Downtown-to-ID bike lane options are proving difficult, city plans subpar route

The blue line shows the route SDOT is planning for the near-term bike connection to the ID and and beyond. Green and Orange lines are current or planned bike routes.

Connecting the 2nd Ave bike lane to the International District and the Southeast Seattle bike routes beyond is proving to be very difficult.

This connection is the single most important missing piece of the downtown bike network, and the City Council this week included it in the resolution listing projects they want SDOT to complete by the end of 2019. A connection to the International District not only brings that neighborhood into the downtown bike network, it also unlocks Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley and large swaths of the Central District and First Hill. It is also connects to the Mountains to Sound Trail leading to the Eastside and beyond.

“The reality is that this route needs to exist if we want to connect to the southern half of the city,” said Clara Cantor of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

But the extreme steepness of First Hill, missing street connections over the railroad lines near King Street Station and streetcar tracks in the middle of S Jackson Street create a pinch point where the bikeable route options overlap with bus routes that are about to get a hell of a lot busier when buses get kicked out of the tunnel.

After exploring a lot of options, SDOT has picked a route that bike network advocates including Seattle Neighborhood Greenways have not supported. But SDOT staff says it is the only route feasible in the near term.

The city’s plan includes bike lanes on Main Street from 2nd to 6th Avenues, then on 6th Avenue to Dearborn. SDOT staff presented the concept, which is still in draft form, during Wednesday’s Bicycle Advisory Board meeting.

The benefits of the route are that it is legible (other options included more twists and turns), it mostly avoids the First Hill Streetcar tracks and it avoids conflicts with major bus stops on Jackson and 5th Ave.

The downside is that the block of 6th Ave between Jackson and Main is a very steep 11 percent grade, climbing about 30 feet in just one block. It may be so steep that many people will avoid using it, which would defeat the purpose.

SDOT staff noted that once the 4th Ave bike lane is constructed — now planned for 2021, after the so-called “period of maximum constraint” when buses are kicked out of the tunnel but before Northgate Link opens — the bike route options may change. But to complete a connection by the end of 2019, this Main and 6th Ave route is what they say they can do.

Several Bike Board members expressed frustration at the route, seeing it as yet another case of the south end getting sub par bike infrastructure. Cantor at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways shared similar concerns.

“It’s not going to be age-friendly or kid-friendly,” Cantor said.

What were the other options?

SDOT looked at a ton of options, including some rather creative ones. But they all had significant drawbacks and/or conflicts with buses:

Washington St -> 6th Ave (Purple line)

This route is a joke. The hill up to 6th and Washington is beyond extreme. It’s weird that it was even considered enough to make it onto the map. Perhaps it is there to make the city’s preferred route seem less extreme?

Main St -> 5th Ave -> King St -> 6th Ave (Red line)

This is the option Seattle Neighborhood Greenways prefers. It has a slight hill climb up to 5th, but it would be worth the climb to avoid the streetcar tracks and busy bus stops on Jackson St.

And even if the city goes ahead with their preferred option, this is the route I expect a large portion of riders will take even without a bike lane. The extra climb up to 6th just won’t be worth it to a lot of people. But if there is no bike lane on 5th Ave, that means people will either need to mix with car and bus traffic or ride on busy sidewalks.

As a bonus, this route would also give the bike route a proper entrance into the International District by traveling through the gate at 5th and King.

But 5th Ave is about to get a huge influx of buses when they are kicked out of the tunnel. The city’s bus route plans create a northbound bus route through downtown on 5th and 6th Avenues. Though it’s not clear that a bike route and buses can’t both operate efficiently on 5th Ave in this short stretch between Main and King, SDOT does not want to build a bike lanes there at this time.

2nd Ave Ext -> 4th Ave S -> Seattle Blvd -> 6th Ave S (Teal line)

This route, marked in teal on the map, had some promise. It is probably the flattest option, and possibly the fastest, too (depending on signal timing). But it also does not serve the International District very well, bypassing the neighborhood rather than becoming part of it.

It works decently well southbound. The connection to Dearborn is a bit odd, routing people a block beyond the street before turning back up to connect to it. But it could be great for folks headed to Sodo via Airport Way or 6th Ave S/the Sodo Trail.

Northbound is a bit more difficult, however. The route noted in SDOT’s map would route people from Dearborn north on 6th Ave S to S Weller St. From there, the bike route would go through a plaza and along a rather skinny and busy sidewalk next to the Union Station Garage entrance before crossing 4th into a two-way bike lane up to 2nd. This northbound route looks better on a map than it does in real life. If the parking garage entrance had been designed to allow more walkway space, this could be a real option. But it seems likely that there isn’t enough space on the existing walkway to squeeze in a bike lane:

Another option for making the connection from Dearborn to 4th Ave would be to somehow squeeze bike lanes onto Seattle Blvd (possibly a two-way bike lane on the south side of the street?), then get creative with the signal at the busy and confusing intersection with Dearborn, 5th Ave and the I-90 bus lanes to allow people biking to get to and from the Dearborn bike lanes and the bike lanes on Seattle Blvd.

Looking Southeast on Seattle Blvd at 5th Ave/Dearborn/I-90 bus ramps. Image: Google Street View.

Perhaps an ambitious redesign of the whole Seattle Blvd area with buses and bikes at the center could improve operations for both modes at the same time. It’s a worthy idea to keep around at least, but SDOT has deemed it implausible by the end of 2019.

Weller St Bridge (Brown line)

This option is a bit out there, but it’s cool that SDOT was creative enough to look into it. I actually use this route sometimes, at least outside peak commute hours and game days. It’s a nice little “secret” bike route between Pioneer Square and the International District. But it cannot work as a major bike route because it relies on an elevator to access the pedestrian walkway across the train tracks from the CenturyLink Field parking lot. Even if they somehow built a ramp up to the walkway (a likely very expensive endeavor), the bridge walkway can be absolutely packed with people walking during commute hours, game days or when a Sounder train arrives.

And even if the bridge issue is solved, the sidewalk next to the Union Station Garage is likely too skinny for all the biking and walking volumes, as discussed above.

On top of these issues, hardly any of the right-of-way belongs to SDOT, so it would require a lot of partnerships to get this route done. Again, it is worthy to look into ways to make this Weller St connection better, but it all seems implausible by the end of 2019.

The core issue: Streetcar tracks on Jackson (Blue line)

All of the issues discussed above dance around the real problem complicating this connection: The First Hill Streetcar tracks on Jackson St. We have argued since before the streetcar was constructed that Jackson needs bike lanes. It is the only street that connects from Pioneer Square and the waterfront to the International District, 12th Ave/Jose Rizal Bridge, Rainier Ave and the Central District. No matter how many improvements are made to nearby streets, Jackson will remain a well-used bike route simply because it is the only direct option.

But the city chose not to include bike lanes when it fully reconstructed the street five years ago as part of the First Hill Streetcar, a choice that has resulted in many injuries already (not to mention one tragic death on a different segment of the same streetcar line) and will continue to injure people until bike lanes are installed or the tracks are removed.

The tracks not only pose a hazard for people biking today, they also make it very difficult to redesign the street to make it both safe for biking and efficient for buses. It is much more expensive to move the tracks and the center median stations than it would have been to repaint the lines on the street. And because standard bus doors open on the right, buses need the curb lanes while the streetcar needs the center lanes. This leaves little room for bike lanes, especially bike lanes that don’t have conflicts at every bus stop.

If there were bike lanes on Jackson from Alaskan Way to Leschi like there should be, this whole south downtown problem would be simple to solve: Just take Jackson between 2nd and 6th. But this option is very difficult to build now (though perhaps not impossible). Imagine if Jackson had been designed with protected bike lanes and new transit stops that both buses and streetcars could use. If buses and streetcars used the same lanes and stops, it would have been obvious to make those lanes transit-only. Instead, we have transit mixed with general traffic in every lane and bikes without any lanes.

The redesign of Jackson was a huge mistake, and we will be feeling its negative impacts on bikeability for a long time to come. This struggle to connect huge swaths of our city south of downtown into the downtown bike network is ultimately due to poor planning decisions made not so long ago. If this were an old legacy streetcar, that would be one thing. But city planners designed this thing just seven years ago or so. They should have seen this coming and taken the bike route needs on the street seriously. Instead they were myopic about one transit vehicle type at the expense of other street users and missed out on an opportunity to create a more effective multimodal street.

After all, it’s not hard to imagine more people using Jackson Street bike lanes than riding the meandering First Hill Streetcar.

Conclusion

So the best option (Jackson) is basically not on the table. And the second-best option (5th Ave) has been denied for now. So the city is moving forward with the third or fourth best option, which is likely to be disappointing both to users hoping for a quality bike connection and in terms of the ridership numbers it generates. The plan includes some worthy segments, like 6th Ave, Main St and an extension of 2nd Ave. But it’s missing its core.

Much of the fault for the disappointing route may lie with current transportation leadership in Seattle, but the bulk of the fault, in my opinion, dates back to the design of the First Hill Streetcar. But it is what it is now, and we have to figure out how to make this connection work.

Despite its shortcomings, the city’s plan would be better than building nothing if that really is the choice. At least it would include some significant improvements and could set up better route options in the future after we see how buses are operating. The plans for the two steep blocks (Main from 5th to 6th and 6th from Main to Jackson) don’t involve significant investment, so the city would not be wasting lots of funding if those two blocks end up being scrapped later.

But if this option moves forward, SDOT should give assurances that they will study transit operations and revisit this bike connection sooner than later to see if bike lanes could work along side transit on 5th Ave or Jackson. I understand the nervousness around making changes to streets before we see how huge increases in bus volumes will function in real time. Setting a timeline for review (build in 2018 or 2019, review in 2020?) seems appropriate for this unique and vital connection where the city is knowingly building a subpar route.

This entry was posted in news and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Downtown-to-ID bike lane options are proving difficult, city plans subpar route

  1. Jort says:

    It looks like, once again, Jenny Durkan and her cars-first, cars-always mentality will once again jump at the easiest possible opportunity to allow more cyclists to continue to be killed and injured.

    I am still looking for some kind of Vision Zero update from SDOT that helps me understand how the program is actually “Vision Zero*” but with the asterisk reading, “*Except when it might make a car driver sad.”

    The solution isn’t complicated: force the closure of whatever car lanes are currently occupying the easiest, simplest path. Force the cars to either stop driving downtown or to take alternative routes.

    But I’m sure we’ll continue to get little piss-ant half-measures like these for the next decade. “Gee, gosh guys, we sure really did try for something better but, well, what can ya do??!!!! DERP DERP DERP. Here’s your two blocks of sharrows. Have fun dying!”

    Seattle city leaders just looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove to play this stupid game of, “well, we can’t be hasty. We just have to WAIT AND SEE what happens with this OTHER project, because … ” and then we enter this perpetual cycle of delays because there’s ALWAYS something we need to wait for. Right now we’re waiting for CCC, then we’ll need to wait for Alaskan Way, then we’ll need to wait for Link Tunnel #2, then we’ll need to wait for …

    Start closing down car lanes immediately, force the drivers into miserable, unstoppable traffic and build protected cycling facilities. It is not complicated.

    • Dylan Oldenburg says:

      I totally agree. Like when Ed Murray delayed the bike network because they insisted that they must create the “One Center City” plan first. I still don’t understand what the point of all these “plans” are. Move Seattle, Vision Zero… Have any of them led to significant action? They all recommended improvements in bike infrastructure. Or are they created and then promptly ignored? And how was creating this “One Center City” plan (what an asinine name) a good excuse for delaying bike infrastructure?

      • Briana L says:

        I was just thinking, what about banning cars on jackson between 2nd and 6th or something along those lines. That would hugely benefit transit, especially buses coming into downtown on Jackson. I’ve also seen cars gridlock this intersection so that no buses or streetcars can move. I haven’t thought through all the auto re-routes that would be needed.

        I would also love to see improvements on Dearborn. I don’t see that many people using it, but it is so much flatter than Jackson and a great connection to the trail. We need these connections, but we also need better things to connect to.

  2. Patrick says:

    This is longer term, but one thing bike advocates should keep an eye on is the eventual ST3 ID station location for the 2nd tunnel. One of the leading contenders is underneath 4th ave, which would result in a rebuild of 4th there. This would be just south of Jackson in the mid to late 2020’s, presumably after the 4th ave bike lanes have opened to the north. If that location is selected we should look at getting a connecting protected lane included in the rebuild as early in the process as possible.

    See here: https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/07/18/link-advisory-group-reviews-chinatown-sodo-water-crossing-issues/

  3. Ragged Robin says:

    Complete waste of time and money to build anything there. Literally no one is going to go up main street from 2nd. Not happening. I’ve taken 2nd to get to 12th (to i90) every day for years and the best way to go is 2nd, across the tracks onto Jackson, 5th and up King (can cut the corner up Weller too). If and when there’s infrastructure to go up main, no one is going to use it. I certainly won’t be. I would gladly take non-protected, dedicated shoulder lanes on practical routes rather than asinine protected ones that are ultimately useless.

  4. Rainier Rider says:

    I just don’t understand how with a straight face SDOT and recently Mosqueda can speak about cycling equity and spend $30m for the missing link and not connect the Rainier Valley to downtown.

  5. (Another) Tom says:

    Wow, these plans are exceptionally dumb.

    The city will waste a bunch of money on bike lanes no one will use, stupid motorists will complain that “they build bike lanes and no one uses them” and they’ll be right this time. Meanwhile, I and many other cyclists will continue to use Jackson every day like we do now because despite the (completely unnecessary) danger the tracks pose it is still the best route into downtown by far.

    Here’s an idea: Take all of these ‘connections’ and have the cars use them instead. Jackson can be just for bikes and the streetcar. See how that plan would go over (and they don’t even have to pedal uphill.)

    Are we allowed to say ‘lipstick on a pig’ again? Perhaps the tried-and-true ‘Zero Vision’ will suffice.

  6. Fish says:

    The fact that we still see cyclists on Denny or countless other arterials with greenways or bike lanes a block over is very telling. Similar to pedestrians, cyclists often take the most logical way even if it’s not the safest way. I can already see the headlines in the Seattle Times when SDOT spends millions repaving and fixing the utilities on this new “bike route” and then cyclists don’t use it. Worst yet, Durkan is unlikely to move forward with the 1st ave Streetcar rendering the street car on Jackson not only an obstruction to safe bike infrastructure but also useless to transit riders. Driving a car already sucks downtown–inconveniencing drivers a little bit more, by giving cyclists a safer and more logical route, is not going to make a difference.

    • asdf2 says:

      Not moving forward with the streetcar is a good thing. It means yet more blocks downtown won’t become a permanent danger to cyclists. Jackson is done, and cannot be taken back. But at least, it’s not going to be like that on 1st and Stewart also.

      • Briana L says:

        If the Connector isn’t built I think we should seriously consider getting rid of SLU and FH.

  7. Don Brubeck says:

    SDOT’s route is for the short term period while the viaduct/tunnel transition, the new ST Link lines are put into service, and tons of buses are on new temporary routes. Lots of bike routes include a short hill to climb or walk. This is a low-cost temporary route with obvious wayfinding and direct path.

    How about living with this for a short time, and working toward a better long term solution that incorporates the new ST3 station, the reduction in buses and further changes in bus routes after downtown routes are adjusted, and most of all, after the downtown streetcar connector project is cancelled, and the useless First Ave streetcar in abandoned? Then the tracks on Jackson can be removed and the optimum route will work. More people will ride bikes on Jackson than will ever ride the streetcar. The average life of streetcar routes in Seattle ever since the 1890’s has been about a decade. This one’s lifetime is up.

    It is not realistic to be saying, “give us the downtown network and south end connections right now”, and also to be saying, “give us the best possible route”, ignoring what is happening right now with major transportation projects serving 10’s of thousands of people, and ignoring the short term impacts of major infrastructure construction downtown.

    “…’Till Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again…”.
    The Band

    • Sean R-M says:

      Don this is pretty disappointing position from you. The south part of the city consistently gets sub par bike infrastructure while other areas mostly in the North get more and more investment. It’s difficult to build AAA bike infrastructure, there will always be excuses why it can’t be done. If we wait until there are no more excuses it will never happen

      • Don Brubeck says:

        Sean R-M,
        I am not arguing in favor of anything sub-par for south end. Just for a couple of years more patience and realism about other city transportation needs for this particular segment. Tbere are other critical places to be spending the limited annual budget for 2019-20. Rainier Ave S; 12th Ave S; Swift-Myrtle-Othello; Delridge; and otbers. SDOT is following SBAB’s recommendation to put almost all bike program funded projects in south Seattle for 2019-2021. South Seattle is now getting its share of well-designed and executed projects.

    • RossB says:

      I agree. The main thing we should all be working on is getting rid of the streetcars. Not only just stopping the ridiculous expansion, but moving towards the removal of the streetcars. It is important to emphasize that doing so would be *better* for transit. The streetcar is a poorly designed route. It ends too soon on Broadway, and makes a ridiculous button hook to serve 14th. It won’t be extended on Broadway because the businesses on Broadway don’t want it extended (that alone should tell you how unpopular it is — even businesses that get many of their customers via transit know the thing is irrelevant or worse).

      This can’t be done in the short term. It will take a fair amount of work to get rid of the thing, both politically and from an engineering standpoint. But the hardest work is the political part, and the more we put pressure on the city to get rid of the streetcar — the root cause of the problem here — the sooner we can make this a better part of town for both transit and bikes.

  8. Tom says:

    The best bike routes have certain characteristics (flat, straight, direct). Those same characteristics make them great car, truck and bus routes.

    If South Downtown is ever to have ‘Basic’ (or equitable, or all ages and abilities) bike access, a fraction of some of those ‘Best Routes’ will be have to be taken from cars and given to bikes.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    • Sean R-M says:

      Tom did you see anything from the city about what the bike lanes on 6th ave would be? I don’t see how PBLs could go on 6th ave without removing parking from at least one side of the street. I’m concerned that they aren’t actually planning to install PBLs and that this is more of a shared route than separated

    • RossB says:

      The problem is that it is one of many bottleneck streets in Seattle. The only way to get from 12th Avenue South to 1st Avenue South between Yesler and Beacon Hill is on Jackson. The only street that is close is King, but King runs into Washington Middle School on the East, and worse yet, ends at Fifth to the west. The latter is a big problem, and can’t be solved easily.

      The situation is reminiscent of Eastlake. It is very important for both transit and bikes. At the same time, you have to allow general purpose vehicles (cars and trucks) there, otherwise it would be a mess on the side streets. There just isn’t enough space on Eastlake to add transit lanes and bike lanes while still having one general purpose lane. So SDOT gave up on the transit lanes, but added the bike lanes. This was the right choice, in my opinion, as I think it is more important for bike travel than transit; but it means that the Roosevelt RapidRide (once billed as “BRT”) will not be that much faster than today. Slower buses means more cars (which isn’t good). At least they didn’t add a streetcar.

      I don’t think the situation is quite that bad on Jackson. There are a few long term possibilities. The first thing we should do is get rid of the streetcar. The streetcar performs poorly as a transit line, and it makes things much worse for bikes. You could replace it with a bus tomorrow and see increased ridership (after you modified the route to run faster and serve a few more stops). If it was a bus route, it is hard to see it surviving any sort of long term, sensible, route restructure (the button hook to 14th is especially poorly designed).

      Jackson looks to be about five lanes wide. This means that you could have two general purpose lanes, two BAT lanes, and a set of bike lanes. The bus stops would be at the curb, with the bike lane in front, which is a bit tricky, but not unique: https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/SDOT/VisionZero/Draft%20Bus%20Stop%20Design.pdf. I’m pretty sure you could fit that in.

      From a transit perspective it would be a big improvement, but still not ideal. Cars could use the BAT lane to turn right. Since there are a lot of pedestrians around there (and eventually bikes), a turning car might hold up a bus for a long time. But it would still likely be an improvement, and work well for bikes (assuming there is enough room).

      Another possibility is to leverage King Street as much as possible. Build a real bike path there, with a secondary “curb” (using posts or whatnot). There are just too many trucks making deliveries to take away the parking — you want the trucks parked outside the bike pane. I would also add traffic lights (just because it is a pain to stop at every stop sign) but that is a judgment call. But no matter how you do it, I would try and create a first class bike lane on King, from 5th to 20th. There is plenty of room (it is a wide street) and not that much traffic.

      That minimizes the bottleneck. The parts that both bikes and buses want right-of-way are basically one block on Fifth, and a short section on Jackson. That changes the dynamic for transit considerably. Ideally you have transit lanes for an entire route, but getting a long stretch (e. g. Jackson from Rainier Avenue to 6th) is the next best thing. At worse a bus slogs along in general purpose traffic for a couple blocks. With no bike lanes on Jackson east of 6th, we would have the option of running center buses there (SDOT has already ordered buses with dual sided doors). That would mean bus-only lanes in the middle of the street, which would speed them up considerably. The buses would then have to swap lanes, which is an awkward maneuver, but one that is in store for the Madison BRT project (we will see how that works out). Basically, the transit lanes switches from being on the middle to being on the outside. You would do that switch before the bike lanes are added. That would allow you enough room for bike lanes. Worse case scenario the buses merge into single general purpose lane and just uses that for a few blocks.

      That isn’t ideal from anyone’s standpoint. Buses might get bogged down on the west end of Jackson. Bike riders would have to do a dogleg on King. But overall, it would mean a safe, protected set of lanes for bikes, even if it isn’t the fastest possible routes.

      The simplest thing to do would be to just add two BAT lanes, two bike lanes and two general purpose lanes to Jackson (assuming the street is wide enough). But first we need to get rid of the streetcar. It is tough to admit we were wrong when designing a major public infrastructure project, but we’ve done that before, and the sooner we reverse this mistake the better.

      • RossB says:

        Sorry for the long comment (I get carried away sometimes). If you are in a hurry, just read the first and last paragraphs (and maybe the second).

  9. Abdul Ben Ami says:

    The only cure is to ban buses from the downtown core and make the bus lanes bike lanes. Problem solved.

    • Ragged Robin says:

      No. Ban private vehicles downtown and improve public transit, biking, and WALKING infrastructure. Problems solved.

  10. Kirk says:

    South Jackson has to be the route, because it already is and will continue to be no matter where SDOT wants to put a ridiculous detour.

    Looking at it, I don’t think it’s that hard. Most of the way from second to 12th the sidewalks are super wide or there is parking. Trees would have to be removed and light and trolley poles relocated, but it is definitely possible.

    • RossB says:

      It wouldn’t be that hard if you got rid of the streetcar. But until then, it is very difficult.

      As I said up above (in a very long comment) the easiest thing to do is get rid of the streetcar, add bike lanes and BAT lanes on Jackson. That wouldn’t involve moving the utility poles, but it would involve pavement work (e. g. getting rid of the center bus stops). You would also have to get rid of the streetcar tracks (or pave over them). When it was all done, the cars would move a little slower, the buses would move faster, and bikes would have a safe, straightforward route the whole way.

  11. Concerned about short sided, militant 2 wheel advocacy says:

    Wow! Just Wow! All these comments about “getting rid of cars” or “taking lanes from buses,” “closing down car lanes immediately, force the drivers into miserable, unstoppable traffic,” “Force the cars to either stop driving downtown or to take alternative routes.” etc. is remarkably short sided. Do all of you BIKES ONLY advocates presume you will be taking anything you purchase, during the 9 months of rainy weather on your bikes (a dining room table for example)….oh wait. that’s right, you’ll just order it from Amazon and have it delivered to your door step by a ….wait for it ….. a delivery truck….but given your druthers there won’t be any lanes for the delivery truck to bring you your cherished “prime” purchase if you all have your selfish, one-sided way and punish motor vehicles.
    PS. Bicycles are vehicles. Every person riding a bicycle shall be granted all rights and be subject to all duties & responsibilities applicable to the driver of a vehicle. In other words STOP at a f&%$ing STOP sign. Signal when turning. Don’t ride with a set of headphones on and act like everyone should watch out for YOU!
    PPS If you want to get rid of all cars then bikes will have to be licensed, insured and pay taxes for using the streets, so think it through.

    • (Another) Tom says:

      LOL.

      Old man yells at clouds. More at 11.

    • Ragged Robin says:

      PPPS no car owner pays taxes for using the streets, that comes from property tax

      PPPPS a delivery vehicle isn’t a personal vehicle now is it?

      PPPPPS you are sorely mistaken if you think more people roll through reds on human-powered wheels than in a two ton hunk of plastic and steel. Just stand on the corner of any intersection and watch the right-turn lane.

      • Ragged Robin says:

        oh, and about that “shortsided” view you’re trying to point out, the city has already pledged to ban cars downtown by 2050 btw ;)

  12. Dana says:

    I ride this route every day. I used to take 2nd until it merged with Jackson, then hand a right on 5th or 6th. But the chaos of the cars, getting assaulted by a maniac with a hammer for riding in the street (that the City failed to prosecute despite witnesses), has pushed me to Main St to 5th. This is an okay route, but definitely is frustrating riding up a big hill when a nice flat route is right in front of you.

    It is pretty frustrating they even built the 2nd Ave lane 4 years ago without thinking about this connection.

    I am a 33 year old well verse and in shape cyclist, so the hills don’t scare me. But I think about people who are new to biking or who just don’t have the confidence and the proposed options would make me nervous enough to not ride.

    I have already had to change my routes based on the behavior of people driving in this City. We need separation and protection from these maniacs in their cars during the commute.

  13. RossB says:

    But 5th Ave is about to get a huge influx of buses when they are kicked out of the tunnel. The city’s bus route plans create a northbound bus route through downtown on 5th and 6th Avenues. Though it’s not clear that a bike route and buses can’t both operate efficiently on 5th Ave in this short stretch between Main and King, SDOT does not want to build a bike lanes there at this time.

    The implication is that this changes in the future. That this is a temporary period caused by the buses leaving the tunnel, but will all be better once Link reaches Bellevue or Northgate. I don’t buy it. Yes, things will be worse for bus traffic in a few months (when the buses are kicked out prematurely) but I think we will still have lots of buses there, even in a few years. The only bus that kicks out of the tunnel but will become irrelevant once Link is expanded is the 550. The 101, 102 and 150 (from Renton and Kent) won’t go away — they will still need to go downtown. The 41, 74 and 255 are all irrelevant (they all serve the north end, or in the case of the 255, SR 520). So there really aren’t lots of buses that are being forced onto Fifth, but will soon go away.

    That means that whatever bus improvements they make for Fifth will make sense to continue for the foreseeable future. It would be crazy to give the riders from Renton and Kent (along with whatever buses happen to go on Fifth) a bus lane for a few years, then turn around and take it a away just because some other part of town (Northgate or Bellevue) got a shiny new train. In other words, if we can’t solve the problem now, chances are we won’t solve them anytime soon.

    The only long term change that makes sense that would improve the situation is getting rid of the streetcar. It really should be a priority for the bike community, instead of just wringing our hands and wishing it wasn’t here. Bus lanes on Fifth make way more sense — and provide a much bigger improvement for transit — than the misguided and poorly designed streetcar. Get rid of the streetcar, then work on Jackson to make it work better for transit and bikes, while still providing lanes for general purpose traffic. It really isn’t that hard once you get rid of the streetcar.

Comments are closed.