Make Rainier Avenue Safer and Greener

by Andrew Kidde

As we ponder climate change, we realize there are many huge, systemic challenges. At same time, we can start take action here in neighborhood. We all want to be able to walk safely and want our children, friends, and our pets to be safe, too.

Did you know that Rainier Avenue has long been known as one of Seattle’s most dangerous streets? See here and here. Phase one of the Rainier Avenue Safety project, completed in 2012, made a portion of Rainier, from Alaska to Orcas safer. Collisions went down, people felt safer in this area. See here. But in many stretches Rainier remains dangerous — collisions continue, and pedestrians feel vulnerable.

Fortunately SD is starting phase 2 of the Rainier Safety project (from Orcas to Henderson) and this year 2019, they will start by improving crosswalks at several intersections Graham, Rose, Holly, and Henderson. They will also add BAT bus lanes at the Graham and Henderson intersections. The following year they will complete the changes to the lanes, turning this four lane road into a three lane road (like phase 1 to the north). Then 2-3 years after that King County Metro will replace the 7 line with a new RapidRide bus.

These projects will make Rainier Avenue safer for pedestrians and will improve transit reliability and speed. These are positive changes for our the most vulnerable travelers. People who depend on transit will be safer and they will ride on a system of interconnected rapid transit lines that connect all of our city.

And for all of us, these projects will make transit more appealing. And we need to tempt more people into transit if we are going to meet our GHG targets. Here in Seattle, personal transportation is often the biggest part of our greenhouse gas footprint, and we desperately need to lower it. One big part of the answer is getting more and more people to move about the city on fast, reliable, frequent, comfortable, clean and electric RapidRide buses.

It is heartening to see SDOT and Metro working to make Rainier Avenue safe for pedestrians and a first class rapid transit line. But, as with any big change, some will complain about reductions in lanes and parking spaces. So we need to make our voices heard. Contact your City Council member here, or the Mayor’s office, here, and let them know that the City is moving in the right direction with these Rainier Ave projects that emphasize safety and transit reliability.