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Someone posted an official-looking notice warning of plans to close 2nd Ave bike lane section

This is great.

A group that wishes to remain anonymous posted an official-looking “Notice of Proposed Street Use Action” sign at the north end of the 2nd Ave bike lane near Denny Way, informing the public that “the City of Seattle has decided to remove this portion of the Second Avenue protected bike lane to make room for more cars.” It continues:

This will allow more people to drive to events at the new Seattle Center Arena at the cost of safety for pedestrians and people on bicycles.

If you have comments about this change please contact the following parties:

Mayor Jenny Durkan – Twitter: @mayorjenny
or email: [email protected]

Rob Johnson, Oak View Group – Twitter: @heyrobbyj
Email: [email protected]

Councilmember Andrew Lewis – Twitter: @lewisforseattle
Email: [email protected]

Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez – Twitter: @cmlgonzalez
Email: [email protected]

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda – Twitter: @teresacmosqueda
Email: [email protected]

And, unfortunately, the sign is true. As reported previously, current transportation plans that are part of the arena remake would close this section of the bike lane, routing people biking onto the sidewalk just south of Denny Way.

The sign is amazing because it makes a couple important points at the same time. For one, of course, it alerts people that the city wants to remove a section of one of our city’s best protected bike lanes. But it also highlights the double standard regarding how much public notice and public debate is needed to add a bike lane versus how little public debate there has been about removing one.

I mean, just compare this to the years of organizing required to get bike lanes added to the Eastlake RapidRide J project. Even after years of packing meetings to get the bike lanes included in the plans, people still have to turn out to show support for the bike lanes in various open houses and town halls. Meanwhile, essentially nobody was aware of the city’s plans to remove this stretch of bike lane until Ryan Packer at The Urbanist reported about it in late October.

On top of this, Mayor Jenny Durkan and now-Councilmember Alex Pedersen have cited a supposed lack of public process as a reason to delete the planned, designed and contracted bike lanes on 35th Ave NE. And while there definitely was a public process for 35th, the decision to delete this section of the 2nd Ave bike lane was never a significant part of the arena’s public process. So it deserves to be revisited.

The justification for deleting the bike lane is that the planned parking garages will be able to empty their cars faster if they have two lanes on 2nd Ave rather than the current one lane at Denny Way. But why should people biking and walking be put at risk at worst and inconvenienced at best just so some new parking garages can empty faster for the hour or so after major events? That’s not a good trade for the city and it doesn’t help us meet any of our transportation, Vision Zero or climate goals. People who park in the garages can just wait their turn to leave. That’s really not asking much. Who drives to a major event and expects to be able to get out of the parking garage quickly?

It could even improve the post-event traffic crunch on nearby streets by metering cars more gradually rather than overloading the street network all at once.

So yeah, do what the sign says, though I would add [email protected] to your list since he is the Transportation Committee Chair.

And good work, anonymous sign makers!

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10 responses to “Someone posted an official-looking notice warning of plans to close 2nd Ave bike lane section”

  1. Matt

    It’s probably too much to hope for, but is there any way we can force the city to do an EIS on this?

    1. Peri Hartman

      I love that idea. If an EIS is required for the missing link, why isn’t one required for this ?

    2. Ballard Biker

      Considering the EIS for the largest parking garage in the City (Expedia) came and went without even a whimper, I would be shocked if an EIS did anything here.

  2. Peri Hartman

    I remember well how SDOT handled Mercer street back when the Sonics were here. When people were leaving and a flood of cars hit Mercer, they just turned the lights green for about 4 minutes at a time. You simply could not cross the street !

    It certainly did get cars out faster but at the expense of everyone else who was there, many on foot trying to cross the very street they were manipulating.

    Terrible trade off.

  3. RH

    FYI, the email listed for Rob Johnson doesn’t appear to be valid. I wrote to all parties listed in the notice but got a “delivery status notification: failure” notice w/r/t his email.

  4. AW

    There has got to be a solution to this that doesn’t completely screw the people on bicycles (although that may be the point)

    I looked on google maps and it seems that this section of 2nd ave might have enough right of way to be reconfigured for the second lane for cars.

    Or could the bicycle lane be reconfigured in a way that would allow it to be switched to car traffic for the few hours it is needed to empty the garages but left as a bicycle lane the rest of the time ?

    And am I correct that these garages don’t exist yet ? Why can’t this wait until a garage is built.

  5. (Another) Tom

    If extra car capacity is needed on game days they can put some cones out and hire a few off-duty officers to direct traffic for an hour. It is absurd to compromise cyclist’s safety and the effectiveness of this major bike lane investment 24/7 for such a temporary purpose.

    There are 8,760 hours in a year. Let’s say there are 60 events/year where this extra lane will be helpful for an hour after the game.

    That is at most, 60 hours/year. For the other 8,700 hours/year the bike lane would be more beneficial.

  6. Null

    More lanes AlWaYs WoRkS. cOmMoN sEnSe

  7. SJH

    We sent this email to the Mayor, Alex Pederson and some other council members. Let them know it’s a bad idea.

    “Bike Path on Second Avenue in Belltown – Do not Disturb

    We noticed recently talk of removing a section of bike path to allow cars to exit garages faster after events at Key Arena/Seattle Center. Removing bikes paths take us in the wrong direction on safety, on alternative transportation, on doing everything we can do to combat global warning. We lived near Seattle Center for many years and understand the challenge of getting people to and from events. Seattle Center is an even more problematic event location with the development of South Lake Union. There are no perfect solutions, but prioritizing event goers bringing their cars into the neighborhood is not the way to go. Keep this bike path intact for 24/7 use and double down on bus and other existing transit to move folks out of this congested area after events.”

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