Plans to extend Broadway Bikeway moving forward, open house Tuesday

10428131_859075340786964_3437990401420170746_oThe biggest complaint I hear about the city’s new protected bike lanes on Broadway is the most obvious one: They end abruptly at Denny Way just south of the northern Brodaway commercial area.

Well, the city is still moving forward on plans to extend the bikeway (and the streetcar) at least as far as E Roy Street and perhaps as far at E Prospect Street. You can check out the progress and give your thoughts at an open house Tuesday, 6 – 8 p.m. at Lowell Elementary School.

While a lot of the focus (and price tag) will be on the streetcar portion of the project, we are mostly interested in the bikeway. This is a chance to have protected bike lanes along the entire bustling commercial stretch of Broadway through Capitol Hill, First Hill and Yesler Terrace. This is a big deal, and is definitely the city’s most ambitious complete streets project to-date.

It is also a chance to address the problematic switch-over process at Denny Way that, while currently exacerbated by light rail station construction, will likely be a problem until the bikeway is extended.

As of last year’s technical report on the extension, the plans for the section between Denny and Roy is fairly straight-forward: Extend the current two-way bikeway in a similar fashion to the stretch that already exists. That certainly seems wise and makes sense. It would look something like this:

Broadway Extension Option 1However, things get tricky when transitioning from Broadway to 10th Ave E at Roy. The design and use of 10th Ave is a bit different from Broadway, and the roadway width gets a bit skinnier once you get to Prospect. As of last year, plans were for paint-only bike lanes squeezed between parked cars and the streetcar tracks.

20140130BSEDesignReportTechnicalReportattachments-royWe argued these plans were inadequate and that planners should include protected bike lanes at least as far as the project terminus. Indeed, the Bike Master Plan update approved earlier this year recommends protected bike lanes on the entire stretch of 10th Ave between Roy and Roanoke Park, meeting up with the planned 520 Bridge Trail to the Eastside. Imagine biking from the heart of Capitol Hill all the way to the eastside of Lake Washington using only protected bike facilities. It would be nothing short of a regional mobility game-changer.

Switching from the two-way bikeway to two one-way bike lanes at 10th and Roy probably does make sense, especially since the long downhill on 10th Ave would likely be more comfortable without counter-flow bike traffic heading up the hill. But paint-only bike lanes squeezed between the parked car door zone and wheel-grabbing streetcar tracks are not good enough.

I can’t say for sure exactly what the best solution is, but here are some sketches we threw together using Streetmix to show what 10th Ave could look like and get those creative juices flowing (the car lanes with hash marks are for parking):

10th-ave-e-sbb-option-110th-ave-e-sbb-option-turn10th-ave-e-sbb-option-station10th-ave-e-sbb-option-520-prospect-1Best case scenario, the city finds funding to both build the streetcar extension on schedule (the bikeway could be complete by early 2016) and to extend the protected bike lanes all the way to Roanoke Park. But at the very least, the city should know how they intend to connect the bike lanes to Roanoke so they can design the streetcar terminus to fit those future plans. Designing the streetcar without room for protected bike lanes would be an awful and expensive mistake.

For more on the $25 million project, see coverage at Capitol Hill Seattle.

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8 Responses to Plans to extend Broadway Bikeway moving forward, open house Tuesday

  1. Rich says:

    The problem with two way cycle tracks is that they will always abruptly end somewhere. Hard to avoid the need for a complicated maneuver to get to the other side of the street just to keep going in the same direction. Not so bad on a lightly travelled street, but a hassle on Broadway/10th wherever the cycle track ends.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I agree, Rich. But that ship has sailed, since Broadway is pretty much committed to the two-way lanes. Roy seems like a logical point to transition from two-way to one-way. Early plans showed a new signal where the street curves at 10th/Roy, and that’s as good a place to transition as any (see above). That’s why my suggestions included one-way lanes.

      Seattle does not yet have any good examples of one-way protected bike lanes, so it’s hard for people to have an idea of the benefits vs two-way. I hope that changes soon.

    • DB says:

      Portland has used diagonal signalized crossings for these types of situations and they work really well.

  2. Andres Salomon says:

    You’ve already got a signal at the intersection of Broadway & E Roy. You could have the north-bound protected bike lane continue through on the east side of the street, and the south-bound protected bike lane ends (or begins, depending on your prospective) at the northeast crosswalk. Bikes use the crosswalk during the walk phase at the signal. Ideally, the walk phase is protected from turning cars with a red light and a no-right-on-red.

    Another option is to end at E Roy & 10th Ave E. Turn the 3-way intersection of E Roy, (arterial) 10th Ave E, and (residential) 10th Ave E into a straight-through by blocking off (residential) 10th Ave E. That becomes a dead-end for cars, but bicycles and peds can get through (one could imagine this becoming a nice transition onto the greenway planned for Federal). The north-bound part of the 2-way bike lane continues on the east side of the street. The south-bound part of the 2-way bike lane ends in a crosswalk, which is protected by a half-signal or something similar. Bikes cross in the (essentially mid-block) crosswalk when given a walk signal.

    My second option is more appealing, as there would be no turning conflicts whatsoever. It would also be a good greenway transition point, for those who would prefer to take that instead. The dead-end could also become a nice green space, or an outdoor seating area, art exhibit etc. That said, it’s probably the more expensive option (unless Seattle figures out how to do it cheaply – a $70k RRFB for crossing, and $20k for a dead-end using bollards, planters, trees, or rain garden/SPU money. Then it might be cheaper than reworking the signal in the first option.

  3. Joseph Singer says:

    Actually the bikeway only goes to East Howell St. The block between East Howell and E. Denny Way was torn up as soon as the bikeway was built. At least it provided jobs for someone while it was being built and again provided jobs for someone to tear it up later.

  4. Josh says:

    The BMP Update also mandates that new facilities meet local, state, and national minimum safety standards, so a simple extension of what was done before might be problematic… The existing Broadway path doesn’t comply with state law, WSDOT or AASHTO standards, etc.

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