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Construction updates: Short Linden cycle track section opens, UW Station Bridge + Yesler ‘bike sneak’ sneak peek

With the opening of the W Thomas St overpass last week, it’s time to look at the progress of some other projects around town that will affect people biking.

Above is the main structure of the UW Station biking and walking bridge over Montlake Boulevard. Once completed, the bridge will connect from the east sidewalk of the Montlake Bridge and UW Station to the Burke-Gilman Trail.

The bridge will not be open for several more years, though, as there is much work to be done in the Montlake Triangle, including burying Pacific Place and building new trail connections on the UW side. Here’s a concept image of the final project:

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Short Linden Ave cycle track section opens

It’s only a block long, but the first section of cycle track on Linden Ave gives you a taste of what is to come for the Interurban North cycle route between the Shoreline border and Seattle’s Interurban Trail segment between Bitter Lake and Greenwood.

Construction on the project is moving forward, though there are still sections they have not begun working on yet. The project is scheduled for completion in spring of 2013.

Cycle track coming soon!

Sneak peak at the Yesler Way “bike sneak”

What is a “bike sneak” you ask? Good question! From what I can tell, it’s a unique solution devised to help make sure people biking cross the streetcar tracks at a safe angle. It might be hard to tell in the image above, but I was standing in the future bike lane when I shot it. So essentially, the bike lane will feed you up this curb for a couple feet, then let you back down to street level where the cone is on the far side. Paint will direct you across the tracks at a safe angle so you can carry on up Yesler.

It is certainly unusual, and I am eager to see if people use it properly once it is in action. If people choose to stay on the street level, the tracks will be at a very dangerous angle, so proper and obvious guides are likely going to be important to teach people to use it.

In fact, I have started receiving notes from people who are concerned about these tracks posing safety hazards to people biking. I hear at least one person has crashed already. The city should expedite painting and signing the bike sneak to prevent any more injuries now that the majority of construction on this corner (14th and Yesler) is complete.

Here’s a letter from reader Peter:

New light rail extension has tracks turning off yesler ave in a sweeping arc southbound on 14th ave. Essentially cutting off bike travel going eastbound up Yesler ave by presenting a deep grove along side each rail that cannot be crossed safely.  One bike has been damaged and was locked up on the sign post, eventually a white bicycle is going to be chained up there as well when the streets get dark and wet.

Also, as I rode around the area last night, I realized that there is likely a need to a bike box on northbound 14th Ave at Yesler. If I am headed east on Yesler and want to make a left onto 14th, there is no clear way to do so currently. Plans do not seem to include a bike box, at least as of this previous post.

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24 responses to “Construction updates: Short Linden cycle track section opens, UW Station Bridge + Yesler ‘bike sneak’ sneak peek”

  1. Steve

    I’d say a bridge that has stairs from the east sidewalk of Montlake Blvd isn’t going to be very useful for bicyclists in the area. The UW Station bridge looks most useful for people bringing their bikes to and from light rail.

    1. David Amiton

      It’s tough to tell from the embedded image, but there’s actually an ADA ramp on the east side of Montlake Blvd that connects up to the ped/bike overpass. For all you model-builders out there: http://f2.washington.edu/cpo/sites/default/files/file/MTP%20Photo%209.jpg

      1. Sound Transit has some nice renderings from various viewpoints around the project. Pages 8 – 9 of this PDF show both ramps nicely. Basically, there are stairs for pedestrains and ramps for bicycles on both sides of the bridge, as well as a link to the station itself.

      2. Jeremy

        Argh, still what looks like a hard 90 degree bend where the ramp joins the Rainier Vista/Montlake Sewer expanse. Do the designers not walk? Curve the intersection so people can flow!

      3. @Jeremy: Yeah, this thing has a bad case of Architecture.

  2. Joe

    I’d love a construction update on the work being done on Fairview Ave E by Eastlake and the seaplane business — where the two-way bike lane on the road seems to end suddenly into a one-way bike lane. Seems like the Chesiahud Bike Trail should have a smoother connection here. Hopefully the signage will improve here, but it’s still going to be a bottleneck and I’m surprised at how the curbage has been laid out so far.

  3. Riding Out There

    The Linden cycle track is very nice! Just rode through it yesterday.

  4. Drove down Linden the other day and noticed they were doing this. ALMOST made me willing to move up North ;)

  5. I might be alone in this, but I’m sort of miffed that I’m going to have to endure years of Burke construction, probably with detours of such quality that would never be tolerated by motorists, only to have my connection from the Burke across the Montlake Bridge take me out of my way and through random packs of iPod-zombie students coming off the light rail.

    The bottom half of the hourglass is a pedestrian path from the light rail to campus and a bike path from the Burke across the Montlake Bridge. So the west half should be designated a bike path and the east half designated a walking path to reduce conflicts. Their colored-pencil “renderings” indicate that they think the hourglass is some kind of public square, which is just typical Seattle bullcrap — there has to be something there in order for it to be a public square. A university quad is surrounded by academic buildings. A public plaza or courtyard (useful, non-Seattle edition) is surrounded by shops and homes and workplaces. Almost every person on the hourglass will be on their way somewhere else, somewhere where there’s something more interesting to do than sit around and watch the traffic on Pacific St. It should be designed to get people to those places.

    1. mattw

      You can designate biking and pedestrian lanes til you’re blue in the face, Al. But you’ll quickly asphyxiate if you hold your breath for walkers and joggers to abide by them, ESPECIALLY college students.

      1. Bill

        Separated facilities — with enforcement — work even for college students. I went to UCSB in the ’70’s. The campus cops would ticket you for biking on the sidewalks and for walking in the bike lanes, although the latter was rare since it was like running with the bulls. The belief here that peds and bikes can mix safely still astonishes me.

  6. Tim Willis

    It’s unfortunate that people have already started to crash on the Yesler tracks.

    It’s also unfortunate that Peter equates Light Rail and Streetcars to be the same thing.

  7. Ben Morris

    Regarding the Linden cycle track:
    I ride to work in Shoreline from Greenlake/Phinney Ridge and am looking forward to the completed cycle track. That stretch of the Inter-Urban has been a particularly sketchy ride, traffic wise. On two occasions I’ve nearly been clipped by passenger-side rear-view mirrors of fast passing cars (drivers aren’t too used to bikes up that way, I guess).

    The only weird thing I hope they correct is: just south of the 143rd St. intersection – going south – the cycle track disappears, and to avoid riding ‘death-wish style’ (into oncoming traffic), you have to cut across to the west side of Linden (to ride with traffic), then cut back to the east side (to get back into the
    cycle track). I hope it is in the city’s plan to complete the WHOLE STRETCH. I’m concerned about this because there’s a new sidewalk/parking where the cycle track should be going/continuing.

    Tom, do you know if this is the case?

    Now, if the city of Shoreline can just level out those damn hills on 155th… ;)

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      The cycle track will go all the way through. There’s still a LOT of work to do on the project. Here’s the full plan: http://seattlebikeblog.com/2010/09/09/sdot-proposes-cycle-track-on-linden-to-complete-interurban/

    2. Chuck

      There is a section of the cycle track that is not as protected as the rest around 143rd. The raised curb is replaced with a very low concrete separator (1-2″). It seems more visual than structural. I have to assume it is to allow the warehouse building doors access via large trucks. This is mildly concerning to me but seems to have been the plan all along if you look at the original presentation boards.

      1. Ben Morris

        Good observation, Chuck.
        At least the curb’s easy to jump when riding up to construction-worker vehicles parked in the cycle track.
        Ah, the ‘adventure’ of riding through a construction zone: dump-trucks backing up, huge back-hoe tractors swinging around, confused traffic flaggers – good times!

  8. Ben Morris

    I looked into your previous posts about the Linden cycle track and found a diagram of the construction plan showing the whole cycle track completed. It looks like they’ll make the whole thing continuous! I hope they stick with the plan. Thanks for your info on this!

  9. Ben Morris

    Fast reply, Tom! Thanks!

  10. Tim R

    My wife wiped out on the tracks at Broadway and Pine the other day. There is no bike lane there and her wheel got stuck in the groove when she tried to move over to turn left on to Pine. It was raining too, so the tracks were nice and slippery. I hope they make Broadway more bike friendly when the light rail comes.

  11. […] off that news, Seattle Bike Blog reports that construction is well underway on the main structure of the UW Station biking and […]

  12. […] is experimenting with its first bike sneak now. They opened their first streetcar line in 2007, and have a 2nd under […]

  13. […] is getting closer to being finished: Linden Ave making progress! […]

  14. pqbuffington

    I spent about 10 days in Berlin recently and many of the new cycle routes being etched out do in fact overlap with the Berlin tram network which runs on tracks very similar to our streetcar. I rode these daily (wet and dry) as do thousands and thousands of jolly Berliners (not the jelly Berliners) and nobody crashed that I saw…not even me.

    I appreciate that it is absolutely no fun at all to crash for whatever reason, but the fear/resentment of the streetcar tracks seems to be taking on an almost mythical quality and I am not sure why as the tracks seem no more hazardous than scores of other road anomalies, e.g. those effing yellow non-skid pads now on all the sidewalk access bevels (as in Tom’s photo above).

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