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‘Red paint’ — SDOT collecting feedback on Broadway transit lane proposal

SDOT is planning to make one lane of southbound Broadway transit only from Pine to Madison (Image: CHS)

Seattle Department of Transportation officials are in the middle of “community outreach” for the addition of a proposed four-block southbound “Business Access and Transit” lane on Broadway.

The planned summer 2018 project is part of a roster of improvements SDOT reps discussed Tuesday with the Seattle City Council’s transportation committee on efforts to speed up the city’s streetcar lines. You can learn more about the plans and provide feedback here.

SDOT officials say they hope to complete the outreach in April before working with the mayor’s office “to make a final determination on a path forward” for the changes to Broadway hoped to improve performance of the First Hill Streetcar as it shares traffic lanes with cars, trucks, and buses along its 2.5-mile route.

While one official Tuesday described the planned addition of a dedicated transit lane to southbound Broadway between Pine and Madison as “red paint,” it would also add turn restrictions in the area but would not remove any existing street parking.

The plan won’t, however, include enforcement. City Council member Rob Johnson asked if SDOT would consider the addition of cameras at intersections to make sure drivers are not “blocking the box” and asked if fines might offset the costs of installation. The SDOT official said cameras were not currently being considered for the Broadway BAT lane. While the state legislature allows municipalities to use cameras to enforce speed limits or traffic at intersections, Washington law does not yet allow the technology to be used for transit lane enforcement.

Committee chair Mike O’Brien said Move Seattle Levy funding will be used to pay for the Broadway changes if the plan goes forward.

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19 thoughts on “‘Red paint’ — SDOT collecting feedback on Broadway transit lane proposal

  1. Why don’t they just close Broadway to everything but transit and delivery vehicles? It seems like they are effectively doing that with this change. (And I’m not a driver, so I have no skin in the game).

  2. I don’t ride my bike along Broadway because you worry about peds in the bike plane. I don’t drive because it funnels down to one lane. What’s left ?

    • Appreciating the fact that you own a car and bike and are physically capable of using both. That and driving your car on 12th, harvard, etc. And using a bell and your voice and lights in being visible to pedestrians but if they are in the bike lane giving them the right of way because bikes can injure pedestrians. Or riding your bike on other parallel streets.

    • I’m glad that what was a two lane road is now unusable for any form of transport.

      Max – I indeed do use the other roads, but it does lead to a slight paradox in that we turned a major arterial into a giant painted tram lane at no doubt major expense.

      In many cases a back street or alley is a lot better for bike than the bike lane which pens you in, ready to swerve around illegally parked cars, peds, and turning vehicles.

      The $4.50/HR parking cost to 10pm and $48 ticket has made me abandon the car.

    • No wonder then why the dedicated bicycle lane is almost always devoid of cyclists. What a waste of money! I don’t trust SDOT to make things better with this new plan….they have already totally screwed up Broadway. Why can’t Seattle hire some transit planners who are actually competent?

    • The worst bike lane of them all is on Roosevelt heading down to university bridge, it is intersected by multiple cross walks, turns, parking garages, and a medical building that drops wheel chairs on to it.

      I don’t blame any of these other uses – I blame the city for simply not proposing the entirely unused alley behind it be a bike lane and spending a little money on where it intersect cross streets.

    • No one uses it because most people in Seattle are smart enough and have been cycling long enough to know that a bi-directional bike lane that has you cycling against the flow of traffic is idiotic and dangerous….

      Even in the Netherlands, arguably the country with the most cycle conscious drivers in the world, they understand that drivers are not looking for riders approaching from the wrong direction and it makes accident rates rise…. they will only build them if it means fewer total crossings with vehicle lanes than a lane on each side of the road….

      Here it is virtually a suicidal thought to ride against traffic – no driver looks for a fast moving vehicle from the wrong direction… They barely even look for pedestrians, they are so intent on craning their necks looking left for that tiny gap in traffic through which to shoot to make their “free” right on red….

      I wouldn’t ride in that bike lane if you paid me to.

    • I actually think the bike lane is quite safely designed and I enjoy riding in it. I still don’t use it because it has the most awkward connection coming from the north and it’s easier just to head up to 12th.

    • I am a bicyclist and I love the cycle track on Broadway. There are like two folks here who say “you couldn’t pay me to use it” — there are plenty of other folks who DO use it and are glad it’s there. The reason it’s not full of cyclists all the time is that it’s not yet part of a connected network of protected bike facilities. It just kind of ends on the north end and doesn’t have good safe connections east and west either. I still like it a lot, but for it to really useful and attractive to more people, it needs to be extended further north and connected to new protected facilities on Pike and/or Pine, which are coming soon, hopefully, with the Center City Mobility project.

    • YES – let’s make the streetcar as reliable and fast as possible! The more transit-only lanes the better, for both streetcar and buses.

  3. without enforcement this will be a “BMW lane” like all the other bits of red paint and bus lanes throughout the city, like the one on Olive Way. Motorists do not care to comply with laws here at all since SPD refuses to enforce them, oftentimes publicly stating that position as if to invite more lawlessness.

    Best case scenario we’ll have lawlessness on the part of motorists and a bunch of bus and streetcar drivers blaring their horns to “enforce” their lane in the absence of a competent police force.

    Stay safe out there everyone

  4. Vehicle traffic, including transit flow is very manageable with the current options and turn opportunities even on weekend evenings with the Capitol Hill nightlife. The proposed changes will greatly interfere with the present reasonable traffic flow opportunities and likely result in an increase number of illegal left and right turns at all of the intersections.The addition of a transit only lane serving two bus routes and the trolley for such a short distance creates more issues and inconvenience than the projected transit improvement will provide.

  5. Perhaps they think this will force people to use the streetcar more. As a partially disabled person who can’t stand long or walk very far, this just makes me avoid businesses on Broadway.

  6. Are there statistics on the number of cyclists (or pedestrians) involved in accidents in the Broadway bike lane, and the extents of their injuries. I’ve not heard of any.
    I don’t recall ever seeing a pedestrian in the bike lane; the occasional person exiting a nearby car, maybe.

    • Anywhere the bike lane intersects a ped crossing is a fascinating game of guess work. Peds stand in the bike lane waiting to cross.

      For the full immersive experience go down Roosevelt just before the Uni bridge. The bike lane is intersected by atleast 8 crossings, turns, garages and lights.