NE 75th Street: Q: Is it Safer? A: Yes, A Lot Safer!

The Schulte family mourns at the crash site on NE 75th Street.

The Schulte family mourns at the crash site on NE 75th Street.

On Thursday, March 19, 2015 the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) released a study of safety on NE 75th Street between 15th Ave NE and 35th Ave NE. As a result of the death of two pedestrians and permanent disability of two others on March 25, 2013, SDOT undertook safety improvements on NE 75th Street.  At issue is whether these changes to the roadway have reduced collisions and incidents of speeding.

Improvements to NE 75th Street Successfully Reduce Collisions

SEATTLE – Today the Seattle Department of Transportation announced the results of a before and after study evaluating the effectiveness of safety improvements on NE 75th Street between 15th Avenue NE and 35th Avenue NE. The findings indicate the changes have dramatically improved safety, benefiting everyone who uses the street.

The main safety improvement on Northeast 75th Street, implemented in August 2013, was adding lane striping to define a previously un-striped area as having one lane in each direction with a center turn lane. Little-used on-street parking was removed to prevent general traffic from using that space as a second lane, helping to reduce speeding and to make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street. School zone photo enforcement cameras were also installed in September 2014 at Eckstein Middle School.

Collision statistics from September 2013 through August 2014 show a 45 percent reduction in collisions from the time before the improvements were made, and no collisions involving pedestrians. Also, the number of drivers exceeding the 30 mph speed limit by 10 mph or more has declined significantly – by 75 percent for eastbound traffic and nearly 80 percent for westbound traffic.

“By making decisions based on sound science and data, we can enhance safety on corridors like Northeast 75th Street,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “This is another step toward reaching the city’s Vision Zero goal of having no traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2030.”

Dan Schulte, sister Marilyn Schulte and Karina Ulriksen-Schulte set out with marchers for the Safe Roads Awareness memorial walk on March 25, 2014.

The safety improvements did not increase the time it takes to drive this segment of street, also reported in the study and contrary to common perceptions. Furthermore, the volume of traffic remained unchanged, indicating traffic is not spilling over onto nearby streets. In fact, traffic volumes have actually increased slightly on 75th since the completion of the project.  The Seattle Bike Blog has a summary and detailed analysis of the findings on the effectiveness of safety improvements for NE 75th Street.

SDOT traffic planners will continue to monitor traffic on NE 75th Street and nearby streets, looking for opportunities for additional safety measures, including improvements on NE 75th Street/Banner Way NE at I-5.  You can read the full report here.

SDOT is analyzing several other corridors this year to identify ways to improve safety. Each is considered separately to identify improvements tailored to their unique characteristics. Traffic planners are currently studying 35th Avenue SW, SW Roxbury Street, Lake City Way NE and Rainier Avenue South. To learn more about Vision Zero, visit the website here.


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