Many serious and fatal crashes along 122nd Avenue, as well as crashes involving people walking or biking, occur where 122nd Avenue intersects with other high traffic streets. This is where the roads are wide, there is a lot of activity, and travelers are changing direction or have to cross the paths of other road users (for example, a car turning right across the crosswalk). Many of these locations are on the Vision Zero list of the top 30 High Crash intersections, including the highest rated crash location in the city (SE Stark Street and SE 122nd Avenue).
To reduce conflicts between road users, improvements to these major intersections are needed. But how we improve each intersection depends on several factors such as existing traffic, the number of right-turning vehicles, potential transit delay, right-of-way availability, and cost. The critical factor is improving separation between different users and movements, and improving visibility when interactions between road users occur.
Most of these major intersections have a similar lane configuration. There are usually two through travel lanes for each direction as well as a left turn lane, and a right turn lane. People biking must share a lane with right-turning vehicles, and sometimes buses as well. Cars turning right can do so during a red light, or with a green light at the same time as pedestrians. This lane configuration generally allows people to move through the intersection quickly but requires that all road users be aware and act predictably.
To improve safety and predictability of movement at these intersections, it is recommended that these intersections be redesigned to:
- Separate road users to reduce conflicts
- Give people biking and walking more time by adding Leading Pedestrian/Bicycle Intervals
- Restrict right-turns on red
- Reduce transit delay (where feasible)
- Consider right-turn lane removal if transit impacts limited
- Prioritize investments based on safety
The two design concepts shown below are ways this can be achieved. The first concept keeps the existing number of vehicle lanes, but narrows them so the bike lane can remain along the curb. This option protects people biking and walking by removing the conflict with right turning vehicles with no right turns on a red light. This option protects people biking and walking by removing the conflict with right turning vehicles with no right turns on a red light and providing a separate green signal phase for drivers to turn right when people are not also crossing the street.
The second concept, a protected intersection, gives users more space and improves visibility, but may require right-of-way acquisition or the removal of the exclusive right-turn lane. The specific design for each intersection will be determined based on cost and available funding.
Not all intersection locations can be improved simultaneously. It is recommended that the intersections be prioritized in the following order, based on crash history, cost, and feasibility:
- NE Glisan Street
- NE Halsey Street
- SE Powell Boulevard
- SE Holgate Boulevard
- SE Foster Road
At the intersection of E Burnside Street and 122nd Avenue, due to higher transit delay, it is recommended that this intersection be redesigned as part of the Rose Lane project. Improvements to the intersection of SE Stark Street and 122nd Avenue are funded through the Safer Outer Stark project and improvements to SE Division Street and 122nd Avenue are funded through the Division Transit Project. The intersections of SE Holgate Boulevard and SE Foster Road* have lower crash rates, but should be improved as part of the funded Fixing Our Streets project.
*Improvements at SE Foster Road will be limited to installing a protected left turn signal until additional funding is secured for more extensive changes.
The current intersection design at NE Sandy Boulevard and 122nd Avenue encourages high-speeds and is challenging to navigate for people walking and biking. This interchange should be redesigned to improve safety and comfort for all road users by replacing the northbound and southbound ramps with a traditional signalized intersection, including pedestrian crossings and closing the access points between NE 122nd Avenue and NE 121st Place while maintaining access at NE Skidmore. In the short-term, the sidewalk gap on the east side of the street should be filled.
Intersection improvements are also recommended at NE Fremont Street, NE San Rafael Street, SE Ash Street, SE Market Street, and SE Harold Street. Additional analysis is needed to determine the exact improvements but they could include installing leading pedestrian intervals, removing dedicated right turn lanes to improve bike facilities, improving crossings, or upgrading signals for protected left turn signals.