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CHS: City wants to install electric car charger in future path of Broadway bikeway

Base image: SDOT’s Broadway bikeway and streetcar extension plans. As noted, the proposed car charger would be directly in the path of the bikeway.

Seattle is about to invest to build a public car charger directly in the path of the on-hold Broadway Bikeway extension north or Denny Way.

Once complete, people biking northbound in the Broadway protected bike lane would need to merge into mixed traffic at Denny Way to go around a parked electric car using the city’s charging station. And neither Seattle City Light nor SDOT seem concerned about this conflict, as Capitol Hill Seattle reports:

“In the absence of a bike lane currently, we believe this is a great location for an electric vehicle charging station,” Scott Thomsen, spokesperson for City Light tells CHS. “Should there come a time, we will be able to move our infrastructure.”

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The Seattle Department of Transportation describes the situation a little differently.

“We do not believe installation of a charging station would preclude future bike lanes,” a spokesperson tells CHS. “Assuming a charging station is installed on Broadway, we would work with our partners at SCL to determine how to design a (protected bike lane) around it or shift the charging station to accommodate when the time came.”

The Broadway Bikeway extension is at the 90 percent design phase, which is essentially shovel-ready. It was initially scheduled for 2016, but has been put on hold due to a lack of funding for the associated streetcar extension. The design does not have on-street parking next to the charger location, but it does have parking space across the street as shown in the image above.

You can learn more and provide feedback at an open house 6 p.m. March 6 at Seattle Central College’s Broadway Edison Building in Room 1110. If you can’t make the open house, you can also contact the project team:

As we have argued, the bikeway should go ahead with or without the streetcar because its current abrupt end at Denny Way does not work. The Denny Way terminus was supposed to be temporary, but installing a charging station in the planned bikeway path suggests that the city considers it permanent. And that’s frustrating not just for bike access and safety along the north end of Broadway, but it severely limits the usability of the existing stretch of the bikeway that reaches south to Yesler Way.

Context as part of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan.

On the other hand, completing the Broadway Bikeway as designated in the city’s Bicycle Master Plan sets up a connection that could reach all the way to the University and 520 Bridges. It would also create a consistent street design for all of Broadway and improve safety for everyone, especially people walking.

Even if the city truly is willing to spend more money moving the charger later when the bikeway is installed, that feels like an unnecessary expense. More likely, the cost of moving the station will be yet another barrier to completing the bikeway.

But the bigger issue here is that the city is apparently not considering its modal plans when choosing car charging locations. Either that or they see charging cars as more important than biking. If the argument for public funding of car chargers is to fight climate change (a questionable strategy), then blocking a bike lane is counterproductive. It would be much better to install the chargers in parking spaces with no plans to change.

I’m not necessarily against experiments in public funding for electric car chargers, though there are equity questions about charging stations that need to be addressed. After all, you need to be able to own an electric car to use these public stations. But such efforts definitely cannot impede known solutions like transit, walking and biking. And I mean that literally in this case but also financially as the city budgets its resources.

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9 responses to “CHS: City wants to install electric car charger in future path of Broadway bikeway”

  1. Skylar

    Why not just install it in an existing parking spot, and mark that spot as a only for motrocycles/compact cars? Oh right, we can’t do anything in this country without running it by King Car first.

  2. I don’t know how long it takes to charge an electric car, but it does seem an odd location to put it on a major arterial next to a light rail station in the middle of a retail district. It would seem to make more sense to put it on 12th, for instance, which is remarkably wide by Capitol Hill standards and doesn’t have the retail that Broadway does.

    1. asdf2

      It could be that the electrical work to connect the charger to an energy source happens to be cheaper on Broadway than 12th. Don’t know if that’s actually the case. Just speculating.

  3. Southeasterner

    Ahh the Seattle process.

    We act like a car charging station is the equivalent to sending a man to Mars. Meanwhile Bainbridge and thousands of other municipalities across the globe already have EV stations at existing parking spots and almost every private lot in Seattle has them…at a cost of $0 to tax payers.

    But yeah let’s take right of way we desperately need for buses/bikes/peds and re-purpose it for parking and a super expensive city EV station that will need to be moved in what could be a year.

    If this were any other city I would be shocked and outraged…but meah it’s just another day in Seattle. The pain will really be felt when the mayor attributes the cost and improvement to meeting MOVE Seattle bike lane investments.

    And while we build expensive EV stations on Capitol Hill, that will need to be ripped out in a year at even more cost, on Rainier Ave cyclists and pedestrians are getting slaughtered but there is no budget available to make any safety improvements.

  4. ks

    Higher priority uses for public space adjacent to a light rail station also include bike parking, a bench, disabled parking, loading zone, short term parking,a wayfinding sign…

  5. Dylan

    What I gather from this is that they have no intention of building the bike lane there. ”Should there come a time, we will be able to move our infrastructure.” Give me a break. Just goes to show what our city’s priorities are

  6. the block face next to Link would be a great place for a bus stop. Route 49 riders transferring to/from Link would not have to cross John Street. The Broadway Extension of the First Hill Streetcar was doubly dumb.

  7. Southeasterner

    Probably deserves its own post on the complete and utter ridiculousness of our state legislature (majority democrats) who are literally trying to kill us…

    “The state Legislature is considering a bill that would make it a felony to have four DUIs in 15 years, rather than 10.”

    This was in the context of a man arrested on suspicion of his eighth DUI!


    “His seventh DUI was a misdemeanor, not a felony, because of how Washington state’s DUI laws work. Here, a person can be charged with felony DUI, which carries jail or prison time, if they have been convicted of four DUIs in 10 years. Goodman’s previous DUI cases have been spread out just enough that he has never before been charged with this felony.”

    So instead of coming down on him for continuing to put lives at risk we are going to make it easier for repeat offenders to get out of felony convictions?

    1. Que

      Exactly. Why? Because car.

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