The idea of protected bike lanes along Pike and Pine streets, connecting existing lanes on 2nd Ave and Broadway has long been in the city’s plans. Earlier this year, there had been some mixed messaging about how high a priority the lanes were, until the City Council in July voted to make them a priority.
The city is hoping that connecting these two sections will help increase bike ridership by forming a connected bike network throughout the core of Seattle.
The plan now is for the lanes to be operational, if not entirely permanent, by the end of 2019. The plan recognizes that there are some complications likely with the western portion of the lanes. Construction on major expansion of the convention center will begin relatively soon. And the “Pike Pine Renaissance” project will reshape the downtown portion of the corridor.
For those reasons, the city is hesitant to spend too much money on bike lanes west of the freeway, only to have them torn up during one of those projects. But there will be something, with plans for interim lanes generally between Bellevue and 2nd Ave.
The Capitol Hill portion of the lanes is likely to be a more permanent section, said Brie Gyncild, who is working on the project with Central Seattle Greenways. The group is sponsoring a workshop to discuss options for how the new lanes might be designed.
For example, there has not been a decision about how the lanes will take shape on Capitol Hill. Between Broadway and Bellevue the lanes may be going in different directions on the same street, side-by-side, as they do now on Broadway. Or they may be split, with uphill lanes on one street and downhill on the other.
Once they cross Bellevue and head over the freeway into downtown, they will be split, with a one-way lane on each street, on the left side, moving in the same direction as the traffic. The split may actually be in a different spot, as there isn’t a firm decision on whether or not Bellevue is the best place for it. One of the things the group wants to hear about, Gyncild said, is whether, and why, the lanes should switch at Minor, Melrose or Bellevue.
Bellevue, for example, has buses, which aren’t always ideal to pair with bicycles. And Melrose, Gyncild said, has been rumored to maybe become a woonerf (like the one just off 12th), which could work in its favor.
And wherever the lanes go, they will need to work within other constraints, for example the businesses in the area will need loading zones, and the buses will need their overhead electric wires. And of course, there are likely to be dozens of other issues large and small that the greenways group hasn’t thought of.
“We know that there are pros and cons, we want to hear from people,” she said.
The meeting is scheduled to help them hear from anyone who wants to chime in. The ideas will be passed on to city planners, though the results of the citizen-run event are not in any way binding.
The evening kicks off with dinner (free) and then moves into some introductory remarks before breaking into small groups. Each group will be able to discuss options, and move things around on maps to help illustrate how things might work. After that, there will be a chance for people to go from table to table and see what other groups have come up with.
For people who can’t make it, Gyncild said there will be chance to enter comments onto the website the group has set up for the program. In particular, she said they would like to hear from business owners who might have a tough time making it to a meeting on a Thursday evening.
The idea isn’t to solve all the problems, but to help the city understand what members of the community have identified as issues, and some possible solutions.
“We don’t expect to have one perfect plan when we’re done,” she said.
The Protected Bike Lane workshop is scheduled for 6 PM October 25 at the Summit on Pike, 420 E. Pike. Visit the project website to RSVP.
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