What do you do when an industrial organization twists the arm of a community group and forms a coalition that advocates against safety? What do you do when they tell the city that they are speaking for you in the process?
That is what is happening in Magnolia and Queen Anne.
As a result, a few individuals are trying to put together their own coalition to organize those who are in favor of the road diet. Without the deep industrial pockets of the North Seattle Industrial Association, this group was formed just a few days ago and has no budget for publicity. The members just want a safer Nickerson Street.
As we reported earlier, when the city planned to implement a road diet on Stone Way, a business coalition was formed and pulled developer Suzie Burke in to twist the arm of the mayor and halt the project while the city studied the situation for another year. In that year, SeattleLikesBikes organized a protest ride where hundreds of bicycles tried to create a traffic jam. It turns out that bicycles are horribly inefficient at creating traffic jams and cars are much better. We showed that it was a very important issue for cyclists and for the community, we helped do traffic counts that showed that the 4-lanes were not the best solution considering the high level of turning traffic and eventually the city implemented the road diet.
SDOT released a study on the before and after of the Stone Way road diet. As we reported earlier, motorist vs. pedestrian crashes went down 80% and speeding to the excess of 10+ mph over the limit dropped 75%. Road diets make safer roads.
So why now and why Nickerson?
Nickerson Street, like Stone Way was and like 24th Ave NW was, is a 4-lane street that used to have marked crosswalks at intersections without stoplights. A few years ago a study came out that said that those crosswalks were risky, so SDOT removed them. For SDOT to have a crosswalk on a 4-lane street, they want to have a stoplight there. Stoplights cost around $100,000 to $200,000 to install at an intersection on average. Paint for the entire Nickerson road diet will be almost less than the cost of putting in a single crosswalk.
There are arguments from the other side of course.
They say that it will create a traffic jam around the Fremont Bridge, but they aren’t paying attention and aren’t seeing that the road diet stops long before that point. They also aren’t seeing that less speeding earlier means less traffic backup later.
They say that cyclists should just use the Ship Canal Trail, but they don’t see that the Ship Canal Trail doesn’t connect anywhere and that it is nearly impossible to cross the 4 lanes of 45 mph traffic coming from two directions around a low-visibility curve to cross from the north side of Nickerson to get to the trail.
They say that this is the cycling lobby pushing their agenda, but they don’t see that Nickerson bisects the Seattle Pacific University campus and that the traffic creates more than a half-mile wall for pedestrians.
The Nickerson Street road diet is a safety issue. We need to move forward with it today!