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After criticism for route that included riding on sidewalk, city rolls out new plan for E Union ‘parking protected bike lanes’

The proposed layout for parking protected bike lanes between 14th Ave and 26th on E Union — the vehicles inside the outer white lanes would provide a buffer between bikes and traffic

Above E Union at 18th Ave

The Seattle Department of Transportation has responded to community feedback and has a new plan for E Union that will create unbroken protected bike lanes from 14th Ave to 23rd Ave. Construction is now on track to begin this summer.

The updated plans were presented at a community open house Wednesday night at the neighborhood’s Liberty Bank Building. An online survey will be collecting feedback on the updated plans through February 7th.

The updates follow plans shaped last year that drew criticism for trying to maintain area parking and existing traffic lanes by routing a portion of the planned bike lanes onto the sidewalk. The E Union bike lane project is being paid for by the Move Seattle levy to create an alternate for bicyclists away from the coming Madison Bus Rapid Transit corridor. CHS reported earlier this month that the future RapidRide G start of service has again been pushed back — this time to 2023.

The newly released plans would remove some street parking, shift a school bus loading zone, and consolidate Metro bus stops to add the “parking protected bike lanes” to both sides of E Union between 14th Ave and 26th Ave, and then transition to an uphill protected bike lane and a downhill sharrow lane from 26th to Martin Luther King Jr Way.

Street parking is, of course, a key issue for some area businesses including Uncle Ike’s and Earl’s Cuts. Wednesday night, SDOT representatives said the updated design would only require the loss of five existing street parking spots at the key 23rd and Union intersection. Some of that may be able to be mitigated by the opening of the Midtown Square development across the street. That three-piece, seven-story mixed-use apartment development with 428 market-rate and affordable apartment units and a quasi-public central plaza will include a huge underground parking garage when it opens in fall of 2021.

Street parking is a key component of the design providing a buffer of parked vehicles separating the bike lanes from traffic.

The Urbanist reports that most SDOT feedback recorded to date prioritizes bike safety over parking: “Of the 877 respondents who completed the survey, more than 600 listed the bicycle connection as important. Fewer than 200 noted that retaining as much parking as possible was important.”

SDOT is also planning pedestrian improvements at 23rd and Union including adding “pedestrian interval” and “automated” crossing that would automatically give pedestrians a head start to cross before vehicular traffic gets the green light.

Another key change involves the Seattle World School on the T.T. Minor campus at 18th and Union. SDOT is proposing the school’s bus loading zone be moved off E Union to make the stretch safer for the new bike lanes. Alternatives are being discussed with the district, officials said Wednesday night.

Metro stop changes will also help streamline the corridor. Metro is proposing to “consolidate multiple stops” including the elimination of stops at 16th Ave due to low ridership. Metro says other changes will be mitigated by the eventual start of RapidRide service on E Madison where a new stop will be added at 13th Ave only a short walk from E Union.

Another safety change, SDOT points out, will be the introduction of 25 MPH speed limits in the corridor.

Between 26th Ave and MLK, the layout would transition to an uphill protected bike lane but a shared traffic lane for the downhill ride

With the project still in its design phase, SDOT is currently planning to wrap up its public outreach and feedback process in March with a final design unveiled by June and construction set to begin later in summer. Once it starts, the new bike lanes project will come quickly. SDOT rolled out the new bike lanes on E Pike in only a matter of weeks. Planners say the E Union project won’t require the street to be closed and should have the street re-striped and re-signed in only two or three weekends of work.

You can provide feedback on the project and learn more at seattle.gov.


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15 thoughts on “After criticism for route that included riding on sidewalk, city rolls out new plan for E Union ‘parking protected bike lanes’

  1. The three spots shown as lost are actually the loading zone in front of The Neighbor Lady, meaning the loading zone will then move east in front of Earl’s. And don’t forget, a few weeks ago the spot west of Ike’s driveway was also removed. So it isn’t really three spots lost, it is SEVEN. Also, their belief that trucks will have enough room to stop in the middle lane is wishful thinking at best. There will simply not be room for it.
    Those spots are vital to not only Earl‘s, but to the soon to be opened coffee shop and restaurant, Brown Lady Cooks, as well as for residents of the Liberty Bank building.

    • I have an idea!

      Let’s cancel the Midtown project across the street and reinstall acres of surface parking!

      After all, you Boomers desperately need to park within ten feet of the entrance to wherever you are going….

      I feel like there needs to be a moratorium on parking complaints.

      • Was your reply directed towards me? Not a boomer, but that is beside the point. I am concerned for our minority owned small businesses and less about attacking people online for their opinions if they do not match my own.

      • The boomer thing is getting old. I’m not a boomer, but when I hear people say that, it just shows how disrespectful some can be towards their elders. Remember you will be old someday.

    • Not only is the whole boomer comment played out, but the original comment was about the loss of loading zones. Loading zones that are used for trucks to deliver supplies to businesses. It had noting to do with people wanting to park in front of a business. Reading is fundamental.

  2. Downhill bike lanes are dangerous, separated ones even more so, separated downhill bike lanes on streets with many driveways and cross streets are stupidly dangerous …. If you value your safety do not use this to go down Union – ever…

    Your ability to avoid is constrained, your visibility is reduced, what you can see is reduced. Use at your own peril..

      • I usually go down the smaller parallel streets like Spring/Marion/Columbia. Slower but safer.

        Cherry Street is sketchy like Union. I ride down both sometimes on sunny days because you can fly at top speed (very fun), but as CD Cyclist says you’d better watch out. If you try that on a rainy day like today, kiss it goodbye.

      • At anytime that I am going at or near to traffic speed I take the lane. It means you have the most complete view of other traffic, are the most visible and have the most options to avoid should someone turn in front of you or begin to pull out from a side street.

        NEVER simply trust that infrastructure is somehow safe or even safer. Much of it is built by people who’ve never actually used it. Bike lanes can be appropriate, they can be safe, but they have to be properly built and located. Downhill on Union street a very, very poor place to put one.

        And yes…. no matter your vehicle you do have to pay attention to the weather… a wet road increases stopping distance a lot, and probably more so for a bike than for a car.

      • This just made me think of a serious irony…. I was thinking about Spiffy and about taking alternate routes during bad weather.

        I slow down driving when conditions are bad, just like I slow down cycling, but never once have I had to think I should actually take a different route because drivers might be mad that I’m not doing top speed when I’m in my car…. but on the bike I have to think like that.

        Sad commentary.

      • @CD Cyclist — What about going at a slow speed downhill in a protected bike lane?

        That’s actually safer than going slow, downhill, in a non-bike lane.

      • How about I can slow down in the lane, as much as would in a car, which would still be *considerably* faster than would ever be safe in a downhill bike lane, which even in good weather would be about walking speed…. and expect that I won’t be harassed or threatened?

    • I think this reply string illustrates that on streets with bicycles lanes, cyclists should be ticketed if they ride in the car lanes instead of the cycle lanes.

      • Them: “I’m afraid I’ll die if I ride in an unsafe and poorly designed bike lane”
        You: “This is why cyclists should be fined”

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