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Subtle but unsafe | Editorial
Hooray for the city for acting on traffic safety issues that dog key Island intersections. Despite the hassles of construction, there will finally be stoplights on Island Crest Way and in the Town Center. The clearing of vegetation at the intersection of Avalon Drive and East Mercer Way, on the South end, is another example — and another is the headache at S.E. 34th Street and 78th Avenue S.E. at the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Thrift Store. There, the city will install stop signs on 78th Avenue S.E. to create a four-way stop. The primary reason for the new signs is the lack of visibility for those headed west down a short, but steep hill to the stop sign on S.E. 34th Street. At that point, you cannot see the traffic on the left heading north toward you on 78th, where drivers — ahem — often do not slow to the 25 mph limit. The four-way stop will make it safer there. Yet, the thrift store on the opposite side of 78th, on the same corner, has created all kinds of extra traffic and parking pressure near the intersection. The store is open more hours. People come from everywhere to visit the store, well known for the high probability of finding high-end items discarded by Island residents. And the city casts its net far and wide for shoppers, advertising in the Seattle Weekly as it has in other publications.
It is the cumulative effect of many seemingly small acts that make it unsafe for both drivers and pedestrians at or near that intersection. Shoppers regularly make U-turns in the street to head back to 78th or use the driveways of neighbors to turn around as they leave. Four times each day, children are walking to the southwest corner of that intersection to wait for the school bus. The sidewalks end west of 78th. Special events such as Summer Celebration!, the farmers market or simply the warm weather bring more families in cars to Mercerdale Park, filling the parking lot and nearby streets. Skateboarders, cyclists, strollers and people walking their dogs also enter the mix. In other words, it is a busy place and sometimes a dangerous one even in the daylight. We are glad that so many shop at the thrift store, as it makes a good deal of money for important programs for the community. But the store, with the park, makes S.E. 34th Street more than a residential street.