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West Seattle Blog: City begins outreach for Admiral Way bike lanes

SDOT is beginning outreach for new bike lanes planned on Admiral Way between Alki and California Ave SW.

Planners presented to the Admiral Neighborhood Association last night, according to West Seattle Blog. There will be more meetings in the next month including a May open house.

In addition to new buffered bike lanes, plans would also reduce travel lane widths to slow speeding.

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At their most full, only 33 percent of on-street parking spaces are currently occupied. Underused parking lanes can be problematic because people use them as an extra lane to pass other vehicles. Plans would consolidate all the parking on one side of the street, where parking studies show the number of cars currently parking on the street should easily all fit.

Plans are still early at this point and will evolve throughout the public process. More specifics will be presented at an open house in May, according to a city press release posted by WSB:

Project Need

Collisions from 2011 to 2014 along SW Admiral Way

· 1 pedestrian collision along project extent (2012)
· 2 bike collisions along project extent (both in 2011)
· 45 vehicle collisions along project extent

Project Description

· Reduce lane widths along SW Admiral Way and design the street to encourage slower speeds and reduce collisions

· Add new travel option by installing buffered bikes lanes from 63rd Ave SW to 44th Ave SW.

In order to add the bike lane, depending on the location, on-street parking will be consolidated to one-side of the street where parking utilization is low; or the two-way, left-turn lane (will be) removed to keep on-street parking on both sides of SW Admiral Way.

Parking Study Results

Along this 1.4 miles of SW Admiral Way, there are 441 parking spaces. We tracked the parking utilization on weekends and weekdays, morning, noon, evening and late night. At the maximum occupancy for each block, only 33% of existing spaces are being used. Of course, this isn’t uniformly distributed across the corridor. Between 45th Ave SW and California Ave SW and between 57th and 63rd avenues SW on-street parking occupancy is relatively high.

Existing Spaces: 441
Current Utilization: 33%
Percentage Preserved: 56%

Project Schedule

April – Community briefings
May 6 – SW District Council briefing
May – Open House
May – July – Final design
August – Implementation
2016 – Evaluation

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22 responses to “West Seattle Blog: City begins outreach for Admiral Way bike lanes”

  1. JAT

    I live there and cycle this section of road regularly. Please just fix the pavement and No downhill bike lanes Please Please Please!

    1. Josh

      Just because Seattle’s existing downhill bike lanes are quite dangerous doesn’t mean you can’t build safe bike lanes down hill. You just need to make sure they’re wide enough, with sight distances suitable for higher bicycle speeds, and entirely outside the door zone of parked cars.

      If there’s a left-side buffer with delineator posts, a one-way bike lane should be at least 8 feet wide to provide safe passing clearance for people on bikes overtaking within the bike lane. (40-inch minimum physical operating width per bicycle plus just one foot of passing clearance already gets you to a 92-inch-wide bike lane, round up to 8 feet as a bare minimum for safety.)

      If there’s parking with a downhill bike lane, the bike lane must start no less than 11 feet left of the curb to keep it out of the door zone.

      Sight distances would need to be increased for downhill bike lanes — no parking within 50+ feet of driveways or intersections so that bicycles aren’t hidden from conflicting traffic by parked cars. If it’s a steep hill, that needs to be increased significantly, well over 100 foot sight distances necessary.

      Probably also need longer mixing zones ahead of intersections — when drivers merge into the bike lane to make a right turn, you need to leave room for a fast cyclist to merge left around the slow-moving car.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        Thanks, Josh. I’d also add: Downhill bike lanes can work well when there is no parking on that side of the street. So, for example, if they shift all the on-street parking to the uphill side, the downhill bike lane could be against the curb and free from door zone problems. (note the purple section in the map above would not work this way)

        I prefer no bike lane downhill to door zone bike lanes, but no bike lane downhill is not a solution. The section of Admiral heading towards the bridge is a perfect example. It’s a white-knuckle ride with cars on your ass. If you’re confident, you can maybe get used to it. But I would never expect many people to see someone flying down the hill mixed with traffic and think, “Hey, that looks pretty easy. I should try biking.”

      2. Josh

        Oh, two more thoughts:

        1. Providing adequate sight distances at driveways and intersections may require significant removal of landscaping, relocation of utility poles, etc. When a bike is coming down a hill at (or above) the speed limit, a car nosing out into the bike lane is a potentially lethal obstruction.

        2. Pavement condition is especially important where speeds are higher. Any downhill bike lane should only be allowed where the pavement is reasonably smooth, otherwise, expect bicycles to be swerving across the full width of the travel lane to avoid ubiquitous cracks, seams, and potholes.

      3. Yeah, we should certainly insist that the side that retains street parking is the uphill side.

        NE 75th is an interesting example of a street with bike lanes in both directions on steep hills but no parking. Sight lines certainly aren’t good enough to take the descents “at speed” (i.e. without braking).

        Longer “mixing zones” don’t actually prevent drivers from cutting off cyclists, right? They just encourage doing it farther from the intersection. Unless a longer “mixing zone” encourages drivers to actually treat it as a merge instead of not doing that, as is common. Maybe that’s better, but of course larger trucks can’t physically make the turn after fully merging into the bike lane, unless they merge over, then swing left before turning right… and if merging over encourages a fast-moving cyclist to pass on the left, swinging left is a pretty bad thing to do.

        I don’t really know if there’s a great solution that works in every situation. Oregonians seem to like their, “Cars should never merge into bike lanes but always yield,” rules. I guess that works if people actually follow them. It would seem to require a lot of “undertaking” by cyclists, and that always makes me uncomfortable. Even under Washington’s laws a lot of people take those turns Oregon-style. Either way, if you find me “undertaking” or generally descending in a bike lane, you won’t find me doing it “at speed”.

      4. Andres Salomon

        And NE 75th’s bike lane also has some crappy pavement spots, which makes high speeds unsafe.

        That said, the whole point of having such a lane is to give people a choice. I can ride the brakes downhill on NE 75th precisely because there’s a bike lane; I don’t have to worry about drivers behind me getting impatient and doing stupid/dangerous stuff. On the other hand, if I’m feeling brave/late for work/whatever, I can just take the travel lane and bike downhill at car speeds.

      5. ODB

        I generally prefer sharrows for downhills, but I think I could be comfortable with a downhill lane as long as there’s no parking on that side and driveway sight distances are adequate. Basically, it’s the equivalent of riding on a road with a shoulder that happens to be marked as a bike lane. Let’s just make sure that it doesn’t get “upgraded” from buffered to Triple P (plastic post protection). Any posts will make it hazardous to get out of the lane if needed.

      6. Josh

        On the subject of sight distances, King County actually did a pretty good explainer for sight distance triangles for the East Lake Sammamish Trail, explaining the need for good sight distances at driveways, the differences between controlled and uncontrolled intersections, etc.


  2. Chad

    JAT – Why no downhill bike lanes? Are you concerned they will be setup in the door zone?

  3. JAT

    no downhill bike lanes because at speed the minimum required bike lane width is way too narrow to safely pass each other and on curves potentially too narrow to even navigate, and the speed differential between motorists and cyclist is far less extreme.

    Given that bike lanes usually are sited in the crappiest section of the road’s pavement, I think it’s safest when descending – particularly for cyclists who may consider themselves less fearless – to have their choice of where on the road to place their wheels.

  4. Peri Hartman

    I adding a downhill bike lane will get more people riding, I’m all for it (but not in a door zone). However, I would not consider it safe over about 15 mph because its inherent poor sight lines. There are some mitigations, but riding fast adjacent to the end of driveways, having sight blockages because of shrubbery, less visibility at intersections, and the possibility of a right hook make it harder to respond at higher speeds. As long as there’s a choice to use the lane or not use it, then having one is fine.

  5. Nate Todd

    What West Seattle most needs is a neighborhood greenway parallel to Alaska between Admiral and the Morgan junction.

    1. Alkibkr

      What many people (including several of those at the meeting) don’t take into account is that the Alki neighborhood is not just a place for tourists, but also a large populous area with very few businesses except expensive restaurants and a minuscule convenience market. No banks, no library, no supermarket or natural foods stores, no high school, no drug stores, only one small retail clothing store and limited bus service (hourly on Sundays). So unless we jump in our car every time we need something up the hill, we need better facilities for people biking and walking from Alki to Admiral Junction. Alternative greenway routes to the Admiral Junction would be more circuitous and much steeper grade than Admiral Way for those coming from lower Alki and Beach Drive. I’ve been biking up & down the west side of Admiral hill for 20 years and I’ve observed bike traffic on Admiral Way is steadily increasing. Too bad no bicycle counts for this area. Maybe I should volunteer to do one since I have a good view of Admiral Way @ 63rd from my house. Much of Admiral Way has extremely wide car lanes with minimal markings. Cars often wander all over the right of way instead of hugging the center line so a little narrowing of the car lanes by adding bike lanes might also improve driver behavior, bring down speeds, and hopefully lower the collisions.

  6. Chad

    Personally, I would not use a downhill bike lane if I can travel at speed approaching traffic. However, where a downhill bike lane can be useful is providing biking options for users who are not comfortable riding in traffic. For example, I would bike in the traffic lane, but if I’m pulling my kids in a trailer, I would like the option of a downhill bike lane where I can ride much slower and out of the traffic lane. This is, assuming the downhill lane can be build in a way that provides decent site lines, is out of the door zone, and is buffered from the traffic lane.

  7. Chad

    I should add, I live on 49th and like to take the kids down to Alki to ride, but I am not comfortable taking them down Admiral right now so we end up driving down. I would much rather ride down. I don’t mind riding back up with the trailer. I can use the exercise anyway.

  8. I live on Admiral, so I ride it daily, and park one vehicle on it and park another in a garage off of it. JAT, I don’t think you are looking at the proposed cross sections. The proposed lanes are buffered and up to 9 feet in width including buffers. Basically, a whole traffic lane for bikes in some blocks. The proposed bike lanes on the steeper blocks will allow riding out of the door zones. More importantly, on an arterial and bus route with a lot of fire truck traffic where traffic circles, speed humps and speed tables cannot be used, the buffered bike lanes are a tool to use up some of the excessive roadway width, to make narrower lanes, to slow down traffic. It won’t slow down a drunk driver at night when there is little traffic, but at other times, if just one driver “colors between the lines” and goes something closer to the speed limit, it slows down the other drivers behind them. As it is, speeds are too high for some drivers to maintain control on the curves, or see pedestrians or bikes at intersections in time. My car and all of my neighbors’ cars have been rear-ended when parked. It is not safe stopping my car in the lane to back into my garage. I’m just waiting to get nailed doing that. And there could be many more people willing to ride the 10 minutes up and 3 or from Alki to California Ave SW instead of drive, for all kinds of trips, if there were buffered bike lanes on Admiral.

  9. Nate Todd: Parallel to California?
    Yes, needed. Help us push for the greenway routes we got into the 2014 Bicycle Master Plan Update on 44th or 45th Ave SW and on 42nd Ave SW. They are not in the BMP implementation work plan for 2015-2019. They are perfect Greenway routes in a high demand area, and should be relatively inexpensive to improve, compared to most.

    1. Nate Todd

      Don Brubeck: my mistake, adroitly corrected. Parallel to California. Yes I was frustrated to learn that the soonest these changes might be implemented is sometime after 2020. These are the most important all ages and abilities facility changes that could be made in West Seattle after fixing the six way intersection debacle west of the Spokane Street bridge.

  10. Josh

    Anonymous newsblog comments are often representative of a cowardly minority who are angry that they are losing the public debate. How many of those WS Blog comments use a real name?

    Having ridden West Seattle for decades, I’d say it’s no worse than any other congested residential area of Seattle.

  11. Augsburg

    First of all, we like JAT, live nearby and bike this section of Admiral a couple times a week at least. We agree strongly that a downhill bike lane will make things worse safety-wise. I’d much rather share the lane downhill and force drivers to deal with me than use a separate bike lane where I will be ignored and forgotten by drivers – until someone turns or pulls out in front of me.

    About a month ago, my chain broke at about 61st and Admiral on the flat just before heading uphill. I stood by the side of the road for 20 minutes or so while my wife road home to get the car. It was mid-day on a Saturday. In that short time, I saw more than a dozen conflicts with two or three escalating to road rage. One enraged driver raced his full-size pickup truck up the hill in the opposing lane to try to pass the driver that pulled out in front of him. That showed everyone. All the conflicts were caused by aggressive drivers pulling out from the side streets right in front of oncoming traffic – forcing them to slam on their brakes. The incidents are part of the hazards for cyclists.

    Riding a bike uphill on this section of Admiral, is a different matter. We would appreciate an uphill lane to keep the cars from passing so close. But only if the lane markings recognize the cyclist cannot ride next to the car doors. A marked bike lane right next to parked cars (as seen around the corner on SW 63rd) makes matters worse. Then drivers expect the cyclist to use the lane and ride in range of the car doors. Having had dozens of near misses with car doors over the years and one direct hit (over on Beach Dr.), I will never ride in range of the car doors. Riding the left edge of the marked bike lane, bordering the vehicle and out of range of car doors, frustrates many drivers and leads to horn honks, more aggressive driving and road rage.

  12. Jay Sweetman

    This looks like another Seattle DOT project trying to fix a problem that most people would agree does not exist. I bike 3000+ miles a year and if you asked me for my suggestions on what West Seattle needs to be more bike friendly this project would not even register.

    As a city we need to prioritize transportation improvements that focus on 90+% of the commuters 90+% of the time, and that means cars and buses. I am getting very tired of the DOT’s obvious war on cars, especially the suggestion to reduce the number of lanes on 35th ave SW to put in bike lanes. This crazy idea will have a significant negative impact on traffic especially as the density of housing in West Seattle increases.

    The DOT should spend less time trying to get everyone on a bike and pave some roads. Get the basics right first guys. We have many roads that are falling apart, have you ridden Beach Drive lately, it’s horrible! Talk about a bike safety issue, having to dodge all the holes in the road makes this one of the more dangerous places around. I just spent a week riding in Colorado and 90% if their roads are in much better shape than ours!

    1. Peri Hartman

      For your kind of riding, and mine too, I agree with you. But what is to be done to encourage the next class of riders? Maybe more greenways. But simply improving the roads for cars won’t get new people on bikes.

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