A missing east-west connection in Seattle’s bike infrastructure could open next year. Or it might not happen until 2021. Either way, bike lanes along the Pike/Pine corridor, connecting Broadway to 2nd Ave are coming.
Bike advocates are hoping that linking these two existing corridors will help increase bike usage overall. By linking the two north-south routes, it creates a network for bikers to ride safely around town.
“The real problem is we don’t have connected infrastructure,” said Brie Gyncild, who is working on the project with Central Seattle Greenways. “We expect to see more use of the Broadway bike lanes after the connection.”
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The end goal is to have a pair of protected lanes, completely separate from car traffic, similar to the existing separated bikeway on Broadway added during the First Hill Streetcar project in part to help keep riders away from the dangerous tracks.
A major difference, however, is the new lanes will be one way, with one lane on Pike and another on Pine, Gyncild said. The push behind this is safety for bikers. It’s generally bad to have some bikers wheezing their way uphill, inches away from others who are whizzing their way downhill.
Gyncild said her group has been advocating for safe connections in the bike network that make sense. She says they’ve also been working with the businesses along the streets, largely to ensure that the new lanes don’t have too much of a negative impact on their loading needs.
Just when the lanes will open is not as clear, but next year seems to be what SDOT wants. However, Goran Sparrman, SDOT interim director, has said he’d like to see the lanes open next year. SDOT spokeswoman Mafara Hobson confirmed that the department is working to see the lanes open in 2019.
There are not yet any guarantees, however, and the city’s website still states the segment from 8th Avenue to Broadway is set for design and construction in 2021.
Either timeline looks to be complicated by a pair of other, larger projects.
The Convention Center expansion is hoped to start construction this year. It’s the convention center, by the way, which is funding these bike lanes. The development ponied up $10 million as part of the public benefits package to receive the necessary approvals for the expansion.
Had a great time at @YPTSeattle March TODrinks ride/happy hr. We did a group ride up the 2nd ave protected bike lane up to Capitol Hill. @limebike Ebike made the hill climb easy peasy. Thanks for organizing YPT Seattle! pic.twitter.com/m3H1Grt2ZP
— Coby Zeifman (@cobycycles) March 16, 2018
In addition to the Convention Center, there’s the “Pike-Pine Renaissance” project. That project is happening in conjunction with the waterfront project (which is happening in conjunction with the viaduct coming down) and will reshape the streets through downtown, from 1st Avenue all the way up to Minor and Melrose on Capitol Hill.
At the very least, Gyncild hopes the city will be able to install some interim lanes. She said her group understands it might be a waste of money to install the lanes just before convention center construction or the renaissance project make changes to the streetscape, even if those changes are just during construction.
But interim lanes, done cheaply, can help begin the process. Besides providing the infrastructure link, they would also allow planners and citizens a chance to see the lanes in action. That could allow there to be changes to the design before more permanent infrastructure is put in place.
Gyncild also said she’s not worried that interim lanes will just stay interim, largely because of the construction. If the lanes are constantly being tweaked to accommodate construction, they won’t simply fall off people’s consciousness, and a final, permanent set of lanes could be installed after the major work is done.
For more details on the planned bike lanes, visit seattle.gov’s Pike/Pine mobility improvements page.