People biking already make up nearly a third of traffic on the street during peak hours, and the upcoming opening of the Westlake Bikeway is only going to exacerbate demand for this connection.
The change will create a two-way separated bike lane on the south side of the street. General traffic will change to one-way westbound between Fremont and Phinney Avenues, and parking will remain. The bike lane will be designed so the Fremont Market can still set up the same way it does each Sunday. Of course, that means people biking will need to continue detouring off 34th during market hours.
Construction is set to start as soon as Monday, wrapping up in two to three weeks.
Here’s a section-by-section look at the bikeway plans (learn more in this construction notice PDF):
The project does not significantly address the problematic and complicated intersection at Fremont Ave just north of the bridge, essentially adding a couple green turn boxes. However, the Puget Sound Regional Council recently announced a $951,000 Federal grant for “N 34th Street Protected Bicycle Lanes and Protected Intersections (PDF).” We’ve asked for more details on that project, but the description certainly sounds promising.
More details on the work starting Monday from an SDOT email to project stakeholders:
Dear N 34th St Protected Bicycle Lane Project stakeholders,
Thank you for your involvement in the N 34th St Protected Bicycle Lane (PBL) Project. We appreciate the thoughtful suggestions voiced and emailed to us. We’ve spent the last several months reviewing community feedback and developing a design that create a 2-way protected bike lane for a more predictable, safer, and more organized environment for all travelers, maintains access and clearance for trucks, and minimizes parking loss on N 34th St.
Since hearing from the community, we reviewed and analyzed travel patterns and found:
- Traffic volumes: We counted the number of bikes and vehicles over various time periods and found that changing N 34th St to 1-way, westbound will have minimal impact on vehicle traffic level of service on N 34th St and the surrounding street network. Our counts showed high bike volumes, particularly in the evening peak hours when bikes make up over 30% of traffic on N 34th St between Fremont Ave N and Phinney Ave N.
- Truck access: We discovered that truck drivers have trouble turning in and out of driveways on N 34th St. To better accommodate turning trucks, we’ll restrict a few parking spots on the south side of the street.
- Parking and load zones: We recognized that on-street parking is in high demand here. We also discussed parking needs with adjacent businesses and property owners to understand how on-street parking can work best for the community.
- Fremont Sunday Market: We understand the importance that new PBL could not conflict with the Fremont Sunday Market operations. In response, we’re using flexible delineator posts in the PBL buffer that will be spaced such that market booths fit between the posts.
- Connection to the Burke-Gilman Trail: We reviewed the southeast corner of N Canal St and Phinney Ave N to see where the PBL would best connect to the Burke-Gilman Trail.
See the attached maps showing the design for N 34th St. The design includes:
- installing a 2-way PBL on the south side of N 34th St from Fremont Ave N to Phinney Ave N that connects with the Burke-Gilman Trail at the ramp just west of the dinosaur topiary
- maintaining an 11-foot wide vehicle travel lane
- extending N 34th St as 1-way, westbound for vehicle traffic, from Fremont Ave N to Phinney Ave N
- re-painting 4 crosswalks at the intersections of N 34th St and Phinney Ave N, Evanston Ave N, and Fremont Ave N
- re-painting the back-in, angle parking on N 34th St between Fremont Ave N and Evanston Ave N
- extending the right-turn lane from westbound N 34th St to northbound Fremont Ave N to accommodate the number of motorists needing to make this turn, and to improve sightlines and safety
- preserving parallel parking on Phinney Ave N, north of N 34th St
- modifying the on-street load zones and parking time restrictions to better serve the needs of the area (see the map below for how on-street parking will look after construction is done)
Evaluation, education, and enforcement
With any change, there will be a period of adjustment. To help educate people walking, driving, and biking, we’ll:
- post signs that show drivers how to park next to the PBL
- continue outreach in the week after the project is implemented; volunteer ambassadors will visit the area to answer questions and remind travelers how to navigate the new street design
- post additional signs to remind people biking to dismount and walk their bikes between Evanston Ave N and Phinney Ave N on Sundays between 7 AM and 6 PM during the Sunday Fremont Market
One year after implementing these improvements, we’ll return for a follow up study. The study may include monitoring how many people comply with traffic laws, collecting more traffic counts, speed studies, collision analysis, or reviewing how parking is used.
Schedule and next steps
We expect construction will take place this summer but will share construction details when they’re available, likely in the next week. Work to restripe the street is expected to take 2-3 weeks to complete and be done before October 2016.
Thanks again for your ongoing engagement in this project. Moving forward, Rachel McCaffrey will be the primary point of contact as we approach construction and will post a project webpage this week. She may be reached at Rachel.McCaffrey@seattle.gov or 206-615-0925. You can expect to hear more from Rachel soon and see her in the neighborhood as construction gets underway.