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Here’s your chance to help shape new Pike/Pine protected bike lanes

Planning is underway for new protected Pike/Pine bike lanes, and a community group wants to hear from residents about it.

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.

Pike/Pine Protected Bike Lane Community Design Workshop

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.

(Images: CHS)

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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25 thoughts on “Here’s your chance to help shape new Pike/Pine protected bike lanes

    • No, Wes. Bike commuting is unpopular because we haven’t built enough bike lanes. Once we build a large network of bike lanes, people will use them. It has worked the same way with other transit modes. We built a light rail network and lots of people use it. We built a motor vehicle road network and more than 50 people use it every day to drive to work. We will build a bike network and people will use it.

      Thanks for paying for my bike lanes, by the way. We might have to raise your car tabs to pay for more bike lanes. That’s OK.

      • I take the bus!

        Totally respect your hobby. If raising car tabs can help move more people, lets do it. Right now the bike lanes aren’t doing that (especially Broadway).

        However, if we build it, able-bodied young-to-middle-age people will use it when its not raining! The data hasn’t shown the growth we expected from a bike lane network like it has for bus and rail (which operate at crush loads at peak) and use fluctuates more than other options.

        Focusing on higher throughput and safer traffic options is a better use of public space and funds and is more accessible to more commuters.

      • Thanks, Wes! You’ve probably noticed as a bus rider that bus routes crisscross the city, including at hundreds of points where one can transfer from one route to another. Such a connected network has contributed to high ridership. Metro buses often reach crush loads and we literally don’t have enough drivers to meet ridership demands. Buses also have to compete for space with single-occupancy vehicles (SOV) which are very space-inefficient and whose drivers perenially underpay for their privileged places on our roads.

        Imagine, Wes, a city in which bike lanes intersected with other bike lanes, forming a network of protected roads in which cyclists don’t have to fight operators of motor vehicles for road space. That’s what we’re going to build. You will still be permitted to ride buses on restricted roads, such as 3rd Avenue, where bus drivers are generally much more accommodating of cyclists.

      • I appreciate the passion of the Cyclist community, but is there some metric by which we could measure if the investments being made are working?

        The bike lane folks have been touting the Field-Of-Dreams model for years. You’re saying it will only work when the network is complete, but the data is showing that despite new dedicated lanes, there has not been corresponding increases in bike commuting. The demographics of those using them show that it is not broadly accessible either.

        Devils Advocate: We should build a network of dedicated lanes for the oft-forgotten pogo stick commuters. It’s an efficient, healthy way to get around, lowers emissions, dense, and you look cool doing it. The only reason folks aren’t pogo-sticking to work is because there are too many cars on the road to compete with.

      • Wes, don’t be absurd and talk about p––o sticks. (That’s called a “reductio ad absurdum” argument.) Millions of people around the world use bicycles to go between their choice of home and work. You too can do so. You’ve just chosen not to. The city could be making it safer and easier for you to hoist your over-sat posterior onto a saddle and ride to work. You could be getting a little bit of cardio every morning, but instead you’re standing perfectly still in a cramped metal box moving 5–10 miles per hour so that you can get to work and sarcasm at your neighbors pseudonymously. Think about how you could make your life better, more like mine is than like yours is.

      • Maybe my tone wasn’t right. Let’s keep it friendly!

        The pogo-stick argument might have been made about scooters only a few years ago. There is definitely potential for alternative transport to work.

        The question is can it work here and are we making the right steps towards improving transit. Evidence is low that our current strategies are panning out.

    • Sorry for being condescending in my previous comment. My point is that bike lanes, if well-connected, can serve as a useful commute tool as well as a means for recreation. Seems like we’re in agreement there.

      • @Wes… yeah your tone was really “not right” … cycling is not my ‘hobby’… it’s my commute mode and it’s just as valid and essential and serious as your commute or anyone else’s commute. When people like you belittle it as a hobby and treat my *vehicle* as a toy it encourages others to not respect my right to use the streets to and can endanger my life – so damn straight about your tone not being right…

        As far as my thoughts – NO NO NO downhill bike lane (uphill is fine), especially a separated one. It’s hard enough to be seen as it is – those idiotic separated lanes are suicidal at every intersection for fast moving cyclists. It is super easy for anyone – fit or not fit to travel at the speed of traffic going *down* Pine/Pike – cyclists should be encouraged to use the whole lane so that they can easily be seen and never be in the door zone.

      • Electric bikes will have to be widespread before Seattle could have Amsterdam level usage. Old people, kids, disabled people, even just plain old out of shape people are not going to ride up those hills day in, day out.

        Not to mention, it sucks to ride a bike up hills. It is not fun unless you are an athlete training.

      • @kev: exactly! Seattle’s hills, and rain many months of the year, will always be a deterrent to having significant numbers of cyclists, no matter how many (expensive) bike lanes we build.

  1. Wes, a few points for you:

    The bikeshare network alone registered 1.5 million trips in just under a year. The demographics of bikeshare did show a very broad-based use.

    4-5000 cyclists cross the fremont bridge every weekday. So far in 2018, that number is up ~15% vs 2017, and other bike counters are showing similar increases.

    The census was for commuting to work. People use bikes for a lot of non-commuting uses as well.

    Survey after survey shows that the main obstacle to cycling more is feeling safe.

    Yes, there are some new lanes. However, the city has not yet built a bike network that enables very many complete trips. A complete trip is only as safe as its least safe point.

    The pike/pine lanes downtown between 1st and 7th ave are great, but if going from 7th to 9th ave means crossing three lanes of traffic in terror, it’s no longer useful.

    Finally, there’s a new wave of electrically-powered, smaller-than-car personal transport coming that are a space- and environmentally-efficient way to get around. Scooters, bikes, etc. It’s appropriate to be building for these things.

    Biking and scooting works in a lot of other cities. When it works, it benefits everyone – it’s space-efficient, environmentally friendly, less noisy, and, quite frankly, the fastest way to get around.

    But to get there, we have to enable people to do it safely. That means infrastructure.

    It’s a little like looking at the mobile phone industry circa 1987, 4 years after it launched in 1983, with a spotty, limited network, and saying it’ll never be big.

  2. Appreciate your thoughtful response.

    You might be right! I guess I’m just frustrated with the lack of progress and accountability on some of the money spent and pending.

    I will also note that it’s about more than just commuting. The burke-gilman and westlake tracks are huge assets to the community for recreation too. Great public spaces are important to the culture and spirit of the city.

    I think specifically the success potential of Pike/Pine are lower due to the hills and cars. There are projects that might see better public use (I personally wish eastlake had a corresponding protected track to make the lake a full loop).

    • They are building bike lanes on Eastlake, as part of the Roosevelt RapidRide project. I just got a flier for an open house about them.

      It might be true that the hills and cars of Pike/Pine make biking less appealing, but it’s also true that LOTS of people need to travel that route regularly, and better infrastructure would improve the position of biking in their ranking of options for how to do so. There are also a lot of people who walk to work between Capitol Hill and downtown. Protected bike lanes and better street design would likely improve their safety as well.

  3. Regarding the lack of accountability and cost of Seattle bike lanes, specifically on 7th Ave., we need to take into account those numbers were inflated with utility relocation and other expenses. The actual cost of those bike lanes was lower.

  4. The post on the $455 million freeway interchange oddly enough did not have anyone questioning the cost of that project.

  5. How about the people who want bike lanes pay for them?

    They pay nothing but want 10 million a mile bike lanes? If its that important I know they would be willing to be taxed and tolled for it. Right?

    Those of us who drive cars or take public transportation help pay our way through specific taxes and fees. Gas Tax / Car Tabs / Toll Lanes / Toll Bridges/ Toll Tunnels / Bus Fair / Train Ticket / Ferry Ticket/ Orca Card so on and so on…

    Time to stop complaining and pay your fair share.

    • Most people who cycle also own cars and pay for cycling infrastructure in the same manner as other drivers. Also, even those of us who do not cycle benefit from increased ridership. All those bikes you see are people who are not driving and adding to traffic, polluting, etc. Furthermore, fees paid by drivers only cover a percentage of the cost of our road infrastructure (maybe 50%, not sure on Seattle’s exact figure). Who pays the rest? All of us—including the few cyclists without cars (who don’t put nearly the wear and tear on roads, don’t need highways and so on). We all pay, and we live in a society together! Let’s share.

    • @jeff, two points for you to consider:

      1) much of SDOT’s budget for bike lanes (and cars, and other things) comes from property and sales taxes. We all pay for those – despite the user fees for cars, people who don’t drive *still* subsidize cars with their taxes.

      2) You could make the same argument about sidewalks. Why don’t we charge pedestrians ‘user fees?’ Because it’s in the public interest to promote low-impact, space-efficient, environmentally efficient ways of getting around, like walking and cycling. When more people walk and bike, everyone else wins with less congestion and less pollution.

      Better, extend it to schools and parks. Why aren’t there any user fees for those? I don’t have a child, yet I pay a lot for Seattle schools. I support this, because it’s in the public interest to have an educated population.

      2.5) finally, please re-read the story on $10m/mile bike lanes. Most of that went to re-paving the road for cars and rebuilding the sidewalks for pedestrians. Just under 10% of the cost was direct bike lane signaling and infrastructure.

      • …and for parks, just the act of collecting user fees would cost so much that most of the cost would go toward collecting (and enforcing) the fee itself. Same for bike user fees.

        Do you like bureaucracy? Because that’s what ‘bike tabs’ would mostly buy.