Judkins Park Station is a golden opportunity to improve Rainier Ave, I-90 Trail transit access

Concept image facing west from the I-90 Trail at 23rd Ave. The bike cage is located behind the station name.

Concept image facing west from the I-90 Trail at 23rd Ave. The bike cage is located behind the station name.

The design for Judkins Park Station is getting closer to final, and Sound Transit wants feedback from people who bike.

So get to their open house 5 – 7 p.m. Tuesday (tomorrow) at the nearby Northwest African American Museum.

With the I-90 Trail essentially leading straight into the station, biking will be one of the easiest ways to get to Judkins Park Station when it opens in 2023. The location is set up to work well, but the devil is in the details. Will there be enough secure bike parking? Will the west sidewalk design keep trail users separate from people coming to and from the station or waiting for the 48 bus? Will it be easy and direct for people to bring their bikes on the train?

And those issues are just about 23rd Ave. There will also be an entrance under I-90 on Rainier Ave where the current freeway bus stops are. As much potential as the I-90 Trail holds for bike access to the station, safer bike connections on Rainier Ave could be even more important.

Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed 2017-18 budget includes funding for a multimodal corridor project on Rainer Ave and Jackson St in coming years (and the Council is looking into speeding up the Accessible Mt Baker project, which could be a vital part of a safer Rainer). Coupled with Sound Transit investments to improve access to Judkins Park Station, the potential here is enormous. But it will take partnerships and cooperation between SDOT, WSDOT, Sound Transit and King County Metro to make it happen.

But these agencies don’t really have a choice. Today, walking and biking to the freeway bus stops is pretty miserable and dangerous:

The station area today on Rainer. Six lanes, no bike lanes and no crosswalk directly to southbound buses.

The station area today on Rainer. Six lanes, no bike lanes and no crosswalk directly to the southbound bus stop (so people often just make a run for it).

This must change as soon as possible. Demand for transit access in the area is only growing. And as the only reasonably flat route to the city center, Rainier Ave is the single biggest barrier to biking in much of SE Seattle. Light rail arriving in the area is just one more big reason to address these barriers.

The more people in the neighborhood who feel comfortable walking, biking or taking transit to this station, the more people will have access to jobs and businesses along the East Link line. This project is not just about building a train, it’s about connecting homes, jobs and community. We have to get this right.

More details about the open house:

Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016 –

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Sound Transit has reached an important milestone! Plans for the Judkins Park Station are in the final design phase. This open house is your opportunity to review current designs, meet the East Link project team and learn about upcoming construction.

Join us!

Presentation begins at 5:30 p.m.

Northwest African American Museum
2300 S Massachusetts St.
Seattle, WA 98144

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19 Responses to Judkins Park Station is a golden opportunity to improve Rainier Ave, I-90 Trail transit access

  1. Central Districtite says:

    North Seattle is getting bike lanes everywhere. Meanwhile, Rainier Ave is the most important connection to SE Seattle and it is a deathtrap.

  2. Neel Blair says:

    Rainier has been too long neglected and only recently got some of the attention it needed. But that is only in one small stretch through Columbia and Hillman Cities. We need SDOT’s “bow tie” intersection, sidewalk improvements, buffers from traffic and a lot more to come into play.

  3. AP says:

    That image from the plans for this station showing two cell phone users and an adult kneeling and focused on talking with a child depict an area that is a multi-use trail now.
    A separation between pedestrians and cyclists will be needed, not shown above. That trail is now already one of the busiest in the city.

    • Josh says:

      The people in the illustration are on the east side of the street from the station, outside the project area — there’s going to be minimal widening of the I-90 Trail adjacent to the station, but no improvement to the rest of the Trail. I think we’ll have to hope that Sound Transit is correct in expecting most people to arrive to Judkins by motor vehicle, not foot or bicycle, or else both the I-90 Trail and the sidewalks around the station will soon prove inadequate.

      • RealSteveMartin says:

        I ride through here quite often. The street crossing and right angle turns force most riders who aren’t dicks to slow down on their own. It’s not the worst thing in the world to expect bikes to slow down in congested areas.

      • AP says:

        I agree that appropriate biking means slowing in pedestrian areas and where sharp blind turns are needed. The concern I have is that with the increase in foot traffic (greatly) there will be conflict. The trouble with bikes and pedestrians is that (distracted) pedestrians move in sometimes unpredictable ways. Designating through paths for bikes in a way more apparent than sharrows might be a big help.

  4. Frederico Chamois says:

    If SDOT does this right, it will revolutionize cycling in the Rainier Valley. “Right” means a continuous, protected bike (or mixed use) lane from Dearborn to Mt. Baker along Rainier Ave S.

    Two mega-projects, 1.5 miles apart – Accessible Mt. Baker and Judkins St Station. If SDOT doesn’t use this opportunity to build REAL bike infrastructure in Rainier Valley, then we have proof positive that they never will.

    Guess we’ll see tonight.

  5. Josh says:

    In email discussions of this latest design update last month, Sound Transit currently estimates that by 2030, a whopping 14 people per day will access the station by bicycle, or 2% of all people using the station.

    Seems implausible to me unless they actively discourage bicycling to the station, but that’s what their planning is based on.

    That leads to the following planned bicycle parking:

    · Cage: 20 planned on-demand spaces at station opening with the ability to add 12 more spaces in the future
    · Racks: 8 on 23rd Avenue and 8 on Rainier Avenue with space for 8 future racks. These will be the staple-style racks.
    · Lockers: 4 planned on-demand spaces on Rainier Avenue

    So, planned maximum expansion capacity of 36 secure spaces and 16 rack spaces out on the street.

    • Fred says:

      That section of Rainier is a death trap. If they don’t fix it, 14 cyclists per day is probably optimistic.

      If they do fix it, it will have a huge impact, opening up cycling to 80,000 people who live down here.

      Rainier Ave S is vital – it’s the only flat way from RV to downtown.

      Logistically, Rainier is not an easy street to build on, but neither was W Lake, or 2nd Ave, or Mercer, or Greenwood, or any of the rest.

      SDOT has systematically ignored the bike needs of Rainier Valley, SODO, Pioneer Sq, Int’l District, and Georgetown. Using this giant construction project to improve cycling in RV would be one step in the right direction.

      • Josh says:

        14 per day *on Rainier* might be optimistic, but the station also connects directly to the existing I-90 Trail.

        That means, even with no improvements on Rainier, the station will have an entirely off-road trail connection to Judkins Park housing, and to all the houses along the Central Park Trail.

        The I-90 Trail will connect the station to the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway, too.

        And the I-90 Trail connects the west end of the station to the Beacon Hill Greenway.

        That sure feels like it adds up to quite a large bikeshed for the station’s existing I-90 Trail connections, even without Rainier improvements.

  6. RealSteveMartin says:

    I hope the city finally does something to make cycling on Rainier safer, or at all practical. This could be a great connection point going east for a lot of folks in the valley.

    Please, lets not get caught up in fussing about bike parking. More racks are easy to add later if needed. The experience at UW showed that.

  7. Gary says:

    Why anyone coming from the Eastside would use bike parking at Judkins is beyond me. It’s only another 10 minutes to downtown via bicycle. Almost less than waiting for a connecting train. People going somewhere else are more likely to bring their bike on the train so they have a fast connection at the other end. See lack of Pronto bikes at all Light Rail stations.

    As for leaving a bike in a rack… good luck with that. This area is not a place to leave a bike out.

    As for users, I bet a bunch of people walk to this station from the surrounding neighborhood. And that bike riders on the trail run them down, and tacks ensue. It’s a major connection route and people riding are on their way somewhere. It’s like putting a crosswalk on the freeway and wondering why pedestrians and cars hate each other. The station should have access to the trail but not be right in the frigging middle of it.

    • JOSH says:

      Downtown is only a few minutes away, but the station will also be serving Bellevue and beyond to the east, UW to the north, south as far as SeaTac and Federal Way…

    • Al Dimond says:

      The station isn’t going to be right in the middle of the trail, that’s actually just past where you’re forced to fork right or left heading westbound at 23rd. Still, the ped-bike interactions look like a big mixing area, like on the UW Rainier Vista overpass or on the west sidewalk north of the Fremont Bridge. Because bike traffic is forking here, and the sidewalk really isn’t very wide, it’s not clear how you’d separate by mode.

      I’m not convinced that tacks are being laid by independent pedestrians with fresh grievances against cyclists in specific areas. It’s at least as likely they’re being laid by general bike haters trying to cause as much trouble as they can. Cyclists owe pedestrians apologies when and to the extent we’re rude, not when and to the extent we see tacks.

      • Josh says:

        Plans show the sidewalk almost doubling in width on the west side of the street, but it’s still a narrow bike path with no separation from a narrow sidewalk.

  8. Travis says:

    I went to the Judkins Park Station meeting. The event focused on the station, architecture, shrubbery, entrances, artwork (big Jimi Hendrix murals) etc. There was minimal info about bike/bus connections. After all, this was a Sound Transit presentation, SDOT will be making sidewalk/bus/bike improvements.

    There were two interesting bits of bike info – one positive, one negative. Both are in this presentation – http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cityplanning/designcommission/cs/groups/pan/@pan/@designcommission/documents/web_informational/p2486547.pdf
    — On page 8, the map shows dotted lines indicating North-South “Pedestrian/Bicycle Route” on both 23rd and Rainier. Does that mean bike lanes? Nobody I talked to knew.
    — Page 12 shows Rainier Ave S as it passes by the station entrance. Current plans show 4 lanes of car traffic, 2 for buses, zero for bikes, zero sidewalk improvements. That would be bad.

    However, I was told that the map/drawings (made by Sound Transit) merely display the existing layout of 23rd and Rainier because SDOT hadn’t made any decisions about how the streets might change.

    More than one official-type person told me that it’s important that we (‘we’) put pressure on the city and SDOT if we want to see Rainier Ave improved for bikes. In other words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMRrNY0pxfM

    • Molly says:

      Do you have specific people or contact info on how to register our pressure?

      As one of the 14 people who are biking on Rainier now, I have many opinions I would like to share. I also think that there are more than 14 and will be more than 14, as I frequently find myself in bike traffic jams on the sidewalk, like the other day when I was following a woman with a tall plant on her back rack and an unpleasant man behind me was chiding “go faster, you’re on a bicycle.” Many of the folks I ride amongst are not well politically connected and many do not have a fixed address, but we are all there, biking along Rainier anyway.

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