Monday, July 22, 2013

Added visibility comes to Olive Way crosswalk

By guest blogger Mike Allende

People walking up and down the hill on Olive Way between Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle – and that’s a lot of you – know that crossing in front of the on-ramp to northbound I-5 was a bit dicey. We recognized that too, and took some action.

Recently, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Seattle Department of Transportation collaborated on a project that improved the Olive Way crosswalk at the I-5 ramp. The crosswalk is one of the busiest we have at freeway interchanges in King County and the work brings more visibility to people crossing with the addition of new pavement markings, curbs and a bright flashing light indicating someone is waiting to cross.

Photo of Olive Way crosswalk at the I-5 ramp before.

Previously, the crosswalk was tucked a bit off the main street towards the ramp and the sidewalk on the east side of the crosswalk wasn’t a great landing platform. Pavement markings were starting to wear down and while there were signs indicating the crosswalk, we felt more visibility would help.

Photo of Olive Way crosswalk at the I-5 ramp after.


The first step was moving the crosswalk closer to Olive, giving pedestrians more visibility to drivers looking to turn onto the I-5 ramp. Taking away a little parking on the eastside of the crosswalk, we installed a new sidewalk landing platform and two new pedestrian signs, making the walk across shorter and more direct with a more pronounced area to go to and from. The new sidewalk layout improves the views between pedestrians and drivers.

Photo of pedestrian warning light.
To add even more visibility to pedestrians, we’ve installed a warning light on both sides of the ramp to call attention to people waiting to cross. Pedestrians can push a button and emit a bright flashing light easily visible to oncoming vehicles. This is the first time this type of beacon has been used in Seattle. It sits next to an improved ramp installed for wheelchairs so that the light is accessible to all pedestrians.

Of course, it’s still up to drivers to be aware of pedestrians at crosswalks, and it’s up to pedestrians to exercise caution when moving through a crosswalk. Marked and signalized crosswalks improve awareness to those waiting to cross a street but ultimately it’s up to all of us to look out for each other.


The Geezer said...

As much heat at you get, you did about the best you can for the walkers. It has always been problematic, but when I took the bus home last Sat, noticed the lights, I just hope they are enough to get the attention of drivers, particularly with two lanes turning left at that location, and driver's focus on the ramp, not the folks.

ST drivers have always been aware and yielding to peds, but not others.

The Geezer has spaketh, again.

Eric Jain said...

Good work!

Another crosswalk where I have had several close calls (despite being cautious) and now avoid is at Roy St & 1st Ave N. Most traffic coming up 1st Ave N turns W onto Roy St (1st Ave N continues as a single lane residential road). Drivers see the green light, and assume they have the right of way when turning onto Roy St.

One solution here might be to have the signal show a green arrow pointing straight ahead, and a flashing orange arrow for turning onto Roy St?

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