And, of course, it notes the current locations of Pronto Cycle Share stations. Because Seattle has bike share, everyone! How cool is that?
Other than some basic legibility changes, the overall theory behind the map’s routes are the same as previous years. This creates a good-looking map that can be useful for people trying to find a doable bike route, but it can also be a bit misleading about how comfortable people can expect their bike route to be.
As with previous iterations of this map, my biggest complaint is how the map displays busy streets with sharrows painted on them. In the new map, these streets are marked as skinny green lines. Here’s the legend:
Since fatter green lines note bike lanes and green lines with black outlines note protected bike lanes, the skinny green lines for sharrowed streets visually imply that these are also good streets to bike on. Unfortunately, this is often very misleading.
It also has the effect of making the map overstate the city’s existing bike-friendliness. While I would love if there really were this many quality bike routes criss-crossing the city, a great many of these sharrowed streets actually look like this:
The map also still includes old bike lanes that hardly really count anymore. You know those bike lanes that are really just extra-wide parking lanes, not even wide enough to have two stripes?
We should probably go ahead and remove those from the map until the city gets around to upgrading them to modern standards.
My suggestion for future years would be to change all the arterial routes that only have sharrows or outdated bike lanes to yellow like the rest of the arterial streets on the map. That way the real bike lanes, trails and neighborhood greenways will stand out better, and people can get a better idea of which routes will be the least stressful.
While I certainly wish all the green routes in this map were truly high quality bike routes (especially downtown!), it’s just not true. Yet.
As we reported last year, the city has considered redesigning the bike map according to stress level. In fact, the city’s online map provides this option. But that concept did not make it into the 2015 print version.
And, one last nitpick (seriously, I do like this map! I just want it to be even better): Why are the streetcar and light rail lines so prominent? Transit stations should definitely be marked, since many people will want to bike to transit. But marking only rail routes (and not major bus lines) seems of little use. Worse, it almost implies that these routes are also bike routes. In the case of the South Lake Union line, the exact opposite is true.
I would suggest prominently marking major transit stations, maybe noting which connections can be made there or if secure bike storage is available. But don’t draw streetcar lines on the bike map unless it is to tell people where they present a hazard (marking Westlake’s tracks as a hazard makes sense, for example).
Below is the full map. Click the image for a large jpg version or click here for the full PDF.