City No Relief in “Action Plan” for Rainier
posted by July 13 at 12:24 PMon
I just returned to work today from a weeklong vacation, a good deal of which was spent biking up and down Rainier. (Lake Washington Blvd. is nice, but it’s a goddamn slog to get to Columbia City up the hill.) Anyway, riding along Rainier a couple of times a day, I had ample opportunity to appreciate firsthand the “challenges” addressed in the city’s Rainier Action Plan, which Stranger news intern Rebecca Tapscott wrote about here.
Not surprisingly, the action plan reveals that failing to yield to pedestrians and cyclists occurs three times more frequently on Rainier than on equivalent arterials in Seattle. Also not surprisingly, the “action plan” is mostly talk: It focuses almost exclusively on efforts to convince drivers to drive more safely, instead of making systemic changes that would force them to do so.
For example, under the Rainier plan, the city will:
• Install one speed radar to track north-moving traffic on the south end of Rainier.
• Track DUI arrests with the state liquor board and target problem bars. (Mini-marts, probably a bigger issue, go unmentioned.)
• “Conduct red light running emphasis patrols,” whatever that means.
• Examine pavement markings.
• Install a camera at one red light along the corridor.
• Install one “your speed is” sign in each direction.
• Put up billboards and “develop education and awareness materials” to hand out to South Seattle residents.
The problem with almost all of these solutions, and others in the plan, is that they rely exclusively on voluntary compliance instead of measures that would force people to change their behavior. Changes that could actually make a difference, like adding bike lanes (a proposal that is “deferred to [the city’s] Bike Master Plan,” which in turn puts Rainier improvements off indefinitely, a fact the city’s transportation department could not have been unaware of), slowing traffic by adding or de-sychronizing signals, and changing land-use patterns to eliminate large car-oriented uses (like street-facing parking and multiple gas stations) on Rainier go unexplored.