King County's RapidRide C Line will make a transit hub stop on S.W. Barton St. just south of Westwood Village (seen here) when the service starts up in September. The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council is concerned about crosswalk safety and crime as the date approaches.
Crime Prevention Council expresses safety concern over Westwood RapidRide terminal
The King County Metro RapidRide C Line is coming to West Seattle this fall with the promise of faster service and increased safety, but the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council worries about crime and pedestrian safety at the Westwood terminal on S.W. Barton St.
In a recent letter to King County Executive Dow Constantine, Betty Wiberg with WSCPC wrote, “The location of this station is lacking in its adherence with the concept of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED).”
Wiberg wrote that the location butts up against Roxhill Park which “will provide ample places for would be criminals to hide and also provide easy egress after the commission of a crime. This park and surrounding area (has) been the scene of multiple assaults and homicides.”
The most recent homicide in Roxhill Park took place in September of 2011 when 21-year-old Chatri Thip beat Bernard Ray Martin to death because he had asked Thip and friends if they could spare beer they had just stolen from Safeway on Roxbury. Thip was sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
Wiberg also expressed concern over the need to cross Barton from Westwood Village in order to get to the stop (on the south side of the road).
“…the location necessitates those passengers that use Westwood Village Shopping Center, (many disabled, elderly, or parents with children in strollers) must navigate their way across a street that has been the site of two recent pedestrian fatalities. This danger is compounded by buses that use the area on either side of the crosswalks as a location for break periods, which obscure the visibility from the crosswalks until one has already entered the lane of traffic.”
Wiberg wrote that safety concerns where six hubs will converge at Westwood are further exacerbated because there are no plans to increase police presence.
The Seattle Police Department “is not receiving any additional funds to patrol the transit hub … (resulting) in fewer resources being available around the Southwest Precinct area as a whole,” Wiberg wrote, coupled with the fact that Metro’s transit police force, being understaffed, focuses most of their attention downtown.
“Metro Transit has devised the most obtuse, most expensive, and least safe routing of these buses and station locations, all without input from those directly impacted,” Wiberg wrote. “Once in place, the ensuing rise in crime and accident rates will necessitate mitigation of designs at further expense to the taxpayers, not to mention the possible liability claims that may arise from these situations.”
King County responds
Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond responded to Wiberg’s letter (shared with the Herald by the WSCPC), stating that public meetings on the plan since 2008 have resulted in “community input (that) has been overwhelmingly supportive of extending the C Line to Westwood Village.”
Concerning safety at the Barton stop, Desmond wrote, “The new passenger facilities at the RapidRide C Line station at Westwood Village feature a large covered waiting area with a glass and metal windscreen that was designed specifically for safety and oriented to maximize visibility from the street. Lighting is another safety element at all RapidRide stops, and this stop includes lights within the shelter, plus two pedestrian-scaled light fixtures at either end of the bus stop. Frequent RapidRide bus service minimizes the amount of time passengers wait at the bus stop. The RapidRide program also includes fare enforcement personnel who provide an additional security presence; on previously-implemented RapidRide lines, this program element has dramatically reduced fare evasion and other undesirable behavior on board the buses.”
Regarding the need for Westwood Village patrons to cross Barton to get to the stop, Desmond wrote, “The RapidRide C Line station at Westwood Village was sited near the existing mid-block pedestrian crosswalk because the crosswalk provides a designated crossing location of Southwest Barton Street near the shopping center. The bus stop is east of the crosswalk, while bus layover (buses parked at the curb staged for service) is significantly west, just beyond the 29th Avenue Southwest intersection. Bus layover is separated from the crosswalk by other general use on-street parking and will not block visibility of the crosswalk. As an in-lane bus stop, buses will slow traffic speeds along Southwest Barton Street. As a far-side bus stop (beyond the crosswalk), passengers will cross behind the bus, visible to eastbound traffic. The existing center lane pedestrian refuge prevents vehicles from passing buses that are stopped to serve the bus zone. The crossing distance for pedestrians has been shortened by the new bus bulb, and additional lighting for the bus stop will increase the general illumination near the crosswalk.”
At this point, the community meetings are over and the RapidRide C Line is coming together at a rapid pace. The new service is expected to launch on September 29, 2012 and only time will tell if the Westwood RapidRide terminal will pose a public safety risk for West Seattle.