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Car Wars: Broadway bikeway about to be fully operational

The Broadway bikeway will now be 1.1 mile long

The Broadway bikeway will now be 1.1 mile long

With the First Hill streetcar only months from the start of service between Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square, the separated bike track designed to provide Broadway riders with a safer way to travel near the railed route is ready to fully open.

Officials are planning to officially open the Broadway bikeway all the way from Yesler to Howell for riders starting Wednesday, May 7th. Bright blue bollards now line portions of the 1.1 mile route to help provide additional safety for riders. Yes, along with the bright chartreuse streetcar stop art towers, they make for a peculiar streetscape.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 4.22.13 PMThe first, less than half-mile portion of the bikeway ending at Union opened last fall to light use by bikers and a decent amount of confusion as drivers figured out the new parking configurations around the route. While not entirely insulated from traffic safety issues, the protected lanes provide riders with a route far from the streetcar’s dangerous tracks as well as a relatively clear path through an increasingly complicated traffic environment on Broadway — and, hey, it’s even opened up some new commercial possibilities.

The bikeway and streetcar is set to radically overhaul transit along the Broadway corridor. The 2.5 mile streetcar line connecting down Broadway and Jackson to the International District and Pioneer Square is costing Sound Transit $134 million as part of the agency’s mitigation for the decision to skip First Hill in its light rail system.

City planners hope to extend the streetcar north from its existing Denny terminus toward Volunteer Park. In 2013, the Seattle City Council approved plans for the city’s Transportation Benefit District spending, which included $175,000 for planning of the Broadway Streetcar Extension. The money “provides funding to complete formation activities for a Local Improvement District (LID).” CHS reported on the planning for the streetcar’s push for Volunteer Park here.

Meanwhile, Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail extension will come online less than two years after the start of streetcar service. You’ll be able to jump off the streetcar and onto light rail starting in the first quarter of 2016.

Never mind the bollards (Image: @checkereddan via Twitter)

Never mind the bollards (Image: @checkereddan via Twitter)

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26 thoughts on “Car Wars: Broadway bikeway about to be fully operational

  1. Your description of the Broadway streetscape as “peculiar” is putting it mildly. It’s a complicated, cluttered, unsightly mess.

    • Seriously. I was already feeling that the new street scape was hideous before the weird blue Cheetos appeared. There are some places along the route where the combination of new lane markings, new signs, green bike lanes, and different alternating pavement colors just confuse and annoy the eye.

      • It certainly is a visual cacophony that seems to go counter to creating calm and order. Sigh. It looked good in plan, though, I’m sure.

    • Amen to that! Why must every bicycle-related article degenerate into a screaming match between drivers and cyclists? And wait for it…someone’s anecdote about a shitty driver hitting a cyclist or a shitty cyclist breaking traffic rules, and using said anecdote as evidence that their ideology is the correct one.
      Seattle drivers and cyclists are like an old married couple constantly squabbling and squawking. Here’s the reality. Cars are not going away. Bicycles are not going away. Both are important forms of transportation, and it behooves a city to do its best to accommodate both forms of transit. There will be compromises. There will be space constraints. Get over it.
      Drivers: Please remember you outweigh the cyclist by 1,000 lbs, so be gentle around them. Cyclists: Please remember you must follow the same rules as cars. Stop at stoplights and stop signs. Signal when you’re going to turn. Christ on a crutch, is that so complicated?
      To be 100% fair, I find the vast majority of Seattle drivers to be polite and considerate of cyclists…and I’ve biked through plenty of heavy, rush hour traffic. But it’s the small minority of horrible drivers and cyclists that is causing this idiotic car-bike culture war. Please keep that in mind.

    • When you can pry the tongue from my cold dead cheek… it’s a joke (and it kills me to have to explain that to you)

      • Yes, but I would hope you would realize that this is a joke that perpetuates a harmful myth. Kinda reduced the funny a bit. But carry on :)

  2. So, are the blue curly-queues going to be on the whole bikeway or just part of it?

    I’m still PO’d that the SDOT spent thousands of dollars to make the bikeway and then spent more money destroying the Denny terminus compounded with lots of contradictory signage first pointing east at Denny and now pointing west at Denny and other signs with “no bicycles on Broadway” which could mean no bicycles at all on Broadway or no bicycles on Broadway between East Denny and East Howell. It’s never very clear. If it’s no bicycles at all on Broadway that means that the city has spent $134 million for nothing.

  3. I have never liked the idea of trolley cars on Capitol Hill and other areas of the city. It has siphoned off needed money for the regular transportation system. Metro has their priorities wrong.

    • OY- who didn’t clean up after their pet giant smurf? You may have curbed him, but you’re really supposed to bag that stuff and throw it in a garbage can!

  4. I have never liked the ideas of trollies on Capitol Hill and other parts of the city. I believe this is wasted money. Metro should have used the money for this system and put it to better use.

    • @Richard. You are entitled to not like street cars (I believe that’s what you intend), but you are absolutely wrong about Metro’s involvement and where the money came from. The First Hill street car is funded by Sound Transit and is intended to offset the deletion of the First Hill station from the light rail line. Whether or not the street car is adequate for that purpose is arguable (I think it’s not), but the money that paid for the street car, bikeway and other streetscape features added along the length of Broadway are not at the expense of Metro service.

  5. Checked them out last night – they aren’t fastened down in any way… they stay in place simply because they are filled with water and heavy. Shall we start a pool to see when the first one disappears? All you’ve got to do is tip one over and empty the water out and they are right across from a college – much more fun to take than a traffic cone or a blinky :p

  6. The few times I have driven north on Broadway with the intention of turning right onto Pike or some other street, I have noticed the bike lane signal seems to come on green for a few seconds then go off before the auto traffic light turns green leaving the driver uncertain who has the right of way. If this continues at the opening of the bike path, it is sure to cause disaster. The time the bike green is “On” is not enough for a group of bike to cross, and unless it is red when the auto green comes “On”, cars will not have the right of way to turn right, for will bikes always stop even if it is red.

    • The whole damned thing is an accident/death trap. When the streetcars/rail start up we’ll see a ton of rush hour accidents. The best part will be trying to get an ambulance through there to help the inevitable injured.

  7. Getting onto the on-coming side of the street for that bike path, to head south, is quite frustrating. I wish it continued all the way to 10th. I’d take more of these lanes, they’re a step in the right direction, even if they seemed to make it cover such a pointless stretch of road.

  8. Pingback: CHS Multimodal Travel Notes | Broadway bikeway opens, Harvard/Denny gets ‘all way’ stop signs, bike share meeting | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  9. Pingback: The needle and thread story behind the Broadway new bikeway bollards, streetcar poles | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle