Coming back from a run along Alki this morning, I passed yet another car accident on Delridge Way. I’ve been commuting along this stretch of Delridge every weekday for the past nine months, and I’ve seen more than a dozen accidents—mostly fender benders, but a few more serious—as well as one pedestrian fatality near the intersection with Brandon.
You’d expect a few collisions during that time, but the high incidence of damage and danger along Delridge is simply unacceptable. It’s also alarming how few crosswalks we have, and how faded and unmarked they are. Almost every day, you’ll have to brake suddenly when a pedestrian pops out from behind a parked car, or makes a dash across a busy road near the Delridge Playfields. It can feel like a terrifying video game, especially at night and in the rain. The road is in major, immediate need of a redesign that slows and better channels vehicle traffic, while also giving pedestrians higher visibility and far more safe street crossings.
I understand why some folks will be leery of inviting significant construction to Delridge Way. It’s already struggling with car capacity in the morning, with the back-up to the West Seattle Bridge stretching more than a mile at times. But the right design will make traffic patterns more predictable to drivers and pedestrians, and therefore make passage along the road more fluid and far safer. A restructured Delridge could also give us a chance to implement some landscaping improvements to the corridor, from tree strips and sidewalks to the possibility of bulbouts at certain intersections (like the example pictured here). A bulbout gives pedestrians an opportunity—from the safety of a curb—to view traffic in both directions, and also a chance for drivers to see and stop for pedestrians ready to cross the road. Bulbouts act as a traffic-calming measure for drivers, and also as an enhanced safety measure for pedestrians. In short, they increase predictable behavior and reduce surprises, and that would be a huge help for everyone in the greater Delridge area.
There are so many other ways to improve safety and mobility along Delridge, and we have a real opportunity to transform this corridor. I’d love to kick-start that planning process and hear ideas from everyone who lives along or depends on this route!
Photo © Richard Drdul.