Picture this: It’s a warm, sunny Tuesday afternoon, and you got off work early.
Your drive home takes you along a busy, wide road like Rainier Avenue. Squinting from the sunlight in your eyes, you miss the flashing sign that notes the speed limit is reduced to 20 MPH during school hours. It’s your mistake, of course, but one that is hardly surprising. Arterial roads like Rainier Avenue are designed for high speeds, and the fast-flowing traffic and expanse of concrete in front of your windshield offer few visual cues to slow down. You don’t realize it, but a camera has snapped a photo of your license plate.
With $400,000 recently set aside by the City to fund upgrades for people walking, rolling, and biking along Lake Washington Boulevard, a redesign might be coming to a South End road beloved by cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers alike.
With the opening of the West Seattle Bridge on Sunday, Sept. 18, the Duwamish Valley is counting down the days to fewer vehicles passing through the neighborhood and regaining its streets for slower uses.
In other news, the Seattle Department of Transportation is adding bus-only lanes on Rainier Avenue South and requests your feedback on transit improvements; Seattle Public Libraries will be limiting their hours for the summer, and Artist Trust is offering emergency funds for artists.
—Vee Hua 華婷婷, interim managing editor for the South Seattle Emerald
Luz Casio spends many of her mornings directing traffic outside the Refugee and Immigrant Family Center Bilingual Preschool (RIFC) in West Seattle’s Delridge neighborhood. As director of the preschool, she’s trying to help make drop-off a little less chaotic for families.
Casio says this extra duty wasn’t needed before Seattle’s Department of Transportation (SDOT) installed a yellow concrete median in the middle of Delridge Way that cut off left-turn access to the preschool. The road redesign was done in anticipation of the RapidRide H Line, a new King County Metro bus route set to start running frequent service between Downtown Seattle and Burien along Delridge in late 2022.
The poll, which was conducted in October leading up to the most recent election, surveyed 617 “likely voters” and has a 4.1% margin of error. The results come at a pivotal time when Seattle is likely to benefit from the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden on Monday.
Last summer, when the first COVID-19 vaccine was still months away and indoor dining was limited, a group of businesses in Columbia City transformed a half block’s worth of South Ferdinand Street into The Patio, a shared outdoor seating area open to everyone. Residents could order takeout from nearby Geraldine’s Counter or Lottie’s Lounge, sure — or they could just drop in and say hello to friends they might not have seen since the pandemic began.
After months of social isolation, “a few people said it just kind of saved their life,” said Lottie’s owner Beau Hebert. “They were just going bonkers.”
The project unfolded under a special pilot program by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), part of an aggressive push by the agency to quickly convert public streets and sidewalks into outdoor seating. Restaurants at the time were facing mass closures, and open-air dining offered customers a less-risky alternative to venturing inside. Changes to SDOT’s permitting process, including waiving fees that sometimes cost several thousand dollars per year, led to a proliferation of patio seating across the city.
But with restrictions on indoor dining now gone and nearly three in four eligible King County residents fully vaccinated, the city faces a choice: What to do with its outdoor dining and new communal spaces?
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
Vaccine Pop-Up in White Center, Wednesday, July 28, Noon–6 p.m.
American Indian Health Commission and Tribal/Urban Indian Health Immunizations Coalition are “Pulling Together for Wellness” and providing free vaccines to adults and children 12 and older on Wednesday, July 28 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. No appointment necessary! Free emergency dental services are also available by appointment (call 480-760-1486 to schedule).
A car crash in SODO took the life of a pedestrian just over three weeks into 2021. Days later, another traffic death occurred within the same block. Two months after that, a semi-truck collided with a bicyclist on the industrial streets of Georgetown, marking another fatality in the South End, where traffic deaths were quickly outpacing other areas of the city.
In April, a driver fled the scene of a deadly crash with a bicyclist near Seward Park. Early one morning in June, another person died after an SUV hit a man walking along Airport Way South. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and police blogs show yet another pedestrian was killed near the Columbia City light rail station a few days later.
Six months into 2021, more than half of all Seattle traffic fatalities have occurred in Council District 2, which includes Rainier Valley, SODO, and parts of Chinatown/International District.