You may remember back in 2010 when concerns from some Maple Leaf neighbors delayed the completion of the Roosevelt bike lane between 75th and 85th. It was my first month of writing Seattle Bike Blog and I made a rookie mistake: I supported going back for more study.
Ugh. I have since come to realize that SDOT knows what they are doing when they propose changes to roads to make them safer for all users. Sure enough, two years of studies have shown that SDOT was, indeed, right all along, Maple Leaf Life reports.
The plans call for consolidating the current parking to the east side of the road. As I pointed out in 2010, all current parking can easily fit on one side of the road. An in-depth city study over multiple seasons shows the exact same thing. In fact, even at the highest utilization rates, there will still be several spots free on each block.
The changes will create space for a six-foot bike lane in the uphill direction and sharrows downhill. The biggest downside to the plan is probably that buses will have two more stops where they need to pull out of traffic. To increase bus efficiency, buses should stop in-lane so they do not have to waste time trying to merge back into the travel lane every time they drop off or pick up. All vehicles are legally required to stop for buses trying to pull out of stops, but few actually do (I would wager that few people even know that law).
One thing that strikes me now, looking back at this debate, is how outdated the Roosevelt bike lane already is. It has proven to be a sub-par facility that places people biking square in the door zone. This year’s update of the bicycle master plan should include guidance for protected bike lanes on roadways like Roosevelt. With some extra funding from transit agencies and the city’s budget for transit efficiency projects, we could also get in the habit of installing Dexter-style bus islands whenever bike lanes and bus stops conflict. These would make cycling safer and speed up buses at the same time. And since more people biking and busing means fewer people driving, this would be a win for all road users.
Here is a presentation SDOT gave to the Maple Leaf Community Council last month (via Maple Leaf Life):