I thought we had already established this a few years ago during public outreach for Roosevelt RapidRide, but SDOT has tried again to find an alternative to building bike lanes on Eastlake Ave. And, just like before, the results are clear that Eastlake is the only good option.
The project team presented the latest study to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board earlier this month, and they found that the previously planned protected bike lanes on Eastlake are the best option for the project by essentially every measure other than car parking. They conducted a serious study of nine options, then narrowed that down to four, then found what anyone who bikes in the area could have told them: Eastlake is the only continuous option without very steep climbs that serves Eastlake businesses and connects the U Bridge to downtown.
And let’s not forget that the final phase of SR 520 work should include a bike connection from Eastlake to the 520 Trail, making Eastlake Ave even more important.
The study explored a new concept for the route that is, frankly, quite baffling. The city would build a protected bike lane northbound on Eastlake Ave, but would route people headed southbound down a steep 11 percent grade hill on E Roanoke Street to Yale Ave E, which curves to meet back up with Eastlake south of the neighborhood’s main business district (the city’s study did not seem to factor downhill grade in its analysis even though a steep downhill can also be a barrier to biking, especially if you have to make a turn mid-hill like this plan would require). One version would turn Yale into a one-way neighborhood greenway, which is not really a thing. Another version would include a protected bike lane on Yale, which would remove even more car parking than the Eastlake bike lanes.
The idea of splitting the bike route in this way is inherently flawed and would result in people biking southbound on Eastlake Ave without a bike lane. Not only is it confusing to essentially detour one direction of the bike route, but people headed southbound would have no safe way to access the neighborhood’s business district.
And since Eastlake Ave is where 39 of 40 reported bike-involved collisions occurred between 2012 and 2017, addressing bike safety on Eastlake Ave should be paramount.
You can see the options explored below to decide for yourself (excerpts are from this presentation PDF):