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What will one-way Pike and Pine and their new bike lanes look like? A new Capitol Hill connection with downtown Seattle

(Image: CHS)

Over the next 18 months, the city will install new bike lane protections and rework Pike and Pine in downtown and on Capitol Hill below Bellevue into one-way streets. The result could be an even more solid connection between the neighborhoods and a better experience for traveling over the gulf of I-5.

Downtown, work has already begun. There has been a brouhaha over the cherry trees near Pike Place Market and there are architectural renderings of those waterfront plans, but when it comes to what Pike and Pine will look like east of 5th Ave, the best the city can offer is a presentation made to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board in October 2021.

Still, the changes are coming. The project from the City of Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects in coordination with the Downtown Seattle Association and the Seattle Department of Transportation will “improve east-west connections between the waterfront and surrounding neighborhoods.”

Downtown, ground was broken last month. There is no schedule for the work to complete the $17.45 million Pike and Pine transformation across I-5 but here is what the plan entails.

Digging in downtown (Image: CHS)

The Pike Pine Renaissance project envisions streetscape changes to Pike and Pine between 1st Ave and Bellevue, with the one-way street configuration in downtown extended all the way up the Hill. Sidewalks in several areas will be expanded. The gaps between the existing protected bike lanes will be filled in, with the bike lane barriers beefed up with more solid and durable materials.

The city says the vision is a set of “shared streets” between 1st and 2nd Ave on both Pike and Pine Pike that have been designed to maintain vehicle access and parking. UPDATE: A representative from Waterfront Seattle clarified to CHS that the shared block “will only be on Pike St between 1st and 2nd avenues, not on Pine.”

Officials say the work will improve the Pike and Pine streetscape by adding greenery, new seating, and consistent design from end to end. The improvements will include one-way traffic on Pike and Pine streets, with Pike being one-way eastbound and Pine being one-way westbound. The city has already started reshaping traffic flow with new 4-way stops up and down Pike and Pine above Bellevue.

Over I-5, the design will essentially double the width of the sidewalk on the north side of Pike, matching the plans for the bridge over I-5 on Pine Street. The planter boxes separating the bike lanes from other traffic lanes will also be different than the ones SDOT has installed on bike lanes around town like 2nd Avenue, more durable and with a dedicated maintenance budget coordinated with the Downtown Seattle Association.

Across I-5 on Capitol Hill, the budget doesn’t call for any space for flowers but the bike lanes will, the city hopes, be more protected with new concrete barriers and art. It will remain to be seen if SDOT picks up the thread and adds anything like these “DO NOT BLOCK BIKE LANE” safety signs that went up in a guerilla street safety experiment trying to deter people from parking in the Pike bike lane.

Artists Derek Bruno and Gage Hamilton have created aesthetic wave forms incorporated into railings, planters, and bicycle buffers to support “a cohesive identity” for the streets in a project funded by the Waterfront program’s 1% for Art funds.

There will also be the complicated couplet transition at Bellevue Ave where the bike routes and vehicular traffic will come together that will be designed to allow riders to transition to existing bike lanes up the Hill.

A coalition of community advocacy groups negotiated funding for the total streetscape improvements as part of a suite of public benefits provided by the Washington State Convention Center expansion. That $2 billion expansion is now open.

The project will create a new cohesion for this lower area of Capitol Hill with downtown in how the streets and sidewalks look and how traffic and people move through. Once these changes are implemented, Pike and Pine will be fully one-way all the way to and from Bellevue, with further conversion to one-way operation all the way to Broadway still a possibility. By then, hopefully the neighborhood has sorted out any spiritual qualms about this new connection with downtown.

Work on the 1st Ave to Bellevue portion is expected to be completed sometime in 2024.

 

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26 Comments
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DD15
DD15
1 year ago

“Shared streets” mean car-dominated streets with no clear sidewalk, like the “improved” block of Melrose.

“Complicated couplet transition” is a result of SDOT’s absolute failure to understand what riding a bike is like, and their total disinterest in listening to what people actually want.

The new I-5 crossings look like an improvement, but the renderings should probably show cars driving the wrong way on the bike lanes/sidewalks, since SDOT is allergic to bollards for some reason.

Real Talk
Real Talk
1 year ago
Reply to  DD15

Truth! Separate bikes and cars if you’re ever gonna get to low death numbers.

btwn
btwn
1 year ago

can you link to the actual plan, vs just screen shot excerpts? thanks!

It is an improved on being door'ed
It is an improved on being door'ed
1 year ago

The planet boxes are being installed in order to discourage camping?
Is the budget that is being allocated to maintain them have money in it for expanding the use of them?

Defund SPD
Defund SPD
1 year ago

Love hostile architecture… man this city sucks sometimes

Khan Tran
Khan Tran
1 year ago
Reply to  Defund SPD

This is not an example of hostile architecture, lmao. Don’t just spam buzz words.

Frank
Frank
1 year ago
Reply to  Defund SPD

The whole city is designed for cars. We can’t have bollards or planters to protect pedestrians and cyclist because cars get sad.

Shelby
Shelby
1 year ago

The planters are there to discourage people from driving in the bike lane.

Pete
Pete
1 year ago

Much easier to ride in a back street away from the cars, trapped in a bike lane which makes it hard to turn or merge. Oh, and with electric bikes doing 25mph in the same space.

DD15
DD15
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete

Let me know when you find a back street that crosses I-5 and isn’t miles out of the way.

Real Talk
Real Talk
1 year ago
Reply to  DD15

Your point is valid, but Pete is right that SDOT does little to move bike traffic out of the way of main car arterials.

Frank
Frank
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete

Can’t wait for cars to speed limited like ebikes and scooters.

Jack
Jack
1 year ago

“that have been designed to maintain vehicle access and parking”

Hello darkness my old friend…

birdman
birdman
1 year ago

It’s a step in the right direction, but still way too much space dedicated to cars. Pine and Pike should be pedestrian only

Hillery
Hillery
1 year ago

More bike lanes yet cyclists still almost running me over on sidewalks (next to a bike lane)

C M
C M
1 year ago
Reply to  Hillery

I’ve always said that the bike laws should be changed to require them to be used when available. I’ve yelled at bicyclists coming straight towards me on sidewalks give me dirty looks, “There’s a reason they’re called sideWALKs.”

btwn
btwn
1 year ago

Comments:

  • better than before… BUT
  • they’re not factoring in actual behavior. tons of people already go the wrong way in the bike lanes and this will make it worse
  • I can’t think of another city that is so optimistic about shifting bike lanes to the other side of the street.
  • wish they would finish the job and extend the one way streets all the way to Madison. Seattle has so many stub/half built projects, and this feels like it’s going to be the next one.
  • too much space for cars; pike should be pedestrian between Madison st and pike place market
Real Talk
Real Talk
1 year ago
Reply to  btwn

I can totally get behind at least one of Pike or Pine being carless. It seems like at a bare minimum you could return one of them to 2 way car traffic and the other could be bikes and peds. There is plenty of room and everyone would be way safer while still minimizing inconvenience for everyone.

Taxsense
Taxsense
1 year ago
Reply to  btwn

Tell that to the businesses on Pike.

Guesty
Guesty
1 year ago

I’ve lived in Seattle 25 years and don’t get up there that often anymore but the last time I did it was pretty confusing with different paint on the streets everywhere, lots of signage…

LSRes
LSRes
1 year ago
Reply to  Guesty

If you can understand signage, I’m glad you are no longer driving around capitol hill.

public spaces belong to people
public spaces belong to people
1 year ago

Let’s goooo. This is great.

As an avid biker/walker – I also want to see some European style “big car lots” where folks can come in from the freeway; park their cars; and then walk in the neighborhood.

eddiew
eddiew
1 year ago

The PPR will force westbound cyclists to transition to Pine Street from Pike Street via Melrose. A more straight forward approach would have continued the Capitol Hill pattern west of Minor-Melrose: two one-way PBL on Pike Street and two-way transit on Pine Street. Bikes and transit would have been on different streets in downtown. Eastbound transit would have been on Pine Street atop Link; under PPR, there will continue to be a 400-foot transfer walk between Link and eastbound bus transit. Yes, some of the new capital would have been spent on electric trolleybus overhead. It appears eastbound transit will be stuck in traffic.