The city has passed a milestone in the Westlake Cycle Track project, selecting a firm to lead design work on a safe connection between the heart of South Lake Union and Fremont, the Ship Canal Trail and beyond.
Here’s a completely theoretical concept image from a 2012 Cascade Bicycle Club report to get those creative juices flowing:
And while the project would only cover the area between the Fremont Bridge and the northern end of South Lake Union, we have suggested that it could be continued down Westlake Ave to downtown. This would solve three huge problems: Provide a fast and safe regional commuting route, fill a hole in South Lake Union’s desperately poor bike route network (or lack thereof) and fix the still-dangerous cycling environment on Westlake Ave created by the poorly-planned South Lake Union Streetcar.
Details on project progress, from the SDOT Blog:
SDOT is excited to announce the kick-off of the Westlake Cycle Track project. This project improves safety for people biking, improves the pedestrian experience, and will be done in coordination with the Ballard to Downtown Seattle Transit Expansion Study, because Westlake is one of the possible corridors being considered for future rail.
The Toole Design Group, a planning, engineering and landscape architecture firm whose specialty is bike and pedestrian transportation, has been selected to do the planning and design of pedestrian and bicycle improvements. One element of their effort will be figuring out just how folks and freight will move safely up and down (and across) the strip between Lake Union and the eastern bluffs of Queen Anne, no matter how they travel.
The centerpiece of the study is a brand new cycle track to link the Ship Canal Trail with bike and pedestrian facilities on South Lake Union. The public right-of-way on Westlake can accommodate all modes of travel—people walking, transit, people riding bikes, vehicles and freight — and a cycle track will be a great way of helping to keep everyone safe. It improves safety for all modes of traffic and can make it easier for motorists to see people walking on bikes when entering and leaving the parking lot adjacent to Westlake.
SDOT Westlake Cycle Track staff is coordinating closely Sound Transit and other SDOT staff on the Ballard to Downtown Seattle Transit Expansion Study. This study looks at different rail options from Ballard to Downtown. While the study won’t be completed until 2014, it is looking at different design options that are important to consider as the cycle track moves forward.
Mayor McGinn is very supportive of the Westlake Cycle Track project and inclusive public engagement. He has also allocated $1.2 million in proposed funding for construction in new budget legislation, made possible by savings from the Spokane Street Viaduct project. Pending City Council approval, this funding could be enough to complete construction, depending on final design details. Previous funding exists from the Puget Sound Regional Council and the City of Seattle.
The initial focus of the study between now and this fall is to determine project needs through meeting with stakeholders. The next steps are the development of alternatives and continued public participation. Ultimately, a preferred alternative will be identified and rolled out for the public. The opportunity and challenge is to develop alternatives for the cycle track that leverage the multimodal benefits of each mode within the corridor.
Expect to see more information about the cycle track possibilities at fairs, festivals and meetings this summer. We will have information available at the upcoming Sound Transit / City of Seattle open house about the Ballard to Downtown Seattle Transit Expansion Study on Thursday, June 27th at Ballard High School Commons.