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City study supports completing Roosevelt bike lane in Maple Leaf

You may remember back in 2010 when concerns from some Maple Leaf neighbors delayed the completion of the Roosevelt bike lane between 75th and 85th. It was my first month of writing Seattle Bike Blog and I made a rookie mistake: I supported going back for more study.

Ugh. I have since come to realize that SDOT knows what they are doing when they propose changes to roads to make them safer for all users. Sure enough, two years of studies have shown that SDOT was, indeed, right all along, Maple Leaf Life reports.

Photo taken in 2010 shows that on-street parking on the street can easily fit on one side of the road.

The plans call for consolidating the current parking to the east side of the road. As I pointed out in 2010, all current parking can easily fit on one side of the road. An in-depth city study over multiple seasons shows the exact same thing. In fact, even at the highest utilization rates, there will still be several spots free on each block.

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The changes will create space for a six-foot bike lane in the uphill direction and sharrows downhill. The biggest downside to the plan is probably that buses will have two more stops where they need to pull out of traffic. To increase bus efficiency, buses should stop in-lane so they do not have to waste time trying to merge back into the travel lane every time they drop off or pick up. All vehicles are legally required to stop for buses trying to pull out of stops, but few actually do (I would wager that few people even know that law).

One thing that strikes me now, looking back at this debate, is how outdated the Roosevelt bike lane already is. It has proven to be a sub-par facility that places people biking square in the door zone. This year’s update of the bicycle master plan should include guidance for protected bike lanes on roadways like Roosevelt. With some extra funding from transit agencies and the city’s budget for transit efficiency projects, we could also get in the habit of installing Dexter-style bus islands whenever bike lanes and bus stops conflict. These would make cycling safer and speed up buses at the same time. And since more people biking and busing means fewer people driving, this would be a win for all road users.

The city will showcase their plans at an open house next month. In the meantime, you can email comments to [email protected] and [email protected].

Here is a presentation SDOT gave to the Maple Leaf Community Council last month (via Maple Leaf Life):

2012-06-19 SDOT Roosevelt Bike Lane 2

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9 responses to “City study supports completing Roosevelt bike lane in Maple Leaf”

  1. Orv

    I try to yield to buses pulling out of stops whenever they can. One thing that complicates it is that from the perspective of someone in a car in traffic, with parked cars in the way, it can be hard to tell the difference between a bus with its left turn signal on waiting to pull into traffic, and a bus with its four-ways on sitting at a stop. I wish they had separate indicator lights for those two conditions, like school buses do.

    1. Ha, and then when you actually do yield as you’re supposed to the bus driver is so surprised that it takes him a few seconds to realize what’s going on and pull out. That’s my experience, especially when I’m biking. (I don’t blame the bus drivers for being cautious here — better to lose a few seconds making sure someone is really yielding than to have a collision due to a miscommunication. It’s just sort of funny.)

      At any rate, I think that if most people basically acted in good faith as you do the problem would be considerably diminished. It’s not that big of a deal for a car to pass the bus merging in every now and then, but it’s a big deal when the bus is routinely delayed by a minute or more by long columns of passing cars. As subtle signals often do change behavior, I bet a separate indicator light would indeed make a difference — maybe a flashing “YIELD” sign for those merges.

    2. Andrew Squirrel

      Yeah, that is a great idea. I would be useful if they had vertical flashing bars during a stop and horizontal arrows for merging into traffic, something really bright and obvious.

      1. Jeremy

        And a side-to-side red strobe when the computers take over.

  2. Michael


    Saying that a bike lane is an outdated facility type suggests yet another “rookie mistake” – asserting that protected bikeways and neighborhood greenways are the end all be all in terms of how bikes can/should be accommodated on-street from this point forward. Not only does research show the safety benefits of bike lanes, but often times, especially in Seattle where roadways tend to be narrow and residents/businesses are reluctant to loose parking, bike lanes and SLMs may be the only feasible option. Imagine the neighborhood resistance to removing parking on both sides of the street, which is what you would need to do to get a protected bikeway built in this segment of Roosevelt Way. Would that facility ever get built? Definitely not in the near-term. This is just one example of a common issue that will arise all over the city when looking at installing protected bikeways. This is not to say that Seattle and other cities shouldn’t pursue all options, particularly facility types that attract the casual and less confident riders, but it is to say that we need to be a little realistic in terms of what is going to be politically feasible (at least in the near-term).

    1. It’s only “outdated” because it’s in the door zone. Solution: cycle track on the non-parking side of the road. Boom.

  3. “All vehicles are legally required to stop for buses trying to pull out of stops, but few actually do (I would wager that few people even know that law).”

    Add me to the list of the newly educated. I had no idea I was supposed to yield to public buses. To be fair, I did move here from a community of 7500 in Wyoming, and I hadn’t even drove or rode on something with more than two lanes for several years before moving here. But still, that was 12 years ago!

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  5. […] more background, see our story from July or check out this SDOT […]

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