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Seattle gets stack of Federal funds for protected bike lanes downtown, on Broadway

The Feds are going to help make more of this happen in Seattle
The Feds are going to help make more of this happen in Seattle

Seattle will officially receive a stack of Federal cash to build protected bike lanes downtown and on Broadway (we reported on the recommendation earlier this month). The city has also received nearly $400,000 to help low-income residents access Pronto bike share (I will write more about this in a future post, so stay tuned).

The total for protected bike lanes downtown comes to $5.8 million for protected bike lanes on 2nd and/or 4th Avenues and 7th Ave. Believe it, Seattle, we’re building protected bike lanes downtown.

As we reported previously, the city is moving ahead with a relatively low-budget pilot protected bike lane on 2nd Ave, which will be ready in time for the September launch of Pronto Cycle Share. These Federal funds will provide the resources to design and (help) build permanent protected bike lanes in the next couple years.

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The Feds will also invest in extending the Broadway Streetcar to at least Roy, a project that will also extend the Broadway Bikeway to cover the entire commercial length of Broadway.

These investments are a great example of how the Federal government can help cities accelerate the bike-friendly transition that nearly every big US city has at least said they want to make. Relying only on municipal transportation funds for major biking and walking safety is not enough. Our nation needs top-down leadership on biking and walking safety.

Imagine if every US city this year received millions for protected bike lanes in their city centers like Seattle will. This is the kind of national leadership that led to the safe streets revolution decades ago in countries like the Netherlands. Dutch cities wouldn’t be the symbols of safety and bikeability that they are today had their national government failed to help make the investments. In 1975, streets in the Netherlands were 20 percent more dangerous than streets in the US. Today they are 40 percent safer.

More details on the investments, from the City Council:

Summary of City of Seattle Projects Recommended for Funding:

  • $200,000 for Route 48 Electrification (23rd Avenue)  (design only)
  • $2,627,528 for Center City Gateway ITS (Next Generation ITS)
  • $8,500,000 for Broadway Streetcar Extension

Countywide, Large Jurisdiction

  • $1,383,000 for Michigan St ITS (Next Generation ITS)
  • $4,300,000 for Center City Protected Bike Lanes, Phase I (2nd Ave and/or 4th Ave)

Countywide, Non-motorized

  • $700,000 for Center City Protected Bike Lanes, Phase I (2nd Ave and/or 4th Ave)
  • $800,000 for 7th Ave Protected Bike Lanes
  • $397,900 for Low-Income Access to Bike Share Network

Countywide, Preservation

  • $1,500,000 for Renton Ave
  • $1,500,000 for Roosevelt Ave


  • $1,500,000 for Broadway Streetcar Extension
  • $4,383,799 “earned share” (aka “formula”) operations and maintenance funds (SLU streetcar, Monorail)

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18 responses to “Seattle gets stack of Federal funds for protected bike lanes downtown, on Broadway”

  1. Gene Balk

    Great news!

  2. Josh

    Good news on multiple fronts… using Federal grant money in the design also gives more leverage to ensure the design complies with minimum safety standards, which has been an issue for SDOT on quite a few bicycle infrastructure projects.

    1. Peri Hartman

      I’ll second that, Josh. SDOT keeps compromising bike lanes and making them more marginally useful. The new 2nd ave lanes are designed to be 5′ wide. However, there’s a 3′ buffer between them and the traffic lane so maybe they’ll allow for a cyclist to pass another.

      Anther example is the new bike lanes on Roy Street (Uptown area). They are quite nice except in one area going west it gets squeezed down to about 4′. To narrow to ride in safely (you have to see it), so I move into the traffic lane.

      I’m looking forward to see all the new infrastructure, though. Really exciting!

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        I haven’t tried the Roy lanes yet. I’ll check them out. Anyone else had issues with them? I was at the bike board meetings about roy and nobody mentioned 4-foot lanes.

      2. John

        Going off of memory, around Roy and 2nd heading eastbound the cycle lane narrows to being ridiculously skinny. As Josh said above, I find it safer to take the car lane then, as the current bike lane in that section is an insulting joke.

      3. Peri Hartman

        Just to be a bit more clear: the narrow part is where the traffic lane and the bike lane veer to the right to make room for a left turn pocket. When they did this, they removed the striped buffer and narrowed the bike lane. In addition, since cars are veering to the right and then need to bend left again to straighten out, the risk of them crossing into the bike line is high.

        Fortunately, with 2-way Mercer in place, there’s very little traffic most of the time on Roy. I just ride in the traffic lane for that section with no problem.

      4. Josh

        I’d be wary of a 5-foot bike lane with only a 3-foot buffer to parking. That puts most of the bike lane within the door zone of parked cars.

        They’ll be safer when the lane is moving traffic instead of parking, but the preliminary design of the 2nd Ave lanes makes it look like riding in the street will be safer when moving the same direction as traffic.

      5. Josh

        One linguistic nitpick — except on limited-access freeways, there are no “car lanes” in Seattle. Calling them that just reinforces motorists’ sense of entitlement.

        They’re travel lanes, open to cars, bikes, horse and buggy, pedicabs, neighborhood electric vehicles….

  3. Alkibkr

    That’s exciting, but what I really hope for is to live to see the day there are protected bike lanes across the grid diagonally along Eastlake and then Stewart to 1st Avenue, connecting the U district. SLU businesses and medical facilities, REI etc. to downtown 1st Avenue (and hence to points south and west via Western and the waterfront). I feared for my life due to bus traffic on Stewart while trying to get home from an appointment that ended during rush hour. Sidewalk riding is not a great option along Stewart (or is it even legal?).

    1. That’s for sure.

      Sidewalk riding is generally legal, though I’m not sure if I’d do it on Stewart.

      These days, as the routes heading out to the west of Lake Union have improved a lot more than the ones heading to the east, I might start out along one of the western routes (Blanchard-8th-Bell-9th or Blanchard-7th-Dexter) then head over to Eastlake on either Harrison (or is one of the other streets around there better? I don’t really know) or Valley (aka Roy aka Broad…) plus some side streets.

      I think any permutation of those is significantly slower than Stewart (I think Dexter-Valley is the least slow — Dexter has the least-bad wait at Mercer and Harrison is an absolute crawl) but also significantly calmer.

  4. Gary Anderson

    Is all this money going to badly needed new infrastructure? It would be nice if some funding could be used for maintaining existing facilities. The extremely well used Burke-Gilman Trail is sorely in need of repairs to lots of dips, holes, and root damage.

    1. Ballardite

      Agreed on the need for BGT maintenance. Better intersection treatments are also sorely needed.

      Either way, great news on the funding. Better infrastructure elsewhere will lead to more people on bikes, which will then create a larger constituency applying political pressure for basic maintenance on existing facilities.

    2. Josh

      In general, grant money is for new infrastructure, not maintenance.

      That’s part of the same system that encourages massive over-building of new highways while existing bridges crumble; new streets while potholes grow.

      Many paths/trails aren’t even part of the transportation funding pot, they beg for crumbs from the much smaller recreational funding pie.

  5. […] Seattle has received $5.8 million from the federal government for the construction of protected bike lanes on 2nd, 4th, and 7th Avenues. […]

  6. […] Securing significant grant funding to help build protected bike lanes in the city center. […]

  7. […] of the PBL on 7th Avenue in exchange for alleyway vacations, and the City received $5.8 million in federal funding for much of the rest of construction earlier this year. Downtown will soon be as bike-friendly as […]

  8. […] written about these projects and these grants before. Though most the money is not for bike lanes, $5.8 million will go to planning and constructing a […]

  9. […] July, the city secured $8.5 million for the extension as part of a $27 million federal transportation package for the region. The city has put up an additional $3.3 million for the project so […]

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