May 4, 1998

Front Page

Bothell fights cut-through cars with new driver awareness program

     by Andrew Walgamott
   Staff reporter

   Residents of the Canyon Firs neighborhood in northern Bothell hope to convince cut-through drivers to slow down with simple signs they put out once a week. Bill Barrett, a 10-year resident there, is leading the charge. "We want everyone to drive safe and smart when they go through our neighborhood," said Barrett. The problem is over 1,000 vehicles cut through Canyon Firs each day, he said.
   The curving streets of the development offer a shortcut between shopping at Thrashers Corner, and Canyon Creek Elementary and Skyview Junior High. Vehicles using the streets range from cement trucks and lumber trucks making deliveries to nearby housing projects to moms taking their children to school. They all must watch out for the many local students who walk to school. Though Canyon Firs' speed limit is 25 mph, Barrett said speeds have averaged 31 mph on some streets. Vehicles shooting past at 47 mph have been recorded as well.
   Barrett and other residents have found a way to begin addressing the problem. They have adopted the "Car Smart/Car Safe Neighborhood Program" offered by Alt-Trans, a non-profit Seattle group. "[The program] is about making choices to make your neighborhood a safer place to be," Alt-Trans Executive Director Jemae Pope said. Citizens who call the group's hotline get a video that gives suggestions on driving less and driving more safely. "Car Smart" also informs residents that they themselves can begin to improve their neighborhood's traffic. According to Pope, about 70 percent of trips people make are non work-related. "It's us going to the movies, the store or taking our kids to school." Instead, she suggested combining errands.A kit with stickers and ideas for signs comes with the video as well.
   Barrett's neighbors found out about it recently from the City of Bothell. Since then, they have made a number of signs, two of which together say "Please drive slowly so we can play safely." The signs are only put out on Wednesdays. "If we put them out too much, people will get desensitized to them," Barrett explained.
   "Car Smart" is available to all King County neighborhoods, Pope said. It is funded through the county and state Department of Transportation. "The program in our neighborhood has been effective the one day a week," said Barrett, who works in Everett's engineering department. "It does slow some people down." The City of Woodinville and Kingsgate residents did something similar last year when they hung large posters on trash cans to combat speeding cut-through traffic in their neighborhood.
   But Barrett's ultimate goal is to convince people to go around the development by using arterial streets. The City of Bothell has allocated $35,000 for "traffic calming" in Canyon Firs, according to Public Works Superintendent Mac McDonald. Money would go for creating traffic circles. The effect is to force people to slow down in order to go around the islands, McDonald said. Also gateway "calming devices" such as plantings near the development's entrances would be done. Construction would wrap up this fall.
   Learn more about Car Smart/Car Safe by calling 206 325-1185. More information is also available on their website at . Alt-Trans is a coalition of people who want more options than driving, said Pope, who until recently didn't own a car.