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Roosevelt bike lane will get safety upgrade from U Bridge to NE 65th

One of the most dangerous streets in the city for people on bikes will get a big bike lane upgrade when the city repaves Roosevelt Way from NE 65th Street to the University Bridge.

Around 20 people on bikes have been injured in collisions on this street in the past four years. Though the street has a bike lane, it is a skinny, paint-only lane squeezed too close to parked cars. As you can see in this current conditions diagram, someone opening a car door can easily hit someone on a bike if they are not paying attention:

roospbl_x1To solve this serious safety problem and create a more comfortable and inviting space for biking on this vital bike route, the city will move the bike lane to the curb lane and install a barrier separating people biking from the general travel lanes. Here’s what that will look like in general, from SDOT:roospbl_x2

2014 12 30 Roosevelt Overview Map v4As we reported previously, the city originally did not propose any upgrades to the existing bike lane as part of the repaving project.

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But neighbors, through University Greenways, argued that this paving project is our best opportunity to make this street safer. And since it connects to the site of the under-construction Roosevelt light rail station, it’s important to make these connections as an investment in station access.

“As the neighborhood continues to grow, it is critical that Roosevelt and 11th develop, not just into busy thoroughfares for vehicles, but as urban streets that are safe for all people, including school children, University of Washington students, the disabled, those without cars, transit users, bicycle commuters, the elderly, as well as those who are walking,” said U Greenways in a lengthy and informative letter to Mayor Ed Murray.

To spend $9 million on a street and not include identified safety improvements would have been a huge mistake, and would have thrown the city’s dedication to its own Bike Master Plan into question. These big repaving projects are Seattle’s best opportunities to make significant safety and bike route improvements, which is why the city passed it’s Complete Streets Ordinance in 2007.

A transit island on Dexter
A transit island on Dexter

In a project FAQ, the city notes that it was able to locate funds to build in-lane stops for transit (similar to the transit islands built on Dexter) and sidewalk repairs, which helped make the bike lane more possible.

At the [November 17] open house, staff shared that there were a few project components we hoped to add should funding become available. These included in-lane transit stops for better bus reliability and sidewalk repairs. Since the open house, some funding for these improvements has been identified. This triggered another evaluation of how well we were meeting our Complete Streets Ordinance and transportation modal plan recommendations. Shifting the transit stops in-lane provided us with an opportunity to add the PBL recommended in the Bike Master Plan.

Coupling Bike Master Plan projects with repaving projects also saves a lot of money. For example, the city has estimated the cost of protected bike lanes at $1.5 – 2 million per mile. But by coupling the bike lane with repaving work and learning from effective lower cost bike lanes built in other cities, the 1.7 miles of bike lane is budgeted to cost $590,000, or about $350,000 per mile. That’s only 18 – 23 percent of the Bike Master Plan’s estimated cost.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 11.17.16 AM

Though this project has strong neighbor support, it could draw some opponents now that it reaches north of the University District. An organized group of opponents fought hard back in 2013 against inclusion of a protected bike lane on NE 65th Street in the Bike Master Plan, leading to the city developing a compromise bike route solution for the plan. Roosevelt is a very different street from 65th, and plans for a protected bike lane there did not draw such push back during the Bike Master Plan process.

Spray paint marks prep Roosevelt for a pilot protected bike lanes to be installed soon.
Spray paint marks prep Roosevelt for a pilot protected bike lanes to be installed soon.

Meanwhile, the city has started work on a pilot protected bike lane between N 45th Street and the University Bridge. This section will give a glimpse into what the bike lane will look like after the paving project is finished.

The full paving project is scheduled to start in fall 2015 and be completed in spring 2016.

You can learn more about the city’s plans and give feedback at these upcoming open houses:

Tuesday, January 20|2 – 3:30 PM: University Heights, 5031 University Way NE

Wednesday, January 21|8 – 9:30 AM: Wayward Coffeehouse, 6417 Roosevelt Way NE

Thursday, January 22 | 5:30 – 7 PM: University Heights, 5031 University Way NE

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32 responses to “Roosevelt bike lane will get safety upgrade from U Bridge to NE 65th”

  1. sb

    I was at the last open house for this project and some of the anti-bike/bus comments, while not surprising, were troubling to hear. I’m glad to hear that the PBL is being expanded to 65th!

    If you have a relationship with Roosevelt and like this project and want to show support, I encourage you to come to one of the next open houses.

  2. Great news! Roosevelt will certainly see more bike use with a protected bike lane.

    I’m waiting for the parking protectors to start whining in 3… 2…

  3. Dave F

    Great to see another protected bike lane under construction. What’s the timeline for this project, and when can we ride it?

  4. Rich

    Will there be a fix for the choke point north of the bridge at Campus Parkway where the bike lane temporarily disappears?

    1. Eric

      I second this question- it’s easy to take side streets and avoid roosevelt entirely, but there’s no way to avoid crossing the bridge, and that one spot is terribly dangerous. I don’t think it will be cheap to fix, but fixing it would be higher value than the entire protected bike lane.

      1. Andres Salomon

        Yes, this will be fixed in both directions (on both Roosevelt and 11th). In SDOT’s 60% plans, they have engineering diagrams that show a trimming of the median islands that force the merge (see #4 in “The Good” section of http://seattlegreenways.org/wp-content/uploads/roosie60pc-3.pdf ). However, while the 60% plans still include dropping the bike lanes near the bridge (see #6 of “The Bad” in the above PDF), my understanding is that SDOT is working on or has figured a plan to have the bike lanes continue. They won’t be protected, but they’ll be at least 5ft wide.

      2. So… it looks like they’re going to make the northbound bike lane continuous, which is nice. The southbound one appears to drop out about where it does now, but resumes somewhat earlier, just after the bus stop, and would be painted in through where traffic merges in from 40th and Campus Parkway.

        When it comes to finding space for keeping the southbound bike lane continuous, there’s a sidewalk on the east side of Roosevelt that, south of NE 41st St, turns into median pavement leading nowhere. If it’s possible to remove that and shift the southbound lanes east into that space, it should leave just enough room for the bike lane. Maybe that’s what they’re considering.

        Overall, one day this whole interchange is going to have to be redone. It’s one of Seattle’s many one-off arterial interchanges that, despite taking up lots of space, doesn’t support all the possible traffic movements gracefully (see jogs for bus routes 31 and 32, the way route 66 can’t share stops with any related routes), can be confusing to get around on foot, and fails to accommodate bikes without more one-off designs that make it hard for everyone to know what to expect.

  5. Mike L

    Depending on what route I take to work, I ride a large portion if not all of this section daily on my commute to work. The whole length of it could definitely use better bike infrastructure. And the section getting the pilot protected bike lane is always the most hectic and dangerous feeling. I frequently see cars entering, sitting in, or exiting the bike lane to park and to make turns. Buses pull in and out right in front of me. These factors, combined with relatively high biking speed due to going downhill, makes this bike lane feel less than safe. I feel like I have a near collision or am forced to do some sort of evasive braking or swerving very regularly. Its nice to see this project happening and with a plan to route the bike lane out of the path of buses.

  6. kpt

    This is so awesome. Thanks so much to Tom and to Andres Salomon and everyone else who brought this to SDOT’s attention.

    The question that jumps out at me is: what is the possible timing on a PBL the other way, on 11th? I wonder how far out that is?

    1. Matt

      Not on the 5 year implementation plan, so 2020 at the earliest.

      1. kpt

        Yeah, I wonder how set in stone the 5 year plan is, particularly at the far end: if this proves wildly popular, I’d think it builds a constituency for advocating for moving this up (especially if the money saved on Roosevelt could be applied to the project on 11th).

        I can easily imagine people fairly new to the idea of bike commuting starting up because of this, then realizing that it’s not as easy to get back up the hill, and making noise about it.

  7. タイラーkun

    Excuse me for the probable redundancy, but sadly not a frequent reader of this blog, so probably have missed a debate/story on my below comment. I just returned from a trip to Vancouver and I really admired their bike/car separation, particularly the knee-high cement-made garden planters that they had on many streets in the downtown area. Are there examples of this in Seattle? Is this something the biking community advocates for? Personally, as someone who’s a novice and infrequent urban cyclist, I’d feel more safe with such a sturdy looking barrier, in addition to the appeal the plants and flowers add to the street scape. Certainly beats the blue smurf-blue poop on Broadway.

    1. Clark in Vancouver

      The planters in Vancouver are nice (Mikael Colville-Andersen called them “funky”) but the main thing is a physical strength of the concrete curbs that they rest in. Another approach is those jersey barriers (a.k.a. K-rails) which are easy to install and provide a good protection both subjectively and in actuality.
      Once I was walking across a bridge and a speeding car went out of control, spun around and hit the barrier right where I was walking. If it hadn’t been there I would’ve been crushed against the outer railing or pushed off the bridge.
      In my opinion, I understand that having plastic poles or blue smurf turds are a quick way of creating separation but they should eventually be replaced with something better in the future and for new routes, just cough up the dough and put in a curb. We all need to keep asking governments for a larger slice of the pie.

      1. タイラーkun

        Thanks, Clark!

      2. Josh

        Personally, I hate segregated facilities set off with just curbs — if it’s not higher than the center of gravity of a person on a bike, someone who hits it gets pitched across into traffic. Short curbs are especially bad, I’ve seen someone taken out by a row of parking curbs used to define a paved shoulder, she dodged to avoid another bicycle, sideswiped the curb, and landed face-down in the street.

        I suspect I’m not alone in this, seeing the much higher discomfort ratings for curbs than for plastic delineator posts or planters. Curbs don’t have as high a discomfort rating as a row of parking, but they have much higher negatives than flexible posts.

        (See http://usa.streetsblog.org/2015/01/07/as-protected-bike-lane-design-evolves-new-lessons-emerge/ for comparisons.)

      3. Ben P

        The problem with jersey barriers is the feeling they give. They are generally found by major highways, hence are associated in the minds of drivers with high speed. Planters on the other hand send more of a slow down this is a driveway type of feeling. The other problem is people prefer to ride in places more pleasant than the car bomb looking protection offered by jersey barriers.

      4. Most of planters don’t rest in concrete. The reason they don’t move is that the bottom half is a giant water tub (they are called “self-watering” although that doesn’t always work). They were designed to be picked up and removed if needed.

  8. Gordon

    I can’t state strongly enough that everyone who supports this projects needs to show up at the drop in sessions and say so! Good projects die when supporters take victory for granted. We can’t do that. We need YOU to show up to at least one of the drop in sessions:

    Tuesday, January 20|2 – 3:30 PM: University Heights, 5031 University Way NE

    Wednesday, January 21|8 – 9:30 AM: Wayward Coffeehouse, 6417 Roosevelt Way NE

    Thursday, January 22 | 5:30 – 7 PM: University Heights, 5031 University Way NE

  9. Sean

    For the drop in sessions, do you have to attend for the entire duration, or is it possible to show up and sign in as a show of support? I only ask because I’d love to attend, but I am at work or class on all three of those days. I can make it to the Wayward Coffehouse one, but I would have to leave at 9:00am.

    1. Gordon

      The “drop in” format should allow folks to come by for any amount of time and leave a comment. Glad you can swing by and make an impact!

      1. Sean

        Ok, Thanks!

  10. Drew

    As a member of University Greenways I am so impressed with how many thoughtful folks from the U District have lent ideas and open minds to this process which has clearly helped empower SDOT to seize this opportunity to fully implement a protected bike lane. Thank you Gordon for reminding us that we still need to show up at the next meetings, voice support and help make the design even better. I am feeling so happy about the community right now. I have to say that even the opponents, or supposed opponents to a protected bike lane, have demonstrated a more thoughtful approach to this issue and open minds about the process. At the last open house the biggest ‘opponents’ had legitimate concerns about having to load items and people into vehicles across a very busy street from their condos and I believe since then SDOT has proposed reconfiguring this section of Roosevelt to maintain a protected bike lane AND make loading easier. It will probably get a little trickier to accommodate the desires of all the small businesses up near 65th but I look forward to more thoughtful consideration about how we get a protected bike lane in place while respecting the needs and interests of everyone in the corridor. I am so happy to be a Seattleite right now.

  11. Rob

    Andres, Gordon, and the others who worked on this,

    Thank you very much for all your hard work! We will all benefit from the time, energy, and savvy skills you put into making this project happen. And then once it’s done, I will feel safe enough to ride that corridor… at least southbound. After that, it’s only another 4 miles of dangerous roads into downtown to fix before I’m comfortable riding with my son to his daycare and my work.

  12. I admire all the hard work that has and is going into this project. Chattanooga is working more and more towards a bike friendly city with more commuter traffic, of course on a much smaller scale.

  13. RossB

    As someone who drives and parks a lot, I can say this is a great idea. This is obviously an area where more bike infrastructure makes sense. The Burke Gilman is nearby, and this simply extends the bike routes that are reasonably safe in a very popular area. It is also reasonably flat, which means that I think this will be extremely popular if implemented. The loss of parking is minimal, and those are terrible parking spots. Who wants to parallel park on a busy street, which involves crossing a bike lane in the process. To park you essentially hold up two lanes of traffic (one for a bike and one for a car). Better get it right the first time or you really screw things up. Good riddance to those spots, I say.

  14. I want to call out the terrific partnerships that are in play for making Roosevelt Way NE safer for everyone along this busy corridor.

    Gordon @SNGreenways worked with a whole crew of talented people @UGreenways as well as @CascadeBicycle and @FeetFirst_WA.

    @SeattleDOT rose to the challenge of redesigning the Roosevelt corridor — I want to particularly acknowledge @sKubly, @Dongho_Chang, Sam Woods, Dawn Schellenberg, Tri Ong, and Paul Elliot.

    And thank *you* Tom for posting our petition and providing a forum for ongoing discussions about why all repaving projects need to build in safety improvements like protected bike lanes and safe crossings for #VisionZero and #CompleteStreets.

    Roosevelt Way NE is a great success for safer streets. The first of many in 2015!

  15. Gordon Padelford

    If you want to keep the improvements…

    Make sure to add your name thanking the city for deciding to make Roosevelt safer for everyone https://www.change.org/p/mayor-ed-murray-thank-you-for-making-roosevelt-way-ne-safer-for-everyone

    And stop by one of the drop-in sessions!

    Tuesday, January 20|2 – 3:30 PM: University Heights, 5031 University Way NE

    Wednesday, January 21|8 – 9:30 AM: Wayward Coffeehouse, 6417 Roosevelt Way NE

    Thursday, January 22 | 5:30 – 7 PM: University Heights, 5031 University Way NE

  16. […] thing today, infrastructure that supports family biking sure did. I saw the installation of a protected bike lane on Roosevelt Way. We ride a different part of Roosevelt Way quite a bit, but never down here–it’s just […]

  17. […] something awesome happened: The city announced that they now plan to build protected bike lanes for the entire length of the project, stretching from NE 65th Street to the University […]

  18. […] has outlined a plan, developed with community help, to ease concerns about a parking crunch once the Roosevelt protected bike lanes are built in late 2015 and early […]

  19. […] much of UW campus and the U District to the bike lanes on the University Bridge, which are also due for some significant upgrades as part of the Roosevelt repaving […]

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