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Streetcar extension will complete the Broadway Bikeway, should set-up 10th Ave bike lanes

9_BOARD_Broadway_Track Alignment Cross Sections The Broadway Bikeway will extend the entire length of the central commercial drag from Yesler to Roy if and when plans for the extended streetcar are completed. If the city can find the funding, the bikeway could be ready to open in 2016.

The city held an open house last week to show updated plans for an extended streetcar on Broadway and, possibly, 10th Ave E. No matter what, plans are to extend the existing bikeway at least as far north as Roy, where the main drags curves and turns into 10th Ave E.

The biggest question facing planners and transit proponents is whether to make Roy the last stop (at least for now) or to push on for one more stop at Prospect.

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But the biggest question from a bicycling perspective is what kind of protected bike lanes we want to see on 10th Ave E, which will some day provide the best connection between Capitol Hill and the planned 520 Bridge Trail.

10_BOARD_Broadway_Protected Bike LaneThe Bike Master Plan calls for protected bike lanes on 10th Ave, but of course it does not provide details about what kind of protected bike lanes they should be. First, let’s look at the terminus options as presented at the open house:

Broadway_Site_Plan_Final-compThe Roy Street Terminus extends the two-way bikeway to Aloha Street, steering people on bikes clear of the remainder of the streetcar tracks. If the city were to extend the two-way bike lane all the way to Roanoke Park and the future 520 Trail, this would prevent people on bike from having to merge awkwardly into the two-way bike lane.

The Proscept Street Terminus would mean extending the route into a much skinnier right-of-way, and creating some crunch issues for the final station. While it appears there is enough room for at least a two-way protected bike lane, the plans presented show inadequate paint-only bike lanes squeezed between car parking and the streetcar tracks:

Broadway_Site_Plan_Final-zoomClearly, this is not good enough. In fact, it’s a little odd they even suggested it since it goes against the Bike Master Plan and clearly creates a dangerous situation for people on bikes. This is not an argument against extending the streetcar to Prospect, but planners have to go back to the drawing board to make sure an extended streetcar maintains protected bike lanes.

Cost and performance comparisons between the two termini put the ball in Prospect Street advocates’ court. It is expected to add about 40 percent to the cost, but only result in 100-250 more riders. The major cost difference is the extra two blocks of remaking the street and purchasing an extra streetcar to maintain the desired headways.

On the other hand a Prospect Street terminus would put the streetcar line one stop closer to the U District and provide better access to Volunteer Park.

7_BOARD_Broadway_Prospect Street Terminus 6_BOARD_Broadway_Roy Street Terminus

Here’s the project timeline:


Seattle-BMP-Master-MapNOV2013-10thBuild the 10th Ave protected bike lanes

If the city really wants to put the icing on the Capitol Hill transportation cake in 2016, they should plan to complete the 10th Ave E protected bike lanes between Roanoke Park and the streetcar terminus by 2016.

This would dramatically improve bike connections to the Capitol Hill light rail station when it opens, and would help solve a dangerous stretch of road for people biking between Capitol Hill and the University Bridge.

The city repaved most of 10th Ave a few years ago, so adding protected bike lanes should not be too expensive, at least compared to many other projects where costly paving is needed. It might even cost less than turning nearby Federal Ave E into a neighborhood greenway, since that street would need heavy repaving work.

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32 responses to “Streetcar extension will complete the Broadway Bikeway, should set-up 10th Ave bike lanes”

  1. David Amiton

    I used to live at 10th & Prospect and the best thing I see about this plan is the new signal at that intersection. Over the years they’ve added a crosswalk, lighting, sharrows, etc., but it remains a really sketchy crossing, especially for one that’s so frequently used by families, small children, and out-of-towners walking to and from Volunteer Park and the bus stops on either corner.

    I favor the streetcar/bikeway extension to Prospect; however, with the new signal alone to meter traffic and allow bikes to safely make direct or two-stage left turns (currently it’s about a half-mile between signalized intersections at Aloha and Galer, which makes turning left off of 10th onto Prospect really difficult!) I think standard bike lanes would be fine (though not ideal) between Aloha and Prospect. Also, with both options (Roy Street terminus and Prospect Terminus) there should be two-stage left accommodations at both Aloha and Prospect for southbound bicyclists who wish to turn left and continue east on those streets. Aloha has an uphill bike lane and Prospect is the best neighborhood streets option in the area for climbing up to commercial establishments on 15th…oh, and that park thing, too.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Thanks, David. The problem with the paint-only bike lanes between parking and the streetcar tracks is that if anything ever blocks the bike lane (double-parked car, open car door, etc), that will send people on bikes swerving around into the streetcar tracks at a very dangerous angle. The protection is needed as a way to keep the bike lanes open, essentially. Otherwise it’s a recipe for disaster.

      1. David Amiton

        Don’t get me wrong — I agree with you! But I also think a block of standard bike lanes between Prospect and Aloha wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world IF they put a signal in at Prospect. With the signal, traffic is going to move at a much slower and more controlled pace for that block. Again, it’s not ideal, but I could live with it.

        FWIW, I sent so many emails to SDOT in advance of, during, and after the 2010 repaving project lobbying for dedicated space for bikes I thought my fingers might fall off!

      2. Richard

        Tom – as a current resident within a block of 10th and Prospect, completely agree with you on this one. And I have to say, I completely agree with David’s commentary about the crossing and the need for a signal – I cross that road MANY, MANY times, usually several times a day – sometimes on bike as part of my commute, others on my way to the park biking or walking – and on the bike during commuting hours, the wait time to get clear is extremely long — And on foot, MANY cars won’t stop unless you make it look like they either stop or hit you (I’ve gotten really good at glaring at the oncoming cars and LOOKING like I’m damn well walking in front of them whether they stop or not, while simultaneously being ready to jump back QUICKLY when they sometimes call my bluff)…

        But as awesome as a stop there would be, it’s not worth it. As terrible and annoying as it is, I’m not aware of any injuries that have occurred there (if they have, it’s been rare). But we KNOW bikes dealing with badly positioned track will cause injuries – just look at the history at Shilshole.

        Thing is, again the city feeds us a false dichotomy. I don’t believe there is anything that would make a light there less plausible if the bike lane were designed safely here.

      3. jay

        A while back I was riding on the Broadway “protected bike lane” and it was blocked (both lanes) by a taxi ! Granted it was late at night, but still.
        The illustrations above with a protected bike lane, show parking on only one side of the street. Seems to me that is a non-starter, it’s one thing to take parking if you are claiming to save lives by making a street safer, but saving a hundred or so people from walking a few blocks is not such a convincing argument for asking (maybe the same) people to give up their parking. Besides, walking will make people healthier, so NOT extending the streetcar will “save lives”! One might be better off arguing that 40% more money to only serve 100-250 more people a relatively few blocks is a waste and hope the rail extension is not built. No rails, no rail hazard for bikes.
        I really don’t understand the whole infatuation with streetcars anyway (I mean other than the trickle down theory, you give tons of money to contractors (and, indirectly, to people who own property near the stops) then they will spend it for stuff like imported materials, political contributions etc., oh, yea, some local wages too!) One thing I read, (about the “First hill” section I guess) said about $134 million for the streetcar project, with a projection of “over” 3000 riders a day, at say a $3 fare, zero operating costs and zero interest, it will pay for itself in less than 40 years! (cough, Kingdome, cough)
        For contrast, Wikipedia says at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hangzhou_Public_Bicycle: “The Hangzhou government invested 180 million yuan ($26.35 million) to launch the program, and 270 million yuan ($39.53 million) in discounted loans.” Not that Seattle needs 66,500 share bikes, but maybe a quarter of that + a million free helmets.
        Sure, lots of people wouldn’t want, or be unable, to ride a bike 2.5 miles, especially up the hill , but the trolley tracks are already up the hill, the proposed extension is on a pretty level stretch.

        Just how tight would the space be with “painted bike lanes”? if there was enough space to get around an open door (even if not a UPS truck) then I don’t see a huge problem as long as the city was willing to have some more parking ticket revenue. To eliminate double parking (I’m looking at you “Brown”) there would have to be a number of vigorously enforced loading zones (BTW, the driver of the taxi that was blocking the Broadway bike lane claimed he was in a loading zone, of course he wasn’t, the loading zone was in the street, but it had an unoccupied car parked in it. If that car had been promptly towed, the taxi could have been there I wouldn’t have been blocked) Once there were loading zones in place, making double parking a felony would be helpful, but probably unrealistic, still, prompt ticketing of drivers and towing of (double parked/loading zone) unoccupied vehicles would help. One would probably still have a problem with taxies, there will probably be people who will offer a bigger tip to be dropped off at their door instead of a 1/4 block away, maybe the tickets could count against the driver’s hack license (which is even less a “right” than a regular drivers license, which is a privilege not a right), say 3 tickets in a year and they go to a reeducation camp until they lean the error of their ways traffic school for a day. Also zealous ticketing of cars parked more than a foot (or whatever the law is) from the curb and towing of those, say two feet or more away could help (I figure that someone who parked more than 2 feet from the curb was probably drunk, so their car would be impounded anyway if they were caught, if they didn’t get arrested they should count themselves lucky)

      4. Gary

        Why Street cars?

        Tourists and realestate developers love street cars. I loved those old ones down on the waterfront but Mimi Gates and the board at SAM didn’t so they tore out the maintence barn years before the tracks had to be moved for the tunnel construction.

        Tourists love them because it’s harder to take “the wrong one” and end up in the central district…oh wait, this one goes pretty close, but the developers will fix that and the poor people will be gone soon enough.

        I hate them as a transit guy because they take up space in the road that is no longer available for bicycles via their stupid tracks. They can’t go around obsticles like badly parked cars and “Brown”, they are more expensive to operate than a good old electric bus, and they get stuck in the same traffic that is everybody else. They aren’t any faster than a bus, however they have a pretty high capacity, but not much more than those new buses they have running down Aurora etc. They have more trouble in snow than a bus due to the lower co-effiecient of steel wheels on steel rails vs rubber on concrete.

        So all in all, they tend to be a net loss. On the other hand, those old cars down on the waterfront were as much fun to ride as any Disney world ride and the conductors were great tour guides.

  2. JAT

    I for one don’t want to see any protected two-way bike lanes on 10th Ave E, and I say that as someone who’s been riding that corridor since I was about 12. Particularly on the slope I fully expect two way bike lanes will result in hideous bike-on-bike violence, and I’m not the only one.


    But “All Ages and Abilities!”, I know, I know.

    1. David Amiton

      That hasn’t been my experience with the two-way cycletrack on NE 65th. Works just fine. I also had a fine time riding the many miles of steep two-way cycletracks in downtown Vancouver, BC. They worked great!

  3. Stuart

    The idea of having to overtake a car blocking the bike lane with tracks on your immediate left in heavy traffic is scary. There is no way they should build that. I also don’t see the benefit of taking the streetcar a few blocks closer to the U district. When there is a project in place to take it over the ship canal the two block difference will be a small percentage of the budget. And if the projected ridership is so low for the prospect street stop it means there isn’t much difference in service to Volunteer park.

    If they don’t come back with an improved design for the bikes on the extension I’ll be opposed to that option. It isn’t worth establishing the president that we can define down “protected lane” to door zone painted lanes. That is what we already have on 10th and it isn’t good enough.

    1. David Amiton

      Nope, you don’t already have that on that section of 10th. Just sharrows. And the sharrows suck even more than the bike lanes to the north (granted, those bike lanes are curbside, but the potholes generated from cars entering/exiting St Mark’s are just as bad as a door zone). Given the choice, I’ll choose the less sucky option.

  4. Charles B

    We should just make it a cycle track all the way to Roanoke. If the streetcar needs to go past Roy, they should make it a couplet with a parallel street where the street is too narrow to have both the streetcar and the cycle track.

  5. Peri Hartman

    I’ve been convinced that separated bikeways are designed for people of all abilities at the expense of being able to ride fast in them (at least when they are heavily used). I can accept that in most cases. If I want to go fast, I can move into the vehicle lane. I do that.

    Where this breaks is when there are no reasonable alternatives. If the only vehicle lane available has tracks in it or you have to cross tracks to get to it, then you are relegated to another street if you want to go fast.

    On the Broadway stretch there are good alternatives. There’s 12th and some of the streets west of Broadway work pretty well, too. However, north of Roy there are no alternatives. If you want to go fast, you’ll have dodge other cyclists. As another reader pointed out, that will likely lead to accidents and confrontations.

    Let’s make sure the design does not rule out fast riders.

    1. Jayne

      Sorry but if someone is so yoked up that they can’t slow down a little for a few blocks they should stick to the track and stay off roads with other people on them. It’s not that hard. Seriously this is the kind of thing we hear from car culture about why they shouldn’t have to slow down for anyone either.

      1. Peri Hartman

        A few blocks is fine. But a mile or two is another matter. If the line is ultimately expanded from Roy to Roanoke, that’s more than a few blocks! I hope it’s ok to want to go more than 10mph downhill.

      2. Josh

        There’s a good reason CROW standards call for at least an 18.5mph design speed on cycletracks. Ordinary, non-athletic people on bikes don’t hold their speed down to 10 mph just because a path is dangerous at higher speeds.

      3. Richard

        Peri, if you want to go faster than what is reasonable in the bikeway, you always have the option of the traffic lane. It seems very backward to oppose the sort of facility new riders, children, etc. would be able to ride on, just because you don’t want to have to choose between riding slower and riding with vehicular traffic.

      4. Peri Hartman

        And that’s exactly what I said!

        My point was about cases where there is no choice but to use the bike way. If the vehicle lane has tracks in it you are effectively required to use the bike way or an adjacent street. 10th N does not have any adjacent streets that go through, thus restricting bikes to a bike way is a poor solution for that section.

        Does this help? If not, please be more explicit about your disagreement.

      5. David Amiton

        Federal basically goes through. You can take it all the way down to E Miller then cut over to 10th for the final block to Roanoke. It’s a neighborhood street. I used to ride it on the rare snow days when I didn’t want to be slip-sliding around in mixed traffic on 10th. I new I was going to fall and it was safer to do that on a street with no other cars.

      6. Richard

        Peri – Sorry, misunderstood, I now see where you specifically pointed out that your concern was if the streetcar is extended all the way down.

      7. Peri Hartman


    2. Ben P

      I like to ride fast so I’m often concerned by limited turn radii and sight lines. They create collision courses and unforeseeable dangers. For similar reason I dislike narrow two way cycle tracks when I’m in going fast, I never know who might step or serve into my path. Now you know what doesn’t suffer from these problem? Rails. They never move and they’re mostly straight. I love flying down Broadway hopping back and forth over the rails. It’s a lot of fun and (for me at least) it’s a lot safer than riding in the door zone as so many bike lanes would have us do. This is clearly advanced technique, but you are an advanced rider.

      Obviously don’t try it till your good at bunny hoping though. And obviously don’t start practicing in traffic. Getting adrenaline doesn’t have to be dangerous.

  6. Gordon Padelford

    “the plans presented show inadequate paint-only bike lanes squeezed between car parking and the streetcar tracks.” Inadequate is putting it delicately…

    Also, at the City Council Transportation Committee meeting today they were discussing the Center City Connector streetcar project. I know this blog has talked quite a bit about putting a biking facility on 1st ave, perhaps the connection between first and the terminus of the SLUSC deserves some additional attention. They are discussing using either Stewart/Olive or Pike/Pine to get to the Westlake terminus of the SLUSC. If they choose Stewart/Olive, it will not impact the BMP’s protected bike lane on Stewart (which, in the plan, ends at 7th). If they choose Pike/Pine then that could impact the proposed Pike St protected bike lane (which conceivably could also be on Pine, or a couplet with Pine). If they choose to route the streetcar on Pike/Pine, and build a protected bike lane system, and keep metro’s significant bus service, we could have an amazing corridor for walking, biking, and transit!


    1. Charles B

      Thanks for bringing that up.

      Fortunately the preferred alternative for 1st ave is Olive/Stewart. Let’s keep it that way. We need a bicycle network that connects the whole city, not just parts of it.

  7. Dan

    I’d like to see the parking on the east side of the 10th ave hill removed. If they made the west side of 10th 45° angle parking they would similar capacity and have enough room for a climbing bike lane in front of that (on the west side) and we wouldn’t have to bomb the hill next to parked cars (or be passed in a no passing zone). Its a much safer way to do work with just paint. Similar to the north end of the ave.

  8. Peri Hartman

    I see in the “typical cross section”, they show 12′ for each of the street car lanes while in the “left turn section”, they show 11′. If 11′ is ample for the street cars, those extra 2′ (two street car lanes) could be added to the bike lanes. 6′ bike lanes would be a huge advantage over 5′ lanes.

  9. Josh

    It’s ironic, but door zone bike lanes meet minimum state and national standards as required by the Bicycle Master Plan Update, while an extension of what’s already been built on Broadway does not. It would be interesting to see what sort of cycletrack they could fit in that meets at least AASHTO standards, if not CROW.

  10. Joseph

    Above the article says “Cost and performance comparisons between the two termini put the ball in Prospect Street advocates’ court”.

    It then goes on to say “It is expected to add about 40 percent to the cost, but only result in 100-250 more riders.”

    Doesn’t that put the ball rather firmly in the *Roy* St advocates court?

    1. Ben P

      Right, mixing percentages and absolute numbers, neither of which where clear, and then concluding with an analogy of sorts. 40% of what? 100-250 riders, compared to how many at other stops? And what does a ball in a court supposed to mean? Is that a basket ball reference if some sort? I still enjoyed the article though!

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        Ball in court was not quite the correct idiom. I meant: Data presented seems stacked against the idea of a Prospect terminus, so it’s on the people who want Prospect to make the case now. Otherwise, I’m not sure it will happen (unless key electeds decide they want it to, of course).

        And percent increase in ridership with Prospect terminus: 14-25 percent.

      2. Ben P

        Thanks for clarifying.

  11. Drew

    Wouldn’t the best solution here to have a protected bike lane along Broadway and down to Aloha, and then encourage bikers over to Federal Ave? Right now, Federal is practically unbikeable because it is so potholed and rough, but the ultimate solution seems like it would be to turn Federal into a green street and then connect it with the future Portage Bay bridge bike lane.

    1. Peri Hartman

      I tend to agree with you. For high speed riding, staying on 10th makes sense – but only if you can ride in the regular traffic lane. So, instead of taking space on 10th for bike lanes, move the lanes to Federal. Good thought!

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