Friday evening, a memorial ride and walk is planned to honor Sher Kung, the 31-year-old woman who died last week after being hit by a truck as she biked on the dangerous 2nd Ave in downtown Seattle. According to a city bike planner, learnings from Capitol Hill’s Broadway bikeway — currently serving more than 600 trips a day — will help make 2nd Ave a safer street for everybody.
Seattle Bike Blog has details of the planned 2nd Ave cycle track:
As we have been reporting for months (and urging for years), the city is in the midst of a safe streets project on 2nd Ave that will significantly upgrade the existing decade-old, paint-only bike lane squeezed between parked cars and moving traffic. The 2nd Ave bike lane is full of hazards, and cars and trucks often make left turns directly in front of people riding in the bike lane.
Currently scheduled to open Monday, the new bike lane will be protected from moving traffic by either a row of parked cars or a line of reflective plastic posts. At intersections where left turns are allowed, people biking and people making left turns in their cars will have separate signal cycles. So when someone on a bike has a green light, left turns have a red arrow and vice versa. So long as nobody runs a red light, the majority of turning conflicts should be eliminated.
City planner Sam Woods tells CHS that Seattle Department of Transportation observations and reports from riders of dangerous motor vehicle parking and loading in the bikeway have been one of the main Capitol Hill learnings planners attempted to address in the 2nd Ave design. On 2nd Ave, SDOT will increase the signage and add additional paint to “reinforce” where vehicles should not be parking and loading, Woods said.
Woods said that early issues with keeping the Broadway cycle track clean have also helped planning on 2nd Ave. She said the maintenance budget for the 2nd Ave route was boosted to keep the lanes clean after planners saw how quickly debris piled up in the Broadway bikeway before it fully opened in May.
Woods said that some of the enhancements on 2nd Ave like the increased load zone markings and signage will eventually be implemented on Broadway if they prove effective downtown. But she also said 2nd Ave is an easier fit for the two-way bikeway as the one-way motor vehicle traffic and lane-crossing turns are more easily controlled.
Woods said that other learnings will have to wait for both routes. One big change she says might be altering the size of the dedicated bike traffic signals so that they are more easily differentiated from the motor vehicle signals.
Broadway’s bikeway was installed as part of the Sound Transit-financed, SDOT-built $132 million First Hill Streetcar project as a necessary enhancement to move riders away from the two wheel-dangerous streetcar tracks. By 2017, it will be extended north on Broadway along with the streetcar.
Earlier this year, CHS reported that early stats for the route showed the Broadway bikeway was serving about 460 trips per weekday in May. In August, SDOT’s data shows the weekday average climbed above 640 trips per weekday — and nearly 390 on weekends.
Weekday usage tends toward commute schedules with the busiest hours coming toward the end of the standard work day. We show the hour by hour trip tallies for two typical August days, below.
Back on 2nd Ave, would a bikeway have prevented the death of Sher Kung? It’s likely. “We have known about the problem for years,” Seattle Bike Blog writes of the tragedy, “and we have also known the solution: Protected bike lanes with separate signals.”
Friday evening, riders will meet with walkers on 2nd Ave to mark her death and continue the call for safer streets in Seattle.
Community Memorial Ride & Service
In honor of Sher Kung and the many people in crashes while walking and bicycling on 2nd Avenue over the years, join us for a Community Memorial Ride & Service on Friday, September 5.
5:00 p.m. – Bicyclists gather at Westlake Park (4th Ave & Pine St), and ride down Pine Street and the 2nd Avenue bike lane.
5:30 p.m. – The public gathers at Benaroya Hall’s “Garden of Remembrance” Plaza (2nd Ave & University St) for a brief reflective statement, moment of silence, and a statement by an elected official.
6:00 p.m. – Bicyclists ride to Occidental Park via the 2nd Avenue bike lane and Yesler Way, and then hear what near-term tangible steps they can take to help improve bike infrastructure in Seattle.
This will be the last major ride down 2nd Avenue in its current configuration. The Seattle Department of Transportation will begin installing the 2nd Avenue Protected Bike Lane Demonstration Project on Friday at 8 p.m. The grand opening for the protected bike lane will be on Monday, September 8.
UPDATE: Here are daily Broadway bikeway trips as measured by a counter near E Union from January to May (when the full bikeway opened) to August:
Here is the monthly roll-up: