A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


Woman hit by minivan at 70th and 8th

November 30th, 2012 · Comments

8th Avenue NW was mostly blocked to traffic Friday night because a woman was hit by a minivan just before 6:30 p.m.

The accident appears to have happened on the east side of 8th Avenue, across the street from the Take 5 Urban Market. Dale (co-editor of PhinneyWood) was on a bus that came upon the scene immediately after the accident.

He says the woman may have been in the crosswalk at the time. She was conscious while paramedics tended to her.



  1. Jon says:

    Wow, that’s unfortunate.

    That’s a really shitty intersection to be crossing. I’m unsure of the circumstances, but if you’re going to be walking in the dark (and in the rain), it’s always wise to cross the street with a high-powered flashlight and something reflective on your body.

  2. phinneyfun says:

    yes, true…not to blame the victim or anything since drivers have to be exceedingly vigilant especially on these rainy nights when lights can be dazzling and the traffic is high volume…but even with being careful sometimes one has to do a double-take when a dark-clad figure appears seemingly out of nowhere. Poor woman, I hope she will be OK soon.

    That street is terrible to cross, I drove my kid to Ballard High before the clock changed over so it was brighter in the morning because the crossings at 70th and 67th are deadly what with how fast everybody drives along there and how dark it is.

  3. Shane says:

    A wide open intersection with clear sight lines and a marked crosswalk near a business with lots of foot traffic is a bad place to cross? I will never understand this cultural bias for automobiles and against pedestrians. The cars need to slow down and pay attention. There is simply no other reasonable way to look at it.

  4. jimby says:

    seems that the weekends near the holidays get extra crazy on the roads. driving too fast for the conditions, no turn signals, dangerous, pushy merges…

    hope she’s ok.

  5. Thomas P. says:

    It doesn’t have clear sight lines. When you’re driving northbound trees on the thick median strip block the view of people on the west side and on the east side pedestrians often stand next to the pole there so you can’t see them. Add cars turning (what moron put a pedestrian crossing smack next to a busy intersection?) and all in all, it’s a bad spot even on clear days.

  6. Thomas P. says:

    Add to that Seattle pedestrians attitude that they can cross anywhere, anytime and not bother to look for cars after they step into the street. Your principles won’t beat a car folks.

  7. Thomas P. says:

    If they want to make it safer, make it a pedestrian call light like at 73rd and Greenwood ave.

  8. Greenwood resident says:

    8th Ave NW is an arterial, and shared with bicycles. Speed limit is 30, which may seem fast to pedestrians but gets cars through and out of the area more quickly. There are also fewer lights, mostly at crossing arterials. It’s Friday after work with particularly bad rush hour traffic. And it is raining. Even at slower speeds it takes longer to stop safely. Pedestrians and drivers alike seem to ignore this. And in the rain people tend to put their heads down, either to protect their faces from getting soaked or to see where they are stepping (or both) so they are less attentive to vehicles. And if a bus is coming folks seem to think it is okay to jaywalk to catch it and other drivers will stop. I think we may need a law that supercedes the “every intersection is a crosswalk” rule and requires pedestrians to use marked crosswalks where provided when crossing arterials. And while we are at it cyclists should be required to use bike lanes where they are provided. Weaving between lanes of traffic waiting at a light, in and out of the blind spot, is an invitation to disaster. One final thought – almost all drivers are pedestrians at some time or another, but not all pedestrians drive. It is easy to say “put yourself in the other guy’s shoes” but some pedstrians have no idea of the challenges facing a driver at a busy intersection, and how it is increased with darkness and rain.

  9. HL says:

    Well said, Greenwood Resident!

  10. Pat says:

    I almost hit a pedestrian one night when it was raining. I am not a careless driver, but I think pedestrians don’t realize how invisible they can be when they are wearing dark clothes and it is dark out and pouring rain. Drivers obviously need to be as vigilant as they can be, and pedestrians need to realize that they are not easy to see in the dark and the rain. It was a wake-up call to me, because I hadn’t realized this either, so now when I am out walking my dogs after dark I wear reflective light-colored clothing and both dogs have flashing lights on their collars. I know there are factions on both sides who want to blame either the drivers or the pedestrians, but please…most of us are BOTH at one time or another, so let’s help each other out.

  11. Ballardica says:

    As someone who crosses this exact location often as both a driver and a pedestrian, I can tell you that anyone driving (that actually deserves to have a license) should never be in a position to actually hit someone there.
    It’s a straight line, not a blind curve. There are overhead lights with CROSSWALK on them. The speed limit is 30, so even at a reasonable 35 you should have time to see someone and stop assuming that you’re actually paying attention.
    I’ll grant that not everyone crossing the street will pause to make eye contact with the driver, or that everyone who may cross a street will bring warning flares, a flag, reflective vest, bullhorn, siren, and give 24 hours notice that they’ll cross a street, but drivers are the ones who have the responsibility to see and stop for pedestrians. Period. Full stop.

  12. EnduroDriver says:

    That’s a tough intersection. I find it odd that the city’s design differs so much between the north and south sides of that intersection with regards to the planting strip. The north side doesn’t start for at least 50m beyond the intersection giving southbound drivers significantly better visibility. For northbound drivers that planting median runs nearly right up to the crosswalk. I’d think that peeling that panting strip back a couple dozen meters would give drivers and pedestrians several extra seconds to see each other. Even just taking the last two trees out on that planting strip would be a low cost/quick improvement that would allow more light and better sight-lines in the intersection.

  13. EnduroDriver says:

    Ballardica – Drivers have all the responsibility? Well I hope that continues to work for you, I guess if you’re that confident in your luck I hope you stop at the corner store there and buy a lotto ticket each time you make it across. 🙂

    It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep an eye out for each other.

  14. LexiconGrrl says:

    I spoke to someone who saw the accident as it happened, and her comment was that the pedestrian didn’t stop or look for traffic before crossing the street, and that the van didn’t have time to stop.

    As both a frequent driver and pedestrian at that crosswalk, I agree with the comments that it’s tough to see pedestrians there and I’m always super vigilant about crossing carefully, knowing that the drivers may not see me.

    Sadly, I see walkers march across the street all the time without pausing or looking, assuming that the vehicles will have to stop for them.

    It’s important to remember when playing chicken with a 2-ton moving hunk of steel, the car will usually win. Even though cars need to yield, we’re still each accountable for our own safety.

  15. LexiconGrrl says:

    I’d like to add too, that if it’s true that she walked out in front of the van without looking, the driver must feel horrible. I can’t even imagine.

  16. Kate Martin says:

    Do we have/need crossing flags there to help with visibility?

  17. Thomas P. says:

    They need to put a pedestrian call light there. Only way to make it safe. For drivers Crossing over 8th on 70th there is a nightmare of cars, turning cars, pedestrians and cyclists. A light for pedestrians is the only thing that would work. I cross there at night (and day) and always assume cars can’t see me coming north bound. Plus a light would slow the 40mph crowd down, the morons racing home to greenwood to catch American Idol or something.

  18. Block Watcher says:

    I hope the pedestrian makes a full recovery. That certainly is a marked crosswalk with the lights hanging above. Weather conditions were not ideal, but I’ve had some very close calls in broad daylight both as a driver and pedestrian.

  19. Tiktok says:

    The frequent comments along the lines of “your principles won’t beat a car folks” smacks of a “might makes right” bully philosophy. The subtext of “And serves them right too!!” is impossible to ignore.

    The public right of way, which sometimes has pavement or road on top of it, is for people–pedestrians are not trespassers on the god-given zone of cars, cars are carefully monitored guests on the right of way. Pedestrians are prohibited in limited areas–highways, bridges lacking pedestrian paths, but in general they are what should be yielded to.

  20. Tiktok says:

    Also, a sharrow is not a bike lane. Sharrows are where you ride your bike if you’re not afraid of an inattentive driver dooring you or pulling out without looking.

    Actual bike lanes are very rare in Seattle.

  21. phinneyfun says:

    Shane, Tiktok, Ballardista–I don’t believe anybody here is stating that cars rule and it’s up to pedestrians to get out of their way. I’m an exceedingly careful driver, and yet I have had pedestrians jump out into the street as if they had no inkling that a car, even at 30 mph, according to physics will not stop the second you slam your foot on the brake but will continue onwards.

    I am often a pedestrian in this neighborhood and have experienced motorists racing right through 4-way stops with crosswalks in broad daylight. I’ve had drivers scream at me for entering the intersection, even when their cars are stopped and it isn’t even their turn to go (and please note I do not leap into crosswalks unawares nor do I walk slowly through them). So I am all over the pedestrian’s side of things here.

    That said, I also drive, often on that road, and can attest t hat when it’s dark, and rainy, and there are bicycles scooting up one side of the road and people driving too fast behind you and cars zipping across the street impatiently, there is a LOT to watch out for–and even the most vigilant driver will be taken unawares if a pedestrian walks across the street in a way that doesn’t show the best self-preservation skills.

    (And people DO virtually leap into the street…one time driving up at Carkeek Park, two boys leaped out of the woods on one curve–there isn’t even a path in that section of woods–and landed in front of my car. They were astonished to see me there. I was grateful that I drive reeeally slowly in that park…)

    I taught my kid not to trust the crosswalk at all–use it, but with extreme caution, because even though cars should stop, and she had every right to expect to walk across the street safely, the crosswalk wasn’t a magic talisman that would protect her. When I walk, I assume the drivers are loco unless proven otherwise and am careful. Likewise, behind the wheel, I assume that most pedestrians (and many bicyclists) have no self-preservation skills and am triple-cautious.

    I didn’t set out following this story assuming the poor pedestrian crossed foolishly–I assumed the driver was entirely to blame (speeding, inattentiveness). I think people–all of whom are pedestrians at one time or another–are just urging everybody to be careful, not doling out blame.

    And, Shane, that isn’t a great intersection for crossing. It looks brightly lit in that picture because of emergency lights. In real life, cars fly through there and it’s not a brilliant spot.

  22. jmpr says:

    Just this evening, I had a close call with pedestrians in a crosswalk. I was heading west on 85th and stopped at Palatine to make a right turn. The light was green and I checked to make sure there were no pedestrians. No one was coming towards me, but on the corner next to me were two women with their small children on the sidewalk about two feet away from the intersection. They were turned away from the intersection as their attention was on their children but I had a feeling and didn’t head into my turn. Sure enough, they suddenly turned around and went into the crosswalk with their children (and then proceeded to leave the crosswalk to finish crossing diagonally across the street) …never never ONCE even glancing towards me to see if there was a car there turning right (or left for that matter). They were concentrated on their children (whose hands they were holding) and didn’t look up at all, not once. It would have been horrible if I hadn’t anticipated that they might do just that. I try to drive very carefully, but it is impossible to discern what the intentions of some pedestrians are. Sometimes I’ve had drivers behind me honk because of similar situations…me trying to figure out if someone is going to cross or not. This has nothing to relate to the terrible accident with the woman crossing 80th, but I really want to stress the importance of what “phinneyfun” said about pedestrians needing to use self preservation skills.

  23. jmpr says:

    This happened, by the way, at 7:30 so it was very dark.

  24. lurker says:

    We drove through that intersection only 10-15 earlier. I can tell you it is was soooo hard to see with the conditions at the time. Rain, dark, much glare from lights. Next to impossible to see something that is not illuminated until you are very close.

  25. LeChat says:

    I agree completely with Lurker. I used to cross this twice a day to pick up my children from day care. It was so scary. Cars couldn’t see us until it was too late for them to stop for us. I’ve been a driver at that intersection, as well, and I can’t completely curse the cars because you don’t have enough time to react if someone that you didn’t see is now half-way across the road and crossing in front of you. I’m sure both parties feel terrible and I don’t think we should place blame. I just hope everyone heals mentally and physically and maybe we can all be extra careful and use this as an example.