Mayor Kills Controversial Northeast Seattle Bike Lane; New Design Also Lacks Parking

Learn to trust the Crank: As I reported this morning, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office met with advocates for and against a proposed one-way protected bike lane on 35th Ave. NE to tell them that the city does not plan to move forward with the long-planned lane.

According to a notice from the Seattle Department of Transportation, SDOT is going with an “alternative design” that includes no bike lane at all. The protected bike lane has been a part of the city’s adopted bike master plan since 2014. Recently, a group of opponents has argued that adding a protected bike lane on one side of the street would harm businesses by removing parking spaces—despite the fact that a city parking utilization study found that only 40 percent of the parking spaces near the proposed bike lane were occupied on an average weekday.

Ironically, the new design actually eliminates just as much parking as the bike lane plan, which was already designed, contracted, and shovel-ready. In a statement, SDOT said cyclists could use an existing “parallel neighborhood greenway” several blocks away which bike advocates called an inadequate substitute for a protected lane on an already existing major bike arterial.

The most recent report on the Move Seattle levy revealed that the Seattle Department of  Transportation has continued to fall behind on plans to build out the bike network laid out in the 2014 Bike Master Plan, particularly when it comes to protected bike lanes.

Here’s SDOT’s statement on the decision. I have calls out to SDOT and the mayor’s office and will update this post with any additional information.

Since the early stages of the 35th Ave NE Project, we’ve heard support from the community for changes to the street that improve safety. When the project began, the goal was to better organize the street, increasing safety for everyone. To meet this goal, we proposed a design that included bike lanes consistent with recommendations in the Bike Master Plan.

In response to the feedback we heard about the design, and based on industry best practices, data analysis, and continued conversations with the community, we’ve chosen to move forward with a new design that includes 1 travel lane in each direction, a center turn lane (north of 65th) and parking maintained on the east side of the street (between NE 47th and NE 85th streets).

Better street design can lead to safer streets. The new design helps us improve safety and operations for all travelers on 35th by providing a dedicated space for turning vehicles. We’ve seen decreased vehicle speeds and decreased collision rates on streets with 1 lane in each direction and a center turn lane. Examples include NE 75th St, NE 125th St, and Nickerson St. By slowing vehicle speeds and better defining the travel lanes, this helps increase safety for everyone on 35th, including people crossing the street. While there would be no protected bike lanes on 35th, people riding in the street would still benefit from slower vehicle speeds and clearly defined travel lanes. We will also be making enhancements to the parallel neighborhood greenway on 39th Ave NE that provides a route for people that prefer to bike on a quieter street.

To make space for the center turn lane, parking will be maintained on the east side of the street, instead of both sides. Throughout this project, we’ve worked with businesses and religious organizations along 35th to better understand parking, loading, and access needs. With the new design, we have decided to prioritize parking on the east side of the street. This decision is based on community feedback and the location of several existing load zones and ADA parking spaces on the east side of the street. We’ve heard these spaces are critical for people with limited mobility that are attending services at the religious institutions on 35th.

The new design addresses many concerns we’ve heard from the community however, we’ve also heard requests for additional enhancements along the corridor. SDOT is evaluating these requests and will share more information as we have it.

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12 thoughts on “Mayor Kills Controversial Northeast Seattle Bike Lane; New Design Also Lacks Parking”

  1. So everybody lost here on this decision. Not surprising given the new leadership, but perhaps there is potential long-term gain. With the center turn lane and the single auto tracks installed, all that is needed now is to remove the parking and replace with cycle tracks. An already proven format for Seattle on various east-west arterial streets. The data supports it, perhaps the next Mayor will as well

  2. A diagram is not provided. Stay tuned. Perhaps southbound buses will have in-lane stops and northbound buses will be in pullouts as that side has parallel parking. the earlier SDOT plan had some 10-foot lanes that would have been too narrow for buses.

  3. I was concerned about what the original plan did to buses (am still thrilled about the smaller number of parking places in the new plan). Can anyone tell what this will do for buses? The old one was going to slow them- this looks similar? I hope not- we need better public transit in this corner of the city!

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