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Westlake Bikeway could open in summer, construction meeting Thursday

WESTLAKE CYCLE TRACK CONSTRUCTIONConstruction on the Westlake Bikeway and parking circulation improvements is about to begin. You can learn more about construction activities at an information session 4 – 7 p.m. Thursday (tomorrow) in the Commons Room of the AGC Building.

Meanwhile, there is no official update yet on the status of the lawsuit brought against the city and the project by the “superyacht” marina Nautical Landing (“soon,” I’m told). The lawsuit came after a laborious community design process went over every inch of the bikeway plans, crafting compromises and creating a plan for a more efficient and safe parking area.

The lawsuit does not stop work unless a judge orders a stop.

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If all goes according to schedule, the bikeway should be open in the summer.

Details on the meeting:

The Westlake Cycle Track is moving forward! Contractor KC Equipment plans to begin construction of the 1.2-mile cycle track later this year.

We look forward to opening the new protected bike lane in summer 2016.

Be sure to visit our project website for the latest, up-to-date construction information.

We’ll also send regular construction updates to this email list. Join us at a drop-in session

Interested in learning more? Join us at a construction drop-in session to learn more about planned construction activities, meet the contractor, and chat about how you’d like to stay informed:

Westlake Cycle Track construction drop-in
November 19, 2015, 4 – 7 PM
AGC Building, Commons Room 1200 Westlake Ave N

Contact us:
Email: [email protected]
Hotline: 206-909-8578
Website: www.seattle.gov/transportation/wct.htm

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19 responses to “Westlake Bikeway could open in summer, construction meeting Thursday”

  1. biliruben

    Yay! Safe and flat. Safe and flat.

    1. jay

      There are only a couple of reasons I can think of that a 10′ wide two way cycle track would be “safe”; if it is slow and/or very few use it, with 36 sets of rumble strips I think this will meet both of those criteria. Also, while there will be 18 “formal” crossings, in one of the previous descriptions of the project it was said that pedestrians can still cross anywhere they want (it is not a street after all, just a cycle track)
      If there is some reason I don’t want to take Dexter, I think I’ll just take a lane on Westlake. But then, the only time I would be riding thru there would be on a week end, and I have taken a lane on Westlake on a Sunday afternoon and it actually was better than riding in the door zone or gutter on any other arterial on a week day.

      “The lawsuit does not stop work unless a judge orders a stop.”
      While that seems logical, isn’t likely that a judge will do so order, if it is clear that the city is ignoring a suit that has been filed?
      Well, maybe not “likely” considering how the complaint was written, but possible. To save time I’ll just copy part of my comment from before:
      “Their lawyer is cute, he starts out defining WCT: ” the proposed Westlake Cycle track (“WCT”)”, but later in the document he sprinkles in WTC.
      Never forget! cyclist ~ terrorist (and lawyer ~ [blocked by forum filters])
      Probably not actually deliberate, but in my opinion if he can’t be bothered to proof read his document, the court shouldn’t bother to read it at all.”

      1. Josh

        The city isn’t ignoring the suit, it’s risking the possibility that it will have to pay damages if the suit is successful — that’s very different.

        Both private and public projects routinely move ahead despite pending lawsuits if the owner of the project thinks the benefits of continuing the work exceed the risk of damages from a successful suit.

      2. Andy

        Taking a lane on Westlake is safe and comfortable even at rush hour if you can maintain at least ~17mph.
        It’s annoying to get on to Westlake northbound, but no moreso than getting to the parking lot, and it’s a lot nicer connection to 9th when going southbound.

      3. Josh

        I can’t maintain 17 mph on the level, but I’m perfectly comfortable taking a lane on Westlake at 12-14 mph.

        But I also recognize that many people are not comfortable taking a lane on such a busy street at any speed, especially more vulnerable riders.

        Major commuter connections should anticipate the needs of more vulnerable riders as well as those comfortable riding in the street. That includes sufficient width so that faster riders can safely pass slower riders without risking head-on collisions. It includes conspicuity, sight lines, and buffers so that riders with less-than-perfect vision and slower reaction times can safely avoid conflicts. And yes, it should include sharrows encouraging faster, more confident riders to ride in the street and keep the sidepath welcoming for the slower and less-steady.

      4. Westlake is like… Bellevue Way south of downtown Bellevue. During rush hour speed is limited by fairly high traffic volumes but long stretches between traffic signals mean traffic moves consistently (unless there’s some long backup, which does happen at times on both streets). Drivers generally pay attention pretty well in heavy traffic, and as long as you clearly take the lane they’ll respect your lane position (because the annoying half-lane-change-to-pass maneuver doesn’t work when the adjacent lane is occupied). Outside of rush hour, with less traffic to keep drivers slow and attentive, they’re much worse. That’s when you get high speed differentials (both between you and the cars, and among the cars) and all sorts of goofy behavior. I used to ride Bellevue Way all the time when I worked in Kirkland (it’s probably the fastest route from I-90 to Bellevue)… but I quickly learned not to do it off-peak.

        Most of the other flat multi-lane roads around here rarely have those perfect levels of traffic and signal density to both avoid stop-and-go riding and keep traffic slow enough to minimize sketchy passing. The conditions are delicate — we can’t build much of a cycling network around such things.

  2. Josh

    Safer, probably, than riding in the current parking lot, but safe?

    The design speed is significantly lower than WSDOT standards would allow for this sort of facility.

    The width is only suitable for bicycle traffic volumes that this route already routinely exceeds at peak hours. (e.g., CROW limits 10-foot width to 2-way paths with fewer than 150 bikes per hour, both directions combined.)

    The buffers are considerably narrower than recommended by CROW, MassDOT, or BC.

    Let’s hope this is the last brand-new SDOT facility that flouts the 2014 BMP Update, which requires that facilities meet or exceed both standards and guidance at the local, state, and national level.

  3. Peri Hartman

    I, too, am curious how well it will work. It certainly won’t be a high speed commuter route. Yet, there are plenty of people who it will accommodate nicely. It will also help make lake union a destination for cycling around the lake. I will judge it successful if it encourages a new wave of people to bike instead of ….

    It took a lot of compromise and hard work to get this far. While, it is not what I would have chosen, I’m glad to see the progress and am excited for its completion this summer !

  4. Kirk

    This project continues to look like a fail for people that use bicycles for transportation. This is arguably the most vital route in the city for bicycle transportation. If this is another fail for Westlake (see Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop), then it will only have to be rebuilt for a third time in the near future as bicycling to South Lake Union and Downtown increases.

    SDOT, please try to do it right the first, actually second, time. This time.

    1. Eli

      It is incredible to see the extent the story of cycling in Seattle is one of SDOT building substandard projects (basically, anything in the 2007 BMP), followed by the apparent need to reconstruct them years later.

      Often these substandard projects are justified by the claim that Seattle was following the state-of-the-art at the time, despite the fact that other neighboring cities like Vancouver BC somehow did know better and avoided the same missteps.

      It’s one thing when they made these missteps using just paint, which is comparatively inexpensive to reconfigure.

      But it’s horrifying to consider that the outcome of Move Seattle may simply be a ~$100 million dollar network of substandard physical infrastructure that will be similarly obsolete before it’s ever constructed, and will again have to be ripped out and reconstructed.

  5. Mark

    If folks want to go fast, the road is right there. Few folks want to maintain 15 to 20mph. Let the rest of us use it with our kids.

    As to the dbags who filed suite, perhaps it’s time for the city to to make sure every single super yacht is meeting every single regulation. Weekly. Until they drop their suite.

    Doubt Seattle will have the clangers to do that.

    1. Peri Hartman

      Mark, in general that would be an appropriate answer. That’s what I generally do if I want to go faster. However, Westlake is a terrible alternative since the speed limit is 35 and drivers often go 45 or faster. Personally, I don’t want to have someone coming up behind me with a 25-30 mph difference in speed. They might not be able to react in time.

      Now, if the speed limit on Westlake were reduced to 30 and some other measures were put in place to make it difficult to go much over 30, it would be a completely different story.

      1. biliruben

        If you don’t want to ride the road, then there is Dexter. There is actually an embarrassment of options for the fit, fast moving commuter. Now there will be a single one for the 8-80 crowd.

        As someone who is still in the former group, and with an 8 year old in the later group, and complete awareness that both of us will “transitioning”, at some point, I welcome a way to mosey.

      2. Peri Hartman

        Agreed. That’s what I do, in fact. The point wasn’t about me but about riders in general.

    2. Better sight lines would make it a lot easier to use with kids… and by kids, too, once they’re older to get around more independently.

      15-20 MPH is a big range. Cruising at 20 requires effort. Cruising at 15 is what people in Denmark riding to work in business suits do… or what people in New York delivering food on mountain bikes with improvised accessories do… or what high school and college students riding to class do. It’s basic transportation cycling speed.

      Speaking of college students, a lot of the cycletracks at University of Illinois are as narrow as what’s planned on Westlake or narrower. They still basically work. But they don’t have so many intersections with cars because campus isn’t a giant parking lot. People talk about width a lot because it’s a single, simple number, but the real story isn’t width, it’s the number, and quality, of intersections.

      1. Justin

        Commuting speed in Denmark is more like 9-10 mph (according to the City of Copenhagen (http://tinyurl.com/pkdl4oy)), which is around the speed you get biking on flat ground at walking-level exertion. Quoting wikipedia here:

        On firm, flat ground, a 70 kg (150 lb) person requires about 60 watts to walk at 5 km/h (3.1 mph). That same person on a bicycle, on the same ground, with the same power output, can travel at 15 km/h (9.3 mph) using an ordinary bicycle …

    3. Jen

      I see so much bad behavior on the part of cyclists in the parking lots, mostly people swerving around cars that are already moving into a spot, not stopping when other cyclists stop for said cars, and passing too close without calling out. I hope that a cycle track fixes that and that the reckless cyclists are respectful of the rest of us. Those a-holes belong on Dexter.

  6. Law Abider

    On Wednesday it looked like they had painted up the trees to be removed. I got excited and read this article that it’s finally going forward. Huzzah!

    Now only 5 more years until the current, early projection for the Missing Link to be filled in and my commute will be 90+% on car separated through routes!

    1. Jen

      I love trees, but I’m glad to see these go. Sight lines are already horrible on the parking lot entrances and almost being hit by a car turning in at high speed happens every few days to me. It feels worse lately due to all the jerks using the parking lot to go around construction traffic.

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