A truly rapid bus on Madison Street from Colman Dock to Madison Valley? Protected bike lanes on E Union Street? Major walking improvements at every terrible Madison intersection?
Now that Move Seattle has passed, all this is on track to actually happen. In fact, the Madison project was basically the Move Seattle poster child, and it goes through a part of town that voted heavily in favor of the levy.
The city has a mandate to knock this project out the park. And that means getting all the details right.
You can help by attending an open house from 5 – 7 p.m. Monday at the Central Library downtown (level 4, room 1). Presentation at 5:30. Seattle Transit Blog even created a Facebook event so you can invite your friends.
Speaking of Seattle Transit Blog, Zach Shaner wrote a great analysis of how the project is already starting to drift away from the center-running exclusive transit lane vision that won so many hearts and minds. As compromises add up, the “rapid” in bus rapid transit starts to lose out.
There’s a similar debate about the bike route elements of the project (see our previous story for more). Bike lanes on Madison itself are already pretty much off the table, with planner opting for a “parallel” bike route instead. That argument aside, the question now is whether the city will follow best practices for planned bike lanes on E Union Street from 12th to MLK. Do we do it right and build one-way bike lanes on both sides of the street, or do we compromise away safety and usability by building a two-way lane on the south side of the street?
It’s going to take all of you getting active and making sure this project follows best practices. It will probably also need some innovation (for example, having street parking on the uphill bike lane side, but keeping views very clear for the downhill lanes). The E Union Street protected bike lane is noted in the Bike Master Plan as the major bike connection through this part of the Central District, and it’s a chance to show off how a bike lane done right can improve mobility in a neighborhood.
It’s also a chance to highlight how quality bike lanes can be part of major walking improvements that make streets safer for everyone. Crossing Union on foot can be a scary experience, even if you use one of the marked crosswalks. There are several ways to do this, including everything from including protected crosswalk islands between the bike lane and the street or raising the bike lane and sidewalks so people driving have to go over a bump before crossing.
Raising the bike lane to sidewalk level may also help slow people on bikes where people on foot cross paths.
If all goes according to schedule, the preferred design should be selected this fall and final design will happen in 2016 and 2017 with construction in 2018 and service starting in 2019. So now is the time to make sure we design this right.