24th Ave E & E Interlaken Blvd, map
The intersection of 24th and Interlaken is an accident waiting to happen. Anyone traveling between Interlaken Park and the Arboretum goes through this intersection - there is a lot of traffic, bikes, joggers, kids, baby strollers, etc. But the crosswalk is unmarked. Traffic on 24th is going fast enough that drivers simply don't stop. I cross that intersection quite a few times per week, and only once has someone ever stopped for me. Today, I came within inches of being hit - the way was clear when I started across the intersection - someone came in from a side street and floored it, and looked up just in time to see me and swerve around me, tires squealing. I was also almost hit two weeks ago, when I was carrying a baby!
I know the city is aware of this intersection because some of those red flags showed up recently. Guess what, they don't help. The bottom line is that most drivers don't know about "unmarked intersections", so waving a red flag doesn't do much. The problem is not visibility, it is lack of awareness - drivers don't know that pedestrians have the right of way even at unmarked crosswalks, so they don't stop, at least, they don't stop when they are going over 30mph, which they are on 24th.
I suspect you will tell me that there is an intersection with a light one block away. Yes, there is, but no one goes down there to cross. Just as drivers don't stop at unmarked intersections, pedestrians don't go two blocks out of their way to get to a marked intersection. That is just reality and the city needs to work within that reality. That reality makes this very dangerous intersection.
Thanks for listening.
Seattle Department of Transportation (SDoT) Response
You brought up some interesting points about both driver perceptions and pedestrians.
One topic I wanted to highlight specifically is the pedestrian flags you mentioned at 24th Avenue East and East Interlaken Boulevard. In late 2006, a group of citizens installed pedestrian flags at two locations in Seattle. The City removed these flags. which were removed and subsequently started a debate on the topic. In early 2007, SDOT made a policy decision to the Director's office stated that they would not remove pedestrian flags provided and maintained by residents and would study the effectiveness of these types of devices. Subsequently, flags have appeared at several locations across the city where residents feel they might be of use. SDOT has installed pedestrian crossing flags at a number of locations and we are studying the effectiveness of these flags on motorist yielding behavior.
The flags at 24th Avenue East and East Interlaken Boulevard were installed by a private resident or group and are not part of the City's pilot program to determine the effectiveness of pedestrian flags at crosswalks. The City of Seattle neither tracks nor supports these private installations. The pilot program for pedestrian flags is almost at the end of its year-long study and in the fall 2009 we hope to have a better idea if the City will continue this program.
You cited drivers' lack awareness of the rules of the road- specifically that a driver is required to yield Right of Way at unmarked pedestrian crossings. Part of the City's Pedestrian Master Plan involves the use of education and public service announcements to help drivers remember their responsibilities on the road. However, none of this takes the place of vigilance on the part of bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists since there are some persons who will disregard all signs, markings and roadway conditions.
Your final topic involved the signal at the adjacent intersection on Boyer Avenue East and the fact that pedestrians do not want to move to the signal if they are crossing at East Interlaken Boulevard. The City has provided a preferred signalized crossing at the arterial intersection of 24th Avenue East and Boyer Avenue East 200 feet from East Interlaken Boulevard. The Boyer Avenue East intersection met Federal federal guidelines for signal installation, which include consider the volume of pedestrians as well as vehicles. Consistent with national guidelines, all four lanes of 24th Avenue E must be crossed at the same time, the City of Seattle generally limits preferred crossings and marked crossings crosswalks along this arterials, such as 24th Avenue E, to signalized intersections that meet federal criteria for signal installation. Pedestrians are not restricted from crossing at unsignalized crossings at their own discretion, but they should exercise heightened care.
Back to Northeast Sector list of critical crossings.