Today is the final day to submit comments on the revamped Environmental Assessment for the RapidRide J project, which includes a redesigned Eastlake Ave E. There are a lot of excellent improvements included in the project, which would finally build desperately-needed bike lanes on this vital bike route along the east side of Lake Union.
But the design is still sorely lacking at one of the most important places: The south end of the University Bridge. The current design would make essentially no improvements to the existing skinny, paint-only bike lanes. Perhaps more importantly, it would do little to improve the intersection with Fuhrman Ave E, which is an intersection of multiple bike routes. It is an excellent candidate for a protected intersection.
I talked about the lack of protection in this area in a long video about the Eastlake design plans back in early 2020 (starts at 15:49). There are definitely options for recapturing the space needed for protection here, the project team just needs to genuinely prioritize safety. The current design prioritizes car movement, which is not acceptable.
Today (November 22) is the last day to submit comments about the Supplemental Environmental Assessment for the project, and Cascade Bicycle Club has a handy online tool you can use to voice your support for better bike lanes on this block. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is also calling for more protection on this block. Here’s the text of Cascade’s sample letter:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Supplemental Environmental Assessment for the RapidRide J-Line. I am writing to request that protected bike lanes extend along the full length of Eastlake Ave E, including between Harvard Ave E and Fuhrman Ave E.
This project and its accompanying multi-modal improvements serve an important role in connecting major hubs of our city, and we want to ensure its implementation improves safety and mobility for all people biking, walking, rolling, and taking transit in this area.
The protected bike lanes along Eastlake Avenue fill an essential missing connection for people traveling between the University District, Eastlake, and downton and to the homes and businesses along the way.
However, I am concerned to see that the lane protection currently ends prematurely at Harvard Avenue. This means that for the last block of Eastlake, people on bikes are required to ride on a striped bike lane, with no physical protection from vehicles. Dropping the protected bike lane in this area is especially concerning due to the volume of vehicle traffic that travels at high speeds in connection with the I-5 highway on-ramp.
Bike routes are only as comfortable as their scariest section, and dropping the protection for people riding bikes in the most dangerous intersection will deter even experienced riders and will not encourage new riders. It also presents a real safety risk for vulnerable road users, at a time when the number of people losing their lives while walking and biking in our city is going up, not down. Fully protected bike lanes are critical for maintaining safety throughout the entire corridor, creating better bike network connections, and ultimately increasing ridership.
Every effort should be made to increase the utility, safety, connectivity, and attractiveness of the city’s bike network to make bicycling a viable option for more people, and more trips. We appreciate the work that has been done to this point to plan for a designated bike route along the Eastlake corridor: there is much to like about the designs to date. With a small fix to this one block section, Seattle will have another world-class bikeway that prioritizes safety.
Thank you for prioritizing the safety of vulnerable road users in this project.