SDOT is moving forward with plans for Admiral Way that do not reduce the number of general traffic lanes. The previous iteration would have changed one downhill traffic lane into a buffered bike lane. However, those plans have been completely scrapped, leaving only sharrows in the downhill direction.
Basically, the plan will remove parking and add an uphill buffered lane. It’s disappointing to see more ambitious plans scrapped for this stretch. Sharrows simply are not going to get many new bikers on the roads.
When the rechannelization plans were proposed, drivers ranted and cried like their cars would never move another inch if this plan were to go into effect (like always). Virginia Coffman at SDOT said driver concerns and concerns about transit led to the bike lane being scrapped.
“Because of the use by transit, we determined the best use was a shared lane,” she said. Basically, buses headed towards the bridge currently bypass backed-up cars by driving down the right lane, then merging left near the bottleneck at the bottom of the hill. With a buffered lane, buses would likely be delayed.
SDOT had considered a lane for use by transit and bikes only, but eventually decided on a general purpose lane so right-turning cars could bypass the back-up, too. But in comments, I have repeatedly read complaints about cars driving down the right lane, then merging at the bottom of the hill. This problem will not be solved by the new plans, either.
The project is still a bike improvement, since riding uphill will be much less stressful and dangerous. But we are going to need to do much better than this if the city wants West Seattle to be part of its urban biking vision. There are few routes West Seattle bikers can take to get downtown, and we need to make them safe and welcoming.
The bicycle master plan marked this spot for bike lanes, not a climbing lane. But the bicycle master plan is merely a recommendation, and Coffman said SDOT made their decision based on what they saw as best for all road users.
The now-abandoned plans (R.I.P.):