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SDOT will begin installing ‘temporary protected bike lanes’ in SoDo this week

Map of the detour with a sidewalk connection on W Marginal Way to 1st Avenue S, then a temporary bike lane on 1st to Spokane Street, then a sidewalk connection on Spokane Street.
Map of the detour plan from SDOT.

SDOT will create temporary bike lanes to fill a gap in the Duwamish Trail and to improve safety on a significant stretch of 1st Avenue S in SoDo while crews work to repair the Spokane Street Bridge to West Seattle. Work will begin Wednesday.

As we wrote in a post last week, “Creating two miles of new bike lane is not a small feat, but these are the moments where SDOT and the city’s elected leaders can rise to the challenge and show the people they can do great things.” If the city nails the design here and creates a safe, connected and comfortable bike lane on a wide industrial street, it would be a triumph. I can’t think of another temporary bike route project of this scale in Seattle, especially one built in such a short timeline. The department will be observing the temporary lane to learn how to do it better during future closures, according to the post on the SDOT Blog: “Creating this temporary bike lane detour will help us to be more agile and able to consider similar detours during planned low bridge closures and at other locations.”

The Duwamish Trail connection on W Marginal Way just south of the Spokane Street Bridge has been in the works for years and has already gone through extensive public outreach.

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The SDOT Blog post does not include a diagram of the planned bike lanes on 1st Avenue S, but there is a description that includes 1,700 traffic cones. I created an estimated graphic of what the street might look like once the lanes are in place:

Design sketch using Streetmix showing the existing layout with 16-foot lanes in parts of the road.

Design diagram for 1st Ave S with temporary bike lanes as described in the SDOT post.
Design diagram by Seattle Bike Blog based on SDOT’s description. The measurements and other details are estimated.

This lane represents a serious sense of urgency within SDOT to address a bike safety problem, and it is probably the single biggest project to date entirely overseen by Mayor Bruce Harrell’s new SDOT Director Greg Spotts. The details will be important to make these traffic cone bike lanes work, including the details of how intersections function and whether the cones get knocked over and moved. So stay tuned, because Seattle Bike Blog will definitely be out riding these lanes as soon as they are ready.

More details from the SDOT Blog:

We have been sequentially and intentionally working to enhance the bike route over the past week. Our first step after the bridge closure was to clear windstorm debris, manufacture and install detour route signs, and review the asphalt condition to see if spot improvements were needed.

This week, we are converting sections of W Marginal Way SW and 1st Ave S curb lanes to temporary protected bike lanes using cones, barrels, paint, and signs. The temporary bike lanes will remain until the Spokane St Swing Bridge reopens. We continue to procure traffic control devices and finalize the traffic control plan. We plan to begin installing the bike lanes on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

What to expect

No Parking signs were placed on Friday, alerting businesses to expect a change. Since then, we have worked to secure the equipment to install the detour, including 1,700 traffic cones, and manufacturing additional signs. Starting Wednesday, you will see us working in the curb lanes.

While the temporary bike lanes are in place, 1st Ave S will have one general-purpose traffic lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and one bike lane in each direction. As possible, existing on-street parking will remain but be restricted near driveways to help people biking and driving more easily see each other. In two instances at the north and south ends, people on bikes will have to use the sidewalk—see map above. You may wish to get off your bike and walk it through these areas with pedestrians.

We will also convert the southbound general-purpose travel lane at the northern segment of West Marginal Way SW to a temporary protected bike lane. We expect this to have a minimal impact on people driving, as this is not a through-lane.

We will check the detour twice daily to reset cones, barrels, or signs that may have shifted while the temporary bike lanes are in operation.

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5 responses to “SDOT will begin installing ‘temporary protected bike lanes’ in SoDo this week”

  1. peri hartman

    Even with cones, this would be a fantastic improvement !

  2. M.B.

    This is great, but it would be really, really nice if there was access to the first avenue bridge from further south. Highland Park Way is a very unfriendly place to ride a bike.

  3. Brooke

    I’m very glad this is temporary! When I saw this going up on my way to work on Tuesday and more cones on my way home Wednesday and the ultimate affront on my morning commute today— to be slowed down by nearly 20 minutes with one lane and confused drivers… I almost lost my core of peace after the holiday.
    I was a bicyclist for 6 years before Seattle started these bike safety improvements many years ago so I get it— YET ALSO Seattle’s Industrial Base (shipping container rigs, railroad movement and median income people commuting from South Seattle, Burien, Des Moines, White Center who are unable to bike to work) this is a NIGHTMARE. For budgetary reasons I cannot always take East Marginal Way to 99 toll tunnel so 1st Ave gets me quickly to the I5 corridor. So far, it’s not super wonderful for people working in this area and I just don’t see cyclists here. So thank you for explaining this project and I am very happy to know it’s temporary bc it’s just awful.

  4. david perez

    Oh, that’s so good that we’re going to have a bike lane. Let’s spend thousands of dollars to paint lines on the floor but let’s ignore the homeless, the inability to walk downtown, without being harassed by the homeless or the druggies. Great place to spend money.

  5. El C

    Now driving south on 1st Ave S the traffic, which was backed up just at the 99 rising bridge intersection (which once the WS bridge opened back up is now significantly better) backs up all the way to the rail road bridge which is WORSE traffic than when the WS bridge was closed. It’s awful. I hope they scrap this cause it’s only benefitting a few bicyclists while the majority of traffic here is commuters and freight trucks.

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