Mercer West open house Tuesday will discuss cycle track plans

Aurora underpass. Looking west from Mercer and Dexter

An open house Tuesday will show off updates to the city’s plans for the Mercer West project, which includes a new Aurora underpass that includes a two-way separated cycle track connecting Lower Queen Anne and Seattle Center to Dexter Ave.

However, the city has been hard at work since we last checked in on the Mercer West project, and plans now could include a cycle track on 5th Ave from Mercer to Harrison and buffered bike lanes on Roy St. These changes will help people connect to the Mercer St cycle track, which will certainly be a key bicycle connection once it is completed.

From a November presentation to the Bicycle Advisory Board (some details may have changed)

This project is a huge chance for Lower Queen Anne to play bike culture catch-up with the rest of the central city after decades separated from the bicycle-friendly street network by a formidable wall of hills, freeways, train tracks and busy roadways. With the completion of the Thomas St Overpass later this year, the bikeability of the neighborhood is about to open dramatically. Mercer West is a chance to do the same for the neighborhood’s eastern border for people biking and walking. If done right, Lower Queen Anne could easily become a top bicycling destination center.

From SDOT:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the
Seattle Center – Northwest Rooms Plaza: Rainier Room

We are almost finished with the design of the project and will be presenting the final update for:

  • A wider Mercer Underpass at Aurora Ave N
  • Converting Mercer St and Roy St from one-way to two-way
  • Improved intersections, new street connections, and new bike lanes
  • Urban design and public art enhancements
  • Learn about other nearby projects and events

Visit the website for more information or to sign up for project update e-mails: www.seattle.gov/transportation/mercer_west.htm

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10 Responses to Mercer West open house Tuesday will discuss cycle track plans

  1. Al Dimond says:

    My colorblindness, I think, is failing me a little on this map… but it sort of looks almost like a network of bike routes or something. Which is nice.

    There still seem to be questions in the details. Short cycletracks mean you have to merge on and then merge back onto the road, which is a lot of trouble to go a short way. And cycletracks with frequent intersections are legitimately hard to get right. Are we appropriately controlling cross traffic? Are we appropriately controlling turning movements across the cycle track? I probably can’t make it to the meeting since I work on the eastside. Hopefully someone is there to make sure SDOT considers this stuff. Ideally, there should be no uncontrolled turns across a cycletrack (that means no unsignalized intersections, no right-on-red from a cross street, no left-on-green from a parallel street). For all that Mike Wang’s death is brought into Seattle bike infrastructure debates, this is one place where it’s actually relevant — he (like many others) was killed by an oncoming driver making an uncontrolled left across his path; cycletracks tend to have severe visibility issues with turning and crossing traffic, and thus need protection from it. Mercer is urban enough and has enough signals that even if we can’t get all the way to the ideal, we should be able to get close if it’s clear that’s what we need and want. I’ll at least write a letter.

    Farther afield, I sort of feel like the Broad and Mercer projects are slipping extra-wide, pedestrian-hostile roads into downtown behind our backs while more controversial projects have taken all the heat. The width of the new Mercer is astounding, and I’m afraid if more cars fit on Mercer they’ll just jam up the rest of downtown.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      The width of the new Mercer is, indeed, astounding. Seven lanes in many spots (!). And the lane widths are big, too.

      SBAB spent some time in November urging planners to tighten corners to prevent fast turns across the cycle track. Really, it only crosses a couple intersections, but those need to be safe, you’re right.

    • Clark in Vancouver says:

      The lack of visibility issue at intersections can be solved by moving the crossing further from the intersection so that cyclists are in a position to be in the line of sight of turning motorists. Also have a separate timing for the motor vehicle lane turn signal than the bicycle and pedestrian crossing signal. (Basically one or the other gets and advance turn signal.)

      Here’s a good article describing how it could be done:
      http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/state-of-the-art-bikeway-design-a-further-look/

  2. Gary says:

    They also need an overpass over I-5 on Thomas for bicycles and pedestrians as well. Denny is not bicycle safe going up and Lakeview is too far South….

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  5. Greg says:

    I’m just catching up on this. I ride Mercer frequently, eastbound, beginning at West Mercer, to get to SLU. It’s the obvious desire line, point A to point B. When Mercer is made two-way from Dexter to LQA, it’ll be the same desire line, only now westbound. Why should I jog over to Roy to go westbound? Not only is Roy out of my way as a through-traffic cyclist, Mercer has a much gentler rise in elevation. If Roy gets a two-way cycle track, does that mean Mercer gets nothing in bicycle accommodation? It should at least have sharrows. I’d love to have a SDOT planner get out on the street and ride this route to better understand the on-the-ground reality here.

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