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City kicks off development of downtown bike lane network, open house Tuesday

ccb2015_July_Factsheet-mapIt’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.

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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:

ccb2015_July_Factsheet-timelineIMG_3232The 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.

You can learn more about the network in this fact sheet (PDF) and in the documents presented to the Sounding Board.

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13 responses to “City kicks off development of downtown bike lane network, open house Tuesday”

  1. Harrison Davignon

    Thats great news. It seams the war on cars is settling down and a balance is coming. Those are important routs. Off topic a little but important, whenever there is construction on bike trials, they are always closed. What should happen, if possible close half the trial and have a flager like on the roads. Trials aren’t just recreation, they for transportation as well.

    1. daihard

      Totally agreed on constructions. I just e-mailed Tom about yet another construction that blocks the Roosevelt bike lane. This one is at the south end, where we have to merge with traffic before crossing University Bridge. This makes the THIRD construction on Roosevelt between Ravenna and the bridge that kick bicycles out of the bike lane. Cars have two lanes and don’t lose any while bikes only have one lane and we lose it. How fair is that? I am planning to be at the Open House tomorrow. I’ll make sure I ask about this.

  2. Jeff Dubrule

    I wonder how 177 people/hr in the bike-lanes at peak rush hour compares to the people moved by a single car-lane on 2nd during the same period. The map at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/tfdmaps.htm gives traffic breakdowns by street, but does so for the full 24/7 week, so the data will be skewed by empty periods at night.

    To really get apples-to-apples, you’d need some accounting for the occasional car with > 1 person in it, and some sort of combining between pairs of one-way streets, as the bike-lane is 2-way, but 2nd is one-way.

    1. Hutch

      Probably not very well by pure numbers, but considering the relative social value of biking compared to car travel, who cares?

      1. ga

        Peak auto is about 10% of ADT, so ~1500 in two lanes which is pretty consistent with the 700 veh/hr capacity of a congested arterial.

        So 177 bikes/hr is just over 10% of all “vehicles/bikes” (not counting buses in the bus-only lane)
        Quick back-of-the-envelope on ridership shows around 500 boardings on 2nd Ave during that hour.

        The latest commute Seattle survey had biking at 3.1%, so having 2nd Ave carrying between 6 and 10% of all person-trips via bike on 2nd Avenue (depending on exact transit boardings) makes sense as it’s prioritized as a key biking corridor.
        10% anywhere is pretty great.

  3. Gary

    Pine street into Seattle needs a completely different signalling, striping, lane than Pike street out of town. Why? the hill, if you ride into town on Pine street you can keep up with traffic, but coming down to Boren, we need a safe way to cross that street and then continue on and turn left. I don’t want to ride in a narrow strip between the sidewalk and parked cars at 20+mph. Better to ride out in traffic where you are more visible to cross street traffic than closer to the curb.

    Pike Street, needs a clear lane for climbing out of town. I’d vote to move the parked cars out away from the curb. And no parking from 4pm to 6:30 or 7pm. so that car traffic isn’t impeded. (at least from 9th to Boren, or maybe the next block up.)

    1. JB

      Yep. A bike is a very different vehicle downhill at 20 mph+ than it is uphill at 5 mph, yet it seems like a lot of these bike facilities are just pasted onto Seattle streets without regard to the grade. At 5 mph, I don’t mind riding in the door zone. At 25, I want almost a full car lane.

  4. daihard

    I went to the Open House. It was a very good meeting. Dawn Schellenberg of SDOT gave an impressive presentation on how Center City Bike Network would provide the safety necessary for the more vulnerable road users. My favourite part of the presentation was this one liner, “The value of your life doesn’t change based on the way you travel.”

    My only regret is that I ran into Nicole Freedman outside Town Hall as I was leaving, but I couldn’t get up the nerve to introduce myself. Next time…

  5. […] The map was on display and presented at an open house to discuss building a network of protected bike lanes downtown, which we wrote about previously. […]

  6. […] come on, Seattle! Let’s build that downtown bike network […]

  7. […] Seattle finally kicks off work on a network of protected bike lanes downtown, it’s wise to look to Vancouver to get a […]

  8. […] good news is that the city plans a connection via 5th Avenue and S Main Street as part of the Center City Bike Network. That connection is currently planned for 2016 […]

  9. […] grid of bike facilities aimed at reaching people of all ages and abilities. In June, the city held a big open house that was extremely well-received and presented a series of options ready for implementation in […]

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