Show up and speak up for protected bike lanes on Eastlake Avenue
At Cascade we’ve been advocating for safe bike facilities on Eastlake Avenue since the inception of the Bike Master Plan. We know what an amazing benefit this connection would provide to the city’s bike network and how it could serve the growing population of people biking, busing and walking in Seattle. So please join us at either of the upcoming open houses to speak out for these investments. If you have a Connect Seattle t-shirt, wear it! We’ll also be handing them out if you want to pick one up.
Join us at either of the upcoming open houses:
Wednesday, Dec. 9, 6 – 8 p.m.
TOPS School, Cafeteria
2500 Franklin Ave. E, Seattle
Thursday, Dec. 10, 6 – 8 p.m.
UW Tower, Cafeteria North
4333 Brooklyn Ave. NE, Seattle
If you’re wondering what makes Eastlake such an urgent priority, imagine the following scene: Just after 5 p.m. on a dark and drizzly evening a steady stream of bike lights head north on Eastlake Avenue. Commuters leaving Downtown Seattle and South Lake Union boldly take the lane. Currently there are no real bike facilities on Eastlake; sharrows and interspersed bike lanes that disappear at random don’t count. Yet hundreds of people bike on Eastlake because it is a direct and fairly flat route that connects people to places they need to go.
Currently Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is working on a study for High-Capacity Rapid Transit that includes building a swift and reliable transit connection from Downtown Seattle through South Lake Union and along Eastlake Avenue up to Northgate. Safe bicycle facilities could be included along Eastlake with this project, but only if we show up and speak up for their need.
Many people currently avoid Eastlake Avenue because it lacks safe bike facilities. I know this because I sometimes cycle miles out of my way to take the Fremont Bridge from the Cascade Bicycle Club office to get to meetings downtown. I know I am not alone in that. It doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine if we built a bike facility that you’d feel safe riding on with your family to get to free museum day at MOHAI. Imagine if you could stop at your favorite cafe along Eastlake on your way home. Or with High-Capacity Rapid Transit you could also hop on a bus that drops you off in front of your office door. Our city would feel more connected and accessible, and we could enjoy the vibrant neighborhoods along the corridor.
At the open houses next week you will have the chance to review three different concepts for the corridor.
The most basic facility is the Rapid Ride Alternative. This is the cheapest option presented, but it provides the least benefit to the people who live and work along the corridor. This option would not offer any bike enhancements, and people biking would have to share the transit lane, which does not offer a comfortable and safe feeling ride. This scenario also provides the least benefit for transit improvements, keeping buses stuck in traffic.
The second option is the Targeted Investment Alternative that integrates the Rapid Ride plan and also includes some bike facilities. This design will also feature more improvements to bus efficiency, like dedicated transit lanes and queue jumps that allow the bus to get a headstart. We look forward to seeing more detailed designs of this option at the open house.
Finally we come to the full Bus Rapid Transit Alternative (BRT) that will have the biggest impact in improving transit by creating safe bike facilities and improving the walking environment. Plus it is a safe bet that protected bike lanes would increase the usage of Pronto Cycle Share between Downtown and the University District. However, the full BRT does not have the funding that it needs. While Move Seattle funds will cover approximately $9 million of the project, that leaves a lot of funds left to be leveraged for a complete project.
According to the Existing Conditions Report we see that this corridor currently features several very dangerous spots, including on Eastlake. According to section 4.4.1 of the Existing Conditions Report, “analysis of bicycle/vehicle collision data between 2010 and 2014 showed that there were eleven collisions involving bicyclists at the intersection with Eastlake Avenue and Fuhrman Avenue and the midblock segment to Harvard Avenue.” Since we’ve adopted Vision Zero as a city and made safety a top priority, now is the time to turn that policy into pavement with protected bike lanes.