News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood


Traffic news: 20-mph zones and rush hour times

February 13th, 2015 by Mike

Our news partner The Seattle Times posted two stories this week that should interest many, perhaps most, of us.

Today’s piece is on a pilot program in Seattle to reduce speeds on some arterials streets from 35 mph to 20 mph. As for major streets,the plan calls for: “Review arterial speed limits and reduce to 30 mph or lower.”

Seattle will try limits of 20 mph for streets in five to 10 residential areas this year — including a swath of Lake City around the library, and a piece of Seward Park Avenue South at Rainier Beach High School.

Cities may lower speeds under a bill sponsored by Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, that passed the Legislature in 2013.

This has been frequently discussed in Maple Leaf, but until the new legislation passed there was no legal authority for local officials to make the change. The argument is that many more pedestrians (or bicyclists) can survive being hit by a car at 20 mph than at 35-40 mph.

None of Maple Leaf’s streets are directly involved in this year’s change, but proposed future changes include part of Lake City Way Northeast in our neighborhood (green lines).

The plan, dubbed Vision Zero, involves a number of other changes:

The city’s broad traffic-safety effort will include slower speeds, more school-zone cameras, fewer right turns on red and targeted enforcement. The name, “Vision Zero,” refers to a statewide effort by law enforcement, government, urbanist and safety groups to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.

The Times story is here. The full Vision Zero plan (pdf) is here.

The Times’ “FYI Guy” earlier this week posted an interactive look at commute times throughout the city under the headline: “What times does your neighborhood leave for work?”

Locally, the FYI Guy says:

Very few of us leave for work in the late morning or afternoon, but it’s not uncommon in areas with a large concentration of people who do shift work, such as food service or retail jobs. The University District has a high percentage, as do Northgate, downtown Seattle and many areas in south King County.

The story and map are here. Below is the 10 a.m. commute from Northgate.

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Yikes! School-zone speed cameras could rake in $2-4 million a year?

November 29th, 2012 by Mike

They won’t issue you a real speeding ticket. Yet.

Although the warning-only grace  period for the new school-zone speed cameras, including the one at Olympic View Elementary School, 504 N.E. 95th St., was to expire this Monday, the cameras appear to have some glitches – they have “caught” almost 6,000 speeders in less than a month, according to our news partners The Seattle Times.

“We were surprised,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn told the Times.  At this past month’s rate, the fines could total $2-4 million annually, the mayor said.

Because there were so many speeders, the warning-citation period that was to end this week has been extended to Monday, Dec. 10, he said. From that day on, the registered owners of vehicles caught driving faster than 20 mph in those school zones while beacons are flashing will receive a $189 ticket in the mail.

The experimental cameras are set up at the flashing-light zones outside city schools as part of a pilot program, to see if speeding falls off. There are four cameras, including the one outside Olympic View on Fifth Avenue Northeast between approximately 94th and 96th streets.

That camera definitely had setup problems: In an earlier post on it Kristin commented:

Actually living next to one of these cameras is pure hell…it went on last night and it was like living in a photographer’s studio all night – flashes constantly. It made it impossible to watch television or even to sleep. I call DOT this morning to complain as they are being set off by almost every car going by – even outside of school hours.

That’s since been fixed. From the Times:

Seattle police say the cameras are recording all day, but drivers will be ticketed for speeding only when the school-zone beacons are flashing — times when children are most likely to be walking to and from school. Like red-light cameras at some intersections, the camera shoots a picture of the license plate.

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Slow down! Speed cameras turned on Fifth Ave. N.E.

October 25th, 2012 by Mike

Speed cameras on Fifth Avenue Northeast alongside Olympic View Elementary School were installed earlier this week and are now operational.

We reported on them this summer. The city says speeding on Fifth by the school, 504 N.E. 95th St., is among the fifth worst in Seattle school zones.

The  units are like the automatic red light cameras, but focused on speeders. Those caught speeding will receive citations in the mail.

They are on Fifth at approximately Northeast 94th and 96th streets.

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