In the middle of the 2020 COVID shutdown, Seattle missed an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable achievement. With completion of the Bell Street protected bike lane and implementation of the Stay Healthy Street through the Bell Street Park, Seattle had fully connected a downtown protected bike route. For the first time, it became possible to bike all the way through the heart of downtown without needing to mix with car traffic.
Unfortunately, there was bigger news at the time, and many downtown workers were working from home. So this monumental achievement many years in the making went by without fanfare. But it’s still an incredible asset to our city, and one deserving of a belated celebration. Because there are a lot of people in our city who are not interested in mixing with cars in busy downtown traffic, and they may be very excited to learn that they no longer need to.
The protected bike route network through downtown keeps growing, with 4th Avenue now connected through Bell Street, providing a connection to City Hall. And the connection from 2nd Avenue to 5th Avenue in the International District brings the downtown network very close to the new Jose Rizal Bridge bike lanes to Beacon Hill and the Mountains to Sound Trail. The Pike Street bike lane are still missing a couple blocks near the Convention Center, but then they connect all the way to the Broadway Bikeway, which goes all the way to Yesler Terrace. It’s becoming a real network.
To highlight one example of what is now possible, I created this short video of a bike ride from Gas Works Park to Pike Place Market. The entire trip takes place on trails, protected bike lanes and very slow streets like the Bell Street Park and Pike Place. I think this route is viable for people of all ages and abilities. Think about that! This was barely a dream ten years ago. And thanks to an enormous amount of work by a lot of people, now it’s here.