Capitol Hill Station Access Audit

BY DAVID SEATER

On February 29, 2016, Central Seattle Greenways volunteers and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways staff met at Capitol Hill Station to conduct an accessibility audit of the station area. We focused on three priorities: safety of street crossings, obstructions in crosswalks and along sidewalks, and sidewalk capacity. The station is expected to serve 14,000 riders every day in 2030, making safety and accessibility of the entrances a significant priority.

The map below shows the audit area. Intersections that were assessed are circled, station entrances are marked with stars. Specifically, the intersections were: Broadway E & E John St / E Olive Way, Broadway E & E Denny Way, Broadway Ave E & E Thomas St, Harvard Ave E & E Olive Way, and 10th Ave E & E John St.

Map

Assessed intersection are circled in red, station entrances are marked with green stars. (Map from Google Maps, annotations by David Seater)

We identified several common problems at the intersections and the sidewalks connecting them:

  • Obstructions (poles, hydrants) in or very near curb ramps
  • Obstructions (poles, signal cabinets, A-boards) blocking painted crosswalks
  • Ramps misaligned on opposite sides of a crosswalk
  • Ramps turned at an angle to the crosswalk
  • Drivers making dangerous turns through occupied crosswalks
  • Difficult crossings of John (at 10th) and Olive (at Harvard)
  • Sidewalks narrowed by obstructions (trash cans, newspaper boxes, A-boards, shelters)

Easy Wins – Quick, low cost solutions:

  1. Relocate trash cans and newspaper boxes to be further from crosswalks and ramps
  2. Move trash cans and newspaper boxes closer to the curb to open up sidewalk space
  3. Work with businesses to prevent A-boards from blocking crosswalks and sidewalks
  4. Install crosswalk markings and signs at Harvard & Olive Way and 10th & John
  5. Install better signage and lane markings to prevent left turns from northbound Broadway to westbound Denny Way
  6. Coordinate with King County Metro to place bus shelters without obstructing sidewalks
  7. Patch utility cuts with asphalt to cover existing gravel and create a smooth surface
  8. Remove or replace the old bike rack on the sidewalk on the west side of Broadway between John and Thomas

Future Opportunities – Sidewalk and ramps:

  1. Relocate or underground utility and signal control cabinets. Many of these are placed directly in the path of marked crosswalks, creating a barrier and reducing capacity. This is particularly apparent at the main station entrance on the southeast corner of Broadway E & E John St.
  2. Relocate utility and signal poles, many of which are blocking marked crosswalks. Some of the poles are partially blocking ADA ramps.
  3. Relocate fire hydrants that are blocking crosswalks and ADA ramps. These are particularly difficult for people with impaired vision to navigate around.
  4. Align ADA ramps on both sides of crosswalks so that people walking across the street can travel in a straight line without encountering an unexpected curb.
  5. Orient ADA ramps to be aligned with the crosswalk instead of at an angle. In particular, avoid using a single ramp that directs people walking into the middle of the intersection. The new ramp directly in front of the main station entrance at Broadway E & E John St is a particularly egregious example of what not to do.

Safety Improvements – Arterial crosswalks:

  1. Rechannelize E John St / E Olive Way to add left turn lanes at Broadway E. The lack of turn lanes here causes drivers to change lanes unexpectedly as they approach and move through the intersection.
  2. Add left turn signal phases in all directions at Broadway E & E John St / E Olive Way. When the intersection is busy it’s common for drivers attempting to turn left to loiter in crosswalks or in the intersection waiting for a gap in oncoming traffic without watching for people crossing in the crosswalk. This leads to dangerous situations when drivers try to turn through an occupied crosswalk.
  3. Improve the crossings at Harvard & Olive Way and 10th & John with raised intersections, curb bulbs, or other traffic calming measures. Many drivers do not yield to people trying to walk across these intersections.

Examples:

Obstructed crosswalk, Broadway E & E John St

Obstructed crosswalk, Broadway E & E John St (photo from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways)

Obstructed Crosswalk 2

Obstructed crosswalk, Broadway E & E John St (photo from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways)

Obstructed crosswalk, Broadway E & E Thomas St

Obstructed crosswalk, Broadway E & E Thomas St (photo from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways)

Sidewalk obstructions, Broadway E & E Thomas St

Sidewalk obstructions, Broadway E & E Thomas St (photo from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways)

Left-turning car stuck in crosswalk, Broadway E & E John St / E Olive Way

Left-turning car stuck in crosswalk, Broadway E & E John St / E Olive Way (photo from David Seater)

Illegal turns into occupied crosswalk, Broadway E & E Denny Way

Illegal turns into occupied crosswalk, Broadway E & E Denny Way (photo from David Seater)

Failure to yield, 10th Ave E & E John St

Failure to yield, 10th Ave E & E John St (photo from David Seater)

Old bike rack, Broadway E between E John and E Thomas Streets

Old bike rack, Broadway E between E John and E Thomas Streets (photo from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways)

Places for People: 12th Ave Square Park Now Open

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12th Avenue and E James Court in 2008. The property on the left is now an apartment building, the property on the right is now a park. (Click for enlarged view)

East James Court used to be a little cut through street with parking along both sides, remarkable only in its unremarkableness, a way for cars to get between 12th Avenue and 13th and to store their cars for a two-hour block of time. But not a place where anyone likely felt a strong desire to spend a whole lot of time.

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Now East James Court is a complementary space next to the newest park in central Seattle, directly between Capitol Hill and the Central District. On April 14, the grand opening ceremony was held for this park, which includes one of the biggest pieces of public art to be added to Seattle Parks properties in many years, the “Cloud Veil”, designed by Ellen Sollod.

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The grand opening ceremony. Photo credit: No Spandex Required

The grand opening ceremony. Photo credit: No Spandex Required

Visit 12th Ave Square Park to witness another example of spaces for cars becoming places for people. Grab a coffee at Cherry Street, or a bite to eat at Ba Bar, take a seat under the Cloud Veil, and marvel at the difference on 12th Avenue now compared with a few short years ago.

 

Summer Parkways is coming to the Central Area!

Where can you bike, walk, dance, climb rocks, skateboard, see bike polo, listen to music, and so much more? Summer Parkways! Three miles of streets and the four parks they connect will come alive on Saturday, September 12. Be there! Pages from SSP Postcard

Summer Parkways kicks off with a grand opening celebration of the first section of the new Central Area Neighborhood Greenway, providing safe and comfortable streets for people biking and walking from S. Jackson to E. John. Join us at 11:00 a.m. at Garfield Community Center for the speechifying, ribbon-cutting, and celebratory bike parade.

At the same time, the buff and adventurous Disaster Relief Trials contestants will set off to gather water and other necessities, travel over challenging terrain, and generally do the things we’d need done in a natural disaster. Cheer them on at the start line! (See Tom’s post on Seattle Bike Blog for more info and great video.)

Summer Parkways festivities go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bike a bit, and then take in some music, bounce around on a harness trampoline, climb a rock, eat some food, and meet some folks from around the neighborhood, other parts of the city, or out of town.

As you’d expect, it’s going to take a lot of volunteers to pull this off. If you’d like to help, go to http://www.cascade.org/summerparkways, and use Cascade Bike Club’s volunteer portal to find the right fit.

The following weekend, on September 19, the focus shifts to Ballard for another family-friendly fun-packed party in the streets.We’re modeling Summer Parkways after the incredibly successful Sunday Parkways events in Portland. Check out this video to see why we’re so excited.

Ted Virdone braves Seattle rain with Central Greenways

Who is willing to give up a Saturday morning to spend it out in the rain?

Central Greenways fearless volunteer leaders - Merlin and Brie - talking at Columbia and 18th  about plans for Columbia St. and Ridge Route greenways.

Central Seattle Greenways volunteer leaders, Merlin and Brie, talking at Columbia and 18th about plans for Columbia St. and Ridge Route greenways.

Happily, several Central Seattle Greenway volunteers and Ted Virdone, a staff member for Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. We met on Saturday, January 17 at a cafe for a quick ‘briefing’ before heading out on a bike tour of planned future greenways. It was an exciting opportunity to educate Ted and Councilmember Sawant on Central Seattle Greenways and the work happening in our neighborhood to make streets safer for all users.

After visiting one of the first implemented greenways in the East District, we set out to explore short segments of multiple routes that the community is hoping to see established in the near future, including:

  • Columbia St. Greenway
  • Ridge Route Greenway
  • Union St. Protected Bike Lane
  • 27th Ave Greenway

 

You can help move these and other projects forward in 2015. Already this year we’re seeing movement on the Madison BRT Project, construction of the Central Greenway paralleling 23rd Ave from Rainier Ave S to Montlake, and Vision Zero. Come out and join your neighbors in a movement for safe streets.

Ted Virdone, surrounded by Central Greenways volunteers, discussing a future greenway route in the central neighborhood.

Ted Virdone, surrounded by Central Greenways volunteers on January 17, discussing a future greenway route in the central neighborhood.

Central Seattle Greenways meets the second Monday of each month at 6pm. Check our Facebook page or sign up to join our email list for details of upcoming meetings and projects.

Join us 12.6.13 to discuss future Greenways

Join us Friday, December 6th at 6:30 PM at the Central Cinema to discuss how we can help bring safe streets to our neighborhoods.

360 image by Adam Parast

SDOT has secured funding for two greenways in our neighborhoods! The top candidates are the “23rd corridor greenway” now called the Central Greenway which you may have heard about at the open house, and our priority “ridge route” now called the Ridge Greenway that is already a popular way for people to walk and bike along the ridge of the CD/Capitol Hill. That’s a lot of funding for safe and comfortable streets in our neighborhoods! 

This is a really exciting and important time to get involved. We really need all hands on deck for the next few months to make the most of this opportunity. Come to the restaurant area at Central Cinema Friday December 6th at 6:30 PM to get involved. If you can’t make it but still want to help please be in touch.
How you can help
  1. Make introductions to local groups, organizations, churches, councils etc. SDOT will be able to make some presentations to these groups, and we may end up partnering with SDOT for these conversations or conducting some of our own outreach.
  2. Help us host smaller neighborhood meetings: SDOT is planning to host another mega meeting, but it would be wise for us to host a few smaller meetings in Capitol Hill and the Central District. This is something I hope to discuss further next week – come with your ideas!
  3. Spread the word: Do you know someone who is interested in getting involved? Bring them next Friday to our meeting! Or invite them to the Google Group. We will also need your help spreading the word about other upcoming events and talking to the public about what greenways are (hint: think traffic calmed streets with safe intersections)

We hope to see you on Friday!

Nov 6th public meeting on 23rd corridor greenway possibilities

Montlake Greenways leader Lionel Job explains potential safety improvements for seniors, kids, and people accessing the Boyer Clinic.

Montlake Greenways leader Lionel Job explains potential safety improvements for seniors, kids, and people accessing the Boyer Clinic.

Tonight, in a packed room, neighbors Capitol Hill, Montlake, the Central District, and Madison Valley heard about what greenways are from SDOT. Top concerns voiced by community members were the potential impact of the 23rd Ave arterial repaving project putting additional cars onto neighborhood streets, being able to safely cross arterials, speeding and volume of school drop off car traffic, and the need for safe routes for families to walk and bike to where they need to go. There was no consensus about where greenway safety improvements would be best suited. Negative emotions ran high about the 23rd Ave E arterial repaving project and spilled over into other conversations.

Central Seattle Greenways hopes SDOT and safe streets advocates are able to refocus the conversation on the neighborhoods’ shared concerns of reducing cut through traffic on neighborhood streets, slowing speeding drop off traffic, and providing safe ways for our aging population to walk to parks and kids to safely bike to school.

Nov 6 23d corridor gway meeting

There is common ground to have a quality conversation moving forward. In addition, we hope that the conversation about the 23rd Ave E arterial project and greenway safety improvements can be separated.

Thank you to everyone who came out in support tonight! We will need your passion, ideas, and hard work moving forward to help create safer streets in our communities. If you would like to sign our letter thanking SDOT for investing in safer streets in our communities and to receive updates from your local greenway group please click here.

Let’s Create a Great 23rd Ave Corridor Greenway

If you have not already heard, SDOT is planning to create a 23rd avenue corridor greenway as part of the $46 million 23rd Ave E complete streets project. Sign our letter and join us in thanking the City for the planned walking improvement and asking for a broader scope of study for the 23rd Ave Corridor Greenway project. This has not been a priority for Central Seattle Greenways (stay tuned for exciting news about the “ridge route!”), but it came about because planners were unable to accommodate safe walking, biking, transit, freight, and car traffic on 23rd Ave E itself as part of the street redesign.

First, Central Seattle Greenways applauds SDOT for putting first the needs of people safely and comfortably walking along and across 23rd Ave E. Currently 23rd Ave E divides our community and makes it hard to walk to where neighbors want to go such as bus stops, shops, parks, school and more. SDOT is planning to improve sidewalks and crossings on 23rd, which is most welcome. We hope this project will continue to place an emphasis on the mode of transportation that everybody uses, walking.

Second, Central Seattle Greenways requests that SDOT examine a wider range of options for the $4.6 million in funding that will go to a parallel greenway in this corridor. We strongly desire greenways to be built quickly, but we also must be strategic with how the City spends its limited budget. Specifically we request SDOT as part of this process to investigate:

  1. Whether a greenway on 24th/25th might better serve the Central District.
  2. Whether a 27th-Lake Washington Loop greenway might serve as a through route for people who do not need to access Capitol Hill and are instead trying to get between the UW/Montlake and the Central District. It has the added benefit of also serving Madison Valley.
  3. Whether a protected bike lane on 24th Ave E could serve as a better alternative for climbing the hill between Montlake and NE Capitol Hill.
  4. How SDOT can work with the Department of Parks and Recreation and Seattle Public Schools to provide better access to these important community destinations.
  5. How whatever route(s) is/are chosen can connect through the SR-520 interchange project area in Montlake to the UW and Burke Gilman Trail. This corridor cannot simply dead end in Montlake. This is a critical junction for the City, which we have written about extensively.

(These options are visualized in a map at the bottom of this page.)

Central Seattle Greenways volunteers scout best route options for a greenway parallel to 23rd

Central Seattle Greenways volunteers scouted route options for a greenway parallel to 23rd

This is a complicated and very large project. Let’s make sure we get the most bang for our buck. Join us in thanking the City for the planned walking improvement and asking for a broader scope of study for the 23rd Ave Corridor Greenway project.

Thank you for all that you do. We hope to see you at the open house on November 6th from 5:30-7:30 at the Nova High School (300 20th ave E).

Map and letter not displaying? Try refreshing your browser.

Figure 1. Map of different opportunities that should be investigated as part of the 23rd Ave Corridor Greenway project.

View this map in a larger window.

A Year of Action: CSG is One Year Old!

Central Seattle Greenways was started a little over a year ago by Alexa (now in Portland), Tom, David, and Adam as the local chapter of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways serving the Capitol Hill, Central, Leschi, and Madrona neighborhoods. In barely over a year, countless neighbors have worked together to create a better place to live, work and play where anyone can get around safely by walking or biking. We did not do it alone – it takes a committed community of individuals, elected leaders, businesses, and groups to change our neighborhoods for the better.

For 2013, we have an ambitious list of priority projects that will help create safe and healthy streets for our children and our grandparents. We can’t do this alone. We hope YOU will join us in this community effort!

This blog post is organized for easy scanning by:

  1. 2012 list of accomplishments
  2. 2013 priorities
  3. How you can get involved
  4. More information on our projects

2012 List of Accomplishments

  • Melrose: We began to improve Melrose Avenue by obtaining a grant from the Department of Neighborhoods, hosting 5 community clean ups, 4 outreach events, numerous advisory committee meetings, a BBQ, a poetry reading, and selecting a firm to host three large community planning meetings (scroll down to learn about how you can get involved with this ongoing project)2012-06-01 08.50.50
    • Special thanks to: Mike Kent, the Melrose Promenade Advisory Committee, Sustainable Capitol Hill, the Seattle Parks Foundation, Stewardship Partners, and others.
  • SR 520: CSG volunteers worked with many partners to identify and advocate for connections that are all-ages-and-abilities in the SR 520 reconstruction design.  We were able to fundamentally change the debate around the SR 520 reconstruction by focusing public attention on the failure of the design to serve people of all-ages-and-abilities, and its potential to better connect our neighborhoods if done right. The Seattle City Council, WSDOT, and the community now are all in agreement that more work must be done to provide quality connections before the design is finalized.520 Planning
    • Special thanks to: City Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Richard Conlin, and Tom Rasmussen, the Mayor’s Office, Cascade Bicycle Club, the rest of the City Council, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, the Capitol Hill Community Council, the Montlake Community Club, Montlake Greenways, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and many others. Thank you!
  • Neighborhood Greenways: We researched, discussed, and proposed an all-ages-and-abilities network for the Capitol Hill, Central District, Leschi, and Madrona neighborhoods which has been incorporated in Seattle’s new Bicycle Master Plan.
    • We orchestrated two large public meetings to discuss potential Greenway projects in our neighborhoods.
    • Organized three route planning rides.417475_310374669011089_566492964_n
  • Safe Routes to Healthcare: CSG and Ballard Greenway volunteers engaged Swedish Hospital to survey how patients are arriving at healthcare and to identify safe ways the public can access the facilities as well as how patients can enjoy the surrounding neighborhood.
  • BMP: We analyzed and responded to the proposed Bicycle Master Plan Network Map.
  • Safe Routes to Transit: CSG volunteers shone a spotlight on the street car expansion needs for bikes and the Capitol Hill light rail station.
  • Changing the ConversationOur virtual activism engaged and informed neighbors about local pedestrian and bicycle issues through our TwitterFacebook, and Google Group (follow, like, and join us!).
  • Collaboration Is Paramount: As much as possible we tried to constructively collaborate with SDOT staff, WSDOT staff, City Councilmembers, executive staff, Capitol Hill Community Council officers, and Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce board members, and the Cascade Bicycle Club amongst other groups.

2013 Priorities

2012 was just the start of great things to come. We hope you will join us as we work on:

  • MelroseMelrose PlanningCSG and the Melrose Promenade Advisory Committee will work to finalize and begin to implement a community plan for Melrose Avenue and Bellevue Place Park.
  • SR 520: CSG will work with our allies to continue to advocate for family-friendly connections before the design is finalized.
  • BMP: We will continue to analyze and try and shape the direction of the BMP so that it sets us on a path where all-ages-and-abilities connections are recognized as the key to creating better biking infrastructure in Seattle.
  • Greenways – Central Ridge Route: CSG volunteers will team up with SDOT in the Fall of 2013 to begin to plan Capitol Hill and the Central District’s first greenway, what we are calling the Central Ridge Route (better name TBD). More information to follow.
  • Safe Routes to Health: Volunteers will continue to work with area hospitals to address access opportunities and potential partnerships.
  • Safe Routes to Transit: We will work with other Seattle Neighborhood Greenway groups and other organizations to continue to ensure that transit and walking/biking work together.
  • 23rd Ave Redesign: CSG plans to advocate for all-ages-and-abilities friendly facilities as part of the redesign of 23rd Avenue.
  • Events and Outreach: We are hoping to host more events in 2013. Get in touch if you have ideas you would like to share!Planning Ride

Get Involved!

If you simply want to stay informed we suggest liking us on Facebook and/or following us on Twitter (our Twitter and Facebook posts usually overlap). Additionally please feel welcome to subscribe to this blog (see the link on the sidebar), although we do not always post the most up to date news on this site.

If you want to get more involved we suggest joining our Google Group and introducing yourself and what projects you are most interested in helping with. We don’t bite – promise!

Learn More About Our Projects

The Melrose Promenade

In 2012, Central Seattle Greenways (CSG) obtained a grant through the Department of Neighborhoods to initiate a community vision planning process around the Melrose corridor. Throughout the second half of 2012, members of CSG and the Melrose Promenade Advisory Committee (MPAC) coordinated a number of neighborhood outreach and improvement events – including regular Muffins on Melrose and community cleanups – to begin a conversation about what Melrose could be like in the future. The project has generated significant community interest, and in 2013 CSG and MPAC will be working to channel that energy into a community-driven and -supported plan for the corridor. The MPAC recently selected Berger Partnership to lead the project’s design and community involvement processes, which began in earnest with our first public meeting on January 24th. The Advisory Committee is also working to capitalize on the Promenade’s early success and community interest by applying for additional grant funding when available. Folks interested in contributing to the Melrose Promenade efforts can visit the project’s website (www.melrosepromenade.com), Like the Promenade on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MelrosePromenade), or contact us directly atmelrosepromenade@gmail.com.

Safe 520 Campaign

For more about the 520 Campaign see our list of posts on the topic.

Safe Routes to Health

The Safe Routes to Health project “envisions a city where every health clinic and hospital can be comfortably reached by walking, biking , wheelchair and transit.”  We aim to partner with healthcare institutions to develop safe neighborhoods for active living and incorporate active transportation in healthy lifestyle choices.

We are just now meeting with potential supporters from major healthcare institutions.  Today we met representatives from Swedish Medical Center.  They have designated a physician champion for Safe Routes to Health, and have committed to including information about active transportation choices on their website and to developing a transportation survey for clinic patients and visitors.  Meetings with representatives from other healthcare institutions are in the works.

23rd Avenue Redesign 

See the Seattle Bike Blog post for more information and stay tuned.

Didn’t find what you are looking for?

Message us on Facebook, Tweet us, post a message in our google group, or send us an email centralseattlegreenways at gmail.com. Thank you for your interest!

Hey Look! People like Bikes!

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Earlier on our facebook page we shared a link to a new survey about attitudes towards bike infrastructure among Seattle voters. A few hours later, The Stranger did us all a favor and put up an infographic summarizing the key points. The results are pretty plain: Most people in Seattle like bikes and feeling unsafe on our streets is one of the main reasons people do not bike more in Seattle.

When it comes to transportation in Seattle, there is much more consensus about what needs to be done than some voices would have us think. 78% of the people surveyed stated that they were pro-bike. 60% of the people surveyed would like to ride more than they do today. 86% of the people surveyed support neighborhood greenways and 58% support building infrastructure that boosts safety for cyclists in Seattle, even if it calls for reconfiguring the roadway. That’s huge. Safe streets for everyone is a goal that almost everyone can agree on.

What’s more is that one of the biggest factors keeping people from getting on their bike is something that we have control over: Safety. 72% of those surveyed named feeling unsafe on the road as a barrier to getting on their bike, but we don’t have to settle for a bicycle network that only serves the most fearless cyclists. Neighborhood greenways help create an all ages and abilities alternative to biking on streets where less frequent riders routinely feel unsafe. Creating safe neighborhood connections with neighborhood greenways directly addresses a major barrier to biking and it turns out people think that is a good move for Seattle’s transportation mix.

Want to read the whole report? Check it out on Scribd!

[Source: The Stranger]

Active Transportation in South America

A lot has happen in the last few weeks. Here in Seattle, representatives from Central Seattle Greenways met with the citywide group to discuss which routes will be prioritized for next year and the multiuse trail on the Portage Bay Bridge has keep us busy as well. Meanwhile, you haven’t seen too many updates here on the website because I’ve been in South America, checking out how Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro have been adapting to the challenges of urban transportation.

Transportation Research in Rio!

South America has seen a number of innovative, and at times daring, active transportation initiatives that reflect a new vision about what they want their cities to be like. Gone are the days where cars were seen as the sole future of transportation, an ideal best embodied by  the completely master planned Brasilia. What we see today are cities all over the continent working to create places where people have more transportation choices and where cycling and walking can take root again. There seems to be a change in attitude towards cars and their role in society, including the quote from an ex-Mayor of Bogotá: “An advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation.“*

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