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:
To 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:
As we reported previously, the city originally did not propose any upgrades to the existing bike lane as part of the repaving project.
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.
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.
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.
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