In an obvious handout to the lucrative “notice of bike lane closure” sign-making industry, Seattle now requires 72 hours of advance notice before closing a bike lane or neighborhood greenway for construction.
This is obviously not a complete solution to the problem of bike lanes suddenly ending, requiring often stressful merges into lanes mixed with motor vehicles. But at least you should have some warning now if a bike lane you depend on daily is going to close soon. And that’s something.
We’re still waiting for better rules requiring construction work to provide temporary biking and walking paths of comparable comfort and directness. It is simply not acceptable that people walking and biking should have to assume added personal danger in order to accommodate a construction project for someone else’s profit. Inconvenience is acceptable because this is a city and that happens. But danger is not OK.
That’s the principle behind this graphic we put together two years ago using Streetmix showing the order that lanes should be closed for construction:
Since then, Seattle has made it a rule that closing a sidewalk without a temporary walkway can only happen as “a last resort.” But the same has not happened for bike lanes, as anyone who bikes on Dexter or 2nd Ave can attest.
More details on the new 72-hour rule from SDOT:
When you’re riding a bike (or traveling by any means, for that matter) an unexpected change in the path can be challenging to navigate. With our city in the midst of a construction boom, impacts to roadways, sidewalks and bike lanes are more common than ever. That’s why, starting this week, conditions for construction permit approval include on-site signage 72 hours in advance for work that closes or impacts a bike lane or trail.
We coordinate the work of contractors on both public and private projects, and require that bike lanes and sidewalks be kept open to the full extent possible during a project. We also require enhanced on-site notification of impacts.
The signs must be waterproof, have the project start date, end date, and, if the closure is not 24 hours per day, daily closure times, in accordance with the City of Seattle Traffic Control Manual for In-Street Work. That way, people riding bikes or walking in Seattle can plan alternate routes.
For work that will close or impact a Neighborhood Greenway or a non-arterial bicycle route, a “Road Work Ahead” or “Road Work (distance)” sign must be placed at the adjacent street intersections. The temporary signs cannot impede access or safety. Plus, if closure of a Greenway is longer than a calendar month, the contractor must contact Neighborhood Greenways at least 5 calendar days prior to the closure.