It’s really happening. Seattle is developing a connected network of bike lanes to and through the city center. This means connections to Uptown and Queen Anne, to South Lake Union, to Capitol Hill, to First Hill, to the International District, to Pioneer Square, to the I-90 Trail, to the Alaskan Way Trail and West Seattle, to the Elliott Bay Trail, to Dexter and Westlake and the Fremont Bridge, to Eastlake and (someday) the University Bridge and the in-design 520 Trail.
This network has the potential to do more for bicycle connectivity in Seattle than any other project in city history. Yes, including the Burke-Gilman Trail. This is bigger than that.
You can learn more and voice your enthusiastic support by attending an open house 5–7 p.m. tomorrow (July 21) at Town Hall Seattle.
Downtown is the single biggest impediment to cycling in Seattle today because so many inter-neighborhood and commute trips must go to or through it. It’s also among the scariest places to bike, and many people simply have no desire to do it. A growing percentage of new Seattle residents are living near the city center within easy biking distance of jobs, groceries, shopping and parks. But without safe bike routes, we are missing out shifting so many trips to bike, a shift we don’t just want but need.
Do protected bike lanes increase biking? Oh yes. The 2nd Ave bike lane doesn’t even have quality bike connections, and its use is way up:
Design for the network will begin in earnest this year for projects planned to open in 2016. This includes extending the 2nd Ave bike lane in both directions, connecting to Seattle Center and an improved bike lane on Dearborn (more on that soon, stay tuned). It also includes improvements to the connection between Dexter and downtown via 7th Ave (funded in part by Amazon) and a slate of possible Belltown/Denny Triangle bike lanes.
Other major connections, like Pike Street to Capitol Hill (Seattle Bike Blog’s top priority) and bike lanes on 4th and/or 5th Avenues downtown are slated for install in the next five years, pending funding (seriously, we need to pass Move Seattle). Here’s the timeline:
The 2nd Ave bike lane has provided us with both room to improve (we need to get the signals done right, as we’ve discussed on this blog previously) and a vision of what’s possible. Before this went in, who could have even imagined kids biking downtown? Now it doesn’t seem so crazy… so long as they’re on this one street.
With a connected network of quality bike lanes, downtown will no longer be off-limits to biking families. That’s a big deal, and a vision worth rallying around. It can happen, and it can happen quickly.
In fact, my biggest complaint about this plan is that it’s not moving fast enough. It’s frustrating that there are no significant connections to the 2nd Ave bike lane coming this year. But planners are taking the time to conduct a whole lot of outreach, running ideas by a group of downtown, bike and freight interests they are calling the Center City Bike Network Sounding Board.