Tag Archives: pedestrians

What is Highway 303 work accomplishing?

The in basket: Ray Smith writes, “For the last month or so there has been construction on sidewalks at the corners of many of the intersections of Highway 303 (in and near . It appears that the construction is to make for easy access for the handicapped.

“At a number of the sites it appears that there is really no change to the sidewalk, Are the changes that subtle or does the concrete need to be ripped up for access to wiring that controls the crosswalk signal or for some other reason.”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic region of state highways, says,

“To answer (these) questions, it helps to know that ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines for accessibility are strict. If an existing ramp does not meet standards, which address items such as the slopes of the ramps, locations of junction boxes and locations of pedestrian push buttons and displays, WSDOT must bring those ramps up to standard when we have a construction project that goes through those crosswalks.

“In this case, we have a paving project that will take place next year. To realize cost savings with economies of scale, we decided to bring all the ramps up to standard this year in a separate project prior to the paver. We also included a few ramps on SR 3 and SR 310 (Kitsap Way) that will be affected by a paver later this year.

“Here are two more advantages to doing the ramp work separately: 1) (It) simplifies the two upcoming paving projects, which we expect will mean more efficient paving at a lower cost; and 2) because the ramp work alone is a smaller construction project than a combined ramp/paving project would be, it provides a chance for smaller contracting firms to bid on the ramp project as a prime contractor,” she said.

The project  is online at  http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr3/bremertonadaimprove/ Click on the ‘when and where’ link in the status box, and you’ll see the progress to date, Claudia said.

City pedestrian improvements this year all on the west side

The in basket: Around the middle of last year, an e-mailer advocated some pedestrian improvements at the Bremerton intersection of Sheridan and Pine roads. There is a lot of foot traffic there and its shortcomings for those on foot include no sidewalk on either side of Pine uphill from the intersection.

I happened to be there a lot last year, on my way to and from my late mother’s assisted living facility and can attest to the large amount of foot traffic on Pine near Sheridan.

The city of Bremerton has a lot of pedestrian improvements to be paid for with state and regional council grants scheduled this year, so I asked if Pine and Sheridan might be included.

The out basket: No, says the city of Bremerton engineering staff.

The work to be done with grants involves 11 intersections, but all are on the west side of town.

They are:

– Kitsap Way’s intersections with Harlow Drive near Kitsap Lake and at 11th Street. The wide Harlow Drive crossing will get a pedestrian refuge island half-way across.

– Eleventh Street’s intersections with High Avenue and the portion of Montgomery Avenue that remains open to auto traffic

– Highway 304 at First Street and Callow Avenue.

– Sixth Street’s intersections with High Avenue and  Callow Avenue.

– Burwell Street’s intersections with Chester, Montgomery, High and Warren avenues.

The work includes curb cuts for disabled access and countdown pedestrian signals with audible push buttons where there are existing signals, and pedestrian-activated rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) on the street edges and the countdown lights where there aren’t.

Two of the intersections, Sixth and High and Burwell and Chester will get new pedestrian-activated signals that will stop vehicle traffic. They are to be coordinated with existing signals on either side of the crossings to avoid forcing drivers to stop at a red light more than once while passing through, city staff says.

Sidewalk improvements will be included in some of the work.

Bucklin Hill Road closure will extend to those on foot

The in basket:  At a recent meeting of the Silverdale Rotary, where I was guest speaker, Jim Dudley asked me if there will be any pedestrian access across Clear Creek when Bucklin Hill Road closes for year, beginning in July.

I didn’t know.

The out basket: Tina Nelson, senior program manager for Kitsap County Public Works, says no, “pedestrians will not be allowed in the closed area.” That area will be Bucklin Hill Road between Blaine Avenue and Mickelberry Road. They’ll be building a bridge for a wider Bucklin Hill Road, starting this summer.

“The closure limits are in essence the right-of-way,” she said.  “This correlates to between 5-10 feet behind the existing sidewalk.

“What does this do for Clear Creek Trail users?  The signalized trail crossing at Crista Shores will not be accessible.  The trail will dead end at Bucklin Hill Road on the east side of the estuary.

On the west side of the estuary, trailer users will have to cross Bucklin Hill Road at Blaine Avenue and walk up to Ridgetop Boulevard to get onto the trail. Parking is available at the Old Mill Park just west of the closure.

Bainbridge’s Valley Road challenges pedestrians

The in basket: Merry Mcallister of Bainbridge Island writes, “Can you help me with the walking pattern on North Valley Road, between North Madison and Sunrise Drive?

“Pedestrian access is almost none — maybe 5 inches beyond the white line, then you’re in the ditch.  Cross the road, and you can’t see oncoming traffic, so what’s a walker to do?

“If I walk on the white line, should I take out more life insurance?  I wear reflective gear from head to toe, but the cars go WAY beyond the speed limit, and many only pretend to defer to pedestrians. I’ve lived here 40 years and it’s become a scary problem.

“My preference would be a wider shoulder, especially on the north side,” she said,  “like maybe three feet wide.  No pavement. It just gives the cars license to speed.

“Pedestrians should at least be able to walk outside the white line without getting into the ditch.  Occasionally the grass is mowed there, but not often, so it’s really spongy on the ditch side.”

The out basket: Chris Hammer, Bainbridge’s engineering manager in public works, says, “The city developed a shoulder widening program back in 2007 that is known as the Core 40 program.

“The idea is to develop a 40-mile network of walkable and bike-able shoulders throughout the secondary arterial street network. A project has been identified for Valley Road that would likely consist of a paved uphill climbing lane for cyclists and could also include a wider gravel shoulder on the other side of the roadway for pedestrians.

“Typically 6-foot-wide shoulders are provided, as that provides a safe facility for pedestrians walking into traffic and can accommodate a 5-foot paved area for cyclists.

“(But) the C40 Valley project is lower on the list of priorities for C40 projects and it is not currently included in the city’s six-year Transportation Improvement Plan,” he said.

There is a project already underway on Valley, begun Sept. 11, but it’s on the other side of Sunrise, where shoulders are even narrower.

“Sound Excavation has been working on drainage improvements that will provide for better roadway drainage and better accommodate private drainage off the hill from several lots above Gertie Johnson Road,” Chris said. “The embankments above Gertie Johnson have experienced two significant slides over the past decade that I am aware of.

“The project will also provide for landings and crosswalk markings at the intersection of Valley and Sunrise.

“Some in the community have advocated for wider shoulders on this section of the roadway. The project includes graveling the shoulders but we are not able to make them much wider with this project. The costs would be substantially higher than afforded with the planned surfacing reconstruction project due to challenging topography. Widening would also necessitate removing significant trees and landscaping restoration requiring easements.”

One islander I talked to in my visit said the situation sounds like many others all over the island. I suppose the small business center where Valley and Sunrise intersect may be more of a draw for both drivers and pedestrians that on other roads.

 

Pedestrians worry at Manette roundabout

 

The in basket: Josh Farley of the paper’s reporting staff told me in March about a Facebook string discussing perils facing pedestrians at the roundabout at the east end of the Manette Bridge. Manette resident Robin Henderson then tracked it down for me.

Joy Gjersvold kicked it off saying, “Good morning, Manette friends! Question for you all: Have you noticed as you enter and exit the traffic circle by the bridge the number of near misses of pedestrians? In the past three weeks I have noticed four incidents where pedestrians were nearly hit even after they waited for a safe moment to cross — using the crosswalk. In all four cases, the vehicles had to come to a screeching halt in order to keep from hitting someone. One of the vehicles was an oil truck. Yikes!

“Is there anything we can do to help make that area a bit safer for the folks out walking, jogging, and biking? My husband and I wish they’d put in the yellow flashing lights when someone is in the crosswalk.”

Catherine Tomko added, “I have noticed it worse coming from West Bremerton side into the circle, those drivers constantly never look, they race to get into the circle, thinking they have the right of way. Then the other one is those coming down from Wheaton Way into the circle, rushing into the circle ahead of any car coming.  I see the drivers in front of me and around me rush into that circle with no regard to the pedestrians. It honestly does make me nervous to walk anywhere around that circle.”

The lively Facebook discussion went on for much of that morning, with several others joining in, adding suggestions of the orange hand-held flags like Port Orchard has available at all its unsignalized crosswalks downtown.

The out basket: The state Transportation Department’s Web site has a lot about driving and walking in roundabouts. It says roundabouts are “designed to be safer for pedestrians than traditional intersections.”

The crosswalks are set farther back from vehicle conflict points and have an island in their center so those on foot can stop half-way across and need watch only one direction of traffic at a time, it says. Speeds often are lower in a roundabout too.

Still, roundabouts demand greater driver attention to meshing with other moving vehicles, so it’s easy to overlook a waiting or walking pedestrian.

I think the Manette one still is haunted my the pre-roundabout decades in which drivers coming off the bridge had the right of way in turning left. Even drivers who know that any traffic entering a roundabout must yield to traffic already in it might think incorrectly that the rules are somehow different at Manette.

Josh Farley and some who joined in the March morning Facenook exchange wondered if there is something that could be done to make the roundabout safer for pedestrians.

The state deferred to the city on that question and Gunnar Fridriksson, Bremerton’s managing engineer for streets, said “The city is reviewing signing associated with the Manette traffic circle and will be making changes with the Lower Wheaton Way project.  Our current focus is on bicyclists’ safety, but we will be reviewing for pedestrians as well.  To date, complaints received for the traffic circle have been bicycle-oriented, I am not familiar with any formal complaints from pedestrians.”

The Lower Wheaton Way project will widen sidewalks and make other improvements from the bridge to Lebo Boulevard.

It’s worth noting that the Port Orchard roundabout doesn’t have the orange flags most of the other unsignalized crosswalks in town do. Public works Director Mark Dorsey says that’s “because the issue and/or request has never come up. “

Pedestrians have to use a sidewalk where one exists

The in basket: Diane Van Fossen of Silverdale says she often sees pedestrians walking on the south shoulder of Bucklin Hill Road even though there is a sidewalk on the other side of the road.

She had just read an earlier Road Warrior column about a state law that requires pedestrians to walk toward traffic when there is no sidewalk, and asked if those who choose to use the shoulder when a crosswalk is available on the same street are committing a violation.

The out basket: Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, says they are.

“When sidewalks are present / available, whether on both sides of the roadway or on only one side, a pedestrian is required to use the sidewalk,” he said.

“In situations where a sidewalk is present, walking along a roadway or roadway shoulder is not optional.

“A pedestrian may cross a roadway at an intersection or use a marked crosswalk, should they need to access a location on the side of the road that doesn’t have a sidewalk installed.

“For unincorporated areas of the county, a pedestrian may cross a roadway between intersections (or where there’s no marked crosswalk) since it’s expected that the roadway length between intersections in a county setting may involve significant distance, as compared to a municipal setting.

“In these circumstances, pedestrians do not have the right of way; they must yield to on-coming traffic in either direction.

“Crossing Bucklin Hill Road between Mickelberry Road and Tracyton Boulevard is permissible… although not recommended during periods of low visibility or high traffic volume.

He conceded that walking to an intersection in a city, crossing and then doubling back to where the pedestrian wants to go would be just as much of a violation as walking there on the shoulder across from the sidewalk in the first place, but added, “I don’t know of any law enforcement officers that would actually enforce this law by issuing a notice of infraction.”

Whenever I’ve heard of someone walking with traffic on the shoulder being contacted by an officer, they’d just been given a warning and told what the law says.

Incidentally, when I wrote that column about not walking with traffic, I neglected to say that being on the side facing traffic is required “where practical,” recognizing that running across the street in heavy traffic to be walking legally is not required

Pedestrians not allowed at end of Highway 304

The in basket: Jerry Maurer e-mails to say, “Here’s a weird one for you. I received a ticket from the State Patrol several months ago for jogging on the south shoulder of Highway 304, between Charleston Ave and the Highway 3 merge.”

It’s a popular lunchtime jogging route for shipyard workers, he told me.

“The ticketing officer acknowledged that bicycles are allowed where I was jogging but told me that pedestrians are not allowed on any limited access highways and that this was ‘common knowledge.’  The charges were dismissed (the subpoenaed officer didn’t show up) but the State Patrol tells me that they will continue to enforce ‘no pedestrians’ on 304.

“Per RCW 46.61.160,” Jerry continued, “pedestrians are not automatically prohibited but only if an ordinance or resolution is passed. Then the RCW requires that ‘traffic control devices’ be erected.  There is a sign saying 304 is a limited access highway and I’ve noticed ”no pedestrian’ signs on the entrances to Highway 3, but there is no pedestrian restriction posted anywhere on Highway 304.

“I contacted DOT but they could not tell me if such an ordinance exists.”

The out basket: I had a vague notion that it’s illegal to walk on the shoulder of a freeway, but I hadn’t considered 304 to be a freeway, even though all the business accesses between the shipyard and Highway 3 were blocked by the most recent construction. I asked State Trooper Russ Winger about it.

While I was at it, I asked if a driver who runs out of gas or whose cars just quits can legally walk on a freeway.

The out basket: Russ replied, “I spoke to a trooper with knowledge about this contact. They have been in contact with DOT about the SR304 issue. DOT states that this section of roadway is limited access and is in the process of placing signs that restrict pedestrians from the roadway there.

“This appears to be a very isolated incident in enforcement action.

“As to the question as to what happens when a motorist runs out of gas or has mechanical problems along a limited access roadway. We would hope that the motorist has access to a cell phone to arrange assistance or a ride safely off of the roadway. Barring that, common sense says that a stranded motorist would be able to walk off to the next exit, if necessary.

“The WSP would not take enforcement in that type of situation; rather, we would assist in whatever way reasonably possible. Troopers run into ‘non stranded’ pedestrians on the limited access infrequently and we try to take the most minimal enforcement action, educating rather than writing a ticket just because we can,” he said.

 

Warren Avenue work for pedestrians will end cross-traffic at 4th, 5th

The in basket: I was surprised Monday when I turned left from Burwell Street to Warren Avenue in Bremerton to find a crew making saw cuts in the pavement of the inside northbound lane. Traffic was reduced to a single lane northbound on Warren almost to Fifth Street. I asked what it was for.

The out basket: Drivers will have to get used to northbound Warren being a single lane from Burwell to Sixth Street. Gunnar Fridriksson of the city’s street engineers said the work is the opening volley of a series of projects to make the city safer for pedestrians and bicyclists wanting to cross busy streets.

As a by-product, it soon will no longer be possible to cross Warren at either Fourth or Fifth streets. Only right turns will be possible at both. A raised island where the walkers and bikes can pause half-way across will block auto cross-traffic at both intersections. It should be the end of T-bone crashes involving cars on Warren and those crossing it at those two streets while giving pedestrians an alternative to dashing across the entire street in one movement.

The raised island will stretch from near Burwell to just past Fifth Street. “(They) are built

with standard 6-inch curb and will have patterned red-concrete infill,” Gunnar said.

Stan  Palmer Construction was the only bidder on the work at $769,600 and was given the contract by city council action on July 18.

Gunnar said 20 city locations have been shown to be dangerous places for pedestrians and bicyclists and the city got funding to address about half of them. Most are less extensive, involving revision to crosswalks, bicycle lanes on Kitsap Way and meeting new Americans with Disability Act requirements. Warren and 16th at the main entrance to Olympic College is the only other one with a new refuge island.

State records don’t confirm hazard at 303 and John Carlson Road

The in basket: Virginia Pace says she is concerned about “the increasing number of accidents. some with serious injuries, that take place at the corners of John Carlson/Fairgrounds roads and Highway 303.

“John Carlson has become a very busy and fast street,” she said. “Drivers exiting John Carlson on right turns have a large fast intersection to scope out before their turns. A pedestrian gets lost in that scope.

“I counted seven lanes on the north side of 303.  Pedestrians are taking chances in crossing that wide busy intersection. I live near (there), hear the sirens, see the skid marks, see the traffic being routed around the accidents, the broken glass, and motor liquids left on the highway.

“Can this dangerous intersection be evaluated for safety for pedestrians?” she asked. “I am suggesting blinking caution lights on the dividers between north and south lanes. The blinkers would alert drivers and pedestrians to be visually careful. And, without a doubt, there are more pedestrians and bicyclists using all intersections. I see more and more pedestrians walking up and down John Carlson.”

The out basket: State records don’t confirm what Virginia says she witnesses from her home.

Lisa Copeland of the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “In the last five years there have been no pedestrian collisions and two bike collisions at, or near the intersection.

“The first bike accident occurred at a driveway within a 100 feet of the intersection as a car emerging from a driveway hit a bike traveling on the shoulder. The bicyclist hurt his knee.

“The second occurred when a bike crossed against the signal and was struck. The bicyclist was considered at fault in the collision.”

It doesn’t sound like John Carlson/Fairgrounds and 303 stands much chance of being singled out for special pedestrian safety work.

Hey! Don’t turn your back on traffic!!

The in basket: Claudia Kilburn and Gary Lee think a lot of pedestrians could use a refresher course on walking along a road, especially at night.

Claudia writes, “My step-mom asked me to contact you with a concern. She drives very rarely at night but when she does she is very worried about pedestrians who walk along the road wearing dark clothing. She has even encountered people walking in her lane!

“She has had a couple of close calls and if they were wearing light-colored clothing they would be much easier to see. She has had this problem on Pine Road and McWilliams Road, but I don’t think this is an isolated area where this problem exists,” Claudia said.

Gary said, “On Chico Way where I live, dozens of people walk with their back to traffic.They have no clue about what’s coming and a lot of them have a dog (with them)..

“For heaven sakes,” he said, “walk toward the traffic.”

The out basket: It’s been about 50 years since I went to public school, but I have to think the importance of wearing easily visible clothing while walking on the roadsides at night is still a common caution for children.

If they haven’t gotten the message by now, I doubt that this mention will turn the trick, but I guess it’s worth a try.

Also, while wearing visible clothing as a pedestrian is just good advice, it’s worth noting that walking with your back to approaching vehicle traffic while on the shoulder is actually an infraction for which a person can be fined. It’s a $56 fine, though the law makes it an offense only if walking toward traffic is not “practicable.”

Both Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the State Patrol and Deputy Scott Wilson of Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office say that educating the violators with a warning is more likely, especially if it’s a juvenile.

Scott added, “Notwithstanding what appears to be the de rigueur apparel of a number of young people, ie:  blue jeans, dark-colored hooded sweat shirt and a beanie or ball cap, the wearing of some type of reflective material is highly recommended.  (1)  Drivers usually aren’t expecting to find pedestrians along rural and semi-rural roads and (2)  county roadways typically aren’t illuminated by street lights except at certain locations.”