It’s well past time to build safe bike lanes on Eastlake Ave

RDHCTExistingConditionsReport 11515-bike collisions

Map of 2010-2014 collisions from the project’s draft existing conditions report (PDF)

Eastlake Ave is a white knuckle bike ride. Even though it’s also the only reasonably flat street that directly connects the city center to the University Bridge, there are no bike lanes. Instead, people have to try to navigate the busy street in a wide shared lane, often squeezed between car traffic and parked cars.

Dozens of collisions between people biking and driving happen every year all along the street. Far more collisions occur between people driving or between people driving and people walking.

In total, there were 229 collisions on Eastlake between 2010 and 2014, according to the project’s draft existing conditions report (PDF). 97 people were injured.

And these dangers on Eastlake Ave are huge impediments to people who want to bike, but are not willing to mix with cars on busy streets. The dangerous and stressful conditions also hurt Eastlake businesses because the road is so clearly focused on moving people through, not to, the commercial areas.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The city is moving forward with plans for a Roosevelt to downtown high capacity transit project mostly along the Roosevelt Way and Eastlake Ave corridors, so this is the time to make sure biking, walking and efficient transit are the top priorities. Funded in part by the Move Seattle levy, this project is an example of the kind of change people want to see in our city. Passing the levy with such a strong margin was a mandate to be bold and finally connect these major missing links in our bike and transit networks, improving walking safety as we go.

But even with such a strong voter mandate, bold changes won’t happen without clear direction from the public. You have two chances this week to get involved and help make sure bike lanes on Eastlake not only happen but are high-quality and safe:

Details from Cascade:

Wednesday, Dec. 9, 6 – 8 p.m.
TOPS School, Cafeteria
2500 Franklin Ave. E, Seattle
RSVP

Thursday, Dec. 10, 6 – 8 p.m.
UW Tower, Cafeteria North
4333 Brooklyn Ave. NE, Seattle
RSVP

If you’re wondering what makes Eastlake such an urgent priority, imagine the following scene: Just after 5 p.m. on a dark and drizzly evening a steady stream of bike lights head north on Eastlake Avenue. Commuters leaving Downtown Seattle and South Lake Union boldly take the lane. Currently there are no real bike facilities on Eastlake; sharrows and interspersed bike lanes that disappear at random don’t count. Yet hundreds of people bike on Eastlake because it is a direct and fairly flat route that connects people to places they need to go.

Currently Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is working on a study for High-Capacity Rapid Transit that includes building a swift and reliable transit connection from Downtown Seattle through South Lake Union and along Eastlake Avenue up to Northgate. Safe bicycle facilities could be included along Eastlake with this project, but only if we show up and speak up for their need.

Many people currently avoid Eastlake Avenue because it lacks safe bike facilities. I know this because I sometimes cycle miles out of my way to take the Fremont Bridge from the Cascade Bicycle Club office to get to meetings downtown. I know I am not alone in that. It doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine if we built a bike facility that you’d feel safe riding on with your family to get to free museum day at MOHAI. Imagine if you could stop at your favorite cafe along Eastlake on your way home. Or with High-Capacity Rapid Transit you could also hop on a bus that drops you off in front of your office door. Our city would feel more connected and accessible, and we could enjoy the vibrant neighborhoods along the corridor.

At the open houses next week you will have the chance to review three different concepts for the corridor.

The most basic facility is the Rapid Ride Alternative. This is the cheapest option presented, but it provides the least benefit to the people who live and work along the corridor. This option would not offer any bike enhancements, and people biking would have to share the transit lane, which does not offer a comfortable and safe feeling ride. This scenario also provides the least benefit for transit improvements, keeping buses stuck in traffic.

The second option is the Targeted Investment Alternative that integrates the Rapid Ride plan and also includes some bike facilities. This design will also feature more improvements to bus efficiency, like dedicated transit lanes and queue jumps that allow the bus to get a headstart. We look forward to seeing more detailed designs of this option at the open house.

Finally we come to the full Bus Rapid Transit Alternative (BRT) that will have the biggest impact in improving transit by creating safe bike facilities and improving the walking environment. Plus it is a safe bet that protected bike lanes would increase the usage of Pronto Cycle Share between Downtown and the University District. However, the full BRT does not have the funding that it needs. While Move Seattle funds will cover approximately $9 million of the project, that leaves a lot of funds left to be leveraged for a complete project.

The Eastlake project comes as the city prepared to start repaving Roosevelt Way, a major project that will construct a protected bike lane from NE 65th Street all the way across the U Bridge. The state’s 520 Bridge Replacement Project will also include a bike trail connection from the Eastside to Montlake to north Capitol Hill, crossing I-5 and ending in Eastlake. This major regional investment needs to connect to a high-quality bike route on Eastlake Ave. Failing to act on this opportunity to complete this vital route would be simply neglectful.

But what about Fairview Ave E?

Seattle BMP Master Map-eastlake

The Bicycle Master Plan calls for protected bike lanes on Eastlake Ave (blue) and a trail (red) to complete a neighborhood greenway (green) on Fairview Ave E

Fairview Ave E is the kind of street that can easily take the wind out of the sails whenever discussions of bike lanes on Eastlake Ave begin. Fairview Ave E is a wonderful, quiet and flat street that travels along the water. It’s almost a wonderful bike route alternative to Eastlake Ave.

But that “almost” is a doozy. Fairview Ave E has a big missing piece right in the middle of it, between Roanoke and E Hamlin. The city’s right-of-way turns into lake, and there’s no public passage through the private community. To get around the closure, you have to navigate some extremely steep hills, including a steep dip through a narrow alleyway that passes driveways and garages.

Fairview Ave E will never work as a complete bike route without a direct and flat connection through this gap. It’s marked on the Bike Master Plan with a vague dotted red line representing a trail of some kind. We have argued in the past that a floating trail like Portland’s Eastbank Esplanade would be an amazing addition to both our bike network and our parks system (especially if the floating path goes around the floating homes, the views would be amazing).

But there is no talk of such a project, and no identified funding. For the sake of this discussion, Fairview Ave E is not a functional bike route alternative. We can’t wait any longer to connect the city center to the University Bridge with a safe and direct bike route.

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83 Responses to It’s well past time to build safe bike lanes on Eastlake Ave

  1. Gary Yngve says:

    Yes, Eastlake is awful. I commute it daily northbound. The downhill bike lane near SCCA is dangerous, especially at the curve at the bottom of the hill, where it is often blocked by a taxi parked there or a car creeping out of a garage, coupled with ludicrous back and forth of bike lane and sharrow due to the occasional median. I take the lane the whole time in that stretch but occasionally get harassed. Near the top of the hill, it is OK during rush hour when no parking allowed, but if cars are parked there, it is that worst width where you get squeezed if to far to right and harassed if preventing a pass. The traffic also backs up regularly approaching U Bridge, sometimes all the way to Hamlin, especially in winter rain, leaving a cyclist with the options of hopping onto the sidewalk (if not closed due to construction), lane splitting, or sit in line for many minutes, getting cold and wet.

    • RT says:

      I’ve been bike commuting along this stretch long enough to remember what it was like prior to the Eastlake median dividers / plantings being installed at the north end of Eastlake. That was a change for the worse for bikers, as it pinched the northbound lanes. This has resulted in the condition you identify above.

      • Charles B says:

        We should remove the median dividers, shift the lanes around and make space for a cycle track instead. If we reduce to one GPL in each direction, there should be little need for median dividers.

        Use the freed-up median space to build a Broadway style cycle track (maybe a tad narrower?) with the sidewalk on the outer edge for bus riders. The remaining four lanes become outer lane bus/bat lanes (not parking!) and the center lanes remain for general vehicle use.

        Do you folks think this will work?

      • Andy says:

        A Broadway-style cycle track would be terrible for transportation cyclists.

      • Josh says:

        Wait, you’d suggest something a tad narrower than Broadway? Broadway is already scary skinny, but at least it’s a low-volume route so passing isn’t very common.

        Whatever gets built should at least meet reasonable minimum safety standards for the expected volume of traffic — that’s not much to ask, and it’s already required by the 2014 BMP Update.

        Going backwards to something narrower than the substandard Broadway cycletrack is not a compromise we should be willing to accept.

  2. LWC says:

    I fully understand the point you make about the “missing link” on Fairview… but would it be worth pursuing that as an option? i.e. in the same discussion about the cost/benefit analysis of safe infrastructure on Eastlake itself, we might also discuss the cost/benefit analysis of completing that link.

    With either potential route, I would anticipate *huge* amounts of push-back from neighbors, whether because of lost parking on Eastlake or lost privacy on the waterfront. It might be politically savvy for advocates to present both possible solutions.

    • bidab says:

      Yes! With the Eastlake route, most drivers who live in or pass through the neighborhood will oppose bike improvements. But turn their attention toward closing the Mallard Cove “missing link” on Fairview, and you’d divide the opposition: those same motorists would turn around, call the houseboaters NIMBYs, and ultimately support any alternative that protected their precious Eastlake Ave parking spaces. Fairview would become a model project for sustainable transportation easements, and everyone else would happily go about their business.

      • Morgan Wick says:

        So basically, say “either close the Chesiahud missing link or give us good Eastlake bike lanes, nothing less”.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        Well, everyone else happily goes about their business except for the people who live or work on/near Eastlake, and want to walk or bike. As well as people who are visiting those businesses or residents.

  3. Gary says:

    Actually the first thing that is going to make getting from the UW to downtown better is that LINK is going to open up in the Spring of ’16, well before any of these plans get going.

    Yes Eastlake deserves a separated bike lane inside of the parked cars. But, is there even room? When I rode it once, and drove it occasionally it felt too narrow to give another 8ft on either side to bicycles.

    I would much prefer a flat path down next to the lake out of traffic etc. Yes I know that in the long run having bicycle access to the businesses along Eastlake would be a good thing but I don’t see that happening in the near future. Nor do I see running a bike path in front of some floating homes, oh the uproar will be lawsuits galore as the city will have to prove no environmental impact, shoreline rules will be cited, declining salmon runs, snail habitat, it will be years before anything gets built. It would be cheaper for the city to buy out the landowners on the shore than litigate that right of way.

    Until then, lock and load, as is lock your bike, and load it on the front of a bus to travel along Eastlake.

    • Gary says:

      hmm, from Zillow, I’d “zestimate” that the condos are worth $1.5 M each, if we bought the two just North of Edgar street, and 5 just South, that’d be about $11M…cheap at half the price, as we wouldn’t demolish the units, just run a path in front of them, 12ft wide for bikes and people only, no cars. So lets say they are greedy and it doubles the price, $20 million?…. peanuts.

      • Gary says:

        Ok, looking closer via google maps, a short foot path connector from the parking lot just North of E. Edgar to E. E Edgar would do it. No major construction. Not clear how many feet up the hill it is, but it definitely looks do-able.

    • asdf2 says:

      If there’s room for street parking, there’s room for a protected bike lane. All that’s needed is the political will to get rid of the street parking.

    • Tim F says:

      Heh, I basically switched *to* biking from the bus because bus wasn’t working for me along that corridor. To be fair the 66 and 70 are much improved.

      There’s plenty of ways to completely bypass Eastlake, but travel within Eastlake needs to be improved both for the local businesses and residents and the immediately adjacent areas. Link downtown and double-back or bus/bike are not good solutions for that. That’s from someone who does both and who rarely stops in at Mammoth anymore. I tried.

      This whole thing reminds me of 34th Ave off Fremont before the road diet. Those businesses are night-and-day livelier now and you can tell just by looking that most of it is bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

  4. Matt says:

    Remove the parking on Eastlake Ave. There will be a few weeks of businesses complaining and then they will move on once they realize it has no negative effect on their profits. Every neighborhood is booming in Seattle right now despite worsening traffic conditions and less “free” parking. We need to stop trying to please everyone and simply do what is right.

    • Jules James says:

      I am an Eastlake shopkeeper. Parking on Eastlake Avenue is commercial parking for employees, venders, delivery persons, teachers at the school, parents volunteering and customers. Your bike lane to more conveniently pass a few bikes through Eastlake will significantly damage my neighborhood. Look to Minor Avenue and Boylston. If you want to break through the missing Fairview section, just buy the apartment building at 100 E Edgar. But stop with your Eastlake Avenue nonsense. It is a poor solution for a few transients at the expense of the many locals.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        A bike lane is not for “convenience”, it is for safety. Just look at the huge number of bike crashes on Eastlake in the past 5 years:

        http://seattlegreenways.org/wp-content/uploads/bikecol-full.png

        These are human beings being hurt because there is no safe space to bike on Eastlake.

      • LWC says:

        Jules, this is the same tired (and unsubstantiated) rhetoric that is heard from business owners all across the city when SDOT deigns to take action to make road users safe. Time and again such predictions have not panned-out.

        One suggestion: if parking is really so vital for your business, why not advocate making it metered? I’ve tried to park on Eastlake mid-day before in order to patronize businesses, and it’s always a crap-shoot. Several times I’ve given up and just gone north to the U District instead, where I can be certain to find an open space for a couple bucks. If you’re serious about making parking work for your customers, you should be pushing the city to add meters, not opposing road safety improvements.

      • Matt says:

        To be frank Jules, I just don’t care. Safety trumps everything. Besides making accommodations for delivery drivers (I would imagine the current parking situation only makes it worse), everyone else can find another way to get to that school and those businesses. I am a car owner myself but I have adjusted to biking and taking public transit to areas without abundant car parking. It’s a small inconvenience to make to live in a world class city.

      • Jeremy Mates says:

        Not this local; Eastlake is hell to cross. The lights are timed only for transients polluting their way through, and are in no way helpful to locals trying to cross that stroad. I usually jaywalk, having given up on the beg button, or simply do not cross Eastlake to visit businesses, because who needs that sort of life-risking stress? Perhaps if pedestrian crossings were improved, you might see more business?

      • Max says:

        Transients? Seriously, that is what you call people who live in another neighborhood within the same city? Your business might improve if you didn’t sound like a knob.

        I’ll make a point of not doing business there.

      • RTK says:

        Jules,
        The roads are a public resource. How that resource is utilized has evolved over time and will continue to evolve. Instead of immediately dismissing change as “nonsense” consider a day when people walk or ride to your shop. The one thing this city and region have right now in abundance is change, the growth and change in density to the north and south of Eastlake (and within) are both a blessing and a curse. Change has been forced upon this region, now let’s deal with and not just hunker down. That way leads to gridlock. The voters spoke, they new urban agenda is upon us.

      • Michael says:

        I am all for a bike lane on Eastlake, but I think Jules point about needing to maintain parking for businesses is reasonable, and something that can be accomplished. I lived in Eastlake for about 3 years ten or so years ago and still visit frequently. Even back then, neighborhood streets are as bad for parking as Capitol Hill can be. Eastlake, however, is less of a destination and not as well served by transit and other services so as to mitigiate the difficult parking. There are also very few pay lots. So I would agree that business patrons and employees from out of the neighborhood probably do need parking if it isn’t provided in there own building. Though I would also argue that there is quite a bit of temporary parking that could be lost without hurting much. See posts below suggesting the removal of the outer lane of traffic and replacing with bikelane + parking/bus turnouts.

      • Rob says:

        Jules,

        I had a mailbox at your store for four years. I biked on Eastlake to get there. I rarely drove. I would have been safer had there been a bike lane. It is depressing that you don’t realize that some or many of your customers walk, bike, or take transit to get to your business, and it is insulting that you would prioritize the convenience of a couple customers who drive and can park on Eastlake (there is rarely an open spot anyway) over the lives of others, some of whom are your customers too.

        If I were still living in Eastlake and your customer, your public lobbying against my safety would be enough for me to think twice about being your customer.

  5. Nancy H. says:

    I ride Eastlake nearly every day. South of Edgar Street Fairview and a block of Yale create a perfectly viable option for an Eastlake alternative. So protected bike lanes on Eastlake from Edgar to the University Bridge would vastly improve the route at a much lower cost in both dollars and controversy (I suspect). There are fewer businesses in that section and most have off-street parking.

    • Morgan Wick says:

      Looking at the map, it definitely seems like it’s not as important for the 520 trail, which is pretty far uphill anyway, to connect to Eastlake bike lanes as you might think; if you’re going to the U-District you take Harvard if you don’t switch to the Burke-Gilman at Montlake, and Roanoke coincides with the south end of the Chesiahud missing link. On the other hand, south of Garfield Eastlake is the most direct route downtown bypassing the hustle and bustle of South Lake Union, and getting there from Fairview requires a weird inverted “Z” formation. Hmm.

    • Al Dimond says:

      I often start south from the U Bridge on Eastlake, thinking I’ll switch down to Fairview at Roanoke. Then once I get there I remember it’s all downhill the rest of the way and stay on Eastlake; I’ve already put up with the traffic on the climb, the descent is relatively easy. But if there was a good bike lane to that point people that would rather avoid that traffic in the first place would be more likely to ride. And even someone like me might be more likely to actually head down to Fairview, just because my mindset would be different.

      Coming north it’s a pretty steep climb from Fairview up to Eastlake, whether you do it at Roanoke and Edgar or stay against the water until Fuhrman.

      Either way, from the Fairview bridge south we need good bike routes on both Fairview and Eastlake. Fairview to connect to Lake Union Park, the low-lying parts of SLU, Dexter, Seattle Center, and Queen Anne; Eastlake to connect to Capitol Hill (via Lakeview or 9th/Pine), Cascade (the higher-up parts of SLU), the Denny Triangle, and downtown with that nice bypass of Mercer (also Denny given some sidewalk riding, a route someone around here suggested, which suggests some sort of officially-sanctioned contraflow route on Howell wouldn’t go amiss).

    • Tim F says:

      Nancy H mentioned a route that I think is similar to my route. It works best southbound, but I see no Strava marks at all, so it probably doesn’t get much use. I think it’s because there’s no signage and it’s not at all obvious.

      It’s Eastlake to Edgar, drop down to Yale *Ave* (not Terrace, which is an alley)

      Yale Route on Google Maps:
      https://goo.gl/maps/EiPe4HRm5au

      Yale has only yield signs rather than stop signs. It pops back out at Eastlake. It’s a pretty flat route and I like it much better than dropping all the way down to the water and the steep detour through the Yale Terrace alley.

      There’s a similar route via Minor that ends up on Fairview, but there are stop signs rather than yield signs and some

      Minor route in Google Maps
      https://goo.gl/maps/cLnMuukCFcD2

      I don’t know that either of these would substitute for bike lanes on Eastlake, but some signage could make them a decent secondary route, particularly for Pronto-esque riding (more docks, please).

      • Tim F says:

        One final map. I’ve heard talk of a possible Franklin Ave Greenway. I rode that route tonight to check it out right at rush hour.

        https://goo.gl/maps/uMZzwH68Zxt

        First off, Franklin has rough pavement. There are a few steeper climbs than the Yale Ave route, but nothing worse than Fairview or other bike routes in the city. <200 ft. up and down. There are maybe three spots where you cross serious rush hour traffic. The speeds aren't fast, and most cars aren't aggressive per-se, but they are impatient and there was a lot of obvious cut-through traffic. Those intersections would have to be very clearly marked to be safe for bikes. I had to dismount at one intersection to make it clear that I had a right to be in the crosswalk. I chalk it up more to confusion and rushing than anything. The path under I-5 would need some upgrades for additional bike traffic.

        On the positive side, there are some obvious tie-ins with the colonnade. I'm pretty sure there's a hill-climb stair in there that could tie in with Pronto stations top and bottom. There's also probably connecting routes to Capitol Hill. Also this route gets pretty much all the way through Eastlake on a relatively quiet street, unlike Yale Ave. It works better northbound as a through route.

        Overall, this would maybe be my third option after Yale Ave and Eastlake proper, but with greenway treatments it wouldn't be a bad parallel route. It won't replace safety improvements on Eastlake, however.

      • Dave says:

        While the Strava map is useful I suspect that the app is not used by commuters as much as those out for exercise.

      • Tim F says:

        If you’re a Strava member, you can animate nearby users routes and times (I think the feature was called ‘blow-by’ or something like that). Plenty of “long-haul” commuters use it. Eyeballs work too. Current Eastlake is net hazard to your health, so I suspect recreational usage is a relatively low percentage. In any case that would mean Strava’s under-representing bike traffic on Eastlake.

        SDOT has a subscription to Strava data so Cascade encourages its use. Also the data can be augmented by physical bike counters like the one on the bridge.

      • RTK says:

        I tried the Yale route (southbound) on my way to work this morning. The grade is not an issue, but the very skinny two way street and limited sight lines at intersections limit it as an alternative to Eastlake. This route doesn’t support Eastlake speeds, but I would definitely use if for riding with one of my kids. Thanks for pointing this alternative out.

  6. Zachary says:

    As a complement or alternative, the bike facilities on Boylston/Lakeview always feel lacking for how many cyclists use it to get from Capitol Hill/U district. The road seems nice and wide in most places on Lakeview at least. Cars really fly around those corners too.

  7. Andres Salomon says:

    Let’s think bigger. Right now, Eastlake/Roosevelt/12th are either 2 lanes in each direction 100% of the time, or during rush hour. This is ridiculous for the low amount of vehicles that use the corridor. We should be talking about a road diet as the basis for any HCT work.

    Let’s make this corridor only *1* general purpose travel lane in each direction, 24-7. That opens up a whole lot of space for other things – PBLs, bus-only lanes, parking, whatever floats your boat. There are 3 major business districts along Roosevelt and Eastlake, people should be able to safely cross the street.

    • Wick says:

      Except that when businesses in those business districts are so adamant about refusing to support basic safe infrastructure they don’t deserve any of our money. I can’t think of a single business on that corridor that I would visit, especially considering that the majority of them value government subsidized street parking more than my life.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        Really? Christian from Ride Bicycles came out to the Roosevelt PBL meeting to voice support, for example. Numerous businesses along Roosevelt (in Roosevelt and UDistrict) fully supported traffic calming on the street, especially those near NE 42nd/43rd that saw multiple collisions per week in front of their stores.

        There are plenty of businesses that support safe streets, with varying opinions about parking. I don’t know much about Eastlake businesses.

      • Wick says:

        Yes, really. I don’t care if there’s one bike shop on the far reaches that cares whether people live or die, the facts are what they are. Fwiw I don’t support Ballard businesses thanks to their position on the missing link either, regardless of what a bike themed brewery has to say. People hurt? Businesses don’t get my money until they force change.

  8. Harrison feingold says:

    If the parking on eastlake were so precious and in demand, wouldn’t it be paid parking? Didn’t the city do something with the free parking in Westlake? 2 hour parking or something?

  9. Peter says:

    Are there documents with full BRT cost and funding?

    “Finally we come to the full Bus Rapid Transit Alternative (BRT)…. The full BRT does not have the funding that it needs. While Move Seattle funds will cover approximately $9 million of the project, that leaves a lot of funds left to be leveraged.”

  10. Mike says:

    Sorry in advance for the long rambling, but a huge portion of my non-recreational transportation cycling in Seattle is along this route.

    I commute on this route every day (from Roosevelt & 75th to the Cascade neighborhood). It is riddled with hazards. On both Roosevelt and Eastlake there are several construction sites which force bike & car lane merging (guess which one disappears altogether). The new “protected” bike lane between 45th and the U-bridge is way too permeable, way to many driveways and intersections. Additionally I regularly find I have to ride in vehicle traffic lanes due to cars driving in (on the wrong side of the plastic bollards) and using the bike lane as a loading zone, forcing riders out into regular vehicle travel lanes. Plus buses and cars cutting across the lane as it jogs back and forth around bus stops and right turn lanes.

    Eastlake is more of the same. More construction sites plus lots of getting cut off, especially by buses. I’d estimate 3/5 days at least I get passed then immediate cut off by a bus going to a bus stop, forcing me to brake quickly, then either wait or merge into traffic to get around the bus. Any transit solution needs to help alleviate these conflict points. My appease-everyone-and-leave-no-one-fully-happy lowish cost suggested compromise would be keep 1 traffic lane either direction with bus islands. Keep the right lane as parking, but all day, without commute hour restrictions. There are regularly people parked in this lane even during restricted hours, so cars rarely use it for anything but a turn lane. And maybe paint a bike lane(sadly in the door zone still, but at least on the other side of bus stops). Far from perfect but it would keep transit times pretty steady (with in lane bus stops), hopefully not interrupt traffic flow dramatically and remove some bike+vehicle conflict points.

    Alternatives to my commute are taking Harvard then ducking under I-5 to Lakeview (not terrible, just a small hill on either end, but no more so than taking Eastlake the whole way, and lowish traffic volume with a nice view) or Fairview (missing section plus a steep hill on the north end and poor pavement, but otherwise low traffic and fairly pleasant ride along the water)

  11. Peri Hartman says:

    I say go for a two-part solution. One, move the primary route to be along Fairview and fix the Mallard Cove mess. Even if the route has to jog up to Yale Ave until litigation or other “progress” can overcome, that route could complete a wonderful route around Lake Union plus accommodate a large percentage of not-so-fast commuters.

    Two, add bike lanes (not door zone lanes) to the uphill section northbound. Fast riders will ride Eastlake regardless of what happens on Fairview. For fast riders, this is the worst section of Eastlake (because there’s no center turn lane for drivers to get around) and, if it’s fixed, both kinds of riders have a good place to ride. The rest of Eastlake is fairly flat and fast riders can take the lane. Of course, if there is room to put in proper bike lanes, all the better.

  12. Jim Cranker says:

    Obvious Eastlake needs a bike lane, just like Westlake will have one. Next up would be to get a bike lane on Mercer from Fairview to 5th Avenue both east and west. Bike lanes both east and west on Denny would also be a great path to connect Capitol Hill and downtown. The new Link form Husky Stadium to Downtown will also be great to transport bikes on. Do we have bike lanes in the Downtown transit tunnel?

    • Kirk says:

      Westlake isn’t getting a bicycle lane. It is getting a Multi Use Path designed for 8 year olds and 80 year olds. It appears that the MUP will poorly serve people that want to use a bicycle for transportation on arguably the most vital and viable bicycle transportation route in the city. As bicycling for transportation continues to grow, it will need to be rebuilt to accommodate these people. I hope SDOT can find the best design for the Eastlake neighborhood for people that use bicycles for transportation.

      • Michael says:

        Kirk,
        On the west side of the lake, Fairview will be the slow road for recreation, Dexter is, and will remain, the fast road for transportation and fast riders. This is a good an effective split. There’s no reason why the pathways through eastlake couldn’t be handled in a similar fashion.

        As for being rebuilt, if you’re referring to the section in front of the Yacht builder, yes that 100′ section will be rebuilt, later when it will not be subject to EIS requirements.

      • Michael says:

        I meant to say Westlake, instead of Fairview in the post above.

        In Eastlake, Fairview woud be the MUP and Eastlake the fastride-transportation route.

      • Peri Hartman says:

        Yes, we ultimately need both. My preference would be to put the priority on Fairview with the exception of the Eastlake uphill section northbound.

        By fixing Fairview, we enable a whole new class of riders – families, tourists, slow commuters, weekend recreation. Making Eastlake better won’t do much for those groups.

        Since Eastlake can be functional for fast riders with a few improvements, I think it is best to invest in actions that will increase ridership the most – and bring on more future support for bike infrastructure.

  13. (Another) Tom says:

    A lot of good comments here. We’ve been over this before but just want to chime in again to say that Eastlake/Fairview should absolutely be a priority project for the city. It is ridiculous that there is not a complete, safe cycling route around Lake Union. The loop around the lake should be a premiere tourist attraction; it is flat and not too long for a family to complete the loop at a relaxed pace. There should be a bike rental company or two, at least one located near MOHAI. I imagine this would attract thousands of tourists during the summer months – a beautiful ride around the lake with stops at Gas Works, The Center for Wooden Boats, MOHAI, various cafes for lunch, Fremont Brewing, etc. Views of downtown and the Needle. It should be THE thing to do if you are visiting Seattle.

    I think both Eastlake and Fairview should be fixed. I like Peri Hartman’s idea about adding a bike lane at least for the up hill portion of Northbound Eastlake.

    I don’t think it is worth riling up the floaters by routing the Fairview floating path around the floating homes. The homes themselves are neat and they don’t totally block the view or anything – the closer-to-shore route would still be one of the neatest parts of the loop. I can’t imagine it would even be that expensive to build a nice wooden structure, maybe with a bulb or two where the path widens for a bench and planters. It could be a real asset to the neighbors too which would reduce the inevitable opposition.

    • Gary says:

      The easiest way fix the Fairview route is to buy out the rights to cross the parking lot and up over Edgar and back down into the other parking lot. It would enhance the value of those apts, as they are easy access, and not disrupt the shoreline etc which any floating trail would do.

      • Al Dimond says:

        That would be great, but it might not be for sale at any price. The same would be true of a floating trail. If the city made any real move toward either I’d be shocked if it didn’t end up in court.

      • Gary says:

        “not for sale at any price” the city has the club of “eminent domain.” which allows them to force a sale, the price being set by an arbitrator.

        It usually doesn’t come to that, and a it’s a commercial property, not a single family residence which looks terrible in the news when you kick out an old person from their home. Vs we just want permission to cross some property which won’t block their view, won’t ruin their neighborhood with say gravel trucks or oil fracking. With Apts, it’s money talks and residents walk.

    • RTK says:

      I like your vision of what a complete loop could mean to the neighborhoods and business around the lake if a complete safe route existed around Lake Union. I too could see it become a visitor destination.

      • Rob from Yakima says:

        We visit family in Seattle regularly and bring our bicycles. We brought along several other Yakimanians in October and rode a tour around Lake Union combining Eastlake south, Fairview and back on Dexter and around to Fremont Brewing. We did stop at Gas Works and the Troll, went up to Ravenna Park via Burke-Gillman, checked out the absurdly short Mercer bike freeway. So yes this is a tourist draw and you should pitch this idea emphatically! The business community loves it, as do planners.
        Good luck tonight Ian!

  14. Joe says:

    With the increased density (housing, office/lab buildings) going on, parking and traffic is getting significantly worse in Eastlake. I can see it being politically hard to talk about removing parking on Eastlake — NIMBYS and concerned shop owners would find it easier to blame bicyclists for the problem when most of the impact is from growth. Just saying this will be a battle.

    The city will hopefully be coming off the successful launch of the Westlake trail and can tie it into the rebuilding of the Fairview Ave E bridge (with its own terrible bike lane).

    • Gary says:

      Adding meters to Eastlake should at least put a dollar value on the parking that is there. If the businesses need the parking for deliveries etc, ok, but the city should get some revenue from that parking.

  15. asdf2 says:

    The last time I rode down Eastlake during rush hour, I made an interesting discovery. Parking in the right-hand lane is banned, and there is actually a critical mass of bikers using it that car drivers quickly learn to stay in the left lane, except when making right turns. In other words, at least during commute hours, the right-hand car lane has effectively become bike + right turn lane (at least when it’s not blocked by a bus stopping at a bus stop).

    There really is something to the “safety in numbers” argument.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      That’s a great point. I wonder if there’s a way to illustrate this (“All we’re doing is making it official!”)

    • Kirk says:

      I’ve noticed this too, and it demonstrates that the only thing that would change with a reconfiguration and bike lane is the increased safety for people on bicycles. Roads are made to move people, not store private automobiles or accommodate people speeding in their automobile.

    • Michael says:

      Rush hour parking prohibitions on Eastlake are a joke and really only serve to make space for buses and limit all day parking. It seems more than reasonable that the outside lanes could be converted to parking + bike lane, with bus turnouts. Since there are relatively few driveways and intersections (really long blocks) along that stretch A more Euro style bike lane at the curb with more central parking and bus turnouts seems like a reasonably simple thing to implement. Little parking would be lost, and traffic would probably remain much the same, since as you note, pretty much no one drives in the outside lanes even when they are open due to bikes, buses, delivery vehicles, and cars that violate the no parking times.

      • Peri Hartman says:

        If we build euro style bike lanes at the curb, we will prevent fast bike commuting along Eastlake. You cannot safely go over 10-12 mph when crossing driveways and intersections. Further, congestion in the bike lane leaves little opportunity for passing. And general blockage could require bikes to jump the curbe and use the sidewalk.

        Please consider Fairview for this kind of “calmed” bike route.

        Just my thoughts.

      • Michael says:

        Peri,
        Yeah there are issues with curbside lane. The question I think is how to deal with the buses. Maybe it could be like Dexter, but I think that buses stopping in the traffic lane will be a tough sell. It seems like Eastlake carries more vehicle traffic than Dexter, but that may not be true. This is why it seemed like a turnout for buses might be better.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        Dexter sees similar traffic volumes, at least south of Mercer (about 13K): http://blogs.seattletimes.com/opinionnw/2013/09/16/the-case-for-a-road-diet-on-dexter-avenue-north/

        So that’s a great case study. It’s also similar in width (perhaps 4 feet wider than Eastlake, according to a city webpage).

      • Michael says:

        Thanks, Tom. I have only ridden Dexter south of Mercer once since the road diet. That section is the curbside bike lane, and I found it pretty harrowing. Maybe the the example of Dexter north of Mercer is better, where parking is against the curb and there is a 5′ bike lane between the traffic lane and parking, with bus stop islands.

        The big difference that remains will be that with Dexter you have an alternate higher capacity (vehicle traffic route) in Westlake Ave. There is comparable alternate through Eastlake. So again, buses stopping in traffic is likely to be a sticking point.

      • Michael says:

        “there is NO comparable alternate”

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        We just need to make sure the benefits of in-lane bus stops are made clear. It makes buses much faster in lieu of fully-separate bus lanes. And our top priorities here are safety, followed by transit efficiency. Traffic can still move with in-lane bus stops, but you will have to stop every once in a while for a couple seconds while people load. That’s a worthy trade-off for a more active, safe and efficient street.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        Both Dexter and Eastlake run right next to major automobile-only corridors (Aurora and I-5, respectively). It would be completely reasonable to have in-lane stops for buses, if we can’t get a dedicated bus lane. The priority should NOT be moving cars quickly through the corridor; they can take the highway. The fact that the existing conditions report for this project lists level of service is worrisome.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        By the way, if you want to armchair engineer Eastlake, I put together the existing conditions using Streetmix: http://streetmix.net/seabikeblog/111/eastlake-ave-existing

      • Andres Salomon says:

        Sweet, armchair engineering is the best kind of engineering! ;)

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        I’ve already gone a little overboard.

        First, here’s my favorite option so far. It actually creates all-day on-street parking and loading on one side of the street (I imagine it on the west side where there are more businesses): http://streetmix.net/seabikeblog/112/eastlake-ave-remix

        Planners will need to study transit efficiency, but I predict it will score well even though buses will share general travel lanes because there is space for dedicated turn lanes where needed, which allows the through-lane to keep moving. Here’s an example of a right turn lane (like, say, at Roanoke St if you’re facing north). Since there’s a lane for turning cars to queue, you could give bikes and turns separate signals): http://streetmix.net/seabikeblog/117/eastlake-ave-remix-with-turn

        And here’s how a northbound bus stop could work: http://streetmix.net/seabikeblog/114/eastlake-ave-remix-with-nb-bus

        And here’s a southbound bus stop: http://streetmix.net/seabikeblog/115/eastlake-ave-remix-with-sb-bus

        I could also imagine a center median bus stop option. This would require buses to have doors on the left, and they would still general traffic lanes. I’m not sure it’s a very good idea, but I put it together anyway. Maybe the biggest advantage is that there is space for turn lanes and maybe some parking where there are no bus stops: http://streetmix.net/seabikeblog/116/eastlake-ave-remix-with-center-bus

        Here’s the challenging part: There are really only two options I can think of for including dedicated bus lanes on Eastlake: Very skinny bike, bus and general purpose lanes or shared bus/bike lanes. And I bet few groups (freight, bike or transit) are going to like the squished lane option: http://streetmix.net/seabikeblog/123/eastlake-ave-remix-with-squished-lanes

        Now, I’m VERY skeptical of shared bus/bike lanes because, well, who feels comfortable sharing a lane with a bus? And it doesn’t solve potentially dangerous bus stop conflicts. But is it better than existing conditions? Maybe a tiny bit for people biking, but it’s not really an improvement for people walking. And there’s definitely no room for on-street parking. But for the sake of comparison, here’s what that could look like:

        http://streetmix.net/seabikeblog/119/eastlake-ave-remix-with-busbike-lanes

        I actually wonder if bus lanes that share space with right turns would actually slow buses more than shared lanes with dedicated turn lanes as in my favorite option above. It’s at least worth studying.

        Thoughts?

      • bidab says:

        A center median transit stop on Eastlake isn’t far-fetched if the vehicle stopping there is a streetcar. As long as bikes have a safe lane away from the tracks, that would work pretty well.

      • Peri Hartman says:

        Hi Tom,
        I looked through your options and you have put a lot of thought into all the modes and uses.

        Regardless my take can be said simply. I like the Dexter N option better. Why? Because I can use the bike lanes when going slow but have the option of using the vehicle lanes when cruising. And the center turn lane gives a safe way for vehicles to pass me.

        A completely separated bike lane will be great for those who go slow but, at least for me, I want an option to go traffic speed where I can. Where I can’t I want to reenter the bike lane and get out of the way.

        If Eastlake needs dedicated bus lanes then my solution is out. Apart from that, the other big issue would be the bus stops. Bus islands are probably the right choice.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        Here’s my take: http://streetmix.net/-/305158

        Don’t think of it as a 2-way PBL; think of it as a trail right down the middle of Eastlake.

        That’s with in-lane stops for buses, giving the corridor more of an Ave feel (I’m told that The Ave is more efficient for buses than nearby 15th Ave). That parklet can be replaced with metered parking/loading zones in front of various places. The middle bike lanes and buffers serve as a pedestrian island for crossing. Left turns across the bike lanes are restricted in numerous places (possibly with signals?), which makes it not only safer for people walking/biking/driving, but also makes up for the loss of a center turn lane in terms of congestion. The overly wide drive lane (12ft) is calmed by what is hopefully close to 24hr BRT service. The usual complaints with 2-way PBLs (that they require crossing dangerous streets to get to) are addressed by having to only cross 1 calm lane at a time.

        Bikes are front and center in this design. This says that the street is for people biking and walking, with every other mode coming second.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        Peri,

        First, obviously, I would love if Eastlake were like Dexter. It would be a massive improvement.

        However, as regular users of Dexter know, there are some serious problems with bike lane incursions. It doesn’t meet the all-ages-and-abilities criteria, but it’s way better than no or poor bike lanes we’re used to elsewhere.

        FWIW, my design could easily become Dexter-style designs just by turning the curb spaces into buffers and flipping the car parking. It’s the same total amount of space. Or we could do parking-protected on the uphill side, no parking on the downhill. Visibility for people headed downhill is the part that’s most important.

      • Peri Hartman says:

        Very true, what you say, Tom. However, does it have to meet the all-ages criteria? With Fairview so close, doesn’t that help relieve the design demand on Eastlake?

        As for incursions, that’s a nasty problem on Dexter. It’s a trade-off: contend with incursions or be 100% separated. The incursions can be somewhat mitigated by providing a bit more width for the bike lanes and prohibiting new driveways. I would prefer the incursions side of the trade off.

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  17. Rami says:

    No doubt there are injured bike commuters who aren’t included in that tally. I’m one — got doored last spring on Eastlake northbound in front of the gym, but while it broke my bike and caused lacerations and contusions, I didn’t file a police report (just an insurance claim). I know, bad call….

  18. ronp says:

    This is my commute route and at a minimum it needs to be “dexterized”, but it should be a gold plated biking and pedestrian extravaganza.

    1. work with businesses to find nearby cross street parking, but their nimby attitudes need to be discounted.

    2. put in protected bike lanes all the way, you can ride in the street if you are fast.

    3. the missing link on the waterfront route should be fixed in the cheapest least controversial way – but recreational around the lake route would be awesome, and perhaps a good counterpoint to those crappy dangerous “Duck” tours.

    4. there is considerable housing and commercial growth in the corridor, I have seen more biking on Eastlake in the past six months than ever before. Biking can be faster than the bus depending on time of day and weather, etc.

    Come on Seattle, we can do this!

    • Josh says:

      put in protected bike lanes all the way, you can ride in the street if you are fast

      While that’s legally true, many people in Seattle have experienced increased motorist harassment if they choose to ride in the street where there’s also a sidepath. Some drivers have come here from segregated states, others simply believe that all bikes should always use any facility that gets them out of the way.

      SDOT could help fight this harassment inexpensively simply by standardizing on properly-centered sharrows in the right through lane of any street with a separated bicycle facility. Compared to even the least expensive separated facility, the cost of painting sharrows is essentially zero. And it would be a win-win, encouraging faster riders to use the street where they’re safer, leaving the sidepath for slower and more vulnerable users who complain about fast cyclists almost as much as they do reckless drivers.

      • ronp says:

        I am all for sharrow painting parallel to protected bike lanes, everywhere there are protected bike lanes. Great idea!

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  20. Dave says:

    Eastlake could afford to lose a car lane in each direction. I don’t live in Seattle, but there are similar streets near me in Portland–the ones where even when driving a car on them you keep your elbows in because the lane does NOT feel wide enough for, say, a medium sized car to pass a UPS truck or a Tri Met bus. Take away two car lanes. Put a near-constant left turn lane down the middle. Widen bike lane area outside of the car lines. What Portland will do with, say, Hawthorne Blvd. when they get their heads far enough out of their asses.

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