It’s happening. Work to complete the Green Lake Outer Loop will begin “this month” and should be open by December.
The community-generated concept would repurpose a non-continuous lane along the east side of Aurora Avenue, turning it into a walking and biking trail with a sturdy barrier protecting it from Aurora traffic. It will at least partially restore a route that has been missing for nearly a century, ever since traffic engineers tore through Woodland Park and the side of Green Lake to build Aurora Avenue. The bikeway will also make the gravel and dirt pathway next to Aurora a lot safer and more comfortable for people walking and running by creating a barrier and buffer space.
You can find detailed designs in our previous post. But once complete, people will be able to bike a full loop around Green Lake, which has long served as a nexus for north end bike routes. The Outer Loop will only make that role more clear and will open the bike network to more neighborhoods west of the lake. It could also take some pressure off the lakeside path, which had long had crowding issues.
Green Lake & Wallingford Safe Streets deserves a lot of credit for promoting this idea and organizing support.
This project is a very worthy improvement to the bike network. But we need this same urgency and creative repurposing of existing infrastructure in South Seattle, too. Lake Washington Boulevard is the most obvious place to start, but there are many opportunities to make improvements that will help people bike and walk safely and comfortably even if they don’t live near Green Lake. It’s not a zero-sum situation where Green Lake got bike lanes at the expense of South Seattle, but can you blame people for perceiving it that way? The problem isn’t a lack of funding, it’s a lack of political will. The city needs to see that SDOT and city political leaders are serious about making equitable investments in safe streets.
Bike advocates have been arguing consistently that the city needs to prioritize bike network improvements in the south end. It’s been a monthly refrain out of the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board for at least a decade. Under Mayor Jenny Durkan, advocates had to drag the mayor and SDOT kicking and screaming toward a more equitable bike plan, which they got thanks to Council action. It’s not a bad thing that Green Lake is getting a full bike loop, but it’s extremely frustrating that there is so little urgency to make similar improvements in South Seattle. There are some good things happening, like the Georgetown to Downtown bike route, but that won’t even break ground until 2024. People need safer walking and bike routes now. Investing equitably means that places like Rainier Valley that have been historically under-served by city and state safe streets improvements need even more attention than places like Green Lake with a long history of such investments.