Traffic Safety Update: April 7, 2017
Traffic Safety Update: April 7, 2017
On Friday April 7th, the City had a contractor adjust the spacing and alignment of the planters at 84th Avenue NE and Simonds Road. Several planters were removed, and their spacing adjusted, in response to concerns regarding aesthetics. The removed planters are in storage and can be reused by the City. The planter adjustment did not change the intended traffic safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists. The planter modifications did make the turns more comfortable for motorists and larger vehicles. The City will also install pedestrian crosswalk striping across 84th Avenue (on both sides of Simonds Road) in the near future when the contractor is available and the pavement is dry (likely within the next month).
The City continues to coordinate with the Postal Service and has adjusted the planters on 67th and 75th Avenues to provide additional clearance for mail delivery. The survey of residents on 67th and 75th Avenues will begin the week of April 10.
At the April 24th Council meeting, staff will share an update on the NTPP program, discuss recent chicane improvements, discuss the 84th/Simonds intersection improvement to offer other different aesthetic treatments, and an update on the few projects left to complete.
Traffic Safety Update: March 31, 2017
Last week the City installed several traffic safety devices as part of its larger efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety throughout the City. The City has received numerous comments concerning the improvements that were installed last week.
Cities play an important role in affecting how people feel about their communities, and understanding how city projects and policies affect that sentiment is critical. The input we have received over the last few days has been helpful, and we appreciate hearing from our citizens. We are listening and working on modifications to be responsive to concerns.
To provide historical context, the City experienced pedestrian and bicycle safety fatalities in recent years, including the deaths of two young Inglemoor High School graduates in March of 2014. That year was a very trying and grief-stricken time for the community, especially for the families who lost their loved ones.
The City Council has made pedestrian and bicycle safety its top priority since 2014 and has invested significant dollars toward safer travel for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as motorists. The focus of this top priority is the City’s Target Zero goal for zero pedestrian and bicycle fatalities or serious injuries as a result of a collision with a vehicle by the year 2025. Since 2014, the City has:
- Secured $3.5 million in grants towards $5.3 million of new sidewalk projects. (This does not include grants obtained by the City for the new sidewalks installed as part of the City’s recently completed SR 522 West A project.)
- Added 3.4 miles of new sidewalks throughout the City; almost 3 more miles of new sidewalk are planned for the next several years.
- Installed 3.8 lane miles of new bicycle lanes throughout the City
- Installed 18 sets of Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons on arterial crosswalks
- Installed six new arterial crosswalks
- Stepped up its pedestrian and bicycle safety education and outreach efforts
- Increased enforcement of traffic safety laws, including the addition of a police motorcycle which can more easily conduct crosswalk enforcement
The City initiated a proactive, citizen-driven neighborhood traffic safety program known as the Neighborhood Transportation Plan Program (NTPP) in 2015. Residents were asked what traffic safety improvements that they would like to see in their own neighborhoods. For the program, the City’s traffic engineer met with neighborhoods from 12 geographic areas of the City in 2015 and 2016. Post cards were mailed to all homes in advance of the neighborhood meetings. At each of these neighborhood meetings, residents expressed their concerns about traffic safety and requested improvements to address these concerns.
As a result of the NTPP process and within the program budget, the City’s traffic engineer planned and installed 83 traffic safety improvements throughout the City’s neighborhoods last year and into this year. Seven more are planned for later this year, bringing the total number of NTPP improvements to 90. Examples of these neighborhood traffic safety improvements include:
- Street lighting
- Lane striping and directional arrows
- New crosswalks and accompanying rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs)
- Speed feedback signs (“Your Speed” signs)
- Vegetation management
- Adding pavement
In addition to the methods above, the City has also considered traffic calming devices that may be new to Kenmore but have been implemented in other cities. The City’s traffic engineer has been encouraged to make best use of the budgeted dollars by:
- Reaching out to the neighborhoods and tapping into residents’ ideas and suggestions
- Being creative and thinking outside the box
- Using successful methods implemented in other cities
- Embracing temporary through devices that are movable and adjustable, and
- Being cost effective and maximizing efficiency of the improvements
A number of concerns have been expressed about the NTPP improvements that were installed last week, including the planters installed at 84th and Simonds as well as the residential chicanes on 67th Avenue (19400 block) and 75th Avenue between 148th Street and 155th Street.
84th Avenue and Simonds Road
The 84th and Simonds intersection is part of the “Grey South,” neighborhood (the NTPP neighborhoods were given geographic/color designations). The traffic engineer held three meetings with this neighborhood, and the attached document showing the proposed planters was provided to the attendees at the third meeting in January of 2016.
In addition, the attached plan has been posted on the City’s website since early 2016. The purpose of the 84th & Simonds improvements are as follows:
- Reduce the speeds of vehicles exiting off of Simonds on to 84th: Prior to the recent improvements, the City had received a number of complaints about the speeds of vehicles coming around the corner from the right turn lane off ramp from Simonds into 84th. The right turn lane was eliminated and replaced with a buffered bicycle lane and a standard right turn.
- Reduce the intersection crossing distance for pedestrians and cyclists. Prior complaints included concerns over the long crossing length through the intersection. This crossing length combined with the speed of cars making the turn onto 84th was a safety concern. The recent improvements reduce the intersection crossing length (and therefore pedestrian/vehicle conflict area) for both legs of 84th from 120 feet to 40 feet and create 80 feet of new buffered bicycle lane at each leg of the intersection.
- Improve site distance, especially for motorists to see pedestrians and cyclists. Vegetation on the south leg made visibility more difficult, especially given the high speed of vehicles around the corner. The skewed angle on both legs of the intersection required drivers to look behind them to see along Simonds Road. Changing the location and angle of those turns overcomes the sight distance issues.
Concerns from citizens have been expressed about the planters, including their safety and aesthetics. Planters as a traffic calming device have been used in other cities. The use of planters instead of paving a permanent curbed extension area allows for flexibility in making adjustments and is a fraction of the cost. The planters’ height, size and setback from the travel lane meet nationally accepted engineering guidelines.
The newly restriped right turn radius from Simonds to 84th also meets nationally accepted engineering guidelines. This turning radius is designed to accommodate cars, school buses, delivery trucks, and fire trucks. Before and after the improvements were installed, the City has been in communication with the School District’s Transportation Department concerning this intersection.
Even though the turning radius meets engineering standards, the City will move the planters to make the turning movement more comfortable for motorists.
Concerns remain about the aesthetics of the planters. These points are well taken, and we will be considering options to address this concern. We welcome ideas and suggestions to improve the aesthetics at this corner.
The new chicanes on 75th Avenue and 67th Avenue are also a result of the NTPP process. These neighborhoods were mailed notices of the NTPP meetings, and the chicanes were selected based on input from the participants. Input included concerns about vehicle speeds on both streets. In the case of 75th Avenue, residents also complained about the noise from the rumble strips and their inadequacy of slowing vehicle speeds. Subsequently, later that year (2016) the residents along the affected sections of 75th and 67th Avenues were mailed postcards that explained the proposed chicanes and the removal of the rumble strips on 75th Avenue.
Both streets (75th and 67th Avenues) have a chicane that is near mailboxes. Prior to installing the chicanes, the City’s traffic engineer contacted the US Post Office and received guidance on how far from the mailboxes the chicanes needed to be. The traffic engineer designed and installed the chicanes according to that guidance. However, mail carriers are asking for more room. The City will adjust the planter boxes to meet the needs of the mail carriers.
In the near future (next several weeks), the City will:
- Adjust the 84th & Simonds planters to make turning more comfortable for motorists.
- To provide additional safety for pedestrians, order crosswalk striping to be installed across the two 84th Avenue legs where they intersect at Simonds Road.
- Survey the residents who live on the affected sections of 67th and 75th Avenues to assess their satisfaction with the chicanes and suggestions for changes.
- Move planters further away from mail boxes on 67th and 75th Avenues.
At a future City Council meeting (likely in April or May) the City Council will:
- Receive a status update on the NTPP improvements and general input from the community so far; discuss soliciting additional feedback from the NTPP neighborhoods.
- Discuss the planters at 84th and Simonds and consider options that may be more aesthetically pleasing.
- Discuss the chicanes on 75th Avenue and 67th Avenue and consider alternatives, including making them more aesthetically pleasing and/or permanent (curbing, etc.).
- Discuss other upcoming NTPP traffic safety improvements and ways to improve communication and manage community expectations.
- Consider and provide direction on next steps.
In the meantime, the City welcomes ideas and suggestions that may assist the discussion, and we appreciate the feedback provided so far. Please share your ideas or sign up for email updates with traffic engineer Brett Schock at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-398-8900.