The other day my kid and I were biking the same route we bike every day on the way to preschool when something amazing happened: Part of the route had brand new bike lanes.
We knew bike lanes were coming at some point, but it was still a wonderful surprise the day it happened. For a couple blocks, including a sometimes stressful uphill section between Olive Way and Pine Street, we no longer needed to ride with cars in mixed traffic on Melrose Avenue. It’s was a glorious feeling.
The new bike lanes are part of the long-stewing, community-generated Melrose Promenade project. Many community members have been working with the city, winning grants and hosting an enormous amount of community outreach for more than a decade. I remember this being a day-one priority during the initial meeting of Central Seattle Greenways in February 2012. Initially billed as an effort to celebrate “Capitol Hill’s front porch,” the project is an attempt to improve the walking and biking environment on this key route, which includes a connection to Lakeview Boulevard to the north and First Hill to the south, while also making it more enjoyable for the community to actually hang out on the street. Sure, the roar of the freeway is a bummer, but the views from the street between Denny and E Roy Street are great.
The Promenade project is interesting because it changes dramatically based on the character of each section. From Roy to Denny, it’s more like a neighborhood greenway (this design pre-dates Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets initiative, though it seems like a worthy candidate now), meaning speed humps and other traffic calming efforts are used to limit speeds and make the street comfortable to share. This section has long been a popular bike route, and collisions are very rare. Between Denny and Pike Street, however, things change dramatically. There were 141 collisions reported on Melrose between 2013 and 2018, and all but one of the serious injuries involved someone walking or biking between Denny and Pike, according to SDOT. So the design shifts to include protected bike lanes between Denny and Pine. It then changes again between Pine and Pike to a curbless street design intended to be more walking-friendly in this unique block of businesses.
The Melrose Promenade project also intersects with the ongoing Pike/Pine Renaissance project, and it will soon serve as a connector for people heading downhill on Pike to cross over to Pine to continue toward downtown. There is still a lot of work left on both these projects, so it will be a while before we can really see how it all works together.
Even though this project has been scaled back from the initial vision, there is a lot here to celebrate. I still hold out hope that the larger Melrose park vision can happen someday. But in the meantime, this stretch of Melrose has bike lanes and they are great.
More details on the remaining Melrose work from SDOT:
As a reminder, starting as soon as May 15 and continuing into June, we’ll complete the final pieces of the Melrose Promenade project, including:
- Remove street parking on Melrose Ave between E Denny Way and E Pine St for the new protected bike lane
- Reconfigure the street parking on the west side of the street north of E Denny Way
- Complete pavement striping, including installing bike sharrow markings and standard crosswalks. We will return later to install the new colorful community crosswalks at E Pike St and E Pine St.
- Install accessible curb ramps at Yale Ave and E Olive Way
- Install signage throughout the project area
- Relocate loading zones
- Repair the speed cushion north of E Denny Way
- Complete remaining project elements, such as patch filling sections of the sidewalk and installing the pervious pavement in tree pits
During this work, you can expect:
- “No Parking” signs placed throughout the project area
- Temporary impacts to driveway access for properties adjacent to the new protected bike lane. Driveway access will be restricted for approximately 1 hour while the paint dries.
- Closure of the I-5 northbound on-ramp at E Olive Way on Tuesday, May 23 from 6 PM to 6 AM the following morning
- Short-term lane closures. Please be alert for detour signage and flaggers during closures.
Thank you for your support and patience during construction. We look forward to completing this important project for the community.