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New Arboretum trail would bypass Lake Washington Blvd

The addition of a biking and walking trail to the proposed 520 bridge is not the only part of the state’s plan that will affect people on bikes. As a way of mitigating traffic issues on Lake Washington Boulevard through the Arboretum, the state is currently working on the design of a new multi-use trail all the way from Montlake to Madison Valley.

What to do about the unfortunately car-packed Lake Washington Boulevard has been debated for years. Suggestions for limiting use of the historic roadway as a bypass for other parallel routes, such as 24th/23rd Ave E have ranged from tolling to limiting access to local traffic. The scenic road and popular bicycle route carries over 15,000 vehicle trips per day, according to city counts (that’s a lot for a scenic road).

The proposed trail would provide a route near Lake Washington Boulevard that meanders around the park’s extensive tree species collections. Once the 520 bridge is completed (assuming it finds the other $2+ billion in funding it needs), the new Arboretum trail would connect to the 520 trail without ever requiring the rider to mix with car traffic. In Madison Valley, it would meet up with the popular Lake Washington Loop bike route.

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Another interesting consequence of the the new trail is that, once completed, it will meet up on the north and south with Arboretum Drive, creating an Arboretum loop.

More details, from a fall presentation:

North Entry Presentation 20110831

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12 responses to “New Arboretum trail would bypass Lake Washington Blvd”

  1. […] always excellent Seattlebikeblog has a post up showing a proposed trail through the Arboretum that would connect with 520 and create […]

  2. So… I’m surprised they’re putting down more pavement all the way through the Arboretum. It seems like there would be plenty of lower-impact, cheaper ways to go that would leverage the existing pavement in the area. Maybe they just want to keep fast cyclists off of Arboretum Drive. Unlike some other places (like many parts of the Burke and Interurban, where fast biking is really the point, but they still insist on those asinine 15mph speed limit signs), Arboretum Drive is a walk through a real park. I feel out of place if I run fast there.

  3. Gary

    The last thing we commuter cyclists need is a slow speed trail through the park. As a park walker I don’t want fast cyclists whipping by me and the kids, as a cyclist I don’t want to dodge and weave around families. While I’m all for trails in a park, a paved one for commuters/bicyclists is dumb. Better to slow down the car traffic on the road and let us ride in and along the traffic. It is a park after all, not just an access ramp to the freeway.

    1. Really, the good biking route through that area is the Lake Washington Loop. During commute hours cyclists basically own the road. The ramps to 520 really kill Lake Washington Blvd., you’ll never lessen or slow down traffic much without removing those ramps (ha!). I’m not so high on paving more of the Arboretum, so I’d rather see a good connection from 520 to that route.

      There’s nothing stopping commuters from using Arboretum Drive as a fast bike route today, to my knowledge, except that it’s sort of hilly and the pavement isn’t very good. But they don’t seem to do that; it maintains a relaxed atmosphere, and is a great place to go for a walk (along with some of the unpaved trails through the park). I don’t think that will change. With any luck the new trail will be designed properly for transportation (the 15mph speed limit signs and yields to piddling driveway access roads on the Burke-Gilman are evidence that my hopes will be dashed).

      Not every commuting cyclists is fast and confident in traffic; many become confident eventually, but still many will never become fast. Many of those people just aren’t going to ride on LWB between bagel-munching drivers and their appointment with the 520 traffic jam. I don’t even like doing it… certain roads just seem to attract crazy drivers, and all the people on LWB going to and from 520 qualify. But… I’m still not sure more pavement in the Arboretum is the answer when the Lake Washington Loop is already a good bike route that does the same thing.

      1. Lisa

        As a slower, not really in shape bicyclist, I would really appreciate a trail. I can be relatively confident on the roads when I have to be, but biking on roads stresses me out and makes me go way faster than I want to be going, because I feel like everyone’s annoyed at me going slow (including the faster cyclists). If Lake Washington Loop was well signed for bikes with good connections that would probably be ok, even though it’s a bit hilly.

  4. Todd

    Pedestrians? Who cares about pedestrians? They’re the enemy. Much like I am to an automobile. I’m just passing on the buck and try to treat them like cars treat me. Heh.

  5. wave

    For a sec, I thought this post was about something I’ve dreamed about for years — what would really be great would be a connection to Madison Park. If you could connect the park trail to 37th Ave E (see link), it would be godsend for folks who want to bike between Montlake and Madison Park without having to go up/down the giant hill that is Madison.


    1. Jay

      Is there space for a public right of way North of the Broadmoor community? I’ve heard rumors that there was a plan for path there at some point, but it got nixed from the powerful neighbors. I have no idea if that’s true or not.

  6. Jonathan

    I think 15 mph in a city is pretty reasonable. I’m a healthy 30-something, have taken up cycling for cardio, and that’s about the best I can average on my hybrid bike when there’s minimal traffic/lights. If you need to go faster there are plenty of trails out on the Eastside that have enough space and lack intersections. We slow folk don’t mind being passed by more professional cyclists. But being in the most densely populated part of the state and complaining about having to deal with other users and 15 mph speed limits is to me akin to complaining that you can’t drive 60 in a 35 mph arterial because there’s too much other traffic in your way. Of course you can’t – it’s a city. We all have to share the road, which means slower speeds and having to yield and stop occasionally.

  7. […] addition, the Seattle Bike Blog published last week a proposal to create a multi-use trail through the Arboretum, so cyclists can […]

  8. […] wrote about the trail idea previously, but now it has secured funding in the early stages of the project, the Montlaker […]

  9. […] is set to begin Monday on a new trail along the western side of the Arboretum, providing a safe space for walking and biking next to Lake Washington Blvd and improving access to […]

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