Mercer Street: King of the Stroad

IMG_0197

As we reported yesterday, the Great Bike Route Wall of Uptown/Lower Queen Anne has finally cracked with the opening of the new protected bikeway on Mercer Street under Aurora.

But the bike lanes are just a small part of a $237 million car-focused remake of the Mercer corridor. It’s got lots of wide lanes and long traffic signal cycles. It is uncomfortable to be around if you not in a car, and it is choked with car traffic. It fails as a people-focused, economy-pumping street, and it fails as a fast-moving, highway-style road. It’s a stroad. A really big and really expensive one.

Though having the ability to cross Aurora is amazing and game-changing for bikeability in the area, the execution of the bike route connections range from OK to terrible. And as we will outline below, the failures were nearly all brought up by the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board back in the planning phase then promptly ignored.

The first thing most people will notice is that the lanes are extremely green. In a way, it’s kind of exciting to see so much green. It screams out, “Look! You can bike here now!”

But the city usually uses green to highlight conflict points and driveways, and the exact opposite is true with this lane. The green disappears at every intersection, where people biking, walking and driving mix together. This sign highlights the confusion (it also only shows a one-way bike lane):

IMG_0194 Essentially every intersection is rather strange. The wide corner radii seem to be designed to encourage high-speed turns for cars at the expense of space and protection for people walking or biking (even 18-wheelers have enough curb room to make easy turns with feet of space to spare). There are big poles at most corners right in the middle of the path to the bike lanes. At best, the poles make the bike lanes feel like an afterthought, at worst they could prove to be hazards.

But the worst problems lie on the ends of the short bike lanes: Well, they end.

On the South Lake Union side east of Dexter (pictured at top), there are eight lanes for general or turning traffic, space for car parking and a new planted median, but no bike lanes (the north sidewalk is wide, at least in places, and will likely see some bike traffic once construction is finally finished).

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 12.26.42 PM

This is intersection is absurdly gigantic.

 

Map from SDOT. Mercer is the one with a million lanes.

Map from SDOT. Blue shows bike lanes, highlighting the awkward connections. Mercer is the street with a million lanes.

The end of the bike lanes at 5th Ave is also very frustrating because there is space on Mercer to simply continue the bike lanes west. This would connect directly to the Uptown business district and the Mercer-facing destinations in Seattle Center, such as the performing arts centers. Crews recently rebuilt many of the sidewalks and curb cuts, which would have been a great time to build a simple, direct, complete and consistent bike connection.

This was a huge missed opportunity, and one brought up by the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board during the planning phase.

People on bikes are instead supposed to move over one block via 5th Ave (or Taylor) to use the paint-only bike lanes on Roy. Not only is this less direct and obvious, but the connection to and from Roy is not comfortable or complete. People heading west have to merge across several lanes on northbound 5th Ave to turn left onto Roy from 5th without even the relative safety of a left turn lane. Yeah right.

People heading east don’t have a clear place to wait at 5th and Mercer for the signal to cross over to the new bike lanes. If you have a small bike, you can try to maneuver onto the sidewalk, hoping there aren’t a bunch of people already there waiting. If you have a big bike or a bunch of kids in tow, well, I don’t really know what you should do.

Facing south on 5th Ave at Mercer. The new bike lanes are to the left, but it's not clear where you should wait if you want to get there.

Facing south on 5th Ave at Mercer. The new bike lanes are to the left, but it’s not clear where you should wait if you want to get there.

The signal timing is also awful, clearly designed to move cars at the expense of everyone else. Once you make it to 5th on the Mercer bikeway, you have to wait for the signal to cross to the northwest corner, then wait again for a pretty long time before crossing to the (not-yet-open) bike lanes on 5th Ave leading to Seattle Center. I timed it, and it can take over three minutes just to get from the northeast corner of the intersection to the southwest corner.

That’s longer than it takes to bike the whole rest of the bike lane, and I observed one person on foot give up waiting and just run for it. It’s well documented that people will stop obeying the walk signal if the wait times are too long. NACTO, an organization of city traffic engineers working on safe urban street design, suggest wait times between 1 and 1.5 minutes for this reason. This intersection is at least double that.

Once you cross Mercer onto southbound 5th Ave, you have to navigate into the crosswalk because there is no direct curb cut to access the bike lanes. Continue a block south and you reach yet another frustrating point: The city and Seattle Public Schools failed to reach a deal to extend the bike lane to the EMP and the Republican St driveway with access into Seattle Center. So for now you are dumped into the middle of a very poorly paved parking lot for Memorial Stadium (SPS property).

The one-block of bike lanes on 5th Ave remains closed for now, but even when it opens it will be sorely incomplete. Yet another bike route dead end.

If I seem to be exceptionally critical of this project, it’s because none of these problems were accidents, and none are surprises. I was at a meeting of the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board way back in November 2011 when the volunteer Board raised essentially all of these issues to project planners and were ignored. Here’s a list of some issues SBAB brought up (via the meeting minutes):

  • Wide corner radii
  • Excessive travel lane width (12-foot lanes are for freeways, not neighborhood streets)
  • Lack of east-west bike routes in South Lake Union
  • Need to make a deal with Seattle Public Schools to extend the 5th Ave lane in front of Memorial Stadium
  • Inadequate space for bike queuing at 5th/Mercer
  • Poles in the bikeway path
  • Need for bike boxes for queuing and turning
  • Need for access to the Gates Foundation campus
  • Concerns about people biking, walking and turning right at Mercer and Taylor at the same time (including a reasonable and simple suggestion to tighten up the curbs to help slow turning cars)
  • Signal wait times for people crossing Mercer
  • Suggested restricting right turns on red, including at Dexter
  • Suggested protected bike lane connection on 5th Ave between Mercer and Roy
  • Concerns the bike connection between Mercer and Roy will be confusing as planned

The citizen advisory boards only work if planners listen to them. SBAB made a general note that it felt like the planners were “shoehorning multi-modal concerns into a $90M project” rather than treating people walking and biking as a central goal of the project (“$90M” refers to the Mercer West budget covering everything west of Dexter).

Basically, planners were willing to put in bike lanes so long as they didn’t in any way get in the way of the road widening and car-throughput goals. This is the single-modal mindset we need to eradicate from our urban transportation thinking if Seattle is ever going to be a safe, multi-modal city.

The Mercer remake was an incredible and rare chance to make a clear and continuous biking connection from South Lake Union to Seattle Center and Midtown/Lower Queen Anne. As welcome as the new crossing under Aurora is, the project as a whole was a huge missed opportunity.

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46 Responses to Mercer Street: King of the Stroad

  1. Josh says:

    A small part in the overall scheme of failure, but that “turning traffic yield to bikes” sign in the second photo is prohibited by Federal law — FHWA testing showed negative safety outcomes in real-world installations; the sign was rejected, any cities that had permission to install them experimentally must remove them.

    http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/knowledge/faqs/faq_part9.htm#signsq2

    • Jonathan Mark says:

      Interesting… I guess on first glance the sign could be read as “go ahead and blast across the bike lane”. And a first glance is all it might get.

    • Kirk says:

      There is a very similar but more erroneous sign on the Ballard Bridge by the Merge of Death.

      • I often yield at the “Merge of death” to cyclists venturing into hostile territory. Per the sign you describe, I’m required to though many road users don’t. I fear watching as somebody dives in front of me to make that turn. I leave plenty of distance to allow for visibility but many road users get positively nutty when they see a bus in front of them.

        I don’t think traffic engineers from the 50’s set out to design a road system for maximum conflict and to induce road rage but if they did, they accomplished their goal. SDOT has a decades long slog ahead of them undoing this mess we call a transportation system. More mistakes will be made – hopefully lessons will be learned.

        Great job Tom on documenting the good, bad, and ugly. I for one am glad Mercer “sucks less”. A lot less.

        (You got one thing wrong. Mercer isn’t really a “Stroad”. It’s actually just a massively over-engineered freeway ramp metering area.)

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        Haha. I suppose that’s a good point. All those lanes are there to store the never-ending traffic jam, kind of like a rain barrel during a Seattle winter. Or perhaps more accurately: Like a giant stormwater runoff tank that we need to build at immense cost because we paved too much of our land area. If we instead caught those raindrops where they fall rather than funneling them into one big car sewer… OK, metaphor is dying.

    • jay says:

      I’m curios just how serious that ” not allowed for use” and “must remove the experimental signs” really is?
      Surely the US Marshals are not going to drag Kubly off to a federal lockup.

      I’d imagine it is more like “follow our guidelines if you want us to give you money”, that might explain the cloak and dagger stuff here: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2015/04/29/city-receives-that-sweet-federal-cash-to-help-build-downtown-bike-lanes-some-other-stuff/
      But it might present a problem for; “It’s not gonna be easy, and we’re gonna need help from the Federal government,” Murray said” http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2015/05/07/murray-announces-plans-for-big-pronto-expansion-at-annual-bike-month-breakfast/

      • Josh says:

        There are no Federal sign police, but yes, it could mean you’re not eligible for Federal aid, you might have to pay back Federal grants you’ve already spent, cities could be liable for injuries or deaths at intersections with noncompliant signs, and judges will throw out tickets for violating signs that weren’t compliant.

        For example, noncompliant wording on signs in Seattle last year got a speeder out of a ticket for driving too fast in a school zone, despite the flashing lights — http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/two-words-get-seattle-man-out-speeding-ticket/ngNmP/

        Realistically, I doubt any city is 100% compliant with the requirements of MUTCD. But Seattle seems to have a policy of flouting the law, it’s not like this is the first time they’ve been told these signs aren’t allowed, or that their “innovative” misuse of markings could be confusing to drivers who are familiar with how the law says markings are supposed to be used.

  2. Josh says:

    In the background behind that Federally-prohibited sign are bike-lane extensions marked with chevrons, another nonstandard marking specifically called out by FHWA as a violation of national standards, prohibited under Federal law which requires compliance with standard markings so that drivers from Oregon know how to drive when they visit Seattle.

    Why does SDOT continually insist on nonstandard markings that confuse many drivers? That use of chevrons isn’t going to be on the driver’s exam, it’s an illegal, nonstandard use. Unless the intent is to confuse drivers who don’t drive this street frequently, why the insistence on nonstandard markings?

    http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/knowledge/faqs/faq_part9.htm#mkgsq7

  3. Andres Salomon says:

    Fantastic post. Thank you for writing this, Tom.

  4. Emily says:

    How on earth is this city claiming to be interest in Vision Zero if they’re building stuff like this? It’s a farce.

  5. Jean Amick says:

    Thank you for writing this.
    SDOT is deaf at times or Bike Advisory Board needs some power if advice ignored. I presented to it in early February about monster hedge creating totally blind NW corner of E Shelby and Montlake Blvd and erroneous striping where curbs cuts don’t match striping there and island in way of bike travel. Nothing has changed there in 3 months time.

    • Virchow says:

      I second this concern. I have had 3 near misses in the last year biking here. I go at a safe-to-pass-peds (or-stop-if-a-car-juts-out) pace which saved my ass. Cars take flying right hooks onto the side streets. The hedge and lack of good curbs is another concern. Also to be fair some bikes go too fast for the location and pedestrians seem oblivious to the high traffic on those sidewalks.

      Tough spot in need of some love before someone (new) gets hurt.

      • Kirk says:

        That’s what everyone has been saying about the Ballard Bridge for at least a decade. Don’t hold your breath for SDOT to fix your problem spot.

  6. Jeff Dubrule says:

    The Mercer project is at least as old as 2008, and initial designs were probably made in 2004ish. I actually had the opportunity to drive on Mercer, while in Seattle on a job interview around then, and I actually remembered encountering a weird road with like 4 lanes going one way and 1 going the other.

    Anyhow, my point is that if this road design represents last-century-thinking, it’s because it was designed very close to the last century. 2011 was waaaaaaay too late for cyclists/pedestrians to get into the game. The goals & overall spirit of the project had long been fixed. All that was left was to pick out the drapes, which is what we got.

    We need to point at Mercer whenever a BS “Complete Street” label is put on a project (“Mercer West involves complete street improvements
    including new roadway, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, curb
    ramps, traffic signals, pedestrian and street lighting and
    updated drainage and utility facilities” http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/TIGERLetters/TIGER%20IV%20Final%20031912.pdf), and call BS every time.

    An excellent place to call more BS would be the giant stroad that will be our “waterfront boulevard”, if Bertha ever actually comes out the other side, which has crossing distances of over 100 feet. http://waterfrontseattle.org/Media/Default/pdfs/design/WFS_Main_Corridor_SchematicDesignReport_1.5.pdf

    • Mike says:

      At least SF’s waterfront boulevard, created under similar circumstances, has a really sweet streetcar in the middle. Too bad we got a big tunnel and stroad.

    • Brad Hawkins says:

      So funny that you mention that this represents last century thinking. The 2004 master plan had bicycle lanes going both ways on Mercer street from Dexter to Elliott. Those plans have been scuttled.

    • Mike Lindblom says:

      That’s a wise observation by Jeff –

      The megaprojects take so long to plan and build, they’re obsolete when they open. Tom knows the bicycling better than I do, but on the car side of the equation, you have to ask why SDOT allows 10-hour parking on new Mercer, when that space would be ideal for private employee buses, and cab loading zones?
      You also could recognize, as we did in the newspaper, that the new parking on new Valley Street is already scheduled to be replaced in 2017 by a safer bike lane. Because of this planning and cultural lag time, SDOT only engineered for a couple paint stripes on a 2014 roadway that is touted to be the calmer alternative to Mercer.
      In the late ’00s, I remember some urbanists and planners embraced on-street parking as a way to make streets “vibrant,” because rolling traffic would be farther away from people on the sidewalk. The momentum is swinging now to transit (Madison, First Avenue) or bike lanes.
      The silver lining here is, a lot of what Tom criticizes can be fixed, maybe by the next administration. They certainly could extend the new green lane from 5th Avenue North to Queen Anne Avenue, for instance.

  7. Conrad says:

    Great article. It is a bummer to see the scarce dollars for bicycle projects misused like this. The only reason designs like this work on a street like Dexter is that there is very little traffic crossing. On a street like Mercer it is a disaster. If my 8 year old can not safely ride on the street, it fails as bicycle infrastructure. A strong and confident cyclist will just take the lane as before. The crux of the issue is this and it has been said many times before: A protected bike lane has to be protected at the intersection too, or else it is worthless.

    • Kirk says:

      “If my 8 year old can not (sic) safely ride on the street, it fails as bicycle infrastructure.”

      I used to think this too, but now am questioning this idea. Personally, I need bicycle infrastructure that makes bicycling safe for transportation and creates a linked network. I don’t necessarily need a cycle path designed for an 8 year old. I am fine with a painted bike lane that is not in a door zone. These types of improvements can be done quite cheaply and satisfy the needs of a lot of people that want to use a bicycle for transportation.

      I certainly support a wide range of bicycle infrastructure, including safe bicycle routes to schools and beyond for 8 year olds. But I don’t think every piece of infrastructure needs to pass the 8 year old test.

  8. Brad Hawkins says:

    I decided to ride westbound up the new Mercer bike path and as I got to Taylor, I was nearly right hooked by a turning SPD cruiser. I had a green bike lane light, so this is a very different protocol from the 2nd Ave Bike path. I nearly laughed out loud at how poorly designed this traffic furniture is. Next, I really haven’t figured out how I’m supposed to get from east bound Mercer ST. at 5th N onto the bike path going eastbound and I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to get to Amazon or SLU park once I quarantine myself onto this sidewalk. It’s much safer to take the lane all the way down and this is how I do it, even with my kids on their own bikes. We have tried to use Roy but on anything approaching rush hour, people use Roy as a high speed cutoff route to get further down Mercer so the undulating and often quite narrow bike lane on Roy is cold comfort.

    However, I as a long time resident of LQA, this is still much better than riding along the 3 ft wide Broad street underpass with 50mph traffic honking their horns or revving their engines in order to scare me. It’s also better than the 2.75 ft sidewalk that used to exist on Mercer. We take our crumbs that fall off the table and are supposed to be thankful I guess.

    The best part was yesterday when my son and I were playing with a ball on the sidewalk on Mercer. Yes, this is a thing. The ball flew out of my son’s hands and into the street. It was run over by not one but two cars who never stopped to see what they had run over. As I tried to stop traffic to retrieve the ball, I was honked at by the third or fourth car in the line to “get out of the road”. Apparently, having just come from a 7 lane expressway on Elliott, and heading toward a 7 lane expressway on Mercer, they didn’t look up from their phones to make it through the LQA business core without hitting something, or even stopping once they had.

    Mercer street is the real Seattle.

  9. Josh says:

    Just speculating, but since the sidepath is essentially part of the sidewalk (no grade separation, curb, or barrier of any sort), is the green hazard paint perhaps intended to warn pedestrians who have to walk through traffic to get to the curb?

    With the sight distances and terrain, it’s reasonable to expect bicycle traffic over 20 mph along there, which makes the potential for bike/ped collisions a serious issue.

    • Mark Shoaf says:

      You can see from the video that Tom posted that the interaction between high speed cyclist and pedestrian exists. The green paint clearly is meant as a signal to the pedestrians. The slight elevation difference is another indicator that the surfaces aren’t the same. Those are reasonable designs similar to what you see in civilized parts of the world.

    • Capitol Hillian says:

      The green paint was actually a mistake by the contractor. But I actually like it as it does scream “you can bike here next to this goliath highway”

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        I don’t mind the green paint that is there so much as the fact it disappears when you actually need it most: The intersections.

        I think the green paint might help keep people on foot out of the bike lane, which is good because people biking can pick up decent speed on the downhills. In many places in Europe, the entirety of bike lanes are a different color (usually red, but in the US we use green). In fact, they often pave bike lanes with red asphalt rather than repainting them all the time. Anyone know of a company in the area that makes green asphalt? :-)

      • Josh says:

        For sidewalks and heavily-used city streets, it’s actually really easy to color the concrete before pouring — UV-stable colors that go all the way through the slab, with no impact on traction on wet days. But it’s more permanent than surface paint, and has to be in the plan when you pour the concrete.

        http://www.directcolors.com/concrete-pigments/concrete-pigment-color-chart/

      • Josh says:

        Special infrastructure requires both education and enforcement to function.

        Seattle has a very poor record of both education and enforcement for the infrastructure we already have.

        Extremely visible infrastructure may encourage more voluntary compliance by those who care, but that still depends on people understanding what they’re supposed to do on that infrastructure, I’m not sure visible = obvious.

        Beyond that, there’s actually nothing in city code that says pedestrians can’t or shouldn’t walk on sidewalks that are painted green — until the City Council recognizes cycletracks in SMC, they’re purely advisory anyway.

    • Brock says:

      You are correct. It’s green to distinguish the bike path from the sidewalk. But it remains very unusual. The Alki Bike Path isn’t green, and the bike path through UW’s campus isn’t green (on the newest portion of the BGT where bikes & peds are segregated by a “rolled curb” and different materials). The Mercer bike path should’ve been asphalt, and the intersections should’ve had skipped green paint.

      • Josh says:

        Consistency isn’t something SDOT seems to do well when it comes to bicycle facilities.

        SDOT’s own guidance for bicycle facilities asks “What does the green mean?” and says “Green pavement highlights areas where bicycles and cars cross paths. The green pavement alerts both drivers and bicyclists to pay extra attention.”

        http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikefacilities.htm

  10. RDPence says:

    My take on the new Mercer Street is from an urban design perspective. It Is Just So Huge. It’s a visual and functional barrier between the lake and the SLU urban redevelopment area. They had to put pushbuttons in the median for the crossing lights, since it’s so hard for pedestrians to cross the entire street on one Walk light. Mercer is a Fail on so many levels.

  11. Bruce Nourish says:

    The 5th Ave N one-block dead-end is frustrating, but even more frustrating is the reason: Seattle Public Schools didn’t want to sell the necessary strip of property to SDOT. They want the revenue from the ~20 spaces of surface parking they would lose. If it weren’t for the obstructionism of SPS, we’d have a cycletrack down to Thomas. At least from Thomas you can ride west through Seattle Center to Uptown and the waterfront, or east to Taylor and then south into Belltown via a quiet street. But 5th/Republican is a complete wasteland for bikes.

  12. ben says:

    Seems like status quo here, screw bicyclist and pedestrians.

  13. Brad Hawkins says:

    So I’ve driven this route more than a few times and one thing I’ve also noticed is that the lights are times for 45mph from Boren Warren on Mercer, and 32mph from Warren to 3rd West. Apparently, the ideal flow of traffic is nearly highway speed. You ask me how I know this? Why, I’ve driven those speeds because the lights are obviously timed that way. Everyone is picking up on it and during off hours, the speeds go up substantially.

    Light timing is a policy decision made by SDOT. You can get more auto throughput if you time the lights for 14mph like they do in Portland because the cars can drive closer together. It’s also safer for pedestrians, but SDOT wants a freeway.

  14. Dan-O says:

    I’ve lived in Lower Queen Anne for nearly five years and used to commute by bus before switching to bicycle commuting in 2011, which I have enjoyed, broken arm notwithstanding. I have family and friends on the east side Kirkland to Woodinville areas that I will see during the week and on weekends. As a gearhead through and through, that has expanded from cars to bikes. It has also allowed me to see Mercer and street planning through both lenses.

    I have also in my short time, experienced the last five years of Mercer’s transformation with all the closures and clog-ups in and around it. So we’re going for multi-modal transportation, as in my view, all must be considered and weighed against current needs and future plans. And it looks like many very valid concerns and needs were brought up. Striking a balance is hard, and often just sucks, especially when not-too-odd ideas are turned down.

    It is really nice to zip from I-5 to LQA (and vice-versa)…at 10 PM or later when there’s no traffic. The city added more lights to Mercer and more lights closer together, which is an absolute timing and flow-of-traffic disaster. And I experience it every time I need to get to the east side by or around 7 PM. So from a car guy and car flow standpoint, New Mercer eastbound is not an improvement. It almost seems worse (probably is). If part of the goal, especially with all the new Amazon and whatever buildings being built up (like traffic would ever get better with more business presence???), was to get cars in in the morning and get them the heck out in the afternoon, it was DOA before the first jackhammer broke pavement. I think they could have done a double deck setup, having a boat load of space on either level to make a very spacious and protected bike path. Or perhaps stripe in another lane?

    I understand there are people’s agendas or wishes (to be euphemistic) to do away with or at the very least drastically lessen cars in the city (or anywhere in the world) and we all know that simply isn’t going to happen. So I understand that a double deck solution would appear too much as a shrine to the automobile in people’s eyes even if, like our own homes, utilization of vertical space is pretty helpful in smaller dwellings. But hey, I looked at Star Wars and Coruscant (the city planet) with elevated travel lanes and thought that looked pretty flippin’ sweet.

    Why not an elevated bike path? Or bike and walk path? Not terribly expensive as bikes and people are light weight and it simply gets a lot of people out of the others’ way. Yes we would have to make access ramps/points but that can be done elegantly. And maybe all this was suggested, so pardon my ignorance.

    Mercer as a Stroad is daunting and 5th and Mercer is a massive and massively frustrating intersection with its very long wait times and often standstill traffic at freaking 6:00 PM. Denny is also a nightmare. Now that the weather is warmer and for longer, I will most likely bicycle to the Bothell area from downtown Seattle as it will allow me to be 20 minutes early for a 7:00 PM event rather than 10-20 minutes late…go figure. I like to drive for many reasons, but the frustration isn’t worth it in these sorts of situations, so I’m not going to force it. All this pretty construction means we probably won’t be seeing change for quite some time. For now, I take 4th north out of downtown for home/LQA/Magnolia travels and 6th–>Dexter for Fremont/Burke-Gilman trail to the north end of Lake Washington.

    • Andres Salomon says:

      “I understand there are people’s agendas or wishes (to be euphemistic) to do away with or at the very least drastically lessen cars in the city (or anywhere in the world) and we all know that simply isn’t going to happen.”

      We do?

      We’ve gone from 50% single occupant vehicle commuting rates to 31% downtown in 15 years*. In what universe does driving downtown even make sense, other than driving a bus, vanpool, or delivery truck? As we add thousands of more people to the city, how do we allow them to drive downtown?

      Cars don’t have a future downtown. In the rest of the city, a huge reduction in car use is a harder task, but it’s certainly possible. Downtown and adjacent neighborhoods like SLU, though? We’re already well on our way.

      * http://seattletransitblog.com/2015/02/25/just-31-of-downtown-workers-drive-alone/

  15. Law Abider says:

    “Excessive travel lane width (12-foot lanes are for freeways, not neighborhood streets)”

    Except that this is not a neighborhood street, it’s an arterial; and a major, freight mobility arterial at that.

    • Jeremy says:

      So knock it down to two lanes and put in some congestion fees to keep the car sitters at a suitably dull roar, and the paucity of real, actual freight would still be mobile. More mobile, given the lack of cars. Or I guess double down and spend a lot of millions (and doubtless many more) so folks can sit around at the traffic lights while I proactively ford the sewer (they call this jaywalking), having become bored with making the “wait!” “wait!” beg button loop back over itself by pressing it a lot.

      • Law Abider says:

        Why don’t you run for City Council with that idea as a platform. See how many people (1) take you seriously and (2) vote for you.

        If you get elected and get your idea implemented, I will eat my helmet.

  16. Brad Hawkins says:

    The only upside to this travesty is if we can get some super high residential towers in the blocks from Dexter to Fairview, north of Mercer. Then we could actually put transit in there besides the cute little train set and all those people would necessitate shops and walking and light timing changes down to 14mph.

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  22. Jeralee says:

    Hi, you asked that I read this article and comment on it. I am not personally embedded in the bike-ability details of the Mercer Corridor and do not personally bike downtown so perhaps am not adequately empathetic. My organization has been following this project since 2009, including the east phase. The general sense of what you are saying above is 1) it’s awesome to have new bike connections and some protection for bikes here in the Mercer Corridor 2) it is not enough/not what you wanted/could have been done better. It sounds like you participated actively as a member of the community – props to you for this. While I don’t have a solution for you to item #2 in light of item #1, I can say with certainty that bicycles were integrated into this project in a way that was context sensitive, and were given more consideration than most other average projects. This is a small victory, I think, for the bike community, and if you are an active participant in your own community, it’s probably part of the reason for that. This is a great example of a lessons learned and Mercer’s long term operational performance will probably be a conversation in the professional and technical community of engineers and public works for a long time to come. Sometimes performance and design intent don’t always align, and even the best intentions. At Greenroads, we are able to support these types of projects (stroads or not – awesome term by the way) that do measurably go above and beyond the status quo for design and construction. I’m pretty sure you’d be less happy with what used to be there, and there are plenty of drivers, freight vehicles and businesses, that are happier also but maybe not all win-win-win. But you’re right, we have a long way to go. Consider this next time – the green building industry started back nearly 1/4 century ago, and we started only about 5 years ago. Give us some time to help and we’ll hopefully be able to share some great stories in the future about fantastically bikeable corridors, or stroads or whatever, right here in our home state, or maybe even internationally. Cheers.

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