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City of Seattle

April 1, 5:39 PM click here to comment > 16

Protecting road safety on Northeast 75th Street

One week ago today, a Seattle family and a Seattle community were shattered by tragedy after an allegedly impaired driver collided with them as they were out enjoying a walk in their own neighborhood. We mourn the dead and wish for the speedy recovery of the survivors.

We have also heard from the community about concerns regarding road safety on Northeast 75th Street near Nathan Eckstein Middle School.

We are going to work with the community to look at physical changes to the design and layout of Northeast 75th Street to bring down speeds and make it safer for students and neighbors. Some changes were already in the planning process. But we will work with the community in the coming weeks to determine further specific design changes.

This collision has also raised good questions about our state’s DUI laws and their enforcement. We are taking a close look at ways to improve enforcement of DUI laws here in Seattle. We will also evaluate existing impaired driving laws to determine what improvements to make or to advocate for at the state level.

SDOT will be implementing the following improvements in 2013:

• Installing a flashing school zone beacon on Northeast 75th Street in front of the school

• SDOT will begin the process of evaluating and potentially installing a school zone speed camera on Northeast 75th Street

• The crosswalk at Northeast 68th Street and 25th Avenue Northeast will be remarked with fresh and highly visible paint

• The intersection of Northeast 68th Street and 25th Ave Northeast will be evaluated for a traffic signal

• SDOT will install new pedestrian countdown heads at 75th Street Northeast and Northeast 31st Street

• SDOT has already installed pedestrian countdown heads at 75th Street Northeast and Northeast 35th Street

The Seattle Police Department will enforce traffic laws at this location, including:

• Temporary use of a speed reader board to alert drivers to their speed.

• Assignment of traffic officers to monitor the corridor (already being done, since January 16th).

• Evaluation of use of the mobile speed van to monitor and cite speeders (with a potential for permanent signage, depending on whether school zone speed camera is located there).

You can also see the info sheet describing our work at this location.

We look forward to working with the community to make our streets safer. In August 2012 I launched a new road safety campaign titled “Be Super Safe,” which brings community partners together with the City to undertake education, enforcement, and engineering actions with the goal of zero serious injuries and fatalities on our streets. You can learn more about that campaign at In my State of the City address in February 2013, I also announced a new school road safety analysis and action plan that will look at ways to improve road safety near schools across Seattle. We will have more to announce on that program next week.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn


Comment from Noam Gundle
Time April 2, 2013 at 11:33 am

We need a road diet on this entire corridor- from 35th Ave NE all the way to 15th NE.

There are major issues of 2 lanes acting like 4, high speed driving and no crosswalks except at the lights.

We are also sorely in need of bicycle “climbing lanes” in the uphill direction, and a center “turning lane” to make it safer for drivers turning L and pedestrians trying to cross.

Please implement the master plan in this area and give this area “road diet”!!

Comment from Elizabeth Torres
Time April 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm

We also need a red light camera at NE 75th & 35th Ave NE. Drivers habitually speed up and run that light. A pedestrian countdown won’t help if a child thinks they have the go ahead to cross and someone runs that light. Please encourage SDOT to evaluate that intersection for a camera.

Comment from k
Time April 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Given the deadly result of this driver’s actions, there is nothing “alleged” about his impairment.

The only question is whether his impairment was due to alcohol, another drug, or indifference to human life. A person who runs down others with a car is by definition impaired and should be permanently stripped of the privilege of driving.

Whatever this driver’s impairment, the result is the same: two people are dead and the lives of a mother and son are forever changed for the worse.

Comment from Joey McFeron
Time April 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

No we do NOT need a “road diet” on NE 75th Street. We should NOT be encouraging bicyclists to ride this hilly arterial. Mere topography makes this a bad place to mix cars and bicycles. I cycle the side streets parallel to 75th and it is 100x better and safer.

NE 75th Street is the only east/west arterial in the area that moves traffic easily and quickly from I5 to our homes and workplaces. The only thing that is needed is to enforce the speed limit — the law we already have.

I am greatly frustrated when people exploit a tragedy like this to push the no-car agenda, or use it as an excuse to install a school zone speed camera. This didn’t happen during school hours.

Comment from Joey McFeron
Time April 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm

We do NOT need a “road diet” on NE 75th Street. We should NOT be encouraging bicyclists to ride on this hilly arterial. Mere topography makes it a bad place to mix cars and bicycles. I ride the side streets parallel to 75th and it is 100x better and safer.
NE 75th Street is the only east/west street in the area that moves traffic from I5 to our homes and workplaces easily and quickly. All that is needed is to enforce the speed limit – the law that we already have.

Comment from dagmar jacobs
Time April 2, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I agree with you Noam. There is no traffic safety on 75th. We live across diagonally from Eckstein, 28th AVE NE. 28th is a dead end street, so the only option of getting to our street and out of it is 75th. (27th AVE NE and 26th ave NE are also dead end streets with the same situation).So I am there a lot…. Getting out of our street is a nightmare, 75th is an unmarked 4 lane street, cars on it are going very fast, sometimes in single file, sometimes in two, there is no system. Sometimes cars park on 75th and completely block the street view and cars that are swiveling to pass them.
Getting to our street (turning from 75th to 28th) is just plain dangerous. Cars that are travelling West on 75th reach Eckstein at fast speed and then head down the hill where they gain more speed. They can not see what is ahead of them and that you will be turning, as they approach you too fast after they start coming down from the top of the hill. The only way to turn right to our street is to turn very fast, which is impossible as it is narrow and sharp turn, so it is needed to slow down, but with cars behind you flying by and swiveling between two unmarked lanes makes is dangerous. And all the times you need to turn and pedestrians are walking on the sidewalk on 75th and they are in your way to turn, you have to come to a full stop and then you just hope you don’t get hit from behind. Few weeks ago there was the presence of the speed counter in front of Ekstein school and it completely changed my driving experience, when cars were ACTUALLY going 30MPH. I actually went and talked to the police officers servicing the machine and asked them to please leave it there for good…

Whenever I am walking or driving, or in my yard I witness many students from Eckstein heading down 75th and crossing to our street (as it leads to Dahl Field Park). Students run across the road (in all fairness the intersections are implied crosswalks) , sometimes cars stop for them, sometimes they don’t and the kids just run. When the cars do stop, often there are cars who pass the stopped car and drive around it. This is just awful to watch.

I believe that 75th should take measures just like 70th NE. There are STOP to pedestrian crosswalks (not one but multiple) with yellow flags. I also think they should implement a flashing slow down sign on the bottom of the hill on 75th going East (around 26th and 75th). Same sign should be placed on 75th going West (around 32nd and 75th). These signs should tell drivers to slow down well before they are approaching the school.

Re-striping the street should absolutely happen just as it is done around Roosevelt and 75th.
I have written and called SDOT so many times about this street and how dangerous it is. I have seen kids almost hit, and have been in many situations myself where I did not feel safe maneuvering through it. I really think it needs changes.

Comment from R Parker
Time April 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm

From 35th to 25th or even 20th, 75th is pretty much a free for all with regard to speed in either direction. A road diet seems like it might be a good option, but keep in mind that from 25th west it should probably remain 4 lanes.

I was wondering if speed signs like the kind installed in the last year or so along 8th ave NW could be installed. Those seem to have had an effect.

Comment from Kurt Geissel
Time April 11, 2013 at 9:37 am

It wasn’t the road that killed those poor people, it was the drunk.
Yes, people drive fast but with the way the new lights work, with sensors, it pays to drive as fast to the next light because it won’t change unless you’re sitting at the sensor. So you zoom up to the light as fast as possible to get it to change quicker. If the lights were timed, people will see a red light up ahead and pace themselves to be there when it turns green.
So, time the lights and put us signs that say something like “Light timed to traffic moving at 25 mph”. They do it in Philadelphia so that you don’t get stuck at a red light in a crappy neighborhood.

And I agree with Joey, it’s pretty callous to use something horrible like this to get more bike lanes.
There are hundreds of streets out there that would make super nice bike roads, but instead, the planners funnel the bikes onto streets like 25th. I don’t get it.

Comment from Brett Frosaker
Time April 11, 2013 at 10:38 am

I agree with the comments above in regard to slowing down traffic on 75th. There is no reason it should be a defacto highway with people driving at speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour. I also support the removal of the restricted parking which seriously increases speed, and promotes dangerous driving conditions. It is time to take back 75th and turn it back into a residential street rather than and expressway.

Comment from brett llewellyn
Time April 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm

A basic part of pedestrian safety is mitigating idiocy from drivers, in all its forms, when it puts others lives at risk. Besides dealing with the reckless drunks, there are the thousands of those callous enough to text, eyes-on lap, in their 3000lb moving hunks of metal. PLEASE make texting and driving a primary offense, just like wearing a seatbelt! With a real fine, that will actually change behavior, and make us safer, and see our kids grow up, go to school, get married, make their own mistakes in life.. .

Comment from Jennifer
Time April 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm

I agree that the section of NE 75th between 20th NE and 35th NE is in need of safety updates.

Reducing speed is first priority, by whatever means necessary. Flashing speed detectors like the ones on 15th NE & NE 90-100th work well. Light timing with associated signage is a great idea.

As a driver I find the “STOP for pedestrians crossings” distracting and the signs confusing on NE70th. Having the yellow crossing flags seems helpful – but will a middle-schooler use one? I doubt it.

Parking along 75th is unsafe at any time of day and should be entirely removed. (No parking on NE 75th between 15th and 35th NE.)

That space can be used to make a center turn lane, which would provide a safer place for cars to wait for a break in traffic while signalling to turn. Turn lanes also allow the remaining traffic to continue on calmly and safely, knowing they will reach the next timed green light by traveling at the posted speed. Might even help some people who live on 75th get into their driveways more safely.

Lastly, please let everyone breathe deeply and slow down. Let a pedestrian, bike or another car go ahead of you. A smile and a good turn WILL come back around, many times over.

Comment from Katherine Mackinnon
Time April 12, 2013 at 10:39 am

Thank you Noam. Yes to a road diet. We absolutely should be encouraging all uses on this key street – there are many reasons to bike/walk/drive along it as well as cross it, and each of those modes deserves appropriate signage, striping and respect. A road diet will accomplish this. 2 lanes and a middle turn lane, bike lanes, stripe more crosswalks. Cars will not slow down just because we want them to; rechannelizations have and do work very well throughout the city.

Comment from Katherine Mackinnon
Time April 12, 2013 at 10:41 am

Actually, Jennifer – parking is not unsafe there, and in fact provides a buffer if you will for pedestrians and cyclists who are on the sidewalk. There is nothing safe or comfortable about be shoulder to shoulder with fast-moving cars. A separated bike lane would not only give bikes a safe place but provide that buffer for peds as well, all while reducing speeds. Win-win-win!

Comment from s.a.
Time April 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm

A plan needs to be developed to address the confusion regarding the number of lanes. If the lane situation is going to be kept as is, then, at the very least, signs need to be put up to guide drivers.

Comment from katherine
Time April 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I agree most with Joey McFeron. We should NOT be encouraging bicyclists to ride this hilly arterial, nor do we need a “road diet.” As a year round cyclist-commuter I find it stupid and irresponsible to shove cyclists out onto main streets instead of focusing on greenways. People driving on 75th are trying to get somewhere quickly. Bikes, peds, parking and slow drivers only frustrate and make them more dangerous. Move all that stuff to the side streets. We need arterials for drivers until biking/bussing is more viable. How else do we suggest for divers to get east/west?

Comment from Becka
Time April 20, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I agree, if we want traffic to be slowed to appropriate levels then 75th should be put on a road diet. It doesn’t have to be done by adding bike lanes (although that could work well) but by widening sidewalks and planting trees. People drive the speeds they do because the width of the road makes that speed feel “safe” – the only way to truly fix the problem is make the road more narrow.