Monday, January 6, 2014

Crosswalk at 125th and 20th

A cross walk was put in recently on 125th at 20th. In addition to the street markings and the school crossing signs, a small island is being installed in the turn lane. Some residents had questions about why it was being installed and SDOT responded. Below is their response.

Why did the crosswalk at 20th Avenue NE and NE 125th Street get marked?
There were no marked crosswalks across NE 125th Street between 25th Avenue NE and 15th Avenue NE – a distance of nearly half-mile. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) marked the crosswalk and installed school crosswalk signs to make crossing the street easier, to improve pedestrian connections between neighborhoods, and to make the crossing safer and more appealing to existing and potential transit users. There are bus stops, a church and a child care center located at this intersection. The walk zone for Olympic Hills Elementary extends south of NE 125th Street and this marked crosswalk provides families living in the Victory Heights neighborhood a safer, more direct option for crossing NE 125th Street on foot.

Why is SDOT installing a pedestrian safety island at the marked crosswalk?
The island improves safety by providing two-stage crossing of NE 125th Street. This two-stage crossing gives people a place to stand and wait in the middle of the street where they are less exposed to moving traffic. Additionally, since the crossing may be used by families walking to Olympic Hills Elementary, SDOT is providing this additional safety feature to give families a safer way to cross the street.

Will this island restrict left turns at the intersection?
The pedestrian island has been designed to accommodate vehicles, including cars, SUVS, pickup trucks and delivery trucks, turning on and off NE 125th Street without hitting the island. Vehicles will have to slow down in order to access the turn pocket, which is a safety feature.

What are the benefits of this new pedestrian island?
Crossing the street can be a complex task for pedestrians. Pedestrians must estimate vehicle speeds, adjust their own walking speeds, determine adequacy of gaps in traffic, predict vehicle movements, and time their crossings appropriately. Drivers must see pedestrians, estimate vehicle and pedestrian speeds, determine the need for action, and react.

Raised medians and pedestrian refuge islands allow pedestrians to cross one direction of traffic at a time. This significantly reduces the complexity of the crossing. Federal Highway Administration research shows pedestrian islands have a 46 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes. Similar research found a reduction of motor vehicle crashes by 15 percent. These islands also visually narrow the street, reducing the number of people exceeding the speed limit.

Medians are especially important at transit stops. Transit stops are frequently located along busy streets. Providing medians can make these crossings safer and more appealing to existing and potential transit users.

Will there be additional enhancements to the pedestrian island?
At this time no additional enhancements are planned. SDOT plans to evaluate the crosswalk again in 2014 to determine if additional safety enhancements are needed.

What if I have additional questions about pedestrian safety in Seattle?
Staff at The Seattle Department of Transportation would be happy to hear from you. You can contact us at