There’s a good chance you missed the news about this one because, well, let’s just look at the timestamp … oh no.
As part of the Climate Pledge Arena transportation plan, SDOT closed a short section of the 2nd Ave bike lane to create an additional lane for cars leaving the arena parking garage. Because nothing says “climate pledge” like turning a bike lane into a car lane. People started mounting a campaign to reverse this decision in early 2020, but you all know what happened next. Amid lockdowns and everything else in 2020, everyone had more pressing matters to attend to and the half-block of bike lane removal just south of Denny Way went through. Now the bike lane is routed up onto the sidewalk. No additional sidewalk space was created. It’s not great.
But OK, that’s all behind us. The city is beginning work this weekend on what they hope will be the primary bike route for people traveling between Belltown and Lower Queen Anne/Uptown. It does require a zig-zag, but it should be a big improvement for people accessing the business district rather than Seattle Center. This post does include feedback on the design, but we criticize out of love and because we care so much about this work. It is great that the city is building a connected bike route here, and this project required several blocks of on-street parking removal, which is rarely politically easy to do. Bike advocates have a habit of focusing on what needs to be improved rather than what has been accomplished, and that’s because the shortcomings are very important. But our city has never had a connected bike route to the Lower Queen Anne/Uptown business district before. This is a big deal.
Heading north in the existing two-way bike lane on 2nd Ave, people will need to make an awkward left turn into a new two-way bike lane on Broad Street between 2nd and 1st. I say awkward because the space to wait to turn left is sort of in the way of people going straight on 2nd. Seattle has still not figured out how to build a properly protected intersection that provides comfortable space for all users. I’m sure people will make it work, but this design will have a practical limit to how many people can use it at the same time without backing up into the road or bike lane space. Maybe that’s a problem for another day. We’ll see.
The intersection at 1st and Broad is similar to the intersection with 2nd, but flipped. We will need to pay close attention to how right turns from southbound 1st Ave to westbound Broad Street function with the bike box. This feels like a spot that may need some extra protection.
Then the new two-way bike lane on the west side of 1st Avenue will extend north for a couple blocks to Denny Way, where it meets up with a separate project up 1st Ave, west a block on Thomas Street, then north on Queen Anne Ave to Mercer Street.
It seems likely that a lot of people who are heading to Seattle Center will continue to take the direct route on 2nd Ave even though it is now routed onto the sidewalk. The connection into the park is just more obvious and direct. But the new bike lanes will likely be the best way to get to the Lower Queen Anne/Uptown business district and neighborhood.
The 1st Ave and Broad St Complete Street Extension Project will build bicycle and pedestrian improvements connecting Belltown to the Climate Pledge Arena and to the Uptown neighborhood, helping to fulfill the City’s Bicycle Master Plan vision to make riding a bike an integral part of daily life in Seattle.
In coordination with the opening of the Climate Pledge Arena in 2021, this project will construct two-way protected bike lanes along Broad St between 2nd Ave and 1st Ave, and along 1st Ave between Broad St and Denny Way. This project will connect the new Climate Pledge Arena with the existing protected bike lane along 2nd Ave, which will continue to provide additional access to the Seattle Center campus at 2nd Avenue and Denny Way. This project will also connect to the 1st Ave N and Queen Anne Ave N protected bike lanes, partially completing the bike network between Belltown and Uptown neighborhoods.
This project is identified and funded by the North Downtown Mobility Action Program (NODO MAP).