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Public Safety

Dangerous Pedestrian Crossing at Stone Way & N 41st Needs SDOT Fix

Neighbors on both sides of Aurora Avenue worry about pedestrian safety at N. 41st and Stone Way N.  A natural walkway to Hamilton Middle School in Wallingford from Fremont over the Aurora pedestrian bridge at N 41st and from the residential area west of Stone, the intersection has proved dangerous to pedestrians and is poorly marked despite the road diet applied to Stone Way a couple of years ago. The intersection needs at least a pedestrian-activated light and your help in contacting SDOT is requested; address your remarks to Peter Hahn, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation, PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA 98124-499.  

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One neighbor writes:

…I have been working together with D…, another Fremont resident, to let other community members know about our concerns regarding the safety of the designated school crosswalk at Stone Way N. & N. 41st. We think that a pedestrian-activated light is imperative at this crossing, and we are asking for your help in supporting our efforts. 

D…’s son, formerly a Hamilton Middle School student, was hit and badly injured in the crosswalk in 2005, in daylight. My daughter is currently attending Hamilton and was initially using this crosswalk until I asked her not to do so after observing the real-life conditions of trying to get across this wide 30 mph street. Kids in middle school are shorter than adults, so they are already at a disadvantage for visibility. In 2009, the city completed a “road diet” that reduced the number of traffic lanes on the street.  This did not reduce the width of the street, however, so the issues around visibility haven’t been resolved. On October 10, just over a month ago, a Fremont resident was hit by a southbound car in late morning, in broad daylight.  We are not wrong about the lack of safety in this crosswalk.
I put in a formal complaint about the crosswalk to SDOT on September 22.  To their credit, SDOT is going to start some work to improve the visibility of the crosswalk in the coming weeks, including limiting more parking near it, adding signs, and striping to show where drivers are supposed to stop for the crosswalk. I don’t think it’s sufficient, however.  My daughter and I were using this kind of crosswalk a couple months ago on N. 46th west of Stone Way and weren’t noticed by a #44 bus driver until he was nearly upon us. That is a street that is far narrower.
Please, neighbors, support our efforts to get a pedestrian-activated light at this crosswalk. Please contact SDOT to ask for the light. More kids than ever are using it because of population growth and because it is in line with both the N. 41st footbridge over Aurora and also the south end of Hamilton Middle School.  Because it serves a middle school and not an elementary school (at least directly), it does not qualify for the city’s ‘Safe Routes to Schools’ program.
Hamilton’s PTSA also supports a pedestrian-activated light at this spot. FNC recently sent this letter to SDOT:

Re: Stone Way N. & N. 41st St. crosswalk
 
Dear Mr. Hahn:
 
I am writing on behalf of the Fremont Neighborhood Council to ask that the Seattle Department of Transportation make permanent improvements to the crosswalk at Stone Way N. & N. 41st   in order to increase the visibility and safety of pedestrians using the crosswalk, particularly children from our neighborhood.  There are now many kids from Fremont using this crosswalk to get to Hamilton Middle School due to a marked increase in school age children in the neighborhood and also the new Seattle Public Schools neighborhood school assignment plan. 

The crosswalk at Stone Way N. & N. 41st St. is of special importance as a safe route to school, because for the kids going to Hamilton, it is a direct route, since it is in line with the footbridge over Aurora at N.

In 2005, a student was badly injured in the crosswalk by a car that didn’t stop for him as he crossed there after school. It was partly for this reason that a road diet was imposed on Stone Way N., to make it narrower.  However, the road is still wide and drivers potentially do not see the children crossing. The mother of the student who was injured has continued to ask the city for more improvements to the crosswalk, without success:
http://www.king5.com/news/cities/seattle/Seattle-mom-advocating-for-crosswalk-safety-130717758.html

We believe that additional improvements to this crosswalk should be a high priority for SDOT, particularly given that this is a major walking route for kids going to Hamilton Middle School from Fremont.

One of our neighborhood residents contacted SDOT to ask about improvements to the crosswalk but was informed that there isn’t money to make improvements to the crosswalk. Instead, she was directed to apply elsewhere for crossing flags or else for money later this year that might mean a grant would be awarded for improvements in the summer of 2015, nearly two years from now. But the improvements are needed now, because of the large number of kids now using the crosswalk. 

We respectfully request that SDOT review the visibility issues at this crosswalk and make upgrades that will improve safety for Fremont kids.

Thank you in advance for looking into the matter.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Pure, President

Fremont Neighborhood Council