One of the most dangerous intersections in Seattle is in front of Garfield High School

One of the most dangerous intersections for people on foot is at 23rd and Jefferson, in front of Garfield High School and Ezell’s Famous Chicken. Five people were struck by cars between 2009 and 2011, making it one of the worst spots in the city for people walking, the PI reports.

The report comes on the heels of the city’s new Road Safety Action Plan, announced in late August. The plan has the goal of reducing traffic deaths to zero by 2030 through a combination of safe road engineering, enforcement of traffic laws, education and “creating a culture of empathy” on the road. I wrote about the plan over at Seattle Bike Blog (for those not familiar with my other work, road safety is a particular passion of mine).

Below is the full Road Safety Action Plan. 23rd Ave is scheduled for repaving in 2014. What would you like to see happen on the street to make it safer?

UPDATE: I just received a press release from the Puget Sound Regional Council (which hold the reigns on lots of Federal transportation grants) that includes these two line items:

·         23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements  – South Jackson Street to East John Street – $3,500,000

·         23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements  – South Jackson Street to East Madison Street Preservation – $1,500,000

We’re working to track down more details. Stay tuned!


19 thoughts on “One of the most dangerous intersections in Seattle is in front of Garfield High School

  1. The city’s traffic engineers say the Stone Way design (two travel lanes and a center turn lane) can hold up to 20,000 vehicles per day before significant time delays occur (and 25,000 per day before drastic traffic problems occur). 23rd sees between 13,000 and 15,000* vehicles per day, about the same as MLK and well within this realm.

    My dream 23rd Ave (I’ve thought about this a lot) would have bus islands like on the new section of Dexter (for better visibility and streetcar-like comfort for transit riders and better transit reliability), safe crossings at every neighborhood street (imagine being able to simply walk across 23rd Ave without fearing for your life), and quality bike lanes. Basically, 23rd often feels devoid of life, which we all know is not actually true. But the people there are drowned out by the rushes of speeding car traffic. I want a 23rd Ave that highlights the people there and improves on the often horrendous, squished bus stops along this key CD street.

    When marches take over 23rd, it becomes a powerful corridor of humanity. But as soon as the crowd is gone, roaring traffic takes it back. I want to find a midway point that creates a more vibrant space which still getting people where they need to go.

    *I estimated this number from the city’s traffic flow map, which does not have data for the section of 23rd between Jackson and Madison.

  2. I know this is a HUGE safety issue on MLK north of Union, but likely can also be one on 23rd. If there is on street parking, sidewalk bumpouts should be added to completely prevent parked cars blocking visibility for both pedestrians and cross traffic at corners where there are no lights.

    I too like the road diet idea. I especially hope that the 23rd and Jackson redesign puts more human level commercial and social space on 23rd.

    Finally, are there ideas to support cyclists that are better than those sharrows?

  3. This is a big problem on E. Pine St. between 23rd and 24th Avenues. Cars, including a Hummer, park right up to the corner of 23rd, so that vehicles entering Pine from 23rd to go east have no visibility as to whether they have any place to go. With cars parked on both sides of Pine, there is only one traffic lane. If a car is driving west on Pine, a car trying to enter cannot do so, and it probably has to back up to let the first car out. One of these days there will be another huge collision at that corner when a car driving the speed limit on 23rd hits the backing-up car that suddenly appears.

    Does anyone know a City phone number to call about this scenario? There need to be no-parking-this-space signs or painted curbs or something!

  4. I have had three near misses of hitting peds walking across this intersection very much against the walk light. One would almost think they were challenging me to hit them, or trying to exert power over me by making me slow down.

  5. They already probably shouldn’t be and should be able to be ticketed….

    [i]SMC 11.72.090 Crosswalk approach.

    No person shall stand or park a vehicle within twenty (20) feet upon the approach to a crosswalk. (RCW 46.61.570(b)(iii))[/i]

    and it doesn’t say “marked” crosswalk – so even if the intersection doesn’t have white lines it *is* a crosswalk. They definitely are NOT allowed to block the sidewalk ramped or not.

    Call get them ticketed and they’ll stop parking there….

  6. Just remember that even if a person is jaywalking you still have a legal obligation to avoid an accident….just because someone is being annoying doesn’t make it OK to run them over. So this means that even if someone is crossing against the light, unless they dart out in front of you and really and truly give you no time to react, you are still expected to exercise “due care” (RCW 46.61.245)

  7. Are you talking about in front of GHS? It’s High School kids! Same deal in front of or near any HS in Seattle. Near Franklin is the WORST. Slow down. Realize that teen brains are not finished growing + they feel invincible, and take a breath.

  8. Both ways is spot on. Jaywalking is a huge problem here as it is near any high school but it isn’t just students. People cross against the light just outside the crosswalk and often just about jump in front of traffic. Throw in the fact that driving habits are so incredibly poor, I’m surprised the number isn’t higher.

    I am not sure I’d support any traffic ‘improvements’ with the current planners. I’m on a bike almost daily and it seems like so many of my routes carry a lot more car traffic. It is getting so hard to get around the city in a car it seems like more people are looking for alternative routes.

  9. That corner has a lot of pedestrian activity due to the Ezell’s, high school and bus stops. As much as I favor NOT being a dumb pedestrian (jumping in front of cars, standing in the road, etc), we should deal with the reality of the situation, which is that there need to be pedestrian safety improvements all along 23rd from John to Yesler, especially on that corner.

    I’m happy to see the city has noticed this. I support the idea to put 23rd on a “road” diet. We could really use larger sidewalks, more buffer between people and cars, and more street life activity space. Maybe even a bike track…

  10. I agree with the above. It would also help if adults accompanying small children would (1) obey traffic regulations, for instance teaching them by example to cross at proper times and places and (2)hold toddlers’ hands while crossing or waiting to cross.
    About a year ago I was approaching this very intersection northbound on 23rd. I had the green light and was expecting to proceed at regular speed. However, a warning bell went off in my head and I hit the brakes. Just at that moment a small child who had been standing by the traffic light on the GHS side of 23rd (with an adult who was not holding his hand) suddenly bolted into the street in front of me. If I had not already hit the brakes, I could not have avoided hitting him.
    Parents and caretakers: your children are precious! Take care of them and teach them safe practices.

  11. CD biker, thanks for the lecture, I’ve been driving for 20 years, I know the rules and you don’t know my driving habits. This isn’t kids, it’s adults, and I have the green. I have the right away due to the green light. If someone is behing ‘annoying’ and not behaving within our agreed on society laws of yielding me right away, then sadly their punishment is getting creamed by my right of way. Oh and PS, I don’t barrel down 23rd like the other yahoos I see, so you can hold that lecture too.

  12. separating cars from walkers with a physical barrier is the first step to protecting the most vulnerable commuters, at least around high schools. I have had walkers run in front of my BIKE at that intersection, the difference is that I am more maneuverable than a car and have some more skin in the game as I could be injured as well.

    Make a bottle neck at that intersection, and the blind hill above it, so cars (who include inexperienced student drivers) can only crawl through it like a bus or delivery vehicle. Hopefully people planning on getting somewhere fast will take an alternate route. Isn’t there supposed to be a 20 mph only flashing sign when school is in session?

  13. Thanks Tom for reporting on this and please keep us updated on what we can do to back any efforts to make 23rd safer. I too feel passionately about this and will gladly donate time and energy to the cause.

  14. I didn’t mention kids or adults, I didn’t mention your driving habits…. but it is getting more clear that you likely have an anger issue when driving (and when everyone doesn’t simply agree with you). “The punishment for being annoying is….getting creamed by my right of way” WOW – you probably shouldn’t be driving if it works you up that much.

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