Now open: NE 65th Street cycle track near Magnuson Park

cycle_track_cropped

Photo from the SDOT Blog

To use a summer blockbuster analogy, cycle tracks—essentially bike lanes that are protected from general traffic—are the next big thing dropping on Seattle’s streets.

NE 65th Street is the trailer, and it was just officially released.

SODT reports that the short cycle track connecting the Burke-Gilman Trail to Magnuson Park is now open. The project will not only make it safer and easier to access the trail and park, but it will also improve safety for all trail users as they cross NE 65th.

But almost more importantly, it is a chance to see the two-way cycle track design in action as the city gears up to install more ambitious stretches elsewhere, including downtown.

I have not tried the new lanes out. Have you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Details from SDOT:

The Seattle Department of Transportation is pleased to announce the opening of the Northeast 65th Street cycle track. The cycle track has been designed to provide a family-friendly connection between the Burke Gilman Trail and Magnuson Park that serves people of all ages and abilities who ride bicycles.

This two-way cycle track provides dedicated lanes for people on bikes, separated from traffic by a sturdy barrier. Crossing Sand Point Way is now easier – people walking and biking can now enjoy larger waiting areas, larger and better aligned curb ramps, repositioned push buttons, remarked crosswalks, and painted crossbikes.*

Northeast 65th Street is now easier to cross as well, thanks to a curb bulb at the southeast corner of NE 65th Street and Sand Point Way. While the cycle track is now open, you will continue to see improvements over the next several weeks as SDOT puts a few finishing touches on the project.

For more information about the project, please visit our project web page.

To learn more about the benefits of cycle tracks, and how to use them, please visit our cycle track web page.

*Crossbikes are similar to crosswalks; they alert drivers of the higher likelihood of people crossing at this location and provide people on bikes with their own area of the street – so they’re less likely to share the crosswalk space with pedestrians.

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28 Responses to Now open: NE 65th Street cycle track near Magnuson Park

  1. Chuck says:

    SDOT said the guerrilla installed posts were too tall at 36in and the first thing I thought when seeing the separating ‘wall’ was “damn that looks tall”. Looking at the plans there is only 4in difference between the two.

    • mike archambault says:

      Yeah, but hitting this barrier with your handlebars won’t steer you into traffic…

      • Chuck says:

        I don’t think much good will become of hitting this barrier with your handlebars.

      • A says:

        I don’t think much good will become of crashing your bike into anything, which seems apparent. Unless we want to turn the city into a flat sheet of nerf it doesn’t make much sense to base rules around potential problems that could arise if you drive into a thing.

  2. Ellie P. says:

    I did drive past there last weekend on my way to the park (yes, drove… still don’t have a dog trailer for my bike). I was pleasantly surprised to see stop signs for car traffic at the trail crossing. I think they are new! And a good thing because the cement barrier somewhat impedes a driver’s ability to see oncoming bikes… if you’re a driver who is looking, of course.

    • M.J. says:

      They are new! I spotted them last week as I was driving through as well. I had to pull over and take a photo. It’s exciting to see what a change two stop signs can make on a roadway. 65th has had awfully fast traffic. My husband’s running friend was hit at this location. A stop sign might have made the driver stop, which would have prevented her injuries.

      • Clint says:

        Stop signs. For car traffic. About to cross the Burke-Gilman.

        Huge!

        We need them at many other BGT crossings too.

  3. CL says:

    Yay, Cycle-track! This is exciting! And it sounds like a great place to take the kids for a ride, too. We’ll have to check this out.

  4. Peter Zimmerman says:

    I am lucky enough to live near the new cycle track, and it is GREAT! Please come check it out as soon as you can!

  5. Ints says:

    I’ve been waiting and wondering when SDOT would get their act together and open the cycle track. Rode my bike through it yesterday and it was blocked off with construction tape and cones. Driving by today at 3pm, same deal. Looks like I will try the cycle track out tomorrow morning.
    The stop signs for the the car traffic on NE 65th are long overdue, they definitely set a priority for one mode over the other in contrast to the confusing intersection signage that has been the status quo.

  6. bill says:

    Speaking of stop signs, next can we please get UW to turn the blinding-flashing stop signs on the Burke at Pend Orielle toward the cars? The right of way should favor the direction with the most traffic. As it is, most cars already stop when they see a bike near the crossing.

    • Al Dimond says:

      I actually think that would be tough — sight lines back onto the trail are really bad. That means sight lines off the trail are bad, too, but there’s a difference. A driver on Pend Orielle stopped at a stop sign couldn’t see trail traffic far enough back to detect fast-moving bike traffic, while a trail user stopped at the stop sign can see well down the street in both directions. Most BGT intersections are pretty similar; without a massive redesign trail users will need to approach slowly and be prepared to stop…

      So there’s this dilemma: we may want the road traffic to yield to trail traffic in some places, but road traffic (especially cars, with their sight lines impaired by hoods and pillars… but also pedestrians on parallel sidewalks, who approach the trail at a bad angle) can’t see to yield (even if they’re stopped!) unless trail traffic is moving pretty slowly. How can you get cyclists to slow down approaching an intersection? Put up a stop sign. Without one many cyclists will blow through at speed… and that’s not good for anyone. So, weirdly, after using these intersections enough times, I’m starting to see the logic of the stop-sign-crosswalk combination. It sort of confuses everyone into doing the right thing. IIRC the most dangerous intersections along the Burke are the ones controlled by stoplights (where green lights assure cyclists they can zoom though it may not be wise to do so).

      • bill says:

        Stoplight intersections: The problem is we have a separated bikeway that is not separate at intersections. At these high bike volume crossings signals should to be altered to give bikes and peds their own cycle. And the signals need to adapt to traffic so people aren’t tempted to run a light when other directions with no traffic have the green.

      • Al Dimond says:

        @bill: There’s a tension at some of the U District intersections between safety and convenience — adding signal phases until there are no allowed conflicting movements means cyclist wait times at those intersections become intolerable. You can only do so much about signal phase length because even if only one car is waiting to, say, make a left, the intersection is so large you have to give quite a lot of time to that phase… or if only one car is waiting to cross Pacific you still have to give enough time for the pedestrian signal to count down, which is quite long, again because of the size of the intersection.

        What I’d do to resolve these is:
        – Disallow right-on-red across the BGT (duh… I mean, it should be everywhere, but start with bike paths and cycletracks).
        – Ban left turns off of Pacific at University Way to simplify that signal cycle. Then maybe have a scramble for all pedestrians and cyclists in all directions there.
        – At Pacific and 15th there are lots of bus routes that turn left from SB 15th and right from WB Pacific, so there’s a signal phase that protects both these movements at the same time. Keep this, but don’t allow traffic on WB Pacific to turn right (across the BGT) on green. This way BGT traffic can go with Pacific’s long green without conflicts.

        Farther northeast, along highway 522, again, it would be ridiculous to prevent cyclists from going along with 522’s long green — right-turning traffic should instead be restricted during that green phase.

        I have no great opinion about Blakely and 25th.

      • Morgan Wick says:

        Blakeley is low-traffic enough and the Burke is visible enough that I doubt that that intersection is much of a problem compared to others. The main issue is that Blakeley and Ravenna Pl is used as a shortcut to University Village from 20th/54th and Ravenna Blvd, meaning there’s a disproportionate amount of EB to SB turns there, though I don’t know if that’s as much the case with the rechanneling. A potential new problem is that the same corridor has sharrows and is now a signed bike route, so bikes need to be able to get between the Burke and that corridor.

        Most of the streets south of 522 are extremely minor and only connect to the superrich homes hugging the lake, and once you hit Juanita Dr/68th the trail mostly passes under the major cross streets anyway.

    • SC says:

      The plan for the Pend Orielle-BGT intersection is to replace it with a grade-separated crossing (BGT overpass / roadway underpass, presumably). UW is going to be improving its entire segment of the BGT in the next couple years.

      http://www.washington.edu/facilities/transportation/tip/bgtimprovement

    • Biliruben says:

      Blakeley and 25th is always among the top 5 most dangerous intersections for bikes and peds. Mixing immortal kids with elderly losing their senses is never a good combo.

      It’s not the turns on red that are the problem, it’s the turns on green. If we are ever going to install a bike traffic light, this would be a leading candidate.

  7. JD says:

    I found this barrier a little to high. When one rides the trail north the barrier hides approaching cars

  8. biliruben says:

    I was surprised by the stop sign, and appreciate it.

    I’m not sure how to handle it now, however. It’s a four-way stop. It makes me, when bicycling on the trail, want to treat it as a treat other 4-way stops, and stop. It decreases efficiency.

    The previous way the vast majority of interactions where handled (and are handled at 70th and other crossings), is cars slow, and wave the bike traffic through. This was a more efficient method, getting everybody through the intersection more quickly, because the cars didn’t have to wait for the biker to come to a complete stop and go again. This is much more time consuming for a bike than for a car or pedestrian.

    It will be interesting to see how bikes handle it going forward. I wish they’d replace the stop sign on the burke with a yield or something else, but that may not be politically feasible.

  9. M.B. says:

    The Linden Cycletrack on the Interurban is almost open. . . .I’m excited about this trend! How many others are in progress?

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  11. Tyanne says:

    I think this is a huge improvement. My only beef is the wall. It really limits your sight when you are going North on the trail.

    I can imagine that it may also be hard for cars who are crossing the bike path into their driveway. I hope that won’t give cyclists a false sense of security.

    • Morgan Wick says:

      I wasn’t really expecting it to be much taller than a curb, to be honest. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I realized a cycle track was more than just a pair of bike lanes on the same side of the street with maybe a buffer between them and car traffic.

  12. Tim K says:

    What’s the “correct” way to get on this cycle track if you’re coming from the park? It seems pretty clunky to force riders to use pedestrian crossings at very busy/hazardous Sandpoint, then again across equally bad 65th, just to get on the cycletrack heading up the hill for a mere block.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love separated facilities, but the way we go about planning and implementing these things drives me nuts. I feel like the current configuration is going to encourage lots of wrong-way riding in crosswalks as people try to figure out how to make the track connect with where they are going or coming from. Is there a plan to monitor incidents here? Is there a plan to upgrade the park side of the equation?

    When I originally heard there was a plan for a cycletrack from BG to Magnuson I assumed it would be on 70th and not 65th. Even without improvement, the traffic is less and the crossing better at 70th. The cycletrack there, plus a wide, bike-only curb cut on the park side would direct riders onto the low-traffic, limited-access road inside the park (parallel to Sand Point). This option seems vastly better than making riders (especially non-skilled new riders and kids riding to the park for fun!) duke it out on 65th this summer boat-trailer towing beach bums in monster trucks.

    • M.J. says:

      As to “Why not 70th,” likely because there is a trail on the southeast side of 65th that heads down the hill. It’s not yet connected to the rest of the trail system in the park. There is a couple block gap from where it ends up on the hill by the apartments to where the trails begin again at the bottom of the hill. I believe the plan is to have it all connect, with the trail continuing down the hill on the south side of 65th with a crossing to the trails on the north side at the bottom.

      I’ve seen people coming from the apartment buildings on the little stretch of trail, crossing at the crosswalk, which now includes bike crossing markings like you see on the 38th Ave Greenway, to the cycle track on up the hill to the Burke.

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