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With short-term plans for new protected bike lanes by end of 2019, report released on long-term community priorities for Pike/Pine

(Image: Central Seattle Greenways)

The next hill has been summited in the process to add protected bike lanes to Pike/Pine has wrapped up as Central Seattle Greenways published its outreach findings and recommendations focused on the desire for a continuous and sensible route, safety, and predictable traffic flows.

One message clearly emerged. Community members who responded to the survey including riders, residents, and business owners said a continuous, unbroken eastbound bikeway on Pike and another westbound one on Pine should be a priority. It’s called the “Pike Pine Renaissance design.”

UPDATE: Meanwhile, despite not being an option on the questionnaire, many said they would like to see the Renaissance lanes — a continuous eastbound street on Pike and a westbound one on Pine.

“Creating a couplet of one-way streets all the way to Broadway provides clarity for people walking, biking, and driving; delivers a more intuitive route that cyclists are more likely to use; and shares the perceived burden and benefits of a bike lane for business owners on both Pike and Pine,” CSG writes on its website.

While it would take more outreach to make this happen, Brie Gyncild, co-leader of CSG, said this is her favorite option, although she was not originally a believer.

“Over and over again, what we heard people saying is ‘we just want to extend the Pike/Pine Renaissance all the way up to Broadway,’” Gyncild said. “It’s more intuitive for people biking; it’s more intuitive for people walking; people like the Pike Pine Renaissance design, they like the more pedestrian-oriented feel.”

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A group of advocates and officials gathered last week to mark the payment milestone: From left to right, Brie Gyncild, Central Seattle Greenways, Jacqueline Gruber, Senior Manager, Economic Development, Downtown Seattle Association, Tamar Shuhendler, Community Organizer, Cascade Bicycle Club, Sam Zimbabwe, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation, Robert Flowers, WSCC Board Member, Deryl Brown-Archie, WSCC Board Member, David Seater, Central Seattle Greenways, Marshall Foster, Director of the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects, Clara Cantor, Community Organizer, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (Image: Washington State Convention Center)

The city has said it is reluctant to extend these one-way lanes from Bellevue to Broadway due to the high cost of moving bus trolley wires and reconfiguring traffic signals. Also, it could be challenging to fit a protected bike lane on Pine with buses traveling in both directions.

But the money end of things is moving forward. Payments made last week to the tune of $16 million will support the city’s Pike Pine Renaissance: Act 1 program, which aims to improve east-west connections from First Ave to Melrose or Bellevue and is expected to be built in mid-2021 through 2022, protected bike lanes in the Pike and Pine corridor and on Eighth Avenue between Pike and the Denny Triangle.

“Already, many people traveling on Pike and Pine are doing so on a bike,” Vicky Clarke, policy director at the Cascade Bicycle Club, said in a press release. “Now SDOT can advance long-planned bikeways to help keep people moving safely.”

The money comes as part of the Washington State Convention Center Addition project, which will likely impact temporary protected bike lanes during its construction.

Permanent bikeways will be completed after the addition is finished, which is expected in 2021.

As part of this project, the Community Package Coalition, a group of local organizations working to ensure the addition plans included a suite of public benefits in exchange for vacations of right of way required for the expansion, secured $10 million for protected bike lanes last year.

The Pike/Pine survey work, which had 436 participants ranging from bikers to business owners, is adding to the top priorities for city planners like an intuitive and continuous bike route on top of pedestrian safety and comfort, with particular care being placed on intersections where drivers, bikers, and walkers interact.

Survey takers were split between a two-way bikeway on the north side of Pike or two one-way lanes on that street, the two options SDOT has said are most likely to happen. Both configurations would connect with the Pike Pine Renaissance lanes at Minor on the two major streets. Separate lanes appear to be the preferred option, but transitions could be troublesome.

Another community priority the emerged in the survey process was making sure there are enough loading zones for both businesses and passengers, which includes consistent spots for rides haring pick-ups and drop-offs. Specifically, the review says that some community members want three-minute loading zones at the end of the block, instead of mid-block in front of residential buildings.

“The community as a whole wants safe streets for all modes, clarity for all modes, and wants businesses to thrive,” Gyncild said.

The report says another top issue that needs to be addressed by the new protected bike lanes for Pike/Pine is confusion about traffic flow. In Broadway’s lanes, the many forms of transportation frequenting the thoroughfare, including Uber and Lyft drivers, delivery vehicles, and bicycles, as well as pedestrians creates a chaotic environment. More than 20% of respondents to the CSG survey prioritized “a clear and predictable traffic flow for all users.”

The goal right now is to have temporary bike lanes in place by the end of 2019 as required under a City Council resolution passed last year, but there are some complications as bus traffic has increased between 6th and 8th Avenues, according to Gyncild.

CSG recommends that the temporary lanes be constructed between Broadway and Minor or Melrose in a manner that does not eliminate the possibility of simply extending the Renaissance bikeways to Broadway later on. One early-stage proposal from SDOT would install interim lanes on either side of Pike down to Hubbell with a two-way bikeway between Hubbell and 8th Ave. CSG called this solution “elegant” in its report and it has their support.

There was no strong consensus in the survey about which street the bike lane should use to cross from Pike to Pine. Respondents did request that whatever is finally chosen be calmed and have clear signage and signals.

This question of bike lanes has been a focal point in the crowded race for the City Council’s District 3 position, which represents Capitol Hill and the Central District. Small business owner Logan Bowers said at a recent forum that the most important transportation project in the district was fully connected bike lanes.

Pat Murakami has said she would like to see so-called “bike boulevards,” separate cycle-only streets with coverings to protect them from the weather, and Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce head Egan Orion has noted bike lanes are important, especially on E Union St, but wants to fix the potholes on the district’s major arterials first.

Protected bike lanes on E Union St are still in the preliminary outreach and planning phase, with SDOT currently having conversations with community members and businesses to collect feedback. A feedback process just wrapped up for input on the project.

SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson says they are currently looking at alternatives based on feedback, including a new design for the section between 22nd Ave and 24th Ave and ways to improve reliability of Metro Route 2.

“I don’t want to imply that we’re [necessarily] moving in a particular direction; at this point nothing is set in stone and we’re just working to identify trade-offs between various possibilities,” Bergerson said.

In some early design work, gaps in the protected lanes between 22nd and 24th was criticized and led some to worry about bikers having to ride on the sidewalk.

There is no set timeline for the E Union project at the moment, but Bergerson noted “implementation could theoretically start in early 2020.”

The full Pike/Pine outreach and recommendations report is below.

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19 thoughts on “With short-term plans for new protected bike lanes by end of 2019, report released on long-term community priorities for Pike/Pine

  1. Thanks for this!

    I think the article misses the biggest message of the report, though: it calls for one-way **streets** on pike and pine all the way to broadway, including car traffic.

    Not just about bike lanes – it’s about a more livable and effective street for everyone.

  2. This seems like an incredibly complicated and expensive plan. Only about 3% of Seattle commuters do so by bike. Current protected bike lanes get very little use. The Broadway bike lanes have resulted in a very chaotic street. Is it really worth it?

    How much parking will be lost as a result of this idea? And will someone please explain what the word “intuitive” means as applied to bike lanes?

    Now, no doubt, cycling activists will chime in.

    • Bob, If we’re going by number of users per foot of right of way width, then car commuters are the ones who are drastically over served, not to mention the chaos and fatalities that car traffic brings. So, are cars really worth it?

    • Bob, not a cycling “activist,” just someone who bikes a lot to get around town.

      The case for the pike/pine lanes is as follows:
      1. everyone benefits when people choose bikes, scooters or walking over other means of transportation. Less noise, less pollution, less energy, more space-efficient.
      2. the #1 barrier to people biking more is a perception of safety. Not hills, rain, or anything else.
      3. Many of the bike lanes that have been built so far are not connected to anything, so they don’t enable many complete trips safely. To wit, the broadway bike lane, which ends precariously before John St, and doesn’t actually enable many trips. That said, the street that you call “chaotic” has dramatically reduced the number of crashes and injuries, according to SDOT.
      4. The bike lanes that do connect trips people actually need to make are used heavily, and actual bike counters are at all-time highs – for example, stand on westlake during commuting hours.
      5. Pike/pine is a super important connection between capitol hill, downtown and other places in the city, like fremont and ballard. Without it, you can’t get from capitol hill to fremont safely.

      Finally, the 3% figure describes survey data for people who use bikes exclusively to get to work. It doesn’t include bikeshare, tourists, people who might bike one way and put their bike on the bus on the way back, people using bikes to go shopping, see friends, go out to restaurants, etc. Traffic is about a lot more than just getting to work.

      thanks for listening, and for your support!

      • Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I’m not entirely convinced that building more and more bike lanes will result in alot more cyclists using them…..time will tell. I’d love to be proven wrong.

        I am not a business owner, but I am concerned that eliminating parking spots will negatively impact businesses.

      • I’m not entirely convinced that building more and more bike lanes will result in alot more cyclists using them…..time will tell.

        You’ll never be convinced. Every time there’s an article on bike lanes, you come swooping in with the same false facts that are disproven every.single.time you post them. It’s not innocent, it’s downright purposeful ignorance.

        Bike usage is up in Seattle, thanks in large part to the increase of bike lanes. How you can not acknowledge that is beyond me.

        Luckily, people with obvious, pre-existing biases like yourself are slowly but surely being pushed out of leadership roles for bicycling infrastructure and our society will be better off for it.

      • @Fairly Obvious: Exactly what “false fact” did I state? I just expressed my skepticism that bike lanes result in more usage, and that is a valid point of view.

        Often, when I comment here, you “swoop in” and make a caustic remark about what I have said. Don’t you have something better to do?

      • @Bob

        d reeves handled them. I’d suggest reading his post.

        Often, when I comment here, you “swoop in” and make a caustic remark about what I have said.

        I tend to swoop in when you post horrifically ignorant comments and this time is no different.

      • No, you swoop in because you disagree with me. That’s your right, but why not be civil about it?

      • No, you swoop in because you disagree with me. That’s your right, but why not be civil about it?

        Have I not been civil? I haven’t called you names or attempted to insult you.

        It seems like you can’t handled pointed criticism after posting blatantly false facts and misguided opinions.

        It’s certainly frustrating as a cyclist, to see people using misinformation in an attempt to slow or halt the much needed infrastructure that keeps me safe. So I will definitely get heated, but it is not my intent to insult you. And again, criticism is not an insult.

      • “…you post horrifically ignorant comments.” (your words)

        I’d suggest you take a lesson from “d reeves” and use less inflammatory language in what you say. It really is alot more effective in making an argument.

    • One other point:

      If we follow your argument and allocate arterial street space proportionally according to the total volume of road users, then by far the lowest priority would obviously be street parking, which consumes an entire lane for a tiny percentage of road users for hours at a time.

      • I think the lowest priority by that analysis would be street eating spaces, which ate completely empty at least nine months per year, yet are increasingly allocated space in the right of way.

      • @Glenn, that might be relevant if there were any street eating spaces on pike or pine.

        But there aren’t.

        (at least between broadway and 12th); they’re all on lower-volume side streets.

        And even then, I’m not sure I agree with you; the 10-20 people who can enjoy some outdoors space in the two hours allowed for parking get a heck of a lot more collective utility than one person storing their car there. Makes the neighborhood more livable.

  3. Have a little vision, Bob Knudson (and Jenny Durkan). Making space for people to ride bikes makes streets more efficient for everyone. Allocating 1 or 2 percent of the right-of-way to 3 percent of the users is smart policy for our overall transportation system, and it’s only fair to those of us who prefer not to be run over by careless drivers. By the way, the protected bike lanes that I ride in are becoming quite congested.

  4. I am all for bike lanes, but two-lane bike lanes are accidents — serious accidents — waiting to happen. This is much more of a problem than it used to be, because electric bike and scooter riders (when they use bike lanes at all) ride at increasingly high speeds. Pedestrians can not be expected to anticipate two-way traffic as they cross a two-way bike lane with a green/walk sign to cross. They will naturally look to the left, and seeing no threat, that may be the last thing they see. Planners should be accountable for poor design.