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Broadway Bikeway (mostly) opens Wednesday


Detour details for people biking to/from north of Denny.
Detour details for people biking to/from north of Denny.

The Broadway Bikeway is finally ready to (mostly) open.

The two-way protected bike lane will stretch all the way from Yesler Way to Denny Way, connecting Yesler Terrce, First Hill and Capitol Hill. The city is scheduled to fully open the bikeway Wednesday, though no official celebration is currently planned.

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While the opening is a huge step for biking in these key, dense, central neighborhoods, use of the lanes will still be limited due significant construction at the north end of of the bikeway near the future Capitol Hill Station. That construction detours people on bikes to other streets and will be in place in some form or another for the rest of 2014.

To recap, the Broadway Bikeway was created in large part as a way to avoid the bike safety problems created by the South Lake Union Streetcar on Westlake. That streetcar was built in the curb lanes of Westlake without providing a safe bike facility. Even before it opened, people started crashing when their wheels got caught in the tracks, leading to a lawsuit that was later thrown out.

But the bikeway goes well beyond just being mitigation for the streetcar tracks, it is also the first significant stretch of protected bike lanes in the city’s busy central neighborhoods and provides a much more comfortable space for people to bike on bustling Broadway than the previous street design, most of which had no bike lanes at all.

IMG_2653The bikeway has also been a huge learning experience for the city, both in terms of what kinds of education efforts are needed for all road users to get used to it and in terms of what design elements work well and which ones do not. If nothing else, the bikeway has proven the need for a serious sweeping regimen, especially from fall leaves.

We made this video when the first section opened in October. It also highlights some early lessons relating to on-street parking confusion that they have mostly solved:

Of all the new elements of the bikeway, the blue twisted noodle bollards have probably received the most comments. Made of plastic and filled with water, they are an artsy attempt to make sure people do not drive or park in the bike lanes. And I believe Seattle is the first city to create a Smurf-turd-protected bike lane!


More details on the bikeway from SDOT:

Just in time for National Bike Month, Broadway’s Protected Bike Lane opens Wednesday morning, May 7. The protected bike lane, a design feature of the First Hill Streetcar project, helps cyclists avoid streetcar tracks and creates a facility where people of all ages and abilities can ride a bike.

The City of Seattle is developing the First Hill Streetcar in a partnership with Sound Transit with funding of $134 million provided through the 2008 voter approved Sound Transit 2 (ST2) transit expansion plan. Construction of the protected bike lane was included with the First Hill Streetcar Project in response to community input and the high concentration of bicycle riders who live, work or go to school on Capitol Hill and use Broadway as a major transportation corridor.

Broadway is becoming a complete street where people can walk, bike, take transit or drive depending on their needs. Extending 1.2 miles along Broadway from Denny Way to Yesler Way, the protected bike lane incorporates a buffer between bike riders and moving cars. The facility features a two-foot buffer separating the bike lane from traffic or parking lanes to enhance bicycle safety and provide predictability for all users.

Additional features of the ten-foot wide, two-way bike lane include smooth new road surfaces, bike-friendly drainage grates and green painted pavement at those locations where cyclists and motorists cross each other’s paths. Special traffic signals at intersections provide a few seconds of advanced green time for cyclists to ensure they are visible to motorists making right turns across the bike lane. (Right turns on red across the bike lane are prohibited along the entire facility’s length.) Posted signage warns motorists of the presence of bicyclists and informs them of the need to stop for bikes.

The northern third of the Broadway Protected Bike Lane, the segment between Denny Way and Union Street, opened to cyclists in October 2013. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is applying lessons learned from the opening of the first segment in providing additional information about this new section. In advance of the protected bike lane opening, SDOT added 23 temporary signs with photos to clarify where motorists can and cannot park. Learn more about how to use protected bike lanes by visiting www.seattle.gov/transportation/PBL.htm. You can even watch a 40 second video showing how a two-stage left turn box works at www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=6436&file=1.

Construction of the underground pedestrian concourse at Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill Link light rail station has narrowed the street between Denny Way and Howell, in turn requiring the closure of this one-block section of the bicycle lane. In July of this year, the work will shift from the west to the east side of Broadway. This construction is slated to continue until the end of the year, during which time people riding bikes can detour along Harvard Avenue between Denny Way and Pine Street. Click here to view a detour map.

Later this year, streetcar operations will begin on Broadway and the rest of the 2.5 mile/10 station First Hill Streetcar line. Construction of the streetcar facilities is now approaching substantial completion; streetcar manufacturing, delivery and testing will continue through the summer as the preparations for operational startup begin. Additional information on the project can be found at www.seattlestreetcar.org.

The First Hill Streetcar will be the first Sound Transit 2 rail project to come online. Sound Transit is on track to open the University Link light rail extension, which is six to nine months ahead of schedule and more than $100 million under budget, in early 2016. By 2023 Sound Transit is on track to deliver more than 30 additional miles of light rail extensions approved as part of Sound Transit 2, including extensions east to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area; south to Angle Lake and Kent/Des Moines; and north to the U District, Roosevelt, Northgate, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood.

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13 responses to “Broadway Bikeway (mostly) opens Wednesday”

  1. Josh

    While the street lighting along the route is good enough that this is probably a minor issue, those blue Smurf-turd bollards appear to lack proper conspicuity markings for roadside hazards. I know, picky picky…. But an easy fix with some conspicuity tape if SDOT wants to make them compliant and reduce the risk of lawsuits when someone runs into a Smurf-turd.

    1. RossB

      Good point. In general I like the looks of those things, but I think the brighter the better. Our pro sports teams have very bright, almost neon colors and I think these should be similar. They should also be reflective, so they glow at night.

      1. Josh

        If these are considered access control bollards, AASHTO says bollards should be reflectorized on both sides and have a minimum height of 40 inches so they’re visible past the handlebars of a rider ahead of you.

  2. My husband biked the cycle track today and it was blocked off. He tried going south on it and he encountered lots of obstructions, not counting the huge Smurf poo.

    1. Jayne

      The first line in the quote from sdot:

      “Just in time for National Bike Month, Broadway’s Protected Bike Lane opens Wednesday morning, May 7. “

  3. […] made when the city opened a small section of the project last year (note: The Denny Way connection has since changed). Notice the way the bike signals and the turn signals have separate phases to reduce conflicts. […]

  4. […] separators were new to us when Seattle prepared to install them last year. As Seattle Bike Blog put it, Broadway might be the world’s first “Smurf-turd-protected bike lane.” As […]

  5. […] bike lanes, like Seattle, are innovating with unique ways to protect lanes (Check out the “Smurf Turds” on Broadway – see photo below).  The list for 2014 is out again, and Chicago is on it […]

  6. […] Two way divided bike lane image from Seattle Bike Blog. […]

  7. […] the smurf turds were brand new. The orange posts were temporary and later […]

  8. […] separators were new to us when Seattle prepared to install them last year. As Seattle Bike Blog put it, Broadway might be the world’s first “Smurf-turd-protected bike lane.” As […]

  9. […] Bike Blog calls them “Smurf turds,” but we’ll just call them clever. The water-filled plastic loops combine with curbs, […]

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