the following results:
• Reduced collisions by 23 percent over a one-year period (compared to the previous five-year average)
• Motorists traveling over the speed limit have declined by more than 60 percent
• Top-end speeders (people traveling 10 or more miles over the speed limit) have fallen by 90 percent
• The 85th percentile speed dropped from 40 mph and 44 mph westbound and eastbound to 33 mph and 33 Westbound and Eastbound. This is an 18 and a 24% reduction in speed.
• Traffic volumes remain roughly the same with no evidence of traffic diversion.
In August 2010 the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) reconfigured Nickerson Street to improve safety, especially for pedestrians, and increase driver compliance with the speed limit. This followed through on a commitment made to the community to evaluate other crossing improvements when the department removed three crosswalks (at 15th Avenue West, 13th Avenue West and Dravus Street) that failed to meet national guidelines for unsignalized marked crosswalks. In addition to the reconfiguration, two crosswalks were added; the sharp curve at 8th Avenue West was smoothed; the travel lane was widened from 12 to 13 feet to help freight movement; and a new uphill bicycle lane was added.
After completing a traffic analysis of Nickerson Street, considering traffic that might shift to this corridor due to the North Tunnel Portal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Project and construction of the Mercer West Corridor, SDOT determined there would be minimal impact and the rechannelization was completed. SDOT has monitored traffic and compared it to data from before the project, as an important part of implementing safety projects is to evaluate their effects. More information on the project’s effects can be found in SDOT’s before and after report.
At a press conference held along Nickerson Street, Mayor Mike McGinn explained the purpose of the project: “As our recent Road Safety Summit highlighted, all of us want to reduce collisions on city streets while working toward zero fatalities and serious injuries.”
“Preventing the loss of life and property is our number one priority,” said Chief Gregory Dean, Seattle Fire Department. “A reduction in the number of collisions allows for good access for emergency response vehicles, helping firefighters and paramedics respond faster to emergency incidents.”
“We are so pleased to see that even seven years after Nick’s crash, that the City has honored its commitment to improving road safety for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists,” said Jennifer Messenger, mother of Nicholas Messenger, who was hit by a car when attempting to cross a street in Crown Hill. “We are hopeful that with continued public safety education and the city of Seattle’s commitment to improving our roadways and safe crossings that we will prevent senseless catastrophic injuries and deaths.”
In January 2012, the Federal Highway Administration issued a memorandum recommending nine research-proven countermeasures that have the greatest effect on improving safety. Road diets, or road rechannelizations, were one of them. Seattle has long been a leader in this realm. Nickerson was the 28th road rechannelization completed in the city since 1972. As of March 2012 there are 36 citywide. Not only do rechannelizations improve safety, but they support the city’s Complete Street Ordinance.
Taking a corridor-wide perspective and continuing to use a Complete Streets approach to improve safety was one of the recommendations coming out of recent Road Safety Summit meetings. Over 3,000 comments were received from more than 600 people through the summit.
“Improving road safety saves lives, and it improves our quality of life,” said Tony Gomez, Violence and Injury Prevention Manager for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Everyone benefits from neighborhoods that give more options for kids and adults to move around, stay active and be safe.”
Posted by: Robert Cruickshank