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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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.