In response to the surge of letters they received from people concerned about Seattle’s plan to permanently route the waterfront bike path across Alaskan Way and back again near the Pier 66 cruise terminal, the Port of Seattle said it supports a trail on the west side of Alaskan Way so long as it can be detoured during busy cruise loading hours.
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways put out an action alert earlier this month calling on people to write the Seattle Port Commission and urge them to support a “seamless” waterfront trail. All five Seattle Port Commissioners signed a response letter saying “the Port supports a continuous, dedicated, west side bike trail. The key element of this design for the Port is a temporary detour for cyclists to an east side bike trail while cruise ships are loading and unloading.” The Commissioners also state that they support the city’s plan for a larger traffic safety redesign of the street. “The Port also supports the city’s lane reductions in this corridor beyond the cruise terminal activity center to reduce vehicle traffic volumes and speed, which will also increase safety for all.”
So far, the city has yet to release a trail design that meets the Port’s and trail advocates’ requests. The most recent design available on the project website still shows the trail crossing the street twice within a couple blocks, which would add significant delay for trail users and make the experience less intuitive. It would likely also lead many trail users to simply ride on the sidewalk or in the street instead of using the trail, defeating the purpose of the project.
Seattle does not currently have any trails designed to be detoured on a regular basis like this (if any readers can think of an example anywhere, please let us know in the comments below). One possible option would be to have a detour plan handy, but then just wait and see if it is even needed. Bike paths can work in crowded areas, so maybe this is all for nothing. And if a detour really is needed during busy hours, then that’s a perfectly reasonable compromise so long as it is designed well and the crossings are safe. Now the ball is in SDOT’s court to come up with a design that works. The one thing that definitely doesn’t work is to detour the trail 24 hours a day all year just because of concerns about sporadic cruise ship loading times.
Here’s the letter, signed by all five Port Commissioners:
Alaskan Way Bike Advocate
Thank you so much for taking time to write about the Alaskan Way bike lane design in front of Pier 66. We appreciate hearing about your experiences as a biker and resident, hearing directly from you was helpful. We appreciate the engagement in this conversation.
The Port has been discussing an Alaskan Way bike trail strategy that supports safety for cyclists and pedestrians during cruise operations with the City of Seattle, ILWU, cruise lines, and the cycling community. It is obvious to us that everyone’s priority is safety.
We want you to know that the Port supports a continuous, dedicated, west side bike trail. The key element of this design for the Port is a temporary detour for cyclists to an east side bike trail while cruise ships are loading and unloading. We believe this approach will ensure the highest level of safety for everyone including pedestrians and bicyclists during heavy cruise ship loading and unloading times.
The Port also supports the city’s lane reductions in this corridor beyond the cruise terminal activity center to reduce vehicle traffic volumes and speed, which will also increase safety for all.
We will continue to work with everyone to reach a safe and practical solution that the City of Seattle can implement and welcome your input as we work through the design.
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