No Pedestrian Collisions at Rainier and MLK In the Last Five Years, Says SDOT

Maybe it's because teenagers are faster, more adept jaywalkers. But despite all the attention that has been paid to the supposedly dangerous spot in front of Franklin High School where Rainier Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way meet, where a cop punched a girl in the face during a jaywalking stop, not one single person has been struck by a car in that intersection in the last five years, says Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson Rick Sheridan.

"Peril, teen swagger collide at site of jaywalking incident" declared a Seattle Times headline.

City Attorney Pete Holmes called the intersection "a known public safety problem."

And last week Jordan Royer, a former public safety advisor to mayors Paul Schell and Greg Nickels, said in Crosscut that SDOT asked the cops to enforce jaywalking rules where the punch took place because "this area has a higher number of people hit by cars than any other part of Seattle -- double that of Aurora Avenue North."

But it turns out the intersection is not, in fact, one of the most dangerous in the city.

A 2005 collision study by the Washington State Department of Transportation found 74 people were struck between 2002 and 2004 on Rainier Avenue South. But that applied to an eight-mile stretch of the Rainier corridor, and the study doesn't say how many involved jaywalking. In 2007 the Seattle PI reported that 61 jaywalkers were struck between 2002 and 2006. According to the PI that was double the number of jaywalkers struck on the next most dangerous stretch of road, Aurora Avenue North. But again that number was taken from an 8-mile stretch of Rainier Ave.

SDOT created an action plan in 2006 designed to reduce the number of collisions on Rainier in light of the 2005 study. One potential problem area identified was "crossing outside of sidewalks particularly near Franklin High School." The plan called on police to step up jaywalking enforcement there and other often-illegally-crossed intersections.

But as Sheridan noted, neither in the year preceding the creation of the action plan nor the four since it was implemented was the intersection where the punch-heard-round-the-world occurred one of the city's most dangerous.

Jaywalking stops, on the other hand, can lead to take-downs and Tasers, as Nina Shapiro reported last week.

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