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City officially opens section of the Broadway Bikeway

Photo by Gordon Werner (click for more bikeway and streetcar photos)
Photo by Gordon Werner (click for more bikeway and streetcar photos)

The Broadway Bikeway is officially open between Union Street and Denny Way.

This is the city’s first attempt at a two-way protected bikeway on a very busy commercial street.

We will have more on the bikeway soon. Here’s the announcement just in from SDOT:

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Today the City of Seattle and Sound Transit officially opened a segment of the First Hill Streetcar’s Broadway cycle track for use by bicyclists. The demonstration segment, running from E Denny Way to E Union Street, is roughly a third of the overall one-mile cycle track on Broadway, which is expected to be fully completed and opened to bicyclists next spring. The cycle track, located on the eastern side of Broadway, will run from E Denny Way to Yesler Way when finished.

“We heard from Capitol Hill residents and businesses that they wanted a safe, protected bicycle facility on Broadway, and today we’re delivering on their request,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “This cycle track can help improve road safety and contribute to a thriving business district.”

The Broadway cycle track will improve bicycle safety in a high bike use area, and was included as an element of the Sound Transit-funded First Hill Streetcar Project at the request of the community. Once complete, the cycle track will help bicyclists access streetcar stations, as well as the future Sound Transit light rail station at Broadway and Denny Way. Finally, it will connect to new bike lanes and markings coming to Yesler Way, 14th Avenue and Jackson Street.

“The cycle track is a great addition to the Sound Transit-funded streetcar project and will provide another great link in Seattle’s growing bicycle infrastructure network,” said Sound Transit Board member and Seattle Council member Richard Conlin.

The two-way Broadway cycle track is separated from motor vehicle traffic with a 2’ wide buffer, curbs or a vehicle parking lane. Safety features of the cycle track include intersection treatments such as bicycle signals, green pavement markings and traffic signs. Green pavement markings are also installed at driveways where vehicles and bicyclists will cross paths. Signage at driveways directs motorists to yield to bicyclists, while the signs and signals at intersections establish when each mode of transportation can safely proceed.

Note that there will be periodic closures of the cycle track to accommodate continued streetcar and light rail construction activities on Broadway in the coming months. Bike detour routes and signage will remain in place until the construction is complete. Sound Transit will be temporarily closing the northernmost block of the cycle track, between E Denny Way and E Howell Street, in January to complete construction of the light rail station.

Additional information regarding bicycling and the First Hill Streetcar can be found on the project website, located at http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/fh_bikes.htm.

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46 responses to “City officially opens section of the Broadway Bikeway”

  1. Eli

    I got to talk with one of the workers installing the bike traffic lights.

    She affectionately said about it: “I’ve never seen anything like this before…only in Seattle!”

    I had to break it to her that, actually, New York City has already 30 miles of these already in just 5 years and is on track to build a ton more (let alone Chicago, DC, and places like Memphis.)

  2. Gordon Padelford

    I just rode it this morning! Very exciting – except the car picking up passengers in the bikeway outside Frame Central at Broadway and Pike.

    Is there a parade or opening celebration planned?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I’ve heard of early issues like this at Pike/Broadway. Gonna observe the situation.

    2. Andres Salomon

      Hm. I’m guessing there’s nothing keeping cars from entering the protected sections? I have mixed feelings about bollards in these situations..

    3. Joseph Singer

      Actually, Amsterdam has had bicycle traffic signals for many many years.

  3. jdg

    i have a bad feeling there will be problems with perkins glass.

    they are already continually parking right in the lane. i have had business dealings with them many times, and based on that, im not looking forward to their attitude about these lanes.

    1. Yes. They are grumpy.

  4. […] A 0.4 mile stretch of the Broadway bikeway is now open. CHS gave the route a spin Monday afternoon after the Seattle Department of Transportation declared the separated, two-way cycle track officially open: […]

  5. Charles B

    Parking in the new lanes is a big issue. Especially in the sections only protected by white paint (no cement barriers). I saw three cars parked in the green zone between union and pike and though it was Sunday, I suspect that it will not disappear immediately.

    Is there going to be any enforcement, or are we going to have to deal with parked cars for the foreseeable future?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Similar design exists on Linden and people there have figured it out. Hopefully just a little learning curve issue.

      1. Charles B

        Most of the Linden is track actually blocked off from the street with cement dividers. The one part I am aware of that is not is in front of a building that is still under construction. (So it doesn’t really have any visitors).

        I should also note that most of Linden has parking immediately next to the bicycle lane, so the temptation to park in the bicycle lane is much lower.

        Its still possible that people will figure this out without any enforcement, but given that the green paint is already down and people are still parking in it, I am quite concerned.

      2. merlin

        I just rode the Linden Cycle Track for the first time this afternoon. There’s a substantial section where there’s no concrete barrier and just a painted divider separates a lane of parked cars from the cycle track. The parking spaces next to the cycle track (and between the moving cars and the cycle track) were mostly used, and most of the cars were parked ON the painted divider, rather than next to it. But none of the parked cars were actually on the cycle track. So I would give the people who parked those cars a C-. On another note, there are a ton of driveways that cross the cycle track (not optimal) but the crossings are all clearly marked with bright green paint and parking is restricted around the crossings to improve visibility.

      3. daihard

        One of the issues I see on Linden is that some people park their cars over the shaded area between the bike lanes and the parking spots. While the motorists may not think much about it, that makes the cyclists riding on the southbound bike lane prone to “dooring.” I wonder why SDOT don’t install the concrete blocks instead.

      4. Geronimo

        You’re optimistic. The section just south of 145th is really not protected and cars have encroached on the bike lane since it was opened.

        When I rode Linden on Sunday and there was a car parked in the section separated by curbing, too!

        Without persistent enforcement a cyclepath designated only with paint is nothing more than a wide spot in the road.

  6. josh

    There’s nothing in the Seattle Municipal Code that gives legal status to cycletracks. It will be interesting to see how enforcement efforts run up against this legal void.

    Is it part of the street?

    Is it part of the sidewalk?

    Are cyclists crossing intersections treated as crosswalk users or as vehicles already in the street?

    Are pedestrians crossing the cycletrack crossing a street (must not enter if traffic is too close to stop) or are they still on the sidewalk (cyclists must yield to pedestrians)?

    1. jdg

      what about SMC 11.53.190?

      “the operator of a motor vehicle shall not drive in a bicycle lane except to execute a turning maneuver, yielding to all persons riding bicycles thereon.”

      1. josh

        But a bike lane is defined as part of the roadway.

        “Roadway” is defined as “that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk or shoulder even though such sidewalk or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles.”

        In the Pudmaroff case that clarified cyclists’ right to crosswalk protections, the State Supreme Court looked at that “vehicular travel” language and said bicycle travel was not “vehicular travel” for purposes of defining a roadway.

        So is the cycletrack part of the roadway? Or is it an exclusive bicycle facility that isn’t part of the roadway?

  7. Jake

    Seems like SMC 11.72.035 (or .040, for unoccupied vehicles) would be the applicable statutory provision:

    No person shall park a vehicle upon or along any street and exit such vehicle when traffic will be unreasonably obstructed thereby, or when, in areas designated for angle parking, the vehicle is of such a length as to obstruct the sidewalk or the adjacent moving traffic lane. Violation of this section constitutes a parking violation rather than a moving traffic violation.

    In case you were wondering, yes, “traffic” does include herded animals.

    1. Jake

      Sorry, slight correction: .040 is for occupied vehicles, which would turn it into a moving violation.

  8. josh

    It may be legal for cars to pick up passengers in the cycletrack –that’s a separate legal issue from parking.

    If the cycletrack is part of the street, then you can’t stop in it if you “unreasonably” obstruct traffic.

    If the cycletrack is a sidewalk, you can’t ever stop, stand, or park in it.

    If the cycletrack is a bike lane, you can only drive a motor vehicle in it for turning maneuvers, which wouldn’t include passenger pickup or dropoff. (But a bike lane is defined as part of the roadway, and the definition of roadway refers to “that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk or shoulder even though such sidewalk or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles.” In Pudmaroff, the State Supreme Court decided that “vehicular travel” language meant the Interurban Trail was *not* part of the roadway, because it was for bicycles. So is a cycletrack part of the roadway? Maybe not, at least as “roadway” is currently defined…)

    If the cycletrack is a bicycle trail or bicycle path, you can’t stop, stand, or park in it or adjacent to it in a way that obstructs the trail/path, unless you’re driving an emergency or maintenance vehicle.

    But as to which set of rules actually applies, the municipal code doesn’t define cycletracks.

    The ongoing motorist confusion on Linden hasn’t received any City Council attention that I’ve heard of. Maybe Broadway has a high enough profile that the Council will clarify the legal void around cycletracks.

  9. Joseph Singer

    A lot of good the bikeway does when you have a FedEx truck parked in the middle of it and a California vehicle that cannot understand why someone would be upset with them parking their vehicle there. FedEx and UPS seem to think that they can park anywhere they doggon well please. It’s going to be interesting when the tram starts up next year to see whether they still will use the center of the street to park.

    1. Charles B

      The Microsoft connector shuttles also park in the bicycle lanes on Greenwood… basically every day.

      1. daihard

        Have you tried reporting it to Microsoft? I would definitely do that if I were you.

      2. joe

        Commute (at) microsoft(dot) com

  10. Takin’ er easy

    Hmm, think I’ll keep on using 10th/11th Aves through that part of town.

  11. 365Biker

    Rode this yesterday to the farmer’s market, it’s rad! Saw 2 other people using it, in the opposite direction, and smiles on everyones faces.

    As for people parking in the bikeway, you know that U-locks are useful for more than keeping your bike safer from theives, right? Jus’ sayin.

    1. bill

      Yep, more weight makes hill intervals more effective.

      Call for a Parking Enforcement officer at the SPD’s non-emergency line, 206-625-5011. On Capitol Hill especially I would expect an officer will show up before you put your phone away.

      1. Gary

        Yesterday rode the block between Pike and Union for kicks and there were two parked cars in the lane. Then as I was climbing the hill on Union I passed a SPD Parking enforcement vehicle so I stopped to “chat” and he called it in!

        Anyway Union is blocked going up the hill for construction so I won’t bother riding that block again. And I don’t like riding the wrong way on the cycle track. I had to vear out into traffic to get around those parked cars…. ugh.

      2. Joseph Singer

        Just a note about SPD’s non-emergency number 206-625-5011. If you call prepare yourself for about five minutes of instruction on what to press and what not to press in order to actually speak to someone. Here’s the way to cut through all the endless talking and prompts. As soon as the line answers and the chattering starts press 2. When the chatter starts up again press 8.

      3. 365Biker

        Hill intervals?
        I was thinking that removing some side-view mirrors would quickly make the bikeway more effective. Use your U lock, for safety’s sake.

      4. Sea

        Yup. The only thing the average motorist cares about is damage to their precious car. Signs, fines, verbal warnings, all mean nothing. U lock to the mirror or a window is not just a strong message, it’s the only one they’ll listen to.

  12. Peri Hartman

    I would like to see the council specifically address bikeways. Unlike bike lanes, if someone block the bikeway, riders going the opposite direction will be routed head-on into oncoming auto traffic. This renders the bikeway too unsafe to use.

    Even for cyclists going the same direction as adjacent traffic, it would be hard. The rider needs to merge into the auto traffic lane, which means as he is merging he is not able to watch as carefully what is approaching from ahead. There could be another cyclist coming around the obstacle from the opposite direction!

    I’d like to see the city issue fines for cars parked in or partially obscuring bike lanes as well. This include Microsoft and other transit vans, delivery vechicles, etc. that are too wide for the parking space so partially block the bike lane as well. It’s not as big a deal as it is for bikeways, but if we really want people to use the biking facilities, they need to be safe to use.

    1. RTK

      This is a good point. Yes, with a block bike lane you just move left and flow with traffic. This could become very hazardous if you had two way bike trafficdiverting out into the general use vehicle lane.

      1. Sea

        Especially considering the general use vehicle lane now has deathtrap trolley tracks all over it.

  13. JR Cooper

    I just biked up the hill to ride the cycle track and I want to know why so many driveways are allowed access over the path. Is the city afraid to take imminent domain for cyclist safety? I was taunted by 2 drivers and was forced to join traffic because of an Infiniti parked in it. The police should be administering tickets till drivers are put in their place.

    1. Andrew Squirrel

      If you are going to remove parking spots from the road(which I think is a great thing, roadways are not city subsidized parking lots IMO) you really need to provide a way for vehicles (be it delivery or personal) to get the hell out of the road when they reach their destination. The property/business in question can figure out where they want to put the vehicle once it exits the road but let’s at least be honest that vehicles aren’t going to suddenly vanish after we have installed a silly cycletrack.

    2. Andrew Squirrel

      Also, not sure if you noticed but SDOT forgot to take down the parking signs after painting the cycletrack so, in reality, you can’t completely blame the drivers (yet).
      Even though I’m not too hot on this implementation of they Cycletrack I think we need to give everyone the benefit of the doubt during the transition/learning period.

  14. Lee

    I have biked on the bikeway three times in the last two days and each time I have encountered illegally parked cars. I have started to report this to the Seattle Police. Their parking enforcement hotline is 206-386-9012, which I have saved in my phone. I also take pictures of violators and submit complaints on the SPD website at http://www.seattle.gov/police/parking/default.htm. I think we all need to do this which will hopefully lead to some action. I would also recommend writing to city council members and the mayor. – Lee

  15. If only more cops parked in the bike lane. Then you could add to this awesome site: http://copsinbikelanes.tumblr.com/

    1. Bill

      ROFL! The first time I rode up the new bike lane on Avalon to Fauntleroy, a cop was stopped fully across the crosswalk, so I couldn’t cross over to 36th. The cop pretended to be busy with his computer so he could pretend I wasn’t there. I must keep my phone more accessible….

    2. biliruben

      The policy should be: Get caught parking in the bike lane, you get to patrol on bike for the next month. That should solve the problem pretty quickly.

      If only I were the SPD dictator!

      1. Joseph Singer

        “Punish” the cop by making him ride a bike! How about punishing the cop by making him *walk* a beat.

      2. biliruben

        If he parks on the sidewalk…

        I was thinking more of instilling empathy than of punishment per se.

        By and large, cops have a lot of animosity towards folks on bikes. Getting them on them now and again would perhaps change that.

  16. Roanoke Rogue

    New challenge encountered this afternoon: riding north on the new bikeway, approaching Pine Street, two people were standing in the bikeway. Given that both had “blind” canes, and one they were signing into each others’ hands – so I assume one if not both was also deaf (Seattle College which is kitty-corner from this spot specializes – or used to – in education for deaf students). At that point, the bikeway is at the same level as the adjacent sidewalk, so these two likely had no way to know they were in the bikeway and not safely on the sidewalk. I have no idea how to prevent such situations. All I can do is bring it up. Any suggestions who for the City should be told about this?

  17. […] new cycle track that opened up on Broadway this week is presenting challenges for cyclists and motorists […]

  18. […] first segment of the Broadway Bikeway – Capitol Hill’s first – is now open.  It’s not on my regular commute route, but I checked it out on the ride yesterday.  Nice […]

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