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Bike Master Plan Draft 2: Central Seattle

The last day to comment on the second draft of the Bicycle Master Plan is Friday. Email your comments to [email protected].

This post is a continuation of a series investigating some of changes in the newest draft of the Bike Master Plan.

In general, the updated Bike Master Plan includes a lot of bold and smart projects. We noted many in our analysis of the first draft. This post focuses mainly on the changes between drafts.

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Download full plan and map here
Blue=Protected bike lane. Green=Neighborhood Greenway. Red=Trail. Download full plan and map here

The biggest changes between the bold (almost surprisingly so) first draft and new one are on some of the busier streets in the Capitol Hill, First Hill, Central District and downtown areas. For example, protected bike lanes on Madison, Boren and Fairview have been dropped entirely.

But some exciting ideas have been added, like an extended protected bikeway on 10th Ave E from 520 (and its proposed bike path) to the under-construction Broadway Bikeway. The plan also calls for protected bike lanes on Pike Street from 2nd Ave to Broadway (which should be extended to Madison). Both are ideas we suggested in our analysis of the first draft.

23rd Avenue

23rdAveCorridor_OpenHousePresentation_MARCH2013cycleWe have a few tweaks and small change suggestions that we’ll get to later in this post. But the elephant in the room is the omission of any kind of bike facility on 23rd/24th Avenues from the Montlake Bridge to Rainier Ave, especially the section through the Central District.

I argued previously in favor of installing protected bike lanes on 23rd Ave. But planners are now no longer proposing any bike facilities on the road, instead pitching a parallel neighborhood greenway.

While obviously I am a big supporter of neighborhood greenways (and I do appreciate that planners are trying to widen the awful 23rd Ave sidewalks), I am very much concerned that this will become a trend in so-called “complete streets” projects: Fund a neighborhood greenway on a nearby street so that the needs of people biking can continue to be ignored on the destination-filled commercial streets. A neighborhood greenway a block away does not make 23rd Ave safer for people biking to a destination there. Even standard paint-only bike lanes would be an improvement over installing nothing.

More coverage of 23rd Ave coming soon…

South Lake Union still miserable

South Lake Union is an awful place to cycle today, and the plans will do little to improve that. 9th Avenue simply does not cut it as the neighborhood’s primary north-south bike route. While it might be difficult and require some creative road design work, Westlake Ave from downtown to the planned cycle track along the lake is a must if South Lake Union ever wants to be anything other than miserable for people on bikes.

Not only is Westlake the flattest and most direct route to downtown, but people still crash on the streetcar tracks regularly. It is simply not acceptable to say that we will do nothing to fix the situation for the next 20 years.

Small missing gaps

There are a few small gaps that should be filled in the plan. For example, Madison Street from Lake Washington Boulevard to MLK and the Madison Valley commercial district is a must (west of MLK, Madison gets crazy steep). There’s also plenty of road space, and the street is more dangerous than it needs to be. Thus it is a perfect candidate for a protected bikeway and a great connection for people heading into the Central District.

A bold and promising Rainier Ave protected bikeway is planned from MLK to Dearborn. That plan should be extended on Rainier to Jackson, which already has well-used bike lanes heading east into the CD. This could also provide a connection to the Yesler bike lanes and the Broadway Bikeway for those heading to First Hill.

Jackson remains a disappointment. A perfect candidate for a quality bikeway, the plan only calls for sharrows. A parallel bikeway on King Street (a neighborhood greenway probably won’t work, at least in the busy ID) could be good for people traveling between the ID and the CD, but does nothing for people trying to get to and from Pioneer Square or the Alaskan Way Bikeway.

29th Ave makes very little sense as a neighborhood greenway route (at least north of Spring or so) because it runs into a wall at Union.


The downtown plans are pretty solid. Beyond what I’ve already said about Jackson, I have few additions.

There should be a route noted connecting the waterfront to Pike Place Market along the planned promenade park thingy.

I also find 9th Ave between Denny and Pike/Pine to be a fantastic bike route with low-traffic (read: Easy option for a quality bikeway) and an excellent grade for people planning to climb up Capitol Hill.

Plans for a bikeway on the Denny Way crossing at I-5 should be added back to the plan, even if it is only between Melrose and Stewart. It’s a steep and busy road, sure, but it is heavily-used already and there are no other good options nearby for people traveling between downtown/SLU and Seattle’s densest neighborhood.

15th Ave E along and north of Volunteer Park is a must. It’s a heavily-use bike route today with room for improvements and no real alternative options.

Boylston Ave E north of the I-5 Colonnade Park should at least have bike lanes if not a protected facility. It’s a popular route that will only get more popular if/when the 520 trail is completed. The hill is so steep in the Eastlake neighborhood that, while it looks easy enough on a map to just hop over a block to Franklin, it’s not.

Anyone else have thoughts on the updated Central Seattle plans? We have more Bike Master Plan Draft 2 posts coming that will cover West Seattle, Magnolia, Queen Anne and NW Seattle.

Related posts:


20 responses to “Bike Master Plan Draft 2: Central Seattle”

  1. Zach Shaner

    The Pike-Union Bikeway
    1. It should extend to Pike Place market. Why stop it at 2nd?
    2. Will Pike be contraflow westbound west of I-5? Will Pike-Union be a couplet of one-way cycletracks west of I-5, or two 2-way cycletracks?
    3. Any facility on Pike should be on the south side to avoid conflict with the express lane ramp.
    4. If Pike is built, will transit run two-way on Pine east of 7th avenue? (the trolley wire is there)
    5. Will the existing lanes on Pine west of I-5 go away, as the map shows?

    Other comments:
    5. The 29th Ave greenway should stay on 30th between Jackson and Harrison.
    6. Where did the downtown Cherry St bike lane go? Will they be removing it after all that DIY fanfare?
    7. Any facility built on Spring St downtown should go on the north side of the street. Bikes shouldn’t have to cross I-5 bound traffic before crossing I-5 and turning left on 7th to connect with Seneca.
    8. Either Fairview or Westlake need a minimum of a bike lane. I agree with you, doing nothing for N-S bicycling in SLU is unacceptable. I love 9th, but it’s not enough.
    9. What is the off-street connector planned for the Mercer ramps? Is that a connector to Lakeview?

    So many questions…good stuff!

    1. Zach Shaner

      Numbering, derp.

  2. Gordon

    Even as a confident rider, Boylston Ave E scares the dickens out of me nearly every time.

    A few additional notes:
    1) I still think it’s a shame that Broadway is considered a suitable N-S route in southern Capitol Hill. It is wonderful for people accessing First Hill, but for getting north-south (for instance to the ID, or I-90 trail, or Beacon Hill) I can’t imagine people riding up the massive hill just to go back down again. 12th ave could use some major separation improvements (the door zone bike lanes there are an accident waiting to happen) or alternatively 14th is quite nice.
    2) Heading north, after the arterial of 23rd shifts to 24th it would make a whole lot of sense to put in a cycletrack. In order to connect Capitol Hill to Montlake and beyond.
    3) How is the 520 trail not of city wide significance?
    4) How on earth is 19th Ave between Boyer and Interlaken ever supposed to be made safe? It’s one of the steepest streets, if not the steepest street, in this proposed network. I’m a believer that here and there you may have to get off and push your bike, but that hill is simply too steep for even walking a bike if you are young, old, etc.
    5) Same with the E Galer St connection.
    6) There is currently a climbing lane on 15th Ave E between E Howe St and E Garfield St. This serves as a useful, albeit not AAA, connection between the neighborhood greenway like E Howe St and the upper part of Capitol Hill.
    7) Jackson is a huge loss, I sincerely hope S King St is done right.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Excellent point about lack of south Capitol Hill connection to Jackson/Jose Rizal Bridge, etc. Broadway doesn’t cut it there.

    2. rnr

      re: 2) A cycle track on a rechannelized 24th Ave could be an “easy” grade route up Capitol Hill from Montlake. Since there are really no good options for getting up the hill on the north side, 24th should be given serious thought.

      re: 4) How is 19th between Boyer and Interlaken made safe? As you say, you get off and push. It’s super steep for 1/2 block, but the reward is the gentle slope, low traffic and verdant landscape of Interlaken Park. What’s a better alternative if you are young or old? Not Delmar. Not 24th.

  3. Jason L

    Madison from 23rd to MLK is also crying out for some kind of bike facility. It’s extremely wide and has relatively little turning traffic. And although steep, it’s still the best way to get up the hill because it cuts across at a diagonal.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Or at least a climbing lane.

  4. David Amiton

    – the west side of 15th (Galer – Republican) seems like a no-brainer for a two-way cycle track.
    – traveling from dt/slu to points east along denny is the absolute worst. the worst!! it literally feels like walking (or biking) along/across the shoulder of a freeway. can the bmp update really come up with nothing that would make that corridor less of a day-ruiner?

    1. Zach Shaner

      7th-Olive-9th-Pine is way better than suffering through Denny.

      1. David Amiton

        sure, but it’s pretty out of the way, especially if you’re on foot. thousands of people walk and bike along denny each day because it’s the most direct connection between one of the densest neighborhoods in the city (and areas of capitol hill) and the densest employment center in the city. it’s just crazy to me that this exceedingly urban quilt is held together by a massively suburban thread.

      2. Zach Shaner

        I completely agree, but I just gave up in resignation and decided the extra half-mile was worth it. Two years ago I proposed an idea for fixing Denny for transit on Seattle Transit Blog, but I have no idea how to make it better for people walking and biking. The best thing would probably be a new bike/ped bridge near Thomas/Harrison/Republican. See Page 5J

  5. stevesliva

    The E Republican greenway doesn’t actually connect to Melrose as far as bikes are concerned– there’s a staircase there. (Similarly the Galer St greenway in QA is mostly stairs. Those bright green lines are misleading. Anywhere else?)

    Also missing like the waterfront rebuild are the SR99 North Portal reconnections. Aurora, Thomas, Harrison and John all get rebuilt, and only Thomas has a bike facility marked.

  6. Jake

    What to do about Dexter? I’m talking about Dexter in SLU, where Mike Wang was killed two years ago and where (just a block away) a cyclist was critically injured last night. Protected/buffered lanes and/or cycletracks will only exacerbate the problem of distracted drivers making illegal left turns.

    I think our community needs to push for a rechannelization here. Make it one lane each direction plus a center turn lane, or perhaps even a tree-lined center median. In all my years riding, walking, busing, and driving it, I never seen this stretch busy enough to warrant 4 general travel lanes. Perhaps if drivers only have one lane of traffic to cross when turning left, situations like these will happen less often.

    1. Zach Shaner

      I’m all for rechannelization, but there are other options too. What about just banning left turns, or signalizing them?

      1. RTK

        Unfortunately this was at an intersections with a signal.

  7. Rich F

    I agree 29th Ave makes no sense for a neighborhood greenway from Madison to Union. Funding would be needed for a tunnel under Union for 29th to make it work – not a good use of scarce resources. And it is not a safe route across Madison. I’ve lived in Madison Valley for 20+ years and active bike traveler and bike north south regularly with my young daughter.

    The draft plan takes 29th Ave E northbound as it jogs across Madison – so either you’re requiring the kids to go West on the narrow sidewalk with the peds or go West on Madison and then left across traffic – yikes! The draft plan then follows 29th which does another jog at E Arthur PL then another jog at E. Republican creating more unnecessary risk (there is cut-through traffic that comes through these intersections which have limited visibility).

    The best neighborhood greenway route from Madison is 27th Ave E then branch at Columbia to 26th Ave and 29th Ave. 26th Ave is a great route as it connects cleanly right into Judkins Park – Mt to Sounds etc (27th peters out at Yesler) – I take this route regularly with my daughter and feel very comfortable with it. 29th Ave to Mt Baker Ridge is also wonderful. So one neighborhood greenway from Madison along 27th and then two starting at Columbia along 26th and 29th (per draft plan)

    The natural route traveling northbound along the 28th Ave E designated bike route is crossing Madison & MLK at the traffic light then quick right onto E. Arthur Pl to 27th Ave E. This route already sees many bikers per day. Traveling southbound 27th to to E. Arthur PL to MLK works OK – a bike box at MLK and Madison would improve it. However, when I go southbound I take 27th Ave E across Madison to avoid crossing MLK – this route has a jog and a hill but there is an island protected turn lane to execute the jog across Madison. Not sure if different N & S routes fits with all this.

  8. Commuter Jones

    Just say no to bikes on 23rd. This is foolish. It is a busy thoroughfare that routinely has traffic jams and adding bike lanes is absurd.

    I am a commuter (bike, bus and car) and for north-south biking I use either 19th Avenue or 27th Avenue, NEVER 23rd. The pavement is messed up from the overweight (exempt from that requirement) buses, cars are in a hurry (usually driving around 40 mph).

    As to Madison? Get real. Only people training for races regularly use that street and then I only see them at 6am when traffic is dead. Bikers need to be responsible and ride safely and that means sometimes you stay off the main arterial and take the side streets.

  9. […] In fact, the lack of existing or planned bike facilities on 1st was seen as a positive for selecting the street for the streetcar route instead of a couplet on 4th and 5th Avenues, according to the Tier 1 report. Indeed, the draft Bike Master Plan includes bikeways on 2nd, 4th and 5th Avenues downtown. […]

  10. […] In fact, the lack of existing or planned bike facilities on 1st was seen as a positive for selecting the street for the streetcar route instead of a couplet on 4th and 5th Avenues, according to the Tier 1 report. Indeed, the draft Bike Master Plan includes bikeways on 2nd, 4th and 5th Avenues downtown. […]

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