A Win for Biking on the Seattle Waterfront

Riding my electric cargo bike is my favorite thing

Paul Tolmé

  • Seattle commits to building a continuous two-way bike lane along the city's waterfront
  • Cascade's advocacy helped lead to this policy win for safer bicycling on one of the city's most popular bike corridors

In a big win for safer bicycling on the Seattle waterfront, the city has announced that it will build a continuous two-way protected bike lane along Alaskan Way. This fills a critical gap in the bike network between the Elliot Bay Trail and the almost completed Seattle Waterfront Trail. 

Seattle leaders initially proposed a bike route that jogged away from the waterfront to the east side of Alaskan Way for five blocks before crossing back. It was an impractical and confusing design that prompted a negative community response. 

For the last year-and-a-half, Cascade staff has met with dozens of decision makers, conducted site visits, and urged collaboration and negotiation among the parties to improve the design. Success. The city announced today (July 3) that it will instead build a continuous trail on the waterfront side of Alaskan Way–a huge win for people who bike.

Continuous bike trail when cruise ships are not loading or unloading

Continuous bike path shown above. Below is the detour for when cruise ships are loading or unloading. Images from SDOT.


People riding bikes will still be required to detour across Alaskan Way during hours when cruise ships are actively loading or unloading. This is a big improvement over the original plan that required people biking to cross the street twice at all times, regardless of whether cruise ships were loading.

“Cascade Bicycle Club would like to thank the Seattle Department of Transportation, the mayor’s office, and the Seattle Port Commissioners for listening to the community and coming up with a new design that represents a huge improvement,” says Executive Director Lee Lambert. “Enabling people to ride on a continuous bike path on the west side of Alaskan way for the majority of the year is a safe and sensible compromise.

“This new design shows that when we work together and collaborate we can find compromises that work for everyone. This new design benefits people who bike and meets the business needs of the Port,” Lambert says.

One of Cascade’s Top Five Seattle Priorities

Revising the Waterfront Bike Connection was one of Cascade’s Top Five Projects for Making Seattle Safer for Bicycling. 

Cascade staff members and Lambert met with every member of the Seattle Port Commission and had many meetings with SDOT leadership and the mayor’s office to advocate for this improved design. 

“After a year-and-a-half of advocacy, we have a much-improved plan that will allow people to ride along the waterfront side of Alaskan Way for the majority of the time, only detouring across the street during busy port operations,” Lambert says. 

“I’m pleased to see the robust design we’ve all arrived at having worked rigorously within SDOT including input from our Chief Safety Officer and collaborated closely with the Port of Seattle and Cascade Bicycle Club in the last year. The new facility closes a crucial gap in the bike network to make it safer and works with the complex needs at this cruise ship gateway,” says Francisca Stefan, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Deputy Director.

Seattle waterfront with views of the Ferris wheel

There’s a lot more process to go. The city expects to finalize its design in December, put the project out to bid next year, and finish construction in 2025. Many details still need to be finalized related to making the bike detour and street crossings across Alaskan Way safe and easy to use. “We are excited to work with the city and port on a final design that meets all users’ needs and results in a world-class bikeable waterfront,” Lambert says.

This is the second win for Cascade’s top five Seattle priorities following the construction earlier this year of a protected two-way bike lane on the Duwamish Trail. We hope to see all five completed – making Seattle a safer place to bike.

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