Here are the projects at the top of the city’s Bike Plan to-do list

BMP Implementation Plan 2015-mapSo, Seattle passed a 20-year Bike Master Plan. Now what?

Well, SDOT planners need to figure out which projects rise to the top of the priority list. The city has released its delayed Bike Master Plan Implementation Plan (AKA the Bike Plan Plan). This document runs the Master Plan through a prioritization framework that weighs segments based on these criteria:

  • Safety – 40 points
  • Connectivity – 25 points
  • Equity – 20 points
  • Ridership – 10 points
  • Livability – 5 points

The result is a list mostly made up of protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways. For example, the plan includes 7.1 miles of protected bike lanes and 12.1 miles of neighborhood greenways in 2015.

However, the biggest limit to implementing the plan is, of course, funding. And with the Bridging the Gap property tax levy scheduled to expire at the end of 2015, the Bike Plan Plan has to assume that there will not be a new source of transportation funding to replace or expand on it. So the budget lines (and, therefore, bike facility miles) for 2016 through 2019 are very underwhelming.

BMP Implementation Plan 2015-2019-tableYou will be hearing a lot about city efforts to replace Bridging the Gap over the next year, so stay tuned and get ready to get involved. It’s not clear what exactly that funding measure will look like, but it’s a great chance to make the bold investments in the Bike Plan that the city needs.

Funding aside, there are some peculiar outcomes from the prioritization process. For example, a North Rainier Ave protected bike lane (connecting Rainier Valley neighborhoods to the city center) does not make the cut over the next five years. Neither does the Ballard Bridge. Some lower priority projects make the list largely because other work (like a repaving project) provides the opportunity to leverage funds and get it done sooner.

But the plan does present a bold list of projects for 2015, including protected bike lanes on Dearborn Street, the south end or Rainier Ave and on Roosevelt from the University Bridge to N 45th in addition to planned neighborhood greenways in West Seattle, Central Seattle, Rainier Valley and Ballard. 2015 will also have a heavy focus on getting design work and plans ready for a big downtown protected bike lane push in 2016.

Here’s what the city’s bike network could look like by the end of 2019 if there are no big changes to the city’s funding capability:

BMP Implementation Plan 2019-map

You can check out SDOT’s full Bike Plan Plan below. The City Council would like to hear your thoughts on it, so email council@seattle.gov and, of course, let us know in the comments below.

BMP Implementation Plan 2015-2019 by tfooq

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25 Responses to Here are the projects at the top of the city’s Bike Plan to-do list

  1. steve says:

    Tom: Can you clarify for those of us who have not closely followed this process? What is meant by “Rainier Valley Safety Corridor Study?” Does that mean action (things already identified that need to be done, like altering signal timing on Rainier) is still years off?

  2. Kirk says:

    Yes, peculiar prioritization indeed. In the lead up to the updated BMP, SDOT conducted a survey of the citizens of Seattle. The survey results included which location the citizens thought was the worst place to bicycle in Seattle, and the crossing that the citizens most wanted to have improved – the Ballard Bridge. SDOT continues to do nothing to improve the Ballard Bridge, less than nothing if you want to discuss the recent “signs in the sidewalk” debacle. And SDOT has nothing, not one thing, in the implementation plan to improve the Ballard Bridge. All they’ve done so far is spent money to study sidewalk widening, and in the mean time, allowed the extremely unsafe conditions to continue. Widening the sidewalks in the future would be great, but the bridge is seriously unsafe right now, and many things could be done outside of widening the lanes to improve it. Is safety is the top priority of SDOT, they need to prove it and get to work on improving the conditions for bicycling over the Ballard Bridge.

    • jay says:

      Would you happen to have a link to that survey? I’m curious what the actual questions were. Off hand I too can’t think of anyplace worse to cycle than the Ballard bridge. However, considering the enormous cost of doing anything really significant about it, I wouldn’t consider it a very high priority for change. (though a railing does seem like the least they should have done a long time ago)

      Remember the fuss about the street car tracks on Westlake, people got injured, tried to sue the city, city said, hey, Westlake is a dangerous place to bike so you shouldn’t ride there! (doesn’t matter if the tracks are what made it dangerous, it’s dangerous now so you should leave)

      How many people bike over the Ballard bridge? where do they come from, go to? I only occasionally need/want to go from interbay to Ballard , so the extra distance to go to the Fremont bridge is not a big deal for me. I’m usually going to Trader Joe’s, almost right next to the bridge, but still, when coming up 15th I turn right at Nickerson and go through Fremont. If I was doing it every day it might be more of an issue, but still, the cost can’t be ignored. The widening options would likely approach 1/3 of the total 5 year, 84.8 miles (underfunded) BMP budget, so again, how many bicyclists cross the Ballard bridge?

      • Kirk says:

        “The online mapping tool asked people to show exactly where they think the worst places to ride a bike are – both along the roadway and at specific intersections and crossings.
        The top locations identified in the online mapping tool are shown on page 28. The top crossing location barrier was the Ballard Bridge, which was also referenced in numerous comments. ”
        http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/bmp/919Public%20Engagement%20Summary%20Report2.pdf
        How many people ride the Ballard Bridge? Far, far fewer than if the bridge was safe. In the Ballard Urban Village, density is increasing rapidly.
        It seems to be widely assumed that making the Ballard Bridge more safe must involve widening the sidewalks. While that would be nice and should be planned for, there are many safety hazards that can and should be corrected now. These much needed safety improvements are actually not expensive.
        The Ballard Way intersection should be redesigned to eliminate the pervasive running of the stop sign.
        The railing pilasters that jut out on the bridge’s sidewalks should be shaved; catching a handle bar on one can be fatal, as it was for Terry McMacken.
        The “merge of death” on the south end of the bridge should be replaced by an underpass trail of Emmerson, and in the short term signage and pavement markings should be improved. A stop line in the curb lane and “curb lane stop for bicycles entering roadway” sign should be added.
        The sidewalk approaching the “merge of death” is heaved and heavily potholed and should be fixed.
        The northbound approach to the bridge from the Dravus “freeway on ramp” should be changed to a BAT lane as most of 15th W/NW is. The southbound third lane through Interbay should also be made a BAT lane.
        The northbound (east) sidewalk on the bridge is heavily potholed just past the entrance.
        A physical barrier atop the curb for the length of the bridge on both sides would prevent cyclists from falling into traffic, and would have saved Terry McMacken’s life.
        A very short bike lane on Nickerson to and from the Ship Canal Trail would greatly improve access to and from the bridge for those using the trail.

        These many low cost improvements should be done now, while an actual long term solution needs to be planned for. The narrowness of the sidewalks isn’t much of a safety issue compared to the issues noted above, slowing and stopping to pass on the bridge’s sidewalks is quite safe. In the two years since the poll was taken, SDOT has done nothing to improve the Ballard Bridge for cyclists. And now with the implementation plan, they aren’t planning to do anything for the next five years. If SDOT’s top priority is safety, they are clearly missing the mark on the Ballard Bridge. I wonder why SDOT bothers to do the research with polls like this, if they are just going to ignore the findings and desires of the citizens of Seattle.

  3. Cheif says:

    With the glaring omission of improvements to the ballard bridge it can now be said with certainty that the lunatics aren’t just running the asylum, they’re ruling it with an iron fist.

  4. Porch says:

    Rainier Valley secession and guerrilla traffic calming actions begin now. Speed bumps to arrive soon with a few sand bags and community shovel-ins. Paintball citations for the sides-of-cars running reds. Why wait for SDOT? Their priorities have been and always will be with the white-washed north.

    • Andres Salomon says:

      Blaming “the white-washed north” for starving funds from the rest of the city in this plan is misguided. Northgate? Maple Leaf? Lake City? Outside of UDistrict and with a few notable exceptions, NE Seattle is not seeing improvements in the next 5 years. Of those exceptions, we fought hard for them (a greenway on NE 68th in which we got a grant to cover the cost of an intersection improvement, and a protected bike lane on a route that we did some semi-guerilla actions on – http://seattlegreenways.org/blog/2014/09/28/re-engineering-a-safety-corridor-on-parking-day/ ).

      NW looks a little better (looks like around the same amount as SE Seattle), but the lion’s share of improvements in this plan are not happening in the north. They’re downtown (that is a LOT of protected bike lanes), and they’re in central district.

      And personally, I’m okay with that. Obviously, I’d like more improvements in the NE… However, improvements downtown and in central district are ones that we’ll probably *ALL* use. It make sense to focus there first.

    • doug says:

      What are you talking about? Just glancing at the map tells me that the vast majority of improvements are going in the Central Area. Far more is prioritized in the Rainier Valley than my own very white neighborhood of Wallingford. I’d personally love to see Greenlake Way between Aurora and 50th completely redone, as it is a serious barrier to any foot or bike traffic to the north.

      • jonathan says:

        Yes, Greenlake Way between 50th and Aurora is a total mess: speeding encouraged by excess lane capacity; no reasonable pedestrian linkage between homes west of Greenlake and the Wallingford business district (previous crossings were taken out because of speeding); and poor quality of the roadway is both noisy and difficult to bike. Tear it up, start over and prioritize ped/bike safety, not the weekend car warriors screaming down Greenlake on their way to drunk kickball.

  5. Al Dimond says:

    I wrote a bit on high-level impressions of the plan.

    I’ve been pretty consistent in my position that the biggest and most urgent gap in Seattle’s bike network lies directly south of downtown, so I’m glad to see the plan address getting to the north end of the SODO trail and then getting south from there to Georgetown, even if it relies on existing streets instead of a new bridge over the railyard. Both sidewalks on the Argo Bridge are already wider than many high-volume bike routes in Seattle, and though changes are needed at the south end of the bridge, that’s something that can be done cheaper and faster than establishing totally new route and building a new bridge. But I have a couple nits to pick. First, I’d like to hear of a remotely plausible route between 6th/Spokane and Airport/Spokane — these days I jog from 6th to Airport on Alaska, and though I can understand avoiding 6th south of Spokane for a permanent facility because of truck parking and movements there, if the jog at Spokane isn’t well designed it could sink the whole route. Second, it would make more sense to start at the south end of the corridor, from where Tukwila’s new bike lanes (and older sidewalks) end through the south entrance to the airport. A few relatively quick improvements (the stretch from the Tukwila border to the airport’s south entrance is kind of long but has few intersections to complicate things) could complete a route good enough for adult commuters from downtown Seattle all the way to Tukwila really quickly. The current plan is more SODO-Trail-esque, creating a trail that is itself really widely usable, but that you have to be pretty fearless to get to, and will have little impact until 2018.

    • Doug Bostrom says:

      OT but how is it possible I did not notice until now that Al Dimond has a blog? Dang; there goes another 15 minutes/day. :-)

    • Andres Salomon says:

      I love your analysis. That was actually really valuable; I had completely missed that the NE 75th road diet extension was completely gone from the plan. I was told it was to be done in 2014 (5th Ave NE to 15th Ave NE, and 35th Ave NE to 39th Ave NE). Then, in the BMP implementation plan that was handed out to Seattle’s Bicycle Advisory Board in September, it was listed as “study 2015”. Now in the latest BMP implementation plan, it’s just gone. I’m hoping that’s just an oversight.. I’ll put an email out to SDOT to get more info.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        SDOT says that it’s still in the works, just not as part of the BMP. It’s part of their Safety Program instead (which makes much more sense to me; it’s not AAA bike infrastructure). Hoping to start outreach in late 2014 and implement in spring/summer 2015.

  6. anthony says:

    Utah, Utah, Utah.

    I have said it many times over the years, the City fails again and again. That street was ours for a long time until this malfeasance of city politics gave it away to a large corporation.

    This city won’t ever do anything to the Ballard Bridge until either a major death of several motorists happens at the hands of cyclists, or some UFO flies down and decides we need a bunch of politicians who should ride bikes and actually deal with the messes they create. OK, I take that back, maybe a pro-sports team located in Interbay might help more instead.

    Everyone on the list needs to understand the City only does these projects to look better, PR is the name of the game. That is the only reason for this, they do not care about us, period.

  7. Heather McAuliffe says:

    I would like to see the southbound, steepest section of Fremont Ave N. (N. 36th to N. 42nd) get safer. It is the least favorite part of my commute to work, because I feel so vulnerable biking next to the parked cars, being passed by fast cyclists, and negotiating the awkward intersection at N. 39th, which requires some serious caution. I believe that the parked cars block visibility and add to the danger. I don’t have a problem with having parked cars on northbound Fremont, because traveling uphill is so much slower. I think that the city needs to get serious about coping with the downhill sections and making them safer.

    • Al Dimond says:

      I used to ride that every day when I lived in upper Fremont… it worked fine for me, taking the lane most of the time, and using the bike lane (but riding the brakes pretty hard) when traffic was backed up. That isn’t the solution for everyone, but it might be that there just isn’t a solution for everyone on urban arterial downhills that steep. If there is such a solution I haven’t seen it anywhere. The danger in building up any speed far-right isn’t just about dooring, but also about cross streets and driveways — if you have a good feel for braking distance and sightlines and a strong stomach ride the new-ish bike lanes on NE 75th for a good example of this.

      To me, the solution to Fremont Ave above 36th is:

      1. A greenway route bypassing it for riders from upper Fremont and Phinney Ridge that don’t want to descend fast. Coming from the north that’s something like 42nd-1st-41st (a short jog)-1st-40th-2nd-Bowdoin-Greenwood… then routes will vary by destination, many would need some arterial crossing improvements.

      2. Wayfinding and other improvements for routes that avoid Fremont Ave. For people going places in upper Fremont or the very top of Phinney Ridge, Fremont Ave is the least-crazy climb and thus the natural route. For most others (including anyone going farther north than 77th or so) it’s probably easier to trade directness for an easier grade on either Stone Way or 8th Ave NW (or maybe 6th). Those routes all could use a bit of work in places, but I think they’re a little easier to work with.

      • Heather McAuliffe says:

        I think the parked cars block the visibility and make for a second hazard to watch for, besides the passing traffic. I live east of Fremont Ave, so going as far west as you suggested is a very large meander, actually.

  8. poncho says:

    We need to focus on closing the gaps and connecting the existing quality 8-80 routes with each other, so there is a continuous network of routes most people feel comfortable riding on.

  9. Alex says:

    In the Catalyst Projects section on page 17 it lists S Holgate St across I-5 as being implemented in 2016, however this doesn’t show up on any of their maps.

    Tomorrow SDOT will start construction on improving pedestrian/cycling facilities on Beacon Ave S from 14th Ave S to right before S Holgate St. Considering that the BMP calls for merely “In street, minor separation” for the harrowing stretch of Holgate going over I-5, is it really that hard to extend the Beacon Ave S project just a little bit further and restripe Holgate while they’re at it?

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  11. RossB says:

    I have mixed feeling about N 130th, north of Haller Lake. It is quite possible that Sound Transit will add a station at 130th and Roosevelt (next to the freeway). This would greatly increase the bus traffic along here. Given the already congested area, I think you would be asking for trouble if you try and do too much here. On the one hand, if there is a train station here, then bikes need a good way to get to it. On the other hand, the whole purpose of the station is to allow buses (coming from Lake City or Bitterlake) to interact quickly with the light rail. I’m not sure how you do that well and provide adequate protection for bikes.

    I would suggest the nearest I-5 crossing alternative, which is to the south, at 117th. This is a pedestrian/bike only crossing. This could be improved without too much money, and the impact would be on a minor street, not 130th. To the east this means improving the area close to Haller Lake, which greatly needs improving. You have the possibility of improving Ashworth (which would require only a little bit of work) or Stone Way (which would require more) so that either street would become a bike/pedestrian only pathway. Crossing Aurora would occur on 125th, which is much quieter than 130th (but still has a traffic light).

    To the east of I-5, 115th could become a bike pathway. Add a traffic light on 5th and 15th (which don’t have them) while leveraging the streets (Pinehurst, Lake City Way) that do. Work would be done to make the street more quiet, which would be welcome by most people. It isn’t an arterial, yet people treat it that way. I could see simply blocking the street (to car traffic) in some cases, as is done on Capitol Hill. Again, this is a residential street, so anyone who is miffed about the changes shouldn’t be driving that fast along there anyway.

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