Update: due to the anticipated snow event this weekend, the closure of Lake Washington Boulevard outlined below has been postponed to Monday February 15. It will run through Sunday the 21st as planned.
A stretch of Lake Washington Boulevard just south of Mount Baker Beach will open to people walking, biking, and rolling starting this Friday February 12 Monday February 15 through Sunday February 21, Seattle Public Schools Winter Break, as well as April 9th through the 18th, for SPS Spring Break. The street will be closed to vehicles between Stan Sayres Boat Launch and Mount Baker Beach during that time.
This is the same stretch of Lake Washington Boulevard closed to people driving during the winter holidays last year, and doesn’t extend all the way south to Seward Park like the Summer 2020 closure did.
This closure sets the stage for another Summer-long open street on Lake Washington Boulevard but begs the question: if we can open it for a week at a time, why not indefinitely, at least for this year? People who use this route for transportation, given the lack of dedicated bike facilities parallel to it, don’t disappear at the end of school breaks.
The full Lake Washington Boulevard closure last Summer was the third-most-used Open Street in the city behind West Seattle’s Beach Drive and Green Lake Drive in North Seattle. The idea of permanently closing it to vehicle traffic, which we have done before with Interlaken Boulevard in north Capitol Hill (another Olmsted legacy route), remains hotly contested. Any path to a change in use would go through the Seattle Parks board, which has control over the street since it technically rests on park property.
In the meantime, we’ll enjoy every weeklong closure we can get.
Read more about the overall Keep Moving Street and Stay Healthy Street program here.
The only way we’re ever going to get a permanent closure of Lake Washington Blvd is if the roadbed collapses in a way that’s too expensive to fix.
A much more realistic solution would be to convert the lakeside lane into a permanent bike path and make the other lane one-way between Seward Park and Lake Park Drive or Colman Park. Pitch it to the city as “just like how they do it in Europe”.
Why not? The section we’re talking about has zero homes or driveways. 100% of the traffic on it is cutthrough traffic. Even if the part further south remained open, closing the north section would dramatically reduce thru traffic on the southern section.
My fear is that a proposal to close that stretch permanently would either result in years of meetings and lawsuits or a bunch of compromises that still allow plenty of cars on the road despite it being “closed”. I’d much rather pick an easy fight and win than still be reading blog posts about this a decade from now.
This isn’t the Missing Link. There is no parking impacted. There are no driveways impacted. This is about a slam dunk as it gets.
From the perspective of a person walking Lake Washington Blvd., I appreciate being able to hear the waves, rather than having to listen to a car go buy every 10-15 seconds. You don’t get that if you only close one side.
If bicycles don’t require the entire width of a two-lane road, I say narrow the road and plant some trees, not put cars on one half.
Closing the lakside lane of that stretch of LWB is such a brilliant idea that it will never happen!!!
Ideally we could get a full-width bike/ped path between Mt Baker Beach and 43rd Ave S and a half roadway path the rest of the way down to Seward Park (and some fix between Mt Baker Beach and Colman Park should be in the mix too).
In my experience on LWB it would help immensely to have these bike/ped spaces fully closed to cars with no exceptions. That would be the difference between letting my kid ride more freely versus needing to be constantly vigilant of drivers who swerve around barriers (for legitimate access reasons or otherwise). So the one-way car access is compelling for me in places where driveways exist. I’d rather have half the road for bike/ped exclusively than have the whole road in an ambiguously closed state.