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Bike lanes coming to Eastlake Ave between Stewart and Fairview, work starts this summer

Project map.SDOT and King County Metro are getting ready to redesign a significant stretch of Eastlake Ave E from Stewart Street in South Lake Union (near REI) to Fairview Ave N in Eastlake. The changes will happen in two phases with work on the north phase from Fairview to Roy beginning this summer.

The project will construct high-priority protected bike lanes and build more layover space for Metro buses. It also includes a new “comfort station” with restrooms, break area and a small office for Metro bus operators. The comfort station won’t be open to the public.

Construction on the north segment will be timed with reopening of the Fairview Ave N Bridge, which has been under construction since fall 2019. Since then, Eastlake Ave has been the construction detour route. So this work can’t really begin until Fairview is open, which is expected during the summer.

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The north segment’s design will look something like this:

Concept cross-section for the north segment.
From SDOT.

There will be bike lanes on both sides of the street as there are today. However, where there is on-street parking, the bike lane will be protected by the line of cars.

The big changes will come in 2022 when Metro’s layover project is complete and the south segment opens. That project includes all-new, sorely-needed bike lanes between Roy and Stewart Streets. And for most of the length, the bike lanes will be protected by either on-street parking or parked buses.

The biggest change will be at the south end of the Lakeview Boulevard Bridge over I-5. Here, the bike lane will hop up onto a new sidewalk separating the street from a new larger space for more bus layovers.

Concept image of the new bus layover space and sidewalk.
From Metro.

From the sidewalk, people headed northbound can choose to either go up Lakeview or continue down the hill on Eastlake.

Routing bike lanes onto sidewalks is never ideal. However, I’m not sure how many people will be walking on this sidewalk since it is next to a freeway and all the destinations are on the other side of the street.

A possibly easy fix (for several small issues) would be to install a crosswalk along the south side of the Roy Street intersection, which is oddly missing (it was included in early drawings from 2018). With a crosswalk there, anyone who walked down the east sidewalk of the Lakeview Bridge would be able to make a single-leg crossing to the west side of Eastlake Ave, where they are almost certainly trying to go. The current deign would force them to make a three-leg crossing (north across Lakeview, west across Eastlake, south across Roy) or walk a block south to Mercer.

But this is a quibble because this intersection design is massively better than the way things are now, especially for people walking. It squares up the intersection and removes a slip lane, a highway-style right turn lane that allows people driving to turn from northbound Eastlake to the Lakeview Bridge without slowing down. This type of design is very dangerous for people on foot especially, and the city has been working to remove them whenever possible.

Maps comparing the current satelite image of the intersection to the planned design.Below is the planned design from Metro as of March. The agency hopes to begin construction later this year and complete it in fall 2022.

Project map
King County Metro project map (edited for clarity)

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7 responses to “Bike lanes coming to Eastlake Ave between Stewart and Fairview, work starts this summer”

  1. local citizen

    Great news! I assume the bike lanes are designed to meet up nicely with the planned bike and bus lanes farther north on Eastlake?

  2. Richard

    The ‘slip lane’ issue is serious there, too. As a cyclist going up the bridge right now, we go through a tiny section with a divider between lanes, then maybe 50-100ft before the bike lane begins. It’s absurd, but probably 3 of 4 times a car is behind me, they’re going to try and pass in that tiny divided section (where there is damn well NOT room for both of us – that spot is just way too narrow for that to be safe). It’s crazy because they could wait maybe 10 seconds and I’d be over in a bike lane, completely out of their way – but nope, they gotta pass *NOWNOWNOW!*

    I’ll be quite glad when this work is done.

  3. dave

    I love layover-protected bike lanes! (there’s already an example of this on Main Street in Chinatown-ID)

  4. kiriska

    Really excited to see this project get going. Also really hoping there is some repaving involved because hot damn does Eastlake need it.

  5. Peri Hartman

    This is highly needed since this, like Westlake, is an important bike corridor.

    I generally like the parking-separated lanes, especially going uphill. For downhill planning, I hope the sightlines for cross traffic, which fortunately is light on most parts of Eastlake, will be ample. That’s the dangerous part: being trapped in a narrow space at approaching an intersection when a car plows through without stopping.

  6. Tom: can you work with SDOT to come up with PR that separates the bike lane costs from the other costs. With the “comfort station” the project will probably be one of these $1mm per mile things and the pundits will latch onto that. We need to stop that baloney before it comes out.

  7. Dan

    It’s odd to see the city “start in the middle” as there are no bike lanes or comfortable access to get you to these bike lanes, and there are no bike lanes once they end. I presume there is a plan to address that, otherwise I am somewhat baffled.

    I am no fan of pylons nor of cars separating bike lanes, they have a number of problems and these designs on both Pike & Pine and East Marginal have a number of issues. To mitigate this, there could be a large gap in car parking wherever cars are going to turn across the bike lane. For example, rather than having a 20 foot gap, have a 50 foot gap so that anyone turning can see cyclists next to them and vice versa. This is a problem that exists on 2nd where you can be riding along down 2nd and suddenly there is someone turning into you from the street and nobody had a chance to see one another.

    The second salient problem where pylons make it impossible to turn left would be to add green paint and a gap in pylons on places where cyclists would want to make a left turn.

    The third problem where these protected areas are too narrow for more than one cyclist and passing becomes nearly impossible I don’t think can be mitigated. Again, I hate these kind of designs as they are not actually useful and considering there is no connection, it makes it less so. I’ll just trust that the best will be made of it and it’ll help some, the mitigations mentioned above would go a long way.

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