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SDOT shows off improved short-term bike plan

When SDOT released the 2016 short-term bike plan, I suggested the department “burn it and try again.”

Well, they more or less did just that. The new plan is far from perfect, and it doesn’t make up for lost time resulting from the major cuts in the 2016 plan. But downtown has reappeared, and the plan’s priorities for the next five year are closer to where they need to be: Creating a somewhat connected network of protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways reaching most corners of the city.

The number of miles remains scaled back compared to the 2015 version and is not on pace to build half the Bike Master Plan by the end of the Move Seattle levy (as was the promise). But the locations of projects were guided through an intensive process with the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board and neighborhood safe streets groups. There are a lot of dotted lines (meaning the type and exact location of the facility is still up in the air), but it at least begins to look like a network. The maps below are still a draft, but they are nearly final (see the full draft plan, including when each project is planned for construction, in this PDF).

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Union Street bike lane added to the plan

Union Street will be added to the plan after it was cut from the Madison BRT project, which is at least something of a consolation prize for people who were hoping the Madison project would fund all or some of the project. The new plan still includes a dotted line on Madison, which is a placeholder for the promised “parallel” bike route that originally included Union. No bike lanes are planned on Madison.

“We’ve sorted out something that very plainly went sideways,” said SDOT Chief of Staff Genesee Adkins during Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council Transportation Committee. “We figured out quite recently that a protected bicycle lane on Union was neither included in the BMP Implementation Plan nor the Madison BRT project. This was an oversight, and we’re working right now to rectify it and find a way to build a facility for all ages and abilities on Union.”

SDOT staff added during Wednesday’s meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Board that the Union project would likely be a 2019 project, though the length of the project is still up in the air. Whether the Madison project will at least help fund public outreach and planning for the bike lane (if not the construction itself) is also unclear.

“I want to appologize for the unintended confusion that has been a result of our staff in creating a series of iterative maps and plans over several years of the Madison project,” said Adkins.

Getting the Union project back on the city’s priority list is the direct result of people taking action and commenting online, in person and directly to elected officials. But this can’t be the precedent we set for the city’s “multimodal corridor” projects, noted in the plan as dotted lines with wide gray outlines. The bike plan’s connectivity requires these corridors to function.

Watch the presentation to the Transportation Committee here (starts at 48:00):

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23 responses to “SDOT shows off improved short-term bike plan”

  1. Skylar

    I can see that Mayor Murray woke up to the fact that it’s an election year. Come next year, I expect this plan to be gutted.

    1. William C.

      Yep. At this point, I won’t believe anything until there’re workers out there putting it into the pavement.

  2. Eli

    Sweet! I can’t wait to ride my imaginary bike all over their short-term planning doc.

    In contrast, NYC is planning 12 miles of protected bike lanes for 2017 — and the number they build tends to significantly exceed their plan mileage – not the other way around like SDOT.


    (going there next week for a job interview, so looking forward to seeing it in person)

  3. ronp

    Really wish we could have a bit more progress downtown. Roosevelt is looking quite good, 2nd ave was nicely implemented in terms of speed of installation. I think if we can get a good connected network people will use it. The London cycle super highway really seems to have brought people out of the woodwork. Could happen here too!

  4. William

    This plan may be better but it is rather disconcerting that WSDOT seems to have a radically revised plan every year. That is a sign of an organization in disarray.

    “We figured out quite recently that a protected bicycle lane on Union was neither included in the BMP Implementation Plan nor the Madison BRT project. This was an oversight, and we’re working right now to rectify it and find a way to build a facility for all ages and abilities on Union.” How they heck can it be an “oversight” that an important component of a project that they have been planning for years has been omitted. Again it suggest an organization in disarray

  5. Southeasterner

    I cringe when I see all those green lines. Many of them in reality are mostly faded sharrows or white stripes along the side of the road that now are more indicative of street parking barriers than bike lanes.

    It gives a very wrong impression that we have a comprehensive network of bike facilities when in reality it is anything but.

  6. Southeasterner

    Are they really removing the Burke Gilman Trail that runs along Seaview between 32nd and 37th, as the removal of the green line would indicate? The green line was clearly on the previous Master Plan but is now gone, although it looks like they have made some consideration of the removal by adding bike lane improvements to 32nd, which is helpful, but it still requires a connection on the 57th/37th Greenway which is not a trail facility. It’s also going to be a big hill climb for a lot of trail riders.

    I know there were calls to expand the parking lot at The Canal to the west and widen the side access road for the houses along the waterfront but I hadn’t heard an official announcement to remove the trail. Was that also discussed at the meeting?

    My guess is cyclists will just ride on Seaview at that section, which has sharrows, instead of taking the 32/37 route.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Oh! Weird. Good catch. I’ll ask about that. I have not heard of any plans to remove that section of the trail.

    2. Tom Fucoloro

      Good news! It was just a mistake. Just in from SDOT’s Monica Dewald: “Great catch by your reader. We will fix the mistake.”

      1. Barry

        Why is it good news that WSDOT is putting out bike plans that omit portions of the most prominent bike trail in the city.

  7. RossB

    I don’t want to excuse the “oversight” related to the Madison BRT project, but do want to point out that I think it is kind of silly that BRT and bike projects are magically linked together. There are corridors that are critical from a transit perspective as well as similar projects from a bike perspective, but that doesn’t mean they are the same.

    Roosevelt BRT and Madison BRT are great examples of this contrast. Roosevelt is a critical street from a bike perspective. There are only so many relatively flat streets in the city, and that is one of them. It basically connects the loop around Lake Union, which is huge from a biking perspective. On the other hand, it is a “nice to have” from a transit perspective. Light rail will soon connect the U-District to downtown, so this basically serves the places in between (Eastlake and South Lake Union). That is nice, but not essential.

    Madison BRT is the opposite. Madison BRT is poised to be one of the best transit projects in the city, finally providing frequent and fast transit service to First Hill as well as a connection to 23rd. But from a biking standpoint, it is a steep, nasty grind. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do what was promised, nor provide good bike paths between the areas, but it is a lot less important than some of the other projects around town.

    1. Molly

      It is totally not important unless you happen to be one of the thousands (and steadily increasing as it is one of the few corridors with approved density) people who work, shop, live, or party there. And nowhere is anyone saying the route has to be on Madison itself in whole or in part. But as someone who hauls 3 children over those hills on the regular, having the improved infrastructure would in fact be a huge win for us and all our neighbors who tell me they want to bike too, and love the protected lanes but are too scared without them.

      Since I also get to bike around the endless jams of stuck cars on this route, I can tell you that getting even 12% more of my neighbors unscared and more mobile would make a big difference.

      1. RossB

        I’m not dismissing the route, I’m just saying it is nowhere near as important as, say Roosevelt/Eastlake. Are you arguing otherwise?

        We only have so much money to spend. I sure wish we had a lot more, but we don’t. With that in mind, SDOT came up with several transit paths that they consider appropriate for extra, fairly expensive treatment (https://www.seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/). It seems like a very good, very appropriate set of priorities, as it covers just about all the key corridors (the one exception is Lake City).

        But I don’t see any correlation with those routes and bike paths. That’s because biking is different. People who bike will go out of their way to find a flat route to their destination and want that route to be as safe as possible. People taking transit just want the fastest way possible.

        Pretending the corridors are somehow related means that we build things out of order, or worse, build less important things. There are areas that make perfect sense for improved bus service, yet will never be that popular from a biking standpoint, and vice versa.

      2. Tim F

        Not considering RapidRide and biking together leaves a lot of ridership on the table for both modes and surrenders an important synergy. BRT (even BRT-lite like RR) has wider stop spacing and fewer routes than the regular bike network. Biking a few minutes to a RapidRide route at both ends creates a very fast trip and covers far more of the city than either all biking or all-bus. 21st century cities understand this and deploy bike share widely while adding bike lanes to go with their transit.

  8. Remember the original 5-year plan, including a route south from the SODO Trail to Georgetown, later to continue to the city line where the Interurban South route ends dead today? Now that’s all cut!

    Meanwhile the Interurban North route will continue to have a giant gap in the middle! So there will sort of be a route through from the south edge of town to the north, it will just have a wild swing to the west on the south end and a wild swing to the east on the north end, and will have a couple missing links.

    I look forward to seeing how the connection from Dearborn to downtown actually works out.

  9. Bryan Paetsch

    Empty promises. Take a look at the Delridge plan options. The BMP was completely ignored. Do you know what else will be ignored? All pleas for more money and another term. No, not until we get what we were promised and what we are paying for.

    Seattle is great at planning and then not delivering. Until past promises are fulfilled, don’t believe it.

  10. Breadbaker

    What is the N. 40th plan? There isn’t even room for sharrows on a street that on the westbound side is a narrow single lane where three bus lines and almost constant traffic travels on it. I’ve lived on the street since 1984 and never bike on it it.

    1. Skylar

      I actually bike on N 40th every time I go to work. Going downhill isn’t bad since I can keep up with traffic, and it’s early in the morning when not many people are out. Going back home, I go uphill to Eastern (41st terminates at Eastern) before going north to 41st.

      I would imagine the plan involves finding a more productive use for the lane taken up by on-street parking.

      1. Yeah, 40th is a pretty useful route for a few blocks west of 7th. I end up using it in both directions to cross I-5 pretty often and have basically since moving here — the alternatives are 45th, which is no-fun on a number of counts, and the Burke, which is doing the opposite of what I need elevation-wise.

        The street is pretty narrow — on every block I can think of, taking out parking on one side would buy you one mediocre bike lane. So… climbing lanes with sharrows on the way down?

        The thing is, parking on 40th is way more popular than it was along 75th when that project got done. It wouldn’t surprise me if the stuff along 40th was just crossing improvements. Selfishly, I wouldn’t mind if it was easier to cross at Meridian…

      2. Skylar

        I think just having an uphill bike lane would fix most of the problems I have with 40th; on the downhill side, it’s not hard keeping up with traffic.

        As for crossing options, supposedly Bagley will get marked crosswalks (not even flashers), and in true SDOT fashion, it will take 2 years to put paint down:


    2. MonkeyMotion

      I would like to see the area under I-5 developed with a paved path up the dirt slope where the homeless camp is now connecting 42nd street with the 7th Ave / 40th street intersection from hell. Maybe even put a switchback in the slope to make the climb easier and the descent controlled. Make 42nd the preferred route between Wallingford and the U-district.

  11. Steve

    Ah, a 5 year plan that is smaller than the 5 year plan 2 years ago.

    This is garbage, and should be called out as such. I have 0% confidence more than 10% of this will be built within the next 5 years. We need to stop be placated by ‘plans.’ This is a gambit in an election year.

    We’ve been fooled once, but not again. Murray has to go, it is time to admit Move Seattle has not lived up to its promise. I’m sick and tired of getting halfway into these ‘master bike plans’ when they have funding and not seeing anything actually get done.

  12. […] similar to San Francisco and Washington, DC. But keep your eye on Seattle: A newly developed five-year project plan should yield an interconnected bikeway network that could significantly change the […]

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