Send us Tips

SDOT plans improvements to busy intersection at East Green Lake Dr N and NE 71st St

What do you think? (13 Comments) March 9, 2011 at 9:08AM

This story comes via our news partner seattlepi.com.

Getting There: SDOT plans improvements at crazy Green Lake intersection
By Scott Gutierrez
seattlepi.com staff

Question:

Every few months, this column is asked why there is no traffic light at the crazy intersection of East Greenlake Way North, East Greenlake Drive North, Northeast Ravenna Boulevard and Northeast 71st Street in Green Lake. The intersection, which is a pretty wide one to cross for drivers and pedestrians, is controlled by stop signs.

One reader recently wrote: “The odd angles of the intersection make it difficult to know for sure which direction other cars are going, and therefore it is sometimes difficult to determine who has the right of way. Pedestrians often enter the crosswalks while drivers are figuring out who’s turn it is, so the cars end up stopping mid-intersection. A traffic light would make this intersection much safer and more straightforward.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation has explained in previous columns why there is no light, but here’s a refresher for those who may have missed it. Also, SDOT is planning safety improvements next year at the intersection. They won’t include a traffic light, as some might hope, but the improvements should help.


View Larger Map

Answer:

Eric Widstrand, SDOT’s city traffic engineer, explains:

“SDOT looked into the possibility of installing a traffic signal, but found it would operate less efficiently because a signal would increase delays for all users of the intersection; as a result, the intersection will remain an all-way stop.

“In 2012, SDOT will begin construction on a curb bulb at the northeast corner of East Green Lake Drive North and Northeast 71st Street,” he says. “The goal of this project is to reduce the crossing distance and widen the sidewalk by realigning Northeast 71st Street at East Green Lake Drive North. The project will also include the removal of an existing median island, realignment of the marked crosswalk between the Starbucks and the waterfront park area, additional bike racks and new curb ramps.”

Scott Gutierrez can be reached at 206-448-8334 orscottgutierrez@seattlepi.com. Follow Scott on Twitter attwitter.com/2_scoops.

 

 

13 Responses to “SDOT plans improvements to busy intersection at East Green Lake Dr N and NE 71st St”

  1. jim says:

    And please please people, pedestrians MUST wait until the intersection is clear of vehicles before entering the crosswalk. This is the law.

    • dan says:

      Jim: Do you have a source for your statement? The laws as posted on the SDOT website (Google “seattle pedestrian law”) say no such thing. The closest I could find is regarding stepping “into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.”

      • jim says:

        SMC 12A.12.015 Pedestrian interference
        4. “Obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic” means to walk, stand, sit,
        lie, or place an object in such a manner as to block passage by another
        person or a vehicle, or to require another person or a driver of a vehicle
        to take evasive action to avoid physical contact. Acts authorized as an
        exercise of one’s constitutional right to picket or to legally protest, and
        acts authorized by a permit issued pursuant to the Street Use Ordinance,
        Chapters 15.02 through 15.50 of the Seattle Municipal Code, shall not
        constitute obstruction of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

        RCW 46.61.235
        (2) No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.

    • Jimmyk says:

      Not true; you just can’t bolt into the path of car so that it can’t stop.
      See:

      RCW 46.61.235
      Crosswalks.

      (1) The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this section “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.

      (2) No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.

      • jim says:

        Case law does not support your interpretation.

        STATE v. GREENE 05 26 80
        STATE of Washington, Respondent, v. Jermaine David GREENE, b.d. 05-26-80, Appellant.
        No. 41939-1-I.
        – September 20, 1999
        http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-court-of-appeals/1415397.html

        • Hey says:

          Jim, you’ll note the incident you refer to did not take place in an intersection, but mid-block in a location without a crosswalk. So, I don’t think it really applies to the discussion here. Again, I ask for a source for your statement.

          • jim says:

            STATE v. GREENE upholds SMC 12A.12.015 which states:
            “Obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic” means to walk, stand, sit,
            lie, or place an object in such a manner as to block passage by another
            person or a vehicle, or to require another person or a driver of a vehicle
            to take evasive action to avoid physical contact.”

            Stepping in front of a moving car you will require them to take “evasive action to avoid physical contact”, SMC 12A.12.015 is not specific to crosswalks.

            How else could one interpret SMC 12A.12.015?

  2. Phil Austin says:

    Agreed. I don’t think there should be a stoplight there. As someone who drives through that intersection several times per week I think it would definitely back things up. Particularly with that short distance on 71st between the stop light there and the stop sign at the intersection of 71st and Woodlawn. Things would get ugly there.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I drive by at least once a day through this intersection. While I understand that it is an odd one, and can be confusing when you first encounter it, it is really a four way stop, just at odd angles. Once you view it like that it is not too difficult. You arrive, you note who is already there first and wait your turn.
    Now, on weekends it does make it harder, since the pedestrian traffic is much higher, but since the intersection is so wide, there is space for everyone to still move along.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ah, those were the days. No autos, no pedrestians, not even a blog! When a trip to Green Lake was by trolley only, and the only risk might be a cow on the track:

    http://content.lib.washington.edu/cdm-ayp/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/seattle&CISOPTR=1011&CISOBOX=1&REC=1

    or an occassional stray bullet:

    http://content.lib.washington.edu/cdm-ayp/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/seattle&CISOPTR=1253&CISOBOX=1&REC=17

    Yep, those were the days . . . but we hardly knew ya!

  5. Cargo_bike says:

    This is one of the worst intersections in town. PERIOD. When combined with the illegal parkers in front of Starbucks it is amazing that more people are not hit here. Please slow down.

  6. Trev says:

    Both this intersection and Green Lake Way/50th/Stone Way should be a roundabout traffic circle. This seems like it would solve everything.

  7. Hewittel says:

    No light, but of course, more provisions for bicycles. I was told no light would be put there because there aren’t enough accidents to warrant it. It is frightening to go through this intersection during high traffic. People try to be extra careful as they dodge people: Mom’s with strollers, kids on bicycles, etc. Other drivers, especially those on bicycles, as well as pedestrians, fail to follow traffic rules making it very dangerous.