Share Your Thoughts on SDOT's Channelization of NE 75th Street


On Saturday, August 24, an SDOT worker was grinding out the dashes of the former center line on NE 75th Street, because a new, center turn lane was created.

It’s been a couple months now since SDOT finished up the channelization of NE 75th Street.  We’ve all had a chance to adjust to the new marked lanes, bike lanes, and turning lane.  We’ve had a chance to use these lanes while commuting to work, getting to/from UW Husky football home games, dropping kids off at Eckstein Middle School, and more.  So, we thought it might be a good time to hear what you think.  We have a quick poll below we’d love you to fill out!

Background

Let’s quickly go back down memory lane…

You’ll recall back in April, the City of Seattle announced the NE 75th Street Road Safety Corridor Project in response to safety concerns raised by neighbors and a terrible and well publicized vehicle/pedestrian collision resulting from an impaired driver who has plead guilty to DUI.  This project was originally presented by the Mayor’s Office at a meeting organized by the WCC and Ravenna-Bryant Community Association at Eckstein Middle School with community, school, and transportation advocates with City staff (Seattle Police, Mayor’s Office, and SDOT) to identify opportunities for making NE 75th Street safe for everyone.  The City formally presented the NE 75th Street Road Safety Corridor Project to the community at a very well attended community meeting on April 2nd, hosted by the RBCA.

In April and early May, SDOT kicked off the NE 75th Street Road Safety Corridor Project with 3 community meetings to listen to the greater community and identify specific concerns along the broader NE 75th Street corridor.  SDOT requested the help from WCC and RBCA to schedule these meetings when and where they would be most appropriate.  As a result, we scheduled 3 community meetings (1 in Wedgwood, 1 in Ravenna-Bryant, and 1 in Roosevelt) at different times of the day and on different days of the week to make sure people had a chance to attend a meeting and share their concerns.  Approximately 20-40 people attended each meeting and pointed out problem intersections, dangerous crossings, and more on streets all over NE Seattle, from approximately I-5 to the west, 45th Ave NE to the east, NE 95th St to the north, and NE 55th St to the south.  A map summarizing this community feedback was compiled by SDOT.

Using this information, SDOT went back and designed four options for NE 75th Street.  The City announced these four options at a press conference on July 17th where Dongho Chang, the City’s Chief Transportation Engineer, announced that the City’s preferred option was Option 4.  This Option included 2 travel lanes (east and west), a central turning lane, and two outer bike lanes.  Parking would be removed from both sides of NE 75th St under this preferred option.  Of the 4 options, a poll hosted by the Ravenna Blog showed that 61% of the 274 voters also preferred Option 4.  Working with the City again, the WCC and RBCA scheduled 2 more community meetings (1 in Wedgwood and 1 in Ravenna-Bryant at different days and times) for SDOT to present the four options and listen to neighborhood concerns.   Approximately 20-50 people showed up at each meeting where SDOT heard from both voices of support and opposition on the preferred design.  Of those issues that were of most concern to the community was the removal of all parking on NE 75th St for bike lanes.  In fact, at one point during the 2nd meeting, things got slightly heated.  But, after listening to the community, SDOT unveiled the final design which was a modified version of Option 4 that maintained some bus parking on NE 75th Street in front of Eckstein Middle School.

Share Your Thoughts and Vote!

Now that you’ve had a chance to adjust to the new NE 75th Street, we thought it might be nice to hear what everyone thinks.  Or at least those who visit our website…  So, we’d be grateful if you indulged us and voted in our short poll or leave a comment below.  Thanks in advance!


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35 Replies to “Share Your Thoughts on SDOT's Channelization of NE 75th Street”

  1. At first I was dead set against it, but now that I’ve been living through it, it is really nice not having to be stuck behind someone who is doing a lefthand turn. And they’ve got the lights fairly well synchornized that you can start on Roosevelt and make it all the way through 25th the majority of the time. Traffic seems to be flowing nicely.

  2. The only piece of the channelization is that not sure bikers feel safe enough to use this street, even with own lane. Also, left turns near eckstein are difficult. This has always been the case. Can consideration be made to create bus lanes on the eckstein property? An moving the bus lanes south of 75th into the “front yard” of eckstein. That means also moving sidewalks toward the school as well. This would leave a center turn lane throughout the 75th channelization area.

  3. Like! Turn lanes have improved traffic flow at intersections and most street parking eliminated. Really seems to make a positive difference in rush hour.

  4. Love the changes that took place on 75th. Thank you SDOT for making it more efficient and safe. The turn lanes make it so much easier to turn out and into streets, the bike lanes are great. I am hoping more signs and signals could go up with time. The crosswalk on 28th is great, adding a flashing light would make cars more aware of stopping. It takes a few cars on each side to stop. Thank you so much for all the hard work, our street feels safe driving, walking and biking. Well done!

  5. I think this is one of the Best improvements that
    have been made in over 20 years of living in Seattle.
    Previously I would never have ridden my bike on 75th. Now I will. I will be happy when 65th gets the same lanes. Cars have to drive slower now. B4 totally fast vehicles were always passing on right side.

  6. SDOT explained to us that slowing the traffic is the top way to increase safety and decrease accidents. While some people are aggravated that they have to slow down on NE 75th Street now, we will see whether the accident rate slows down, too, and that will be worth it. SLOW DOWN, Wedgwood!

  7. SDOT has been making channelization changes all over the city. Mostly because the Mayor wants everyone on bicycles. Like in other areas, this change has slowed traffic, sometimes you wait thru 2 lights, and everyone burns more gas and pollutes the air.

  8. I bike to work frequently and sometimes use 75th when I have an appointment to the north of work. However, I am a strong rider. Most riders avoid this route because of the hills. The channelization has made the route more dangerous because it has reduced the room to ride to the dirtiest right half of the original right lane.

    With regard to vehicle traffic, the main effect is reducing the capacity of the road to a little over half what it was. This may be a good thing if our goal is to prevent speeding at non-rush hour times without spending money on police.

    There was also the problem of the danger of collision produced by cars wandering out of their lanes. A simple solution would have been to paint a dotted white line between the right and left lanes on each side of the road. Speed bumps would have been a cheap solution for speeding.

    It is too bad that what seems like the obvious solution was not implemented immediately. But, when density in our neighborhoods increases enough to produce gridlock on 75th, I’m sure the lines will get painted again. Until then, I’ll just avoid driving during rush hour.

  9. There are longer back-ups at 25th during rush hours now. Bike lanes are not used much because of steep hills. It is still unsafe to cross at 33rd and 30th because of poor visibility caused by the steep grades. The problem of drunk driving still needs to be addressed.

  10. I live on 75th. This project is the best thing to happen to my home since I moved in. I feel safer as a cyclist. I used to commute on 75th on a bike, but gave up because it was so unsafe. Now, I ride on 75th often, and feel MUCH safer- both because of the middle area (cars can give me more space without the threat of head-on collisions) and the bike lane AND the loss of the threat of the “door prize”. In addition, I feel safer as a driver of a car- there is less weaving and strategy and in the past many folks who didn’t know came perilously close to getting in an accident when they would get passed by a local who “knew” it was 2 lanes (even it never really was). As a pedestrian, I can cross the street safer. As a homeowner, the bike lane gives a buffer from the traffic. Great work, SDOT!

  11. In the 25+ years that I lived in the neighborhood the traffic on NE 75th St. has increased exponentially and with it the speed of drivers. Walking along that street became unpleasant and crossing it –even at the traffic lights, because someone frequently runs the red– meant taking your life into your hands. With the current configuration cars are just far enough away, when you walk, that you do not have to worry about the side mirror chopping off your head.
    At any rate, isn’t it time to rethink the use of the automobile? Is it really necessary to drive everywhere?!

  12. I think the traffic on 75th has become so much worse with this change. I generally don’t mind bikers at all, but I haven’t seen any using 75th, and actually, now with all the jam ups, they’d probably be safer on a side street.

  13. Hilltop Signage: There is still a need to address the problem of people who cross at the top of the hills, both going east and going west. This month, two adult women pushing a stroller and walking a dog stepped out into traffic at one of these hilltops. It was a good thing I was driving slow intentionally or I would have been rear-ended or involved in a pedestrian accident. Approaching these hills when the sun blinds a driver’s eyes makes these unmarked crossing areas especially dangerous. Signage, please! Bike Lanes: I have yet to see a bike traversing the lanes along NE 75th. Turn lanes: I like the turn lanes, but thy get confusing at point where they narrow or disappear, especially at the top of the hill by Eckstein Middle School at 31st Avenue NE.

  14. The easiest way to ride 75th is to time your descent to hit a green light at 25th street so you can maintain your momentum for the hill beyond. This means that you need to be able to ride 30mph or so in the right lane. However, now, there is no right lane but rather a dirty track half as wide. Plus, the cars are jammed up going 15 mph which you are now passing uncomfortably close.

    Not, drawing lane markers between the right and left lanes and throwing away the space instead is ludicrous.

    1. Eek! 30mph in the bike lane, passing cars that are only going 15mph? That’s a sure-fire recipe for a right hook. 🙁

  15. Karen, you may be right that some bicyclists don’t yet feel safe using the lanes, but I think a bigger issue is that many bicyclists are simply creatures of habit. I usually bike down 65 to get to green lake park and ride, and just this week started using 75th to Roosevelt/11th and that is now my new route. I think the lanes are great, and will do a good job at decreasing bike traffic on 65th (where parked cars opening their door unexpectedly can be quite a hazard), but only after they’ve been around long enough for bikers to get comfortable with them and start incorporating them into their routes. Be patient everyone! I’ve heard many people complaining of low utilization, but information about bike lanes travels slowly, so no one should be outraged that every biker hasn’t taken advantage of the lanes on 75th yet.

  16. I mostly drive during off peak hours. I am not opposed to cyclists; in fact, I think it is great exercise for those who can do it, and an activity that helps the environment. My children ride bikes. However, one should deal with the matter of special lanes in the context of its overall impact, not just as a benefit for a few.

    Since the modification of 75th st I have seen only one cyclist on that street. He was riding very fast on the PEDESTRIAN sidewalk. I have seen no one on the new cycle lanes.
    Car traffic on the street has been impeded, as can be seen by the more frequent stops at traffic lights and the greater line of cars at the lights. It also seems likely, that already frustrated drivers will be irritated to an even greater degree, thereby becoming a greater danger both to themselves and others, fueling road rage, dangerous behavior, and more traffic accidents: something that the special lanes are supposed to prevent.

    The cycle lanes may assist cyclists in some places, but they should not create an additional burden on the already stressed traffic. Some of us, including myself, are physically unable to ride a bicycle. Nevertheless, we have to pay for the questionable decisions to make our lives more difficult. And, it seems, without much benefit to anyone else. In fact, with an additional penalty to all, not only in higher taxes, for unproven alteration to road surfaces that could benefit from a better use of public funds, but also in the greater cost and pollution created by more traffic stops and slower traffic.

    It is also notable, that the consideration for cyclists it not equaled by the cyclists’ consideration for pedestrians. Many ride very fast on pedestrian footpaths. Both my wife and I have been hit several times. Most of the incidents are of the hit-and-run type, no apology extended. Unlike cars or motorcycles, the bicycles carry no identifying license plates, so there is not even a slim possibility of tracing the perpetrator.

    And though financial consideration may not be a major part of the argument, it nevertheless would seem reasonable that people who enjoy a substantial benefit from society, should contribute to the cost. In the case of bicycle riders, who choose to ride on public streets and not just selected recreational areas, that is not the case. We have licenses for just about everything. Both for the sake of being able to identify rogue cyclists, or at least to give them pause owing to the possibility of their being identified, and that of equitable contribution to the cost of usage of our common streets, should not cyclists be asked to pay a license fee and carry a license plate on their bikes?

    And we should also consider alternative means to provide safer routes for cyclists. Perhaps less busy, but parallel streets could be reserved for cyclists and local traffic only, especially if they were marked for one way traffic.
    Perhaps a single lane, rather than two, could be reserved for cyclists, who could use it in both directions, given the limited usage that seems to be made of such lanes.
    Perhaps one sidewalk, rather than the car lanes, could be reserved for cyclists.
    Perhaps a little more thought and imagination, rather than politics, should be applied to the problem, if there is one: the loudest barking dog is not necessarily the injured one.
    The only benefit to anyone that I have noticed from the new lane changes is, that with one lane traffic there can be no overtaking on the right, the passenger side, at high speed. But that dangerous behavior should prompt appropriate treatment on its own. Either the road permits two lane traffic, and the lanes are appropriately marked, or the road is too narrow, and overtaking on the right is forbidden, and violators fined. Could we give some real thought to our problems, please?

    Oh, and to add to our troubles, the Eckstein school has begun to place a “right turn only” sign at the junction of 75th st and 30th ave. The sign is there only some of the time, but there is no warning or corresponding sign at the beginning of the block, the junction of 70th st and 30th ave. One therefore finds oneself at the transient sign, unable to turn, forced to go around a substantial block, and down convoluted and bumpy residential streets, in order to bypass the obstruction. How is that for community assistance?

    1. I think the right turn sign at on northbound 30th Ave NE at Eckstein School is just meant to be there before and after school but you are correct that somebody is repeatedly forgetting to remove it.

  17. I like the channelization of NE75th Street. It makes the street safer and in my view traffic still moves well – getting through lights on the first green and good light synchronization which is frankly rare for Seattle.

    I am concerned that the installation of the bike lane reflects the typical Seattle approach to transportation – endless planning and discussion with nearly all action ad hoc and at best tangentially related to the planning. As best I can tell there was no discussion of using NE 75th St for a bike lane until the tragic accident

    I like Alex’s suggestion of accommodating cycle routes on residential streets by making them one way.

  18. I also use 75th literally every day for commuting and drive during the peak times. I find the new lane improvements to be a massive improvement (compare to the disastrous weaving in and out on 65th that occurs, especially around pedestrian areas (by Vios & Bryant Cafe)). The bike lanes are an effective way to change the commuter behavior.

    I have literally taken this road 12-14 times a week since its changed and find the improvements to be SIGNIFICANT.

    I do not believe that the thousands of people who use this road daily should go back to a worse experience and less efficient road system just so a handful of people who live directly on the street should get street parking back (which, as someone who also frequently goes to Nathan Hale Elementary for events, I have no problem finding parking just off the main street – I prefer it for safety!)

  19. Unfortunately, I believe the 75th street rechannelization has led to a significantly more dangerous (and slightly non-obvious) problem. As many people have noted, the total capacity of 75th street has dropped. Those cars did not magically disappear, they have been diverted elsewhere. From several anecdotal notes from other drivers, and from my observations, a significant portion of that traffic has been diverted to non-arterial side streets. Incidence of speeding, and the total count of cars on 30th have both increased significantly. This apparently has not gone unnoticed by SPD, as there is now a speedtrap that we have seen set up at the church on 30th.

    A traffic change that leads to an increase of traffic and of speeds on residential streets is *not* making the system safer for residents.

  20. I love the changes to 75th. As a driver, it is SO great to feel safer making left-hand turns off of the street, and to not be stuck behind someone else who is doing so. The single lane/turn lane configuration and elimination of parked cars removes the crazy drag-race jockeying to swerve around parked/turning cars that made the two lane driving so unpredictable and tense at times. As a pedestrian I also feel safer on sidewalks and intersections without the fast-moving lane-changing traffic so close to me (bike path as buffer). Even without the benefits to the bikers (which are great), I think the benefits to the drivers are worth it, and traffic seems to be moving very smoothly. Take the craziness and guesswork out of driving this road.

  21. While the new and improved rush hour gridlock on NE75th St. doesn’t make me happy, I do agree that more orderly and slower traffic=less high speed collisions of any kind (this is common sense), so I feel the trade off is acceptable (until it gets really bad and we’ll have to rethink this situation). Before the revisions, it never made any sense to me to allow two lane traffic on each direction without lane markers. They should of marked the lanes long time ago. Its about expectations both for motorists as well as pedestrians and cyclists. The left turn lanes and turn signals are the best part of this deal from a drivers perspective. Why they didn’t put in a left turn lane on 35th Ave NE at the intersection with NE 75th makes me wonder. As others mentioned, while I’m all for cycling and bike a lot, this is not a major cyclists’ commute route up and down the hills on NE 75th, and while the bike lane acts as a safety buffer of sorts between the sidewalk and street, I do think that would be its main function. Just can’t see many cyclists humping it up a series of big hills. Biking North and South as much as possible up and down hills in this area makes more sense for a cyclist.

  22. I really like the new arrangement. It is slower,safer, and I think worth some inconvenience for increased safety and slower speeds.

  23. I think the new lanes are better for cars. We know which lane to be in, we aren’t competing with left turning cars if we are going straight. I don’t see any improvement for pedestrians though. I thought they would be putting in crosswalks or find some way to slow down the traffic. I don’t like thinking about what the traffic will be like once the new elementary school is built.

  24. I agree that auto traffic on 75th has calmed down. There is no incentive for speeders to zip up the curb lane to get by left turn or slower traffic. This is an improvement. I don’t really believe that it has significantly slowed travel on 75th, but it seems that a solid line of cars now travel in a caravan making it more difficult for pedestrians, (cars still are not stopping for pedestrians) cross traffic and cars turning onto 75th.

    However, I had no clue that these changes were in the works. I didn’t read the Wedgwood Community notes before so didn’t know about the public meetings. I don’t read the SDOT public notices if they even posted one on these meetings. The public meetings with 50 people still seems like a small minority of the population which is affected by the change. So imagine my surprise when I returned after a vacation and wondered what had happened to NE 75th. A similar public process apparently occurred for the proposed cycle track on 35th NE. I heard only through word of mouth about these changes and managed to provide comments to the city.

    1. Phil, the cycle track shown 35th Ave NE is a different “kettle of fish.” It’s a line on a map showing an important and priority corridor for bikes. Ideas were solicited by SDOT over the past year-ish as they were updating their bike master plan, which is still in draft form and which is a 20-year plan. Furthermore, the cycle track shown on 35th Ave NE is a type of bike facility that is often typical of arterials, like 35th Ave NE. If/when any part of the 35th Ave NE cycle track becomes a “project” and not just a concept, it would have to go through a separate public outreach and would certainly need to be engineered to minimize impacts to the other road users, including drivers and transit. All of this is to say that the City’s Bike Master Plan Update process and the design and implementation of the NE 75th Street Corridor Safety Project are 2 different things…even if they don’t seem like it at times.

  25. I am very happy that the channelization has stopped the rampant passing on the right that used to occur. I also find it much easier to cross 75th on 30th on my bike commute home since the change. Personally, I think traffic should be slow in residential zones, so I do not find the slower traffic to be a major negative. While I don’t use the bike lanes on 75th a lot (I usually go west on 65th), having them makes me feel safer when I do.

  26. Overall, NE 75th seems safer, with the significant exception being the stretch of the street adjacent to Eckstein, where the lane swerves and parking is allowed. It can be hazardous for a motorist who is eastbound on 75th to turn southbound (right) onto 33rd Ave NE

  27. I agree with Karen’s October 22nd idea of improving the big choke point along 75th at 31st in front of Eckstein Middle School by making a bus stopping zone on the Eckstein School property – not on 75th. The current turn lane at 31st is helpful, but vehicles wanting to pass on the left have to move into the bike lane and the lane where the wall of busses that serve Eckstein park.
    Another improvement would be to add warning signs like “Limited Sight Distance” for both eastbound and westbound vehicles approaching the area of Eckstein / peak of the hill. Even with channelization some vehicles travel up the grades to the top of the hill too fast and cannot see too far ahead sometimes. And, eastbound morning drivers or westbound afternoon drivers are subject to getting an unexpected blinding from the low sun at the top of the hill where distance viewing is limited.

  28. Ooops. I made an error. Please change or delete my previous comment. Where I wrote “vehicles wanting to pass on the left” it should say “on the right”.

    In total my comment should be:
    I agree with Karen’s October 22nd idea of improving the big choke point along 75th at 31st in front of Eckstein Middle School by making a bus stopping zone on the Eckstein School property – not on 75th. The current turn lane at 31st is helpful, but vehicles wanting to pass on the right have to move into the bike lane and the lane where the wall of busses that serve Eckstein park.
    Another improvement would be to add warning signs like “Limited Sight Distance” for both eastbound and westbound vehicles approaching the area of Eckstein / peak of the hill. Even with channelization some vehicles travel up the grades to the top of the hill too fast and cannot see too far ahead sometimes. And, eastbound morning drivers or westbound afternoon drivers are subject to getting an unexpected blinding from the low sun at the top of the hill where distance viewing is limited.

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