May 22

Promised signs arrive to deter motorists from cutting through Maple Leaf

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When the 15th Avenue Northeast bridge closed this week, residents complained that one effect was to send traffic through nearby side streets to Roosevelt Way Northeast.

In return, the city promised to install additional signs along 15th Avenue at the corner of Northeast 104th Street “to advise drivers that the street is not designated as a through street around the construction area.”

The signs have now arrived, both on Northeast 104th and 103rd streets. They’re not too close to the corners, through, and can’t easily be seen by motorists turning left.

Within minutes on a lazy Saturday afternoon, four cars and three dogs took 104th as a cut-through street. Plus one man from Oklahoma City, who was on a borrowed bicycle trying to get across the bridge.

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Sara W

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  1. Having lived in several neighborhoods in the past few years, honestly, we have it reasonably easy up here. I feel for the folks on 104th since it is such a direct and glaring “shortcut” people probably take when they look up from their text message and are started by the road closed signs. It’s not fun, and I’m sure I’d hate a big stream of cars zipping through.

    However, for a lot of other people… chill out. I have not seen a part of Seattle with as many circles/roundabouts, snakes (the narrow-down-to-one-lane curb deals), one way cut-off roads and random speed bumps (intentional and road wear created) that slow people down. I understand this is a far more family friendly neighborhood than some of the condo-fields out there, and I’d never want to take down someone walking down the road (or their pet), but really, feel grateful for how nice it actually is up here. Even with the increase in through traffic on Roosevelt, it’s still far more relaxing to drive here than most other areas of town I frequent.

    Now, if there could be a joint summit to get people in Seattle to understand how to properly take a left at a circle/roundabout…

  2. Oh, I want to add I’ve cut through the Ravenna neighborhood on my way to work every day for 15 years, the same route. And I have to agree with Rowan about people overestimating the speed of vehicles. I was driving under the speed limit on that road next to Cowan park and a guy in front of his $800,000 house motioned for me to slow down, then gave me the finger when I didn’t. I was going 22 in a 25 and he was ridiculously mad and angry. It reminded me of the people that get mad when someone parks on the public street in front of their house. It takes a certain kind of person to get really upset about such trivial matters, I always wonder how they react to real problems in their lives.

  3. This is just part of living in a city neighborhood. A temporary arterial closure is going to push people into smaller streets. It’s magnified in our neighborhood because so many streets don’t cut all the way through. I sympathize with Onion, my cat was also run over and killed (I live on 20th, which people try to short cut off of Lake City Way onto when it’s backed up). But my cat really shouldn’t have been standing in the middle of the road. I’m all for signs to point people to the other arterials, but I think we also all have to be a little more tolerant of both the increase in traffic during construction and other people living their lives differently than we’d live our own. That person going 5 MPH over the speed limit in your neighborhood is just as likely your neighbor, rather than an outsider. Heck, it’s probably me.

  4. Roads are public, yes. But residential streets are not designed or engineered for large traffic volumes–certainly not for a 12-month project.

    Arterials and residential streets are paved differently, the surface of the street is curved differently, they are signed differently, sight/visibility tolerances are different, lighting requirements are different, speeds are different, noise mitigation is different, and pedestrians and bicyclists use them differently (for one thing: they often avoid arterials because they are more dangerous).

    In addition, most commercial vehicles (heavy vehicles and trucks) are actually prohibited by *statute* from using residential streets unless they are servicing a residence on that street or accessible only via it. So, no, just because it’s a public street doesn’t mean you always have a right to drive on it.

    Also, the point that “people drive through my neighborhood too” is a justification for bad road behavior in Maple Leaf is nothing more than second grader’s logic; a full-grown adult should be beyond such juvenile narcissism to see the big picture and act like an adult.

    For people to drive recklessly through residential streets anywhere, not just in Maple Leaf, and act like they have a constitutionally unfettered right to behave as though they were driving on an arterial is at best inconsiderate and at worst quite dangerous. It’s sad so many have such disregard for actual human beings who live and walk there. It’s also kind of antisocial.

  5. I live on 104th, a few houses in from the bridge. The first few days were very bad (from normally 2 or 3 to over 20 cars every 5 minutes around 6pm), as all traffic normally crossing the bridge was turning onto 104th. And some cars looked like they were ready to run into the barriers–totally oblivious to the road closure signs!

    But by the end of the week there was a significant decrease in the number of cars turning onto 104th. So our complaints & the city’s response to add additional signs & increase the visibility of the signs posted on 15th about the bridge closure has helped.

    And there is a traffic circle on 104th & 12th. On the second day of the detour, I saw that the sign post in the circle had sheared off at its base. I suspect that is why there is now a sign on 15th for “No Thru Trucks”…?

    Everyone in the area will be impacted for the year with the bridge closure. and alas we can’t prevent all speeders–there have always been a few. 15th Ave is posted at 30mph, but try going that speed (or even 35) and not have cars piling up behind you!

    Sadly too many drivers don’t respect the areas they are driving thru, treating any pavement as a right to go as fast as they can for as long as they can. And other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, traffic controls, are all just inconveniences to them. And having a diversion to a normal route just is more reason to make up for “lost time”.

  6. How bout some basic traffic calming measures like curb bulbs and traffic circles? Or close off a couple intersections so they can’t be used as through streets? Makes residential roads safer and children happier

  7. Boy there sure are a lot of hotheads here on both sides of the issue.

    These are all public streets, and anybody is entitled to use them for any legal purpose. Period.

    OTOH, the speed limits must be obeyed and enforced. When DOT does work that encourages people to increase traffic on side streets, maybe they should put temporary speed cameras in place to enforce the speed limit. (I’m sure that any Maple Leaf residents who also got caught would still applaud the city’s enforcing the speed limit for their safety and cheerfully pay their fine for the sake of their neighbors and their children.)

  8. I need to go through Maple Leaf to get to and from work. I am sure Maple Leaf people go through my neighborhood to go to work or to go out to dinner. Why does Maple Leaf think they are some oasis that no one without a Maple Leaf passport can drive through?

  9. In my experience, Jim and Jeff, people grossly oversestimate vehicle speed, especially when complaining about speeders in neighborhoods. What is my experience? 19 years as a cop. Certification in traffic RADAR and LIDAR. I have gone so far as to take complaining citizens into my patrol car, have them verbally estimate the speed of a car on a residential street, then verify it with RADAR. The citizen was never right. They ALWAYS overestimated the speed by at least 10mph.

    Jim, you need to work out your anger issues.

  10. Is Ballard next then? We’ve got a kabillion people shoved into shiny condos, and they’ve all got 2-3-4 vehicles, trying to out-smart everybody by cutting through this and that street. We just get a circle, if enough crashes happen. This is all about too many people jammed into a once nice region. Politics however do play a roll here. Who’s run everything around here for 30-40 years now? And this area is chock full of limo-liberal trend sucking elitists who’s feelings trump critical thought.

  11. Hi Connie, and welcome. We talked to some folks last Saturday down at the bridge who had the same idea you do. Problem is, the “temporary issue” lasts for maybe 10 or 11 months. The bridge will be closed until next February or March.

  12. I am a little confused. I live very near Maple Leaf and had heard that the bridge is just closed to be repaired or replaced . Doesn’t that mean that this should be a temporary issue? Everyone seems to be acting like it is a permanent problem. It is a major pain to have people using your quiet street as a shortcut but it should die down when the construction is done.

  13. I agree – these roads are public. But please keep in mind that people make choices on where to live based on a perception of how quiet a street is. If i wanted a busy street, I’d go live there. But it is a real bummer when shortcutters all the sudden decide to speed down the quiet street that I’ve chosen to live on.

  14. Speed barriers are the only surefire way to slow people down – speed bumps, or traffic circles. I’ve seen some wide, low speed bumps that are easy on cars but really do the trick – people have to slow down to 20 or 25mph.

  15. This is your host, Maple Leaf Life. We are extraordinarily happy to see such a response to a developing neighborhood concern. We especially appreciate comments that are insightful, make a good arguments or add to the discussion. If they are wry and witty, so much the better. If they resort to name calling, they are boring. And we’ll delete them.

  16. I’m a Maple Leaf resident myself. And yes, I get irritated with people hauling up my street from Lake City. But, it is a public street, and it has always been the case.

    Anyway forget about the signs, the traffic revisions etc…. we just need a serious traffic enforcement presence. I mean come on City of Seattle, couldn’t we use the revenue? Start writing tickets!!!!

  17. my cat just got run over on a quiet residential street that some folks use as a speedy shortcut to elsewhere. it isn’t actually a shortcut, but people think it is.
    on this narrow, car-lined, 25mph street, people speed up to 40 or more mph.
    please folks, be aware that you drive through other people’s lives everywhere you go. lives are precious. have mercy on us.

  18. Wow Maple Leaf residents that post here are cool. No one would allow twat in my neighborhood blog. I tried to find an affordable house in 98115 but only very small homes. Too bad – I like your style

  19. Is this even enforcable?

    Or is this just one of those…don’t cut through our neighborhood or we’ll shake our fists at you kind of thing?

  20. Rowan – the problem is not “elitest” left-wing people. People like you who always drag politics into things like this obviously lack the capability of having a reasonable discussion about such matters. Go drink your tea party kool-aid, and speak only if you have something constructive to say.

    I live in Maple Leaf – people speed through here and cut through the roads a lot (even before the construction). Myself? I’ve almost been hit three times while walking around, because drivers are going 35 – 45 in a 30mph zone and 30 -35 in a 25mph zone. This has nothing to do with politics, pal! This has to do with safety. Why don’t you give me your address so I can speed through your neighborhood and compromise the safety of those walking around? While you think of a right-wing response, I’ll be dodging the jerks who are speeding through my neighborhood!

  21. I recommend turning off 15th long before 104th. Makes it easier to access Roosevelt.

    I think SDOT needs to put up “detour” signs so we know which street is okay to use.

  22. Too bad. They are public streets, not private drives. Shut down an arterial, there will be a traffic impact on side streets. Deal with it. This is a typical example of Seattlites being elitist and selfish. Like the left-wingers that attract street people and hand out money to panhandlers, and pat each other on the back for being soooo trendy and left, but, when that transient shows up in their neighborhood, they call 911 IMMEDIATELY. Same ilk.

  23. Jim, I agree with. As a Maple Leaf resident for over 20 years have watched as motorist try many different side streets to try and avoid traffic. Has become dangerous far beyond the work on 15th. I say lets go to Rowan’s ‘hood ,speed and use the roads as our personal playground.

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