Pedestrian signal, crosswalk and bus-only lane coming to 15th Ave. NW

Big changes are coming to 15th Ave. NW between Market St. and the Ballard Bridge.

That busy stretch carries an estimated 50,000 vehicles and 15,000 bus passengers every day, SDOT says. For nearly half a mile — between Market and Leary — there are no crosswalks, which often results in some pedestrians making a mad dash across 15th.

Over the next several weeks, SDOT is installing a crosswalk at NW 53rd St. — that’s just north of the Starbucks’ drive-in — with a center island, pedestrian signal and curb ramps. It will look something like this (SDOT rendering):

The pedestrian island replaces the center turn lane, which will also be replaced with a bus-only lane from 53rd down to 51st, where the center lane disappears leading up to the Ballard Bridge. This bus lane is designed “to make service more reliable and faster” when traffic backs up, SDOT says.

However, removing that turn lane means you’ll no longer be able to make left turns on 15th at 52nd or 53rd streets. “Some people and service providers will change their routes to get home or access businesses,” SDOT says. “However, the change will make the intersections safer.”

All this work will result in lane closures for the next 6-8 weeks, adjusted to minimize impact on the commute. Here are the details from SDOT:

  • Two lanes of traffic will remain open in each direction for the duration of the project.
  • Outer southbound and northbound lane closures of 15th Ave NW will occur intermittently.
  • 15th Ave NW southbound will be open to three lanes 6-10 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
  • 15th Ave NW northbound will be open to three lanes 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and noon to 4PM on Saturday and Sunday.
  • No parking and local access only on NW 53rd St between 17th Ave NW and 14th Ave NW.

This stretch of 15th Ave. NW is becoming home to several apartment complexes, including a new development planned for 51st and 15th.

45 comments on “Pedestrian signal, crosswalk and bus-only lane coming to 15th Ave. NW”

  1. > See upcoming events in our Ballard calendar <

  2. This is a great improvement.

    I’ve had to dodge cars crossing 15th many times, both while running and biking. It’s the most pedestrian unfriendly part of our neighborhood and I’m happy to see it made safer.

    I’d rather wait 1 minute for a pedestrian to cross there than 12 minutes at the bridge for the boat of some jerky seafood company who keep delaying the B-G missing link

  3. this will be bad news for sure…everything coming to a halt every time someone hits the button?

    its really close to the market street traffic light too. kinda weird placement in my opinion. so if you are at 52nd, 53rd its less than 1/4 mile to market or leary? disrupt traffic for that? most people can use the exercise anyway…

  4. The junkies need to get across more safely when they rob Subway at gunpoint or attack a pedestrian at night.
    Money well spent, Seattle!

  5. This is silly! If it was midway between Leary and Market, maybe I could get over it but this location is within spitting distance of Market. This will delay traffic unnecessarily and disrupt left turns from the center lane.

    OTOH, the new crosswalk on Leary @Olympic Atheltic is a god send and long overdue.

  6. Traffic on 14th between Leary to 65th is gonna be so much worse. How about an overpass ? No one needs to cross there in the first place. Absolute rubbish

  7. Home-owning tax-paying neighborhood-walking bus-commuting car-owning supporter of this.

  8. Just saw this morning they are putting in a 4 way stop with crosswalks at 57th and 20th.

  9. This will only work well if these lights and the lights at market st are times to go red at about the same time. It will be a failure if you get a green light at market only to have to stop again a few blocks later.

  10. The first day they put this in, I am going down there at rush hour and walking back and forth on the crosswalk for 30 minutes.

  11. If you want to drive 50 mph through your neighborhood, move to Irvine. The rest of us want to live in a livable, walkable city.

    Dori Monson is going to be so triggered by this!

  12. This is necessary due to most driver’s ignorance or indifference towards the law.

    A pedestrian ALWAYS has the right of way at a crosswalk. A crosswalk exists at EVERY intersection — a crosswalk does not need to be marked for one to exist. Here’s a nice summary:

    “Legally, people can step off a curb and cross the street at any intersection, no matter its traffic or design. That means even crossings without walk signals, lights or zebra stripes give walkers the upper hand, according to state law.”

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/lets-get-something-straight-pedestrians-always-have-the-right-of-way-at-intersections/

    I cross 15th regularly by foot. Few cars ever stop, even when I’ve stepped off the curb and am standing in a lane of traffic. Many more will stop on 8th, 3rd, or 24th, but for some reason drivers just figure that the rules don’t apply on 15th.

    If car drivers didn’t willfully ignore the laws, these sorts of marked crosswalks wouldn’t be necessary. But here we are. So for all those drivers complaining about bicyclists and the homeless, how about policing yourselves first?

  13. “If car drivers didn’t willfully ignore the laws, these sorts of marked crosswalks wouldn’t be necessary. But here we are. So for all those drivers complaining about bicyclists and the homeless, how about policing yourselves first?”
    @Human: well, as a pedestrian, it’s your ‘right’ to step off the curb wherever you want. It’s a driver’s responsibility to be aware of their surroundings. Think about this though…if a car sees you step off the curb, but they have a guy tailgating their car, do you think they’re going to stop, and potentially get rear-ended, if they assume you’re not going to be dumb enough to step right in front of them? Because, in that situation, the car is always going to win.
    There’s the law, and then there’s common sense, which I think has been lost on both pedestrians and bikers. I try to be a conscientious driver, but I see many who are distracted by their phones, their babies in the backseat, or any other number of things. When I walk anywhere, I wait for a driver to make eye contact or I can physically see the car slowing down. Or, I huff it a few more blocks to a clearly marked (not invisible) crosswalk. Is it worth it to be ‘in the right’ when the price of that knowledge might be permanent injury or death? You decide.

  14. Human is correct. Unfortunately, drivers on 15th think obeying traffic law is entirely optional. This expensive intervention would not be necessary if drivers were capable of obeying the law regarding pedestrians and intersections. Since they are not, the rest of society has to pay for their lawlessness.

  15. Ballard Needs Eats makes a fair point. The culture of lawlessness among drivers is quite widespread–they not only treat pedestrians dangerously, by failing to respect the law regarding pedestrian crossings, they treat each others dangerously, by ignoring the law (and basic common sense) regarding safe following distances.

    That’s precisely why we need to redesign our streets in ways that make them safer, and to attempt to constraining the rampant lawlessness of drivers, who simply can’t be trusted to obey the laws under normal circumstances.

  16. @Ballard Needs Eats: Maybe if cars were obeying the 30 mph speed limit on 15th, they wouldn’t need to worry about slamming on the brakes and getting rear ended to let a pedestrian cross. Pedestrians shouldn’t suffer because of the anti-social behavior of car drivers.

  17. This makes little sense. Any other city would preserve traffic flow for major throughways, but not Seattle. The whole 15th-innerbay area went from sensible street design, to planned gridlock. I’m sure it will save about 10-30 people a day the effort to walk up to Market, but it will result in thousands and thousands of bus riders and cars to stop and wait. For such a long intersection, to make it ADA compliant, the light will be stopped for a minimum of 1:40, if I am estimating the street width correctly. This is a vastly different use of a pedestrian only signal than say, on Aurora next to Greenlake park where there is high pedestrian demand, and much, much further away from the next closest pedestrian access point.

    SDOT really hates Ballardites, and want’s us all to spend at least an hour getting to work downtown based on their gridlock by design decisions in the past 7 years:

    1) double intersections with traffic lights at Whole Foods in Interbay (should have made the commercial development enter have parking lot access from W. Armory Way (where the new light is just now going in)

    2) 30MPH zone. The National Transportation Safety Board sets a suggested speed limit for a 6 lane divided road at 55 MPH (15th is divided for a portion south of the bridge) For a 7 lane road with center turn lane, the suggested speed limit is 45 MPH. There is a provision that lower speed limits may be justified based on pedestrian use.

    3) 15th and Market light timing. EVERY SINGLE DAY DURING RUSH HOURS the intersection of 15th and Market is backed up for 1 mile plus while East/West traffic on Market has about 15 cars. In the morning traffic backs up to 70th street, only to start moving again south of Market. In the afternoon, traffic is backed up to Dravis or further, and again, after market street flow improves.

    4) The Ballard Bridge closes at 6:01PM because rush hour is over. Seattle refuses to request that the coast guard extend the period in which non-commercial ships are blocked.

    5) “Muster Zones” along holman (near dicks) essentially encourage jay walking. Such street designs are illegal in 21 states, and are only built in 82 cities/municipalities in the whole USA.

    6) Street Parking along 15th. At this point, why even allow street parking along 15th anywhere?

    7) Bus Bulbs. Instead of maximizing the number of through-traffic lanes, SDOT filled in parts of a lane to create bus bulbs. With the rapid line, buses are at least every 10 minutes. This results in traffic being blocked down to one lane in each direction. Had all street parking (#6) been removed, peak capacity could be two through lanes instead of one.

  18. People avoid I-5 and Aurora and take Elliot/15th. This will only increase once the tolls kick in at the new tunnel and surface roads downtown.

    Putting up magical crosswalks to mitigate a traffic flow problem CREATED by sheer stupidity is, well…

    …I can’t think of a better analogy than a mid-block crosswalk on 15th. On the bright side, Elenchos can get a foot long fast food sandwich when she gets the urge. #seattlepriorities

  19. @Truth: “Maybe if cars were obeying the 30 mph speed limit on 15th, they wouldn’t need to worry about slamming on the brakes and getting rear ended to let a pedestrian cross. Pedestrians shouldn’t suffer because of the anti-social behavior of car drivers.”
    I don’t disagree, but I don’t enforce the rules. I had some guy cut into my lane, almost totaling my car, only to then try to sideswipe me as I tried to get around him, all the while screaming that I was the one who didn’t know how to drive. If that’s your average Ballard driver in regards to another car, do you really think he gives a crap about pedestrians?

  20. @Oh SDOT:

    I’m sure it will save about 10-30 people a day the effort to walk up to Market, but it will result in thousands and thousands of bus riders and cars to stop and wait.

    Wait, which is it? 10 pedestrian crossings a day or thousands upon thousands of bus riders and cars stopping? Your math doesn’t add up.

    SDOT really hates Ballardites, and want’s us all to spend at least an hour getting to work downtown based on their gridlock by design decisions in the past 7 year.

    Even on a bad day, when I absolutely have to drive to work, it takes me nowhere near an hour to get to or from work.

    I’ve never seen a crosswalk trigger so many of the “OMG TEH WAR ON CARZ IS 4 REALZ!!!11” crowd. It’s pretty entertaining though! I’m sure a week after the crosswalk goes in, life will be back to normal as it always does and they can go back to griping against some other non-issue.

  21. @Ballard Needs Eats:

    If that’s your average Ballard driver in regards to another car, do you really think he gives a crap about pedestrians?

    No, I don’t think he does. That’s why SDOT is putting in traffic calming measures that force that jackass to drive like a human being, whether he likes it or not.

    Of course, I’d also like to see SPD start enforcing traffic laws, but a guy can dream!

  22. @Truth
    “I’ve never seen a crosswalk trigger so many of the “OMG TEH WAR ON CARZ IS 4 REALZ!!!11” crowd. It’s pretty entertaining though! I’m sure a week after the crosswalk goes in, life will be back to normal as it always does and they can go back to griping against some other non-issue.”

    Hilarious coming from a social justice warrior type who thinks paper lunch bags are racist.
    Facts Car Facts: criminally high car tab fees, tolls (surface next?!), car prowling epidemic, stupid random crosswalks for crappy fast food strip malls.

    There may not be a “war on cars” but Seattle sure does a great job of piling on the “microaggressions” as they say on your precious Twitter. Stay in your lane, Truth.

  23. @ Ballard Needs Eats

    I agree with your characterization of drivers. I’ll add that without enforcement the new star law is going to do little to diminish the current distracted driving epidemic.

    I think we’re on the same page here.

    Drivers just don’t obey the laws! (If only more people biked, am I right?)

    This is why we need more marked crosssalks.

  24. How dumb, walk to Market to cross just like everybody else. Just what we need is more traffic backing up on 15th daily after work…

  25. Good, slow this road down, it’s not a freeway.

    Next up, add crosswalks back to Leary in Fremont. Lots more folks living in the neighborhood there too. Let them cross safely please.

    Cars can and should slow down to the speed limit, 30 mph. If adding on-demand cross walks helps facilitate that then all the better.

  26. @Lacey
    I am no fan of car culture, but here are some fun facts:
    Metro is crowded, slow, and filled with smelly, sometimes hostile lunatics and junkies. People have to commute from the more affordable housing outside of town. Traffic flow on the freeway is awful – oops an idiot going strictly the limit in the left lane is holding up 8 cars and oops a delivery truck accident completely shuts down traffic for hours. So, yeah I guess 15th does get a little more “freeway” type usage than it should.

    You know what would be great though? If Metro kept their buses safe for riders and used a traffic signal timing system that is used in other cities. We are taxed for it already, so make the system work. But haha we know in Seattle it’s all about talking about change and raising taxes then coming up with a plan later.

  27. @OH SDOT You are the pragmatic, rational commenter we needed here. I’d love to buy you a beer.

    @LACEY You’re right, it’s not a freeway. But where exactly is the freeway that gets me to my job in Interbay?

  28. It’s interesting to see the commenters that generally advocate for stricter policing and enforcement of the laws come out against this crosswalk. A crosswalk at this location would essentially force drivers to obey the existing laws that they currently have no problem disregarding.

    People obeying the law. Isn’t that what you want?

  29. I’m not sure why Seattle doesn’t just ban cars altogether! No one needs a car. We have buses. And there are policeman with cars. That is sufficient.

  30. Hey guys and gals, keep your comment to a paragraph, anything longer nobody is going to read. Longer than that, just looks like a blurry rant about nonsense that isn’t at all useful. Just sayin.

  31. @Sockpuppet: The adults are talking. Go sit in the corner and read what you wrote 100 times.

  32. @Truth

    1 – Let me restate the math. During rush hours, if a pedestrian hits the crosswalk button, it will allow one pedestrian to go. It will also cause about 500 cars (average occupancy 1.3 people) and 6 buses with 60 people on them to stop. 500×1.3= 650 + 6×60=360. 360+650= 1,010. So during the 4-6 hours of the day that is rush hour, every person who saves themselves the 20 minute walk to go up to Market and then back down to the sidewalk wil cause 1,010 people to wait about 2 minutes each, or about 2000 minutes. I will be the first one to admit two points. One- It is safer to have a crosswalk there instead of someone jaywalking. and Two – Traffic might already be bumper to bumper in one direction when the crosswalk is used.

    2 – If you life north of 85th street (not technically Ballard) many mornings it is now stop and go traffic starting at 75th street, and I work a little in the southern part of downtown. Drive times are 35-55 minutes leaving at 7:30 in the morning. Leaving downtown at 5:30/6:00ish, drive times are 40-1:05 It is always closer to an hour during the summer because the bridge goes up at 6:00. It takes me 15 minutes to leave my parking garage and go 2 blocks in the afternoon. If you were to drive from Belltown to downtown Ballard, I’m sure its 25-35 minute commute.

    3) Life won’t go back to normal. I bet that on average I will loose a minute or two of my life every single day I work because of the increased congestion this will cause.

    It’s not that loosing a minute in extra commute is devastating to me or our neighborhood, its that EVERYONE, bus riders included, will, and that the relative benefit is so minor. Go talk to city planning folks and Seattle, along with a few other cities, are way-way-way over zealous in our “vision zero” work.

  33. LOL! I love the comment to “just walk a half a mile to cross the street.” Yeah, OK.
    They need to make another crosswalk at 51st and 15th.
    I really don’t give a shit about your traffic. If you’re sitting in traffic, you’re causing traffic, you’re the problem.
    But what about the parking? LOL, adding parking=adding cars=more cars on the road=more congestion. It’s not that hard.
    I love riding my bike downtown every day, passing all you suckers stuck in your cars in traffic.
    “That’s ridiculous! Sure, it’ll save a few lives. But millions will be late!” – Homer Simpson

  34. @Oh SDOT:

    1. A freeway lane is at max freeflow capacity at 2000 cars per lane per hour. A City street is less, probably 1000 – 1500 pcplph. Assuming a 30 second crossing, with full capacity, both lanes, both directions, you’re delaying maybe 50 cars and that’s rounding up.

    Your two concessions basically moot that math anyways. Peak direction is going to be gridlocked anyways and the delayed cars will catch up to the gridlock further down the road; opposite direction will be delayed 30 seconds, but likely hit the next light or bridge. I guarantee you they ran a simulation and determined the delay to be negligible. I know some people like to assume SDOT is a bunch of incompetent buffoons, but the same people have no clue how traffic engineering works. They just assume “SOMETHING HAPPENED DIFFERENT THAN I’M USED TO = SDOT BAD”. They don’t look at the bigger picture or the effects on others.

    2. I don’t know what to say. The City is growing. You can take away all the lights on 15th and make it 60 MPH and limited access all the way to Denny and you would still have gridlock. Again, latent demand is an important theory in traffic engineering. If I need to guarantee I get to work at 8, I leave at 7:15 instead of 7:30. The difference in traffic in those 15 minutes is astounding.

    3. You’re right, wrong choice of words. I should have said life will go on, albeit a little different than you’re used to.

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