Remember back when you could be riding your bike pleasantly along a relatively calm Greenwood Ave headed north, then you would reach 85th and the road would become a four-lane highway? The cars that were so recently calm would speed up, and you would more or less be pushed off the side of the road onto the rubble-filled shoulder.
Well, not anymore. I got a chance to take the lanes for a spin yesterday (finally), and the road feels perfectly comfortable for everyone with a five-lane configuration (two general purpose, two bike, one center turn). The best part is that the neighborhood not only embraced the proposed changes, they wanted them. The new configuration is safer for everyone, and I wonder if businesses on this stretch will get more pedestrian traffic now that the road is safer to cross (Sam Woods at SDOT says they want to improve pedestrian crossings on this stretch even more next year).
The block or so before 85th (which was not part of this project), the bike lane just sort of disappears at 83rd, then turns into a right turn lane before 85th. Once across 85th, however, it picks back up. This could use some cleaning up in a future project, and is something I wish were not in SDOT’s playbook at all. Bike safety is more important than dedicated right turn lanes. But it is, unfortunately, something Seattle bikers are pretty used to navigating.
Within the first block of riding in the new lanes, I had to merge into the traffic lane to go around a UPS truck that decided the bike lane made a good loading zone. Hopefully this driver does not make this a habit. Other than that, though, the lanes are a breath of fresh air to anyone who used to bike on this stretch.
Well, maybe “fresh air” isn’t exactly right. I did play leapfrog with a #5 bus a couple times going up the hill. Not my favorite game, especially when following a diesel bus up a hill (after living near the top of the hill in Fremont, my lungs are quite familiar with #5 diesel exhaust).
I can’t way to see how the new Dexter design works out. For roads with hills and buses (Seattle has quite a few of those…), a way to route bikers around a bus island should solve this problem and increase bicycle safety. If the Dexter plans work out like I think they will, it would great if the style became the new norm for bike lane construction (though, clearly, the bus islands do add to the price tag).
Anyone else ride on the new Greenwood Ave lanes? Leave your thoughts in the comments.