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Beacon Hill trail is a big neighborhood greenway improvement

IMG_43722015BikeMap-bhg copyThe Beacon Hill Neighborhood Greenway was one of the city’s first attempts at creating a great community-led neighborhood greenway, and it just got a lot better.

This route was already one of my favorite neighborhood greenways in the city, connecting from the I-90 Trail to Georgetown via Beacon Hill Station and Jefferson Park. But as pleasant as the ride through Jefferson Park is, it requires winding park pathways and some fairly steep climbs. If you’re on a joyride, the park is great, but if you’re trying to get somewhere as directly and easily as possible, it’s quite a detour.

With leadership from community members like Beacon Hill Safe Streets and Mercer Middle School, Seattle’s Safe Routes to School program constructed a new, flat trail that bypasses the park’s hills and connects 16th Ave S near the school to Lafayette Ave S north of the park.

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A previous park access project built a great new crossing from Lafayette to Jefferson Park, so this new trail builds on that project to make it even easier for people of all ages and abilities to get around the neighborhood on foot and bike.

IMG_4360 IMG_4367 IMG_4369There is still one simple-but-important missing piece from this neighborhood greenway: There’s only one crosswalk (and one push button) for the signal at this crossing of busy 15th Ave S. If you’re on a bike or waling on the north sidewalk, it’s awkward and non-intuitive to figure out how to cross safely. Especially since this is a route near a school and park, it should be easy enough for any kid to figure out.

IMG_4373And, of course, once you finally make it to Georgetown, you’re on your own. That neighborhood needs some serious biking and walking safety upgrades. But that’s a post for another day.

Has this new trail connection become a part of your daily commute? Any other changes you’d like to see on this neighborhood greenway route?

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13 responses to “Beacon Hill trail is a big neighborhood greenway improvement”

  1. eric.br

    Thanks to everyone for their hard work and follow through in getting this greenway nearly completed! I use it regularly, and knowing how frequently we ruin nice bike infrastructure in this city by just forgetting about the connections, it’s nice to see the Beacon Hill Greenway bucked this trend. Yay!

  2. Apu

    First: Woo-hoo! This is an awesome development indeed, and thanks to all those who made it possible.

    Second: The crossing over Spokane St at Lafayette Ave is obviously better than what used to be before, but is *still* a dangerous crossing, particularly for children and the elderly, since it entirely relies on them being visible to fast cars. A pedestrian-activated switch for a flashing yellow light would make this crossing safer to use, and I can’t see any reason not to have one.

    1. Kashina

      We can do more than a flashing yellow. I think it needs a pedestrian-activated stop light. Those cars on Spokane are super fast and scary!

  3. jdg

    the trail is cool, but when it rains, it pools water like no ones business….

  4. Neel

    This is a FANTASTIC extension, and has changed preferred routes north for this Family Biker already. I regularly tow/escort a 4 and 7 year old through our city on bikes, and this is a huge, huge stress reliever. I want to empower my children to be mobile and fit, but as an Dad would, fear them getting hurt in our permissive car culture. This route eases those fear MASSIVELY along this stretch of our trips!

  5. (Another) Tom

    My daily commute from S Beacon Hill to downtown takes me right past this area and I’ll have to check it out. I doubt it will beat my normal route in terms of speed/efficiency but excited to give it a try!

    On the way home (southbound) I generally take Beacon Ave. the whole way but I prefer to take Columbian to 15th in the mornings to take advantage of the nice bike lanes* and easy climbing grade.

    *There is one major missing link though. From the intersection of Columbian and 15th to just north of Spokane and 15th there is no bike lane (http://tinyurl.com/gve532m). The lanes are super wide and straight and much of the traffic is headed towards the I-5 on-ramps. Unfortunately many of the drivers act as if they are already on the highway. I deal with more aggressive, dangerous driving on this few block stretch than the rest of my commute combined. There is plenty of room to add bike lanes (at least northbound, southbound is a bit trickier due to the weird intersection where Columbian veers west again.) This stretch really needs some traffic calming. It’s a shame that the rest of the route is quite nice and accessible even to less-confident cyclists. If this new trail proves competitive it cuts the dangerous segment in half at least.

    Also, what’s up with the 15th Ave. bike lane starting a few hundred feet north of the Spokane intersection? I assume it has to do with the bus stop but it creates another conflict point when impatient drivers can’t wait the 5 seconds it takes for me to clear the choke point near the intersection before the bike lane begins.

  6. Patrick

    Love the new trail. There are two other things I can think of that would be improvements:

    A better connection to (or extension of) the Chief Sealth trail.

    A traffic diverter (cars have to turn, bikes can go through) or two on the longer straight sections north of College and south of Snoqualmie.

  7. Dylan

    This makes me very happy

  8. Be still my heart — is that a bike path with basic street lighting?

    1. Gordon


  9. Fred Chamois

    Bike infrastructure everywhere but Rainier Valley.

  10. (Another) Tom

    I finally remembered to take the new path going Northbound this morning.

    Game Changer.

    It makes for such a nice connection between the north and south end of Jefferson park. Flat, car free, and a nice new view of the downtown skyline. So happy.

  11. Mira Latoszek

    It’s too bad that the greenway cut off an existing pedestrian path in the park. There is now a six foot tall rock wall and a chain link fence where there was an existing pedestrian path in the northwest corner of the park. Instead of maintaining the connection where the pedestrian path intersected with the greenway (as was depicted on the construction drawings) , SDOT chose to block it off. This was an important connection to the park for the many people who live in the apartments around 15th and Spokane – a majority of whom are lower-income and people of color.

    SDOT did move the path further down, but it is so poorly constructed that is unlikely to be used or to last. They just laid gravel on a 30% slope, rather than either zig-zagging the path up the slope or cutting into the slope to make the path flat. We should not be trading off biking for walking and cutting off access for the majority of people who walk. Please contact the following people at SDOT and the Parks Dept to fix this situation. The original path should be restored with stairs built into the rock wall so that people can walk into the park.

    Eugene Pike ([email protected]), Brian Dougherty ([email protected]), and Scott Kubly ([email protected])

    Parks Dept
    Andy Sheffer ([email protected]) and Jesus Aguirre ([email protected])

    Please also include Council Member Bruce Harrell ([email protected])

    Thank you

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