When I rolled up on this biking and walking detour Sunday, I was actually shocked. Due to Earth Gay‘s landscaping work on the trail along Westlake Ave south of the Fremont Bridge, a detour for the hordes of people walking and biking on such a beautiful day utilized the curb lane of the road, separating it from the rest of traffic using cones.
Why did this shock me? Because I am not used to such excellent mitigation work in Seattle. It was awesome. Traffic flowed just fine in the other three lanes, people jogging, strolling, pushing kids, riding bikes and doing just about any fun outdoors activity (yes, driving on a beautiful day is still no fun) had a comfortable and safe space to get around the work on the trail.
Usually, the city just closes the sidewalk and tells people to use the other side (leading people to walk in the street or bike lane to get around the construction), but there is no sidewalk on the other side of the road in this case. So instead the city and Out for Sustainability demonstrated the proper way to handle a bicycle facility detour, much like how it is done in Copenhagen where cyclists’ safety is preserved and prioritized during road work.
If we want people to embrace cycling as a safe and easy way to get around town, people need to be able to trust that their route will be safe from beginning to end. Too often in Seattle, people biking are left out of the construction equation. Bike lanes disappear and people are forced to ride in the general traffic lanes over all kinds of chewed up road surfaces. This is not an inviting experience for people new to biking. While people driving are asked to sacrifice their time as they crawl through a construction zone, people biking are often asked to sacrifice their safety.
As the number of people cycling in Seattle continues to grow, so does the need to make sure our standard construction mitigation steps protect people cycling.