Fremont Ave in Greenwood is getting a full neighborhood greenway makeover

Map via SDOT

Map via SDOT

The Interurban North bike route has been getting quite the makeover in recent years. In 2011, a section of Dexter Ave was redesigned with wide bike lanes and bus islands. Just this month, the city finished work on the Linden Ave protected bike lanes near Bitter Lake (stay tuned for more on that).

Now, the city is conducting outreach about plans to turn more than 30 blocks of Fremont Ave in Greenwood into a proper neighborhood greenway.

Complete with speed bumps, improved signage and long-sought stop signs for cross-traffic at the traffic circles, the project would effectively connect from the King County border through the Shoreline section of the Interurban Trail all the way to N 77th St using almost exclusively low-stress biking and walking facilities.

Meeting details:

Join us for a 2nd Open House
5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Greenwood Senior Center
525 N 85th Street
Stay for the NW District Council Meeting afterwards.

Fremont Ave N improvements are being made between N 77th and N 110th streets. Fremont Avenue N connects to the soon-to-open cycle track on Linden Avenue N, local destinations and transit. Over the past ­five years, features making it safer and more comfortable to walk and bike have been added including traffic signals at N 80th, N 85th and N 105th streets and a new sidewalk between N 86 and N 90th streets in front of the North Seattle Boys and Girls Club and Greenwood Park. To complete the safety improvements, SDOT is planning the following:

  • Install 20 mph speed limit and wayfinding signs
  • Construct 13 speed humps help maintain low speeds
  • Add new stop signs to streets that cross Fremont Avenue N to control traffic crossing the greenway
  • Add bicycle pavement markings
  • Make pavement and sidewalk spot repairs
  • Read the exhibit boards used at the June Open House meetings for background on street characteristics and traffic data.

With Amazon planning to partner with the city to build protected bike lanes on 7th Ave between Dexter Ave and downtown, the biggest Seattle missing link in the Interurban North route will be the 40 blocks between the Fremont Bridge and N 77th St. Due to geographic issues, this segment’s best chance at being completed likely lies with cycle tracks on the arterials: Greenwood Ave, Phinney Ave, a short section of 50th St and Fremont Ave.

The good news is that these lanes are all suggested in the most current draft of the Bicycle Master Plan (more details on that draft coming soon).

More details on the proposed changes:

Fremont Boards June

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45 Responses to Fremont Ave in Greenwood is getting a full neighborhood greenway makeover

  1. biliruben says:

    Awesome.

    It feels a bit like they are using this as an excuse to spend the real money I’d been told they would spend to actually complete the trail, but definitely better than nothing.

    Traffic circles should be removed. They make it more dangerous.

  2. Freewheelin' Franklin says:

    Let me get this straight. The City will “construct 13 speed humps help maintain low speeds” on a greenway, but when it comes to protecting school kids from speeding drivers we get cameras that dole out pricey $189 tickets after the infraction has been committed?

    If McGinn was really serious about keeping speeds down on the greeway he’d put cameras there, too. Because, if speed bumps are good enough to slow traffic down on bike/pedestrian-friendly greenways they certainly ought to be good enough for speeders in school zones, too.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Speed humps on arterial streets is still controversial mainly because those streets are also emergency vehicle routes. While I’m not 100 percent convinced that speed humps are really that much of a hindrance to emergency vehicles (after all, they might lower the number of emergency vehicle trips needed in the first place), that has been the rationale for not using them on major streets.

      Sometimes you’ll see tiny speed humps that are theoretically skinny enough so a wide emergency vehicle can pass over them (for example, 31st Ave in Leschi/Mt Baker), but the jury is still out on the effectiveness of them.

      • biliruben says:

        I think they largely solved the problem by placing gaps in the humps (or bumps) at the width of fire truck tires. At least that’s what I’d heard from SDOT at a Greenways meeting.

      • Gary says:

        Bellevue put these sort of flat speed bumps on some of it’s neighborhood streets and they work really well. You can drive the posted speed limit without slowing down for them. They are a non issue on a bicycle but if you speed in a car, it does jolt you pretty good.

        I think they are better than the dumb cameras which are more revenue generators than deterents to speeding, because you can’t ignore the bump but you could the camera and eat the ticket.

  3. Kirk from Ballard says:

    I love it! I’ve been using the route a lot, and it’s already good, and will be great. It would be amazing if the Zoo would create a bike path right through it, to connect Fremont all the way. Or the trail could be routed down along Aurora, across the existing footbridge over Aurora into Woodland Park, and then down Woodland Park Avenue North to the Burke Gilman Trail.
    Complete the Eastlake Cycle Track, and the Ballard Bridge fix, and the city would have solid east, central and west conncetions from the north end to downtown.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I agree that the space between the zoo and Woodland Park (utilizing those awesome old bridges over Aurora) is a huge wasted opportunity for the city and the zoo. I would love to see what options exist for a bike/walk trail along the zoo side and maybe a more grand entrance for people accessing the zoo from Woodland Park. Could be a great chance for the zoo, city and maybe even the state (Aurora is a state highway, after all) to partner on a really cool project.

      • biliruben says:

        I have been told that there was a battle, years ago, over an attempt by the zoo to creep across 99 and double the size of the zoo at the expense of the wilder open space of Woodland. They were beaten back by lovers of Woodland, so you need to negotiate that history when trying to find a sweet-spot for collaboration.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        That’s good background to know. Thanks.

      • Kirk from Ballard says:

        There is already a footpath from 59th along Aurora, on the west side, to the footbridge overpass of Aurora. the greenway could easily be extended to 59th on Fremont, the footpath could be improved and paved, the park path to the road could be improved, and either create a greenway on Wooldand Park Ave N (which would be great, it’s super wide), or just continue the path to Stoneway, and tie into the Burke Gilman Trail.

      • Al Dimond says:

        The difficulty with Woodland Park Ave is all the intersections. 50th is roughly on par with many other arterials crossed by greenways (i.e. Stone Way at 43rd or NE 65th St at 39th Ave NE). But then you have Green Lake Way (which should just be removed between 46th and 50th), 46th, and Bridge Way, which are all much harder, before you reach the relatively minor crossings of 35th and 34th.

        With good crossings at all these intersections Woodland Park would be a great greenway and a terrific bypass for one of the more difficult sections (both in terms of traffic and terrain) of the Interurban route.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        I agree, Al. But those reasons are all reasons why Woodland Park Ave would be a GREAT neighborhood greenway project. The return on investment for tackling those intersections would be huge because all other nearby streets face the same issues. To have such an unbikeable area in the middle of such a bikey part of the city is simply irresponsible, and there is a huge backlog of latent bikiness that would be unleashed with a combo of a safe Woodland Park Ave and a safe and convenient Aurora crossing (or 2 or 3).

      • biliruben says:

        Back, prior to the Stoneway re-visioning, I used to take Woodland Park from Fremont to Greenlake all the time. It seemed like a natural bike road.

        The crossings were a bit tricky, granted, but it was worth it.

      • Al Dimond says:

        One other thing I’ll say about Woodland Park, as someone that’s been involved in both Wallingford and Fremont greenways groups, is that I think both groups recognize the great potential of Woodland Park and also recognize that the amount of work needed (and potential traffic throughput disruptions) is beyond the scope of what SDOT has been willing to commit to greenways so far. It also sort of lies awkwardly between the two neighborhoods, and is perhaps closest to the growing area centered around Stone Way, so making it happen will require these groups to get on the same page.

        There’s been some noise that some of the developers that have been active on Stone Way would consider supporting a Woodland Park Ave greenway, and while our interests don’t align entirely (some of them want to kill Stone Way bike lanes, and would be more interested in cutting ribbons than crossing arterials).

  4. M.B. says:

    I went to the previous open house and few days ago and myself and several other bikers weren’t too excited about the speed humps. The section between ~90th and 97th is kind of a mess, the street is too narrow to ride down safely during any high traffic areas due to cars parked on both sides, and the speed bumps will slow cyclist traffic down further. SDOT is unwilling to put gaps in the humps like they have in several other locations.

    I think a lot of other people will continue to ride down Dayton and Evanston through at least those sections to avoid the unfriendly enhancements.

    • biliruben says:

      North of 85th, the city appears to have a right of way just west of Fremont along the power-lines., if they chose to use it. That would actually cost money and expend political capital, however.

      • Al Dimond says:

        I think Fremont Ave is way better than the power line ROW. There are too many closely spaced intersections and along the power lines there hasn’t really been any thought given to them as intersections. And it would be hard to make it continuous, as some of the land is already in use. Fremont Ave goes all the way through.

        Fremont Ave is already a pretty good route today. Just make it illegal for drivers to pass cyclists on greenways, put more effort into the through-traffic restrictions on Fremont Ave, install the stop signs for the crossing side streets, and you’ve got a nice bike route that people also live and sometimes park along.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I think you will find that the speed humps will do very little to slow you down on a bike. I actually kind of like them.

      They aren’t those speed bumps like you see in parking lots, where the bump is abrupt and could sent you flying if you aren’t paying attention or don’t see them. These are gradual and, IMO, kind of fun. They are designed to slow people to 20 mph. So unless you are biking extremely fast, they won’t be an impediment to you. Rather, they will slow car traffic (a good thing for people on bikes) and maybe even deter people from using the street as cut-through alternative to Greenwood Ave or Aurora.

      As for the section you describe, one thing I wish the city would consider is installing physical traffic diverters at the Fremont Ave stoplights to force cars to turn off the street (as the signs already say they should).

      I think we should also pay close attention to how safe the skinny streets w/ parking on both sides are for people on bikes. One benefit of the car parking is that it dramatically slows cars (and, of course, makes the political battle easier). A problem is that people on bikes don’t feel as safe (even if, in reality, they are). If people don’t feel safe, they won’t bike. Again, the jury is still out on whether wide streets or skinny streets are better for neighborhood greenways. But now that we are trying all kinds, we should definitely study them to see what works best.

      • Chuck says:

        I’m very excited about this! The speed humps will be great at keeping traffic speeds down. If you are unsure you can see examples just north of 105th. They are easy to roll over and don’t feel impeding at all. The stops signs are also a much needed addition.

        I agree that there needs to be improvement/enforcement of the ‘turn-only’ lights at 105th, 85th, and 80th. It is annoying and dangerous to have drivers follow you through these intersections. The short distance between roundabouts and narrow road make for dangerous over-taking from drivers.

      • kevin says:

        It’s somewhat sad that we (as a city) put all of this collective effort into planning a neighborhood greenway and do not even place one physical motor-vehicle diverter in the project:(

        I feel like they really bring the greenways to first-class level in pdx.

      • Chuck says:

        I rode over the current speed humps this morning at 22 MPH on my track bike with no problems. No jarring or uncertainty just a slight lift . Pretty fun actually!

      • Andres says:

        I did a trip to Ballard last night. I went over the speed bumps with a sleeping baby at admittedly much slower speeds (15mph max). Baby stayed asleep. A big thumbs up in my book!

        The crappy pavement on the Burke in Fremont woke him up, though.

  5. the english says:

    I ride this section of Fremont pretty often and I have mostly enjoyed it. Though the biggest concern I have isn’t the traffic that is traveling along Fremont (it is a neighborhood street that isn’t used to avoid traffic or traverse between neighborhood centers), it is from the traffic flow crossing Fremont (east / west traffic). I have had several close calls with drivers that drive too fast and don’t look / are on their phones. These folks seem to be traveling from Aurora to Ballard / Greenwood and are using the neighborhood streets as throughways. None of these (save for stop signs, but I don’t have a lot of faith in that since these folks hardly slow down for traffic circles) really address that cross traffic problem. I am all for making this corridor safer for families and cyclists, I just want to make sure the problem is understood prior to starting the work.

    • Steve Campbell says:

      Agreed. Even though theoretically the traffic circles mean traffic in either direction should slow and yield at the intersections, in practice the east-west drivers always assume nobody would ever be going north-south.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Yeah, the lack of stop signs at the traffic circles is definitely the biggest complaint I hear about this stretch today. The city has been reluctant to install the signs (they consider the circles to be enough), but neighborhood insistence appears to have changed their minds about that.

      Again, we should definitely see if the stop signs are enough. If not, maybe a combo of stop sign and speed hump would work. Or maybe there’s something else.

    • Andres says:

      From the announcement, it looks like they’ll be adding stop signs. That should help with cross traffic. Cars seem to be obeying them on 39th Ave NE, which has very low (car) traffic volumes. However, I have yet to see how drivers react to them when they’re combined with traffic circles.

      I have more faith in stop signs than traffic circles, since car drivers are actually tested on the former. I see lots of drivers who don’t know how to use traffic circles, and hate them.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        There is at least one traffic circle I know of in Madison Valley that also has a stop sign. It seems to work well. Definitely better than all the yield signs we have, which people either don’t understand or don’t take seriously.

      • Gary says:

        Coming off the I-90 trail there are two traffic circles and they are better than the old stop signs which people ran all the time. Yes you have to keep a lookout for cross traffic, yes they don’t work well if traffic is heavy but IMO they beat stop signs where folks just roll through.

      • Andres says:

        ..and when I say “stop signs”, I mean stop signs with stop bars.

    • Al Dimond says:

      Yeah, drivers cut through on the east-west streets to avoid 85th and Northgate Way… 90th is by far the worst, I think 95th is probably second. One of the nice things about Fremont Ave here is that so many of its intersections are 3-ways, so there are only a few side street intersections with true cross-traffic.

  6. Robin Randels says:

    Raised crosswalks at Greenway crossings would necessitate a slowdown by cars and show that the city is serious about slow speeds through the neighborhoods.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I love raised crosswalks! If for no other reason (and there are many), raised crosswalks are great for people with mobility issues or strollers. I have heard that they can get outrageously expensive in Seattle due to the need for drainage, though. But I sure hope the city is still looking into ways to make them work here at a reasonable price.

    • JohnS says:

      Drainage is the single biggest barrier to more pedestrian infrastructure in Seattle. Pretty much anything you do that involves sidewalks or crosswalks, or even curb cuts for strollers, wheelchairs, etc., involves significant costs for drainage.

      The City spends roughly $15 million/year on pedestrian infrastructure. At our current spending rate, it will be decades just to realize the Tier 1 projects on the Pedestrian Master Plan.

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  8. Lisa says:

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/sidewalks/chap4a.cfm

    Scroll down to Fig 4-27. My limited engineering experience suggests that this really should not be that hard. Obviously it wouldn’t be a ramp but would continue as a raised crosswalk.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I hope you’re right. However, with road work, sometimes simple things end up costing unfathomable amounts of money…

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