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Latest segment of 7th Ave bike lane opens in Denny Triangle

One way protected bike lane with Amazon campus in background

The latest block of sidewalk-level one way protected bike lane has opened on 7th Ave in the Denny Triangle, which means that bike lane now runs southbound all the way from Bell Street to Pike Street downtown. There’s also a northbound bike lane, running between Bell Street and Westlake Avenue, which has been open since the end of 2019.

This is the final block of bike lanes added in conjunction with new buildings in Amazon’s Denny Triangle campus expansion, most of which were installed as part of a public benefits agreement reached over permission to permanently develop the public alleyways on those same blocks.

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The Amazon buildings in Denny Triangle that provided the sidewalk level PBLs

But it’s not the final sidewalk-level PBL planned for 7th. Another building being developed by Onni north of Bell Street will also include a southbound bike lane. When that’s complete in a few years nearly the entire route between Denny Way and Pike will be grade-separated.

Rendering of the planned Onni development between Bell and Battery which will complete the 7th Ave southbound PBL

As for that northbound segment, it’s a bit disjointed. 8th Avenue is the northbound route that connects with downtown, but there are numerous places north of Westlake where it loses any protection from traffic and where drivers can enter and exit the bike lane to use the parking lane. But there’s no easy way to transfer from 8th at Westlake to the 7th Ave sidewalk level PBL. Riding on the sidewalk isn’t really an option. And so the protected facility remains a block away from where it needs to be.

Bike lane with armored truck in it, and parking next
The protected bike lane on 8th Avenue stops being protected north of Westlake.

There are definitely strong feelings around the sidewalk-level bike lanes on 7th, which happened to open just as Amazon was trying out its Amazon Go convenience store concept, generating a lot of foot traffic that ended up spilling into the bike lane. While foot traffic has obviously decreased in the past year or so with most of the Amazon campus quiet, the design of the bike lane absolutely encourages slower travel than a street level lane, and doesn’t really encourage side-by-side riding.

Perhaps the best aspect of these bike lanes is that they have allowed the city to expand the all-ages network without using much direct city money. As more people begin to return to work downtown in 2021, having these in place will make a lot of people’s downtown trips more enjoyable.

One way bike lane and lean rails next to the Amazon spheres

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10 responses to “Latest segment of 7th Ave bike lane opens in Denny Triangle”

  1. NoSpin

    ‘Sharrows’ were bad infrastructure design to begin with, and these sidewalk-level bike lanes are no better – just sidewalks with ‘Sharrows’ on them. Pedestrians are, very often, as clueless as drivers – droning along obliviously while looking at a smartphone instead of where they’re going, updating their social media feeds. These may be safer given the lower speeds and masses involved in collisions, but including some kind of physical barrier – curbs, bollards, etc. – would benefit both cyclists and pedestrians.

    1. dave

      You’ve gotta be kidding when you claim these are no better than sharrows. Sharrows place bicyclists at the mercy of drivers of huge metal death machines. These sidewalk-level bike lanes put bicyclists at risk of occasionally mixing with people walking. Just a little difference there.

      1. Natty Bumppo

        Hi Dave, I agree with NoSpin that paint lanes without dividers in front of an Amazon building in the sidewalk is a bad way to construct a bike lane. Cars in the area mostly know to look out for cyclists. Pedestrians are maybe even much more oblivious. I have ridden the 7th avenue lanes and when pedestrians are nearby have to shout for space or people just blindly walk into the lane without looking around for bikes.

      2. dave

        I agree the design is not ideal due to the potential for pedestrians to wander into the bike lane. In-street bike lanes protected by parked cars and/or a physical barrier would be better. But it’s just ridiculous to say these are “no better” than a sharrow. Sharrows are absolutely useless and provide zero level of safety for bicyclists.

    2. Jessica Winter-Stoltzman

      Agree that these are extremely frustrating to bike in because pedestrians (in this area in particular) are not paying attention at all. You are right that they are not as hazardous as a car, since they are moving slower and are much smaller, but it is still not a good design. My first day of my new job downtown, I biked this route and had to brake suddenly due to a pedestrian walking into this lane. I flipped over my handlebars and scraped up my elbow, and she continued on without looking back– I don’t think she ever knew I existed. It’s just a bad design.

      1. Jessica Winter-Stoltzman

        And the upshot was that I basically never biked to work after that. I took the bus or I ran to work, but biking here was such a nightmare that I avoided it completely, even though I used to bike to work every day at my two previous jobs. So I would disagree with the last sentence of Ryan’s article that “having these in place will make a lot of people’s downtown trips more enjoyable.”

      2. dave

        That’s a bummer and I can see how it would be frustrating. I’ve biked through there a few times (pre-COVID) and I quickly realized that you just had to take it super slow. Glad it’s not on my regular commute.

  2. eddiew

    Route 62 serves a pair of stops at Blanchard Street. Southbound, the sidewalk level bike lane goes behind the bus stop. Route 62 also serves Dexter Avenue North. To the south, the 7th Avenue PBL is on the right nearside Stewart Street; routes 7 and 36 (about 10 trips per hour) turn right; bikes and buses get green at the same time; this is a pocket hazard; be careful and visible. Even before the bike infrastructure, 7th Avenue was a good connector between Dexter Avenue North and Union Street.

  3. I’ll have to try the whole 7th Ave southbound section. I’ve tried it before and also experience too many peds in the lane. But the biggest problem with 7th, for me, is too many stop lights. I find 5th much better. My feeling is that, if enough riders use this lane, the peds will eventually stay out. If not, a partial barrier could do the trick.

    The question I have is what will happen to the northbound lane. Currently, if I’m not mixing it up with another location, it jogs from one side of the street to the other. And, of course, also has all the stoplight issues. I tried it once and decided it’s just better to ride in the traffic lane.

    1. Ballard Biker

      One nice thing about the past year was being able to use the 7th Ave sections without oblivious people using it as an ad hoc dog walking lane. Before that, between the disjointed sections and having to dodge pedestrians, I just used the road or different routes.

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