Our Sponsors:

Read more »

Our Members

Many thanks to Ronald Erickson and Judy Smith some of our many supporters.

ALL MEMBERS »

Facelift for 2nd Avenue's bike death trap

The city is planning a new separated cycle track to replace Seattle's most dangerous bike lane.

If all goes according to plan, Seattle’s worst bike lane will be one of its best by the end of the summer. The Seattle Department of Transportation released their proposed redesign for 2nd Avenue; a demonstration project that will transform the bike lane from a dangerous one-way bike lane sandwiched between parked cars and traffic to a two-way “cycle track” with a barrier separating it from traffic and no parking lane to deal with. 

Mayor Ed Murray announced plans for the protected bike lane at a Pronto! bike share press conference in May, promising the lane would be done in time for the bike share’s launch in September.

The current 2nd Ave bike lane is widely considered one of the city’s most dangerous.

According to SDOT, there have been 60 collisions involving bikes in the lane in the past four years — a mix of bicyclists getting doored by people exiting their parked cars, drivers pulling out of the parking lane across the bike lane and, in more than half the cases, bicyclists getting hit in intersections by drivers turning across the bike lane (known as a left hook).

Rutgers University Professor and noted bicycle researcher John Pucher called the 2nd Ave bike lane an “accident waiting to happen” and “more dangerous than nothing” after riding it last summer.

The new design largely mitigates all of those problems. The bike lane will run from Pike Street to Yesler Way adjacent to the east sidewalk. It will be divided into two 5-foot lanes for northbound and southbound bike traffic. A 3-foot painted divider with raised plastic bollards will separate it from cars. It will be very similar to the protected bike lane on Broadway in Capitol Hill, but because 2nd Ave is a demonstration project, the barriers will be less permanent for the time being than Broadway’s cement curb.

Design, implementation and outreach for the project is estimated to cost between $1.2 and 1.5 million, which will be paid by Seattle Bicycle Master Plan implementation funds.

The car lane adjacent to the bike lane will serve as both parking strip and left-turn lane. During off hours, cars will be able to parallel park in the lane. On blocks with left turns, the parking lane will serve as a left-turn lane from 6-9 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. on weekdays. The far right lane will be a bus-only lane at peak hours and parking and right-turn queue the rest of the time (its current configuration). There will be breaks in the barriers to accommodate the handful of parking garage entrances and exits along the stretch. 

Since left hooks at intersections are one of 2nd Ave’s biggest problems, a left-turn signal will control left turns off of 2nd after the redesign. Bicyclists will be required to obey the pedestrian signals at intersections.

“There’s always going to be nervousness around the unknown, but we’re hoping our demonstration project will show that this can be successful for everyone,” said Dawn Schellenberg, SDOT Community Engagement Liaison. “Being a demonstration project will allow us to modify the lane moving forward, to learn from it and make sure we’re doing it right for everyone.”

To help quell some of that nervousness, SDOT is planning on doing extensive outreach and education leading up to the changes and for a while after the new infrastructure has been installed. Schellenberg says they plan to talk to people in offices, residents and neighboring businesses along this stretch of 2nd Ave. Once the new lane is open, they’re creating an educational video showing how to walk and drive around and bike in the new infrastructure. They’re also installing new signage and might have ambassadors stand on corners along the lane when it opens.

Unsurprisingly, bike advocates are pleased with the impending change — particularly that it bucks the standard and lengthy Seattle Process.


Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!

Comments:

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 6:33 a.m. Inappropriate

"Bicyclists will be required to obey the pedestrian signals at intersections."

That's the funniest thing that I've read all week.

talisker

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 10:35 a.m. Inappropriate

Pedestrians don't even obey the signals at downtown intersections, bicyclists frequently blow through red lights on streets with heavy traffic and there is virtually no enforcement by SPD. Expecting this trial to be unbiased and conducted fairly is also very humorous.

jvan

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 12:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Please stop the hypocrisy. It's silly. The vast, vast, vast majority of people breaking traffic laws are in cars. Just a fact. Cars cause the vast majority of the accidents, deaths, injuries, etc. They're always going 5mph+ over the speed limit, texting, failing to signal, failing to yield, running lights and blocking intersections. it's just constant.

The only difference is now people in cars are being forced to deal with other users of the road as peers. And they can't BELIEVE the law breaking they're seeing - because they've learned to expect and ignore the biggest offenders.

Don't like the amount of resources going to bikes? Fine. Argue that. Don't like the loss of lanes? Fine, argue that. But just stop acting like cyclists are the ones breaking the rules so egregiously. 5 minutes observing minor and major traffic violations at any intersection in the city will tell you who the real problem is.

nullbull

Posted Wed, Jul 30, 12:17 a.m. Inappropriate

Seattle's bicyclists are nasty, reckless, and entitled. They deserve every bad outcome they ever get.

NotFan

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 8:24 a.m. Inappropriate

Great, the war on cars continues. One of the few ways to go N/S reasonably is now going to become a one lane road right in the middle of town just in case a bicyclist wants to ride there. First McGinn, and now Murray allows SDOT to make things even worse for those of us who must drive. Seems to me that this is a preemptive strike in case the tunnel ever opens, designed to make sure that drivers don't take 2nd through town to avoid it.

Didn't see anything in this article about tracking usage and comparing it to displaced traffic. That might tell them this is a bad idea, of course, so to be assiduously avoided. How are the bikers going to like being showered with dirty oily water in winter when cars go by? Will Murray and SDOT then close 2nd to cars altogether? Will there be a property tax levy to pay for drycleaning cyclists' clothing? Will we have to pay for public showers for them? Where does bicycle mania end?

And why was public process avoided? Let me see, to avoid the outcry that might have stopped this new idiocy? Hope we're in for another one term mayor. Based on his actions so far I can't wait to do my best to give Murray the boot, or maybe a bike so he can ride out of town.

mspat

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 12:51 p.m. Inappropriate

It's always made more sense to me to convert 3rd Ave into a dedicated transit/bike route and boulevard from Pine to Yesler, especially since the buses are all getting kicked out of the bus tunnel in a couple of years.

talisker

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 12:06 a.m. Inappropriate

Oh please - look at your infrastructure. The biggest inconvenience, danger, or obstacle to cars are other cars. Bikes are a drop in the bucket. The war on cars is being waged by other cars.

nullbull

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 9:09 a.m. Inappropriate

Maybe in your neighborhood cars are the issue. Not in mine. I live on a street that has been designated a bikeway or some such--they've added all kinds of signs so bicyclists can figure out how to get where they're going, they've put directional tiles in the surface of the street for, apparently, the same purpose, and they've put signs forbidding N/S bound cars to use Fremont Ave. N. for miles. Meanwhile, bicyclists routinely run the red light that controls E/W traffic across Aurora at my street, and I see the same thing downtown and everywhere else I drive, including Tacoma, where I work. Not to say cars don't break the law because they certainly do. Just this morning I was tailgated by a 20-something on I-5 South. I was already going 70--yes breaking the law--and this fool behind me was tailgating me and making gestures urging me to move over and let him pass, which I did when it was safe. The sad fact is that many, many cyclists ignore traffic signs and lights if there is no traffic--run red lights and stop signs specifically--and I see this every single day on my way to work and otherwise. Because the bicycles are harder to see due to smaller size and few wearing bright colors to make themselves more visible, yes, I know cars hit them. Not all cyclists are so entitled and dumb, but plenty are. On the other hand, so are some drivers. If you see more problems with cars, it's because you see more cars, not because cyclists are more law abiding.

mspat

Posted Wed, Jul 30, 12:16 a.m. Inappropriate

Forget trying to reason with Seattle's "progressives" about bicycles or anything else.

NotFan

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 6:30 p.m. Inappropriate

"Great, the war on cars continues. One of the few ways to go N/S reasonably is now going to become a one lane road right in the middle of town just in case a bicyclist wants to ride there."

I count two vehicle lanes in the diagrams, along with a turn/parking lane on the left and a bus/turn/parking lane on the right. How do you come up with one?

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 8:59 a.m. Inappropriate

Hiding cyclists behind park cars is asinine. I ride the bikeway in the north end and I've had more close calls with cars than before they installed that costly monstrosity. Drivers and cyclists need to see each other. Visibility for a cyclist is the key for keeping bicyclists safe.

I'm a serious cyclist who also drives Second Avenue. The goal there should not be to hide the bicyclists behind a line of parked cars. I want to see bicyclists on the road, not have them suddenly pop up on my left as I attempt to take a left turn. Drivers need to know they are sharing the road with bicyclist. Better signage would help. So would including sharing the road with cyclists in drivers ed and clear set of traffic laws governing road behavior for cyclists (are they pedestrians or vehicles?).

Roadway separation only lulls drivers into thinking that they are not sharing the road--and of course they are at every intersection and that's where the accidents will still happen.

Mikos

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 12:53 p.m. Inappropriate

As long as the cyclists are obeying the traffic signals for the cycle track then there shouldn't be any problems. There won't be any left turns on red there any more, just like there aren't right turns on red across the Broadway cycle track.

talisker

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 5:43 p.m. Inappropriate

How does that help? I'd rather have a car take a left or right hand turn in front of me while I'm waiting for the light to change green than have them do it while I'm spinning at 20 MPH. My experience as a driver on Second is that I simply have to monitor my driver side mirror to insure that no cyclists are coming before I take a left. With a track behind a row of parked cars, it will be much harder to see the cyclists. If you've ridden the north end track, you know that cars now have a more difficult time seeing the cyclists. So this is where I feel compelled to write that it should be the law that bicyclists on roads have flashing lights on at all hours. It could save your life.

Mikos

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 9:12 a.m. Inappropriate

If you're talking about the cycle track west of and parallel with Aurora around 130th area, I've had the same problem. The cyclists come seemingly out of nowhere and it's hard to stop in time. I've altered my routes to avoid that area.

mspat

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 9:01 a.m. Inappropriate

While I still believe that 3rd Ave. is better for a protected bike lane, I am hopeful that the left turn arrows will stop pedestrian traffic and expedite left hand turns.

Squirrel

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 9:03 a.m. Inappropriate

I've ridden this bike lane occasionally, and also walk on Second every day. Overall this sounds like a good plan.

The trick will be enforcing the no-turn rule, and making sure cars aren't blocking the box. The City lets scofflaws run rampant. If the eastern crosswalk and bike lane are always blocked by idiots, which is nearly constant at rush hour at some cross streets, it won't work.

I love the idea of a flatter route northbound through the CBD.

mhays

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 12:54 p.m. Inappropriate

They also have to make sure that bikes are stopping when they have a red light on the cycle track so those cars can take the left turn safely.

talisker

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 1:08 p.m. Inappropriate

I agree. Bikers that run red lights are a problem. I jaywalk incessantly but as a bicylist I follow the lights...except when the light doesn't know I'm there.

mhays

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 9:22 a.m. Inappropriate

Cars turning left into a parking garage will then have to maneuver through the parking lane and across a bike lane with bikes going both ways plus whoever happens to be on the sidewalk. The situation will be slightly better at intersections but the left-turning driver will have to watch for the bikes plus pedestrians. As pointed out above the parked cars can conceal the bikes (incumbents not recommended here). I have ridden 2nd Avenue and it does not feel safe, no argument there, but I am happy to read that the changes are not cast in concrete.

kieth

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 11:58 p.m. Inappropriate

Dear God! You may have to actually slow down and look now! The humanity!

nullbull

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 6:41 p.m. Inappropriate

Hopefully parking will not be allowed adjacent to a parking garage entrance or an intersection, so cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians can see each other. Essentially, the bike lane is functioning as an extension of the sidewalk.

Bicyclists who blow through intersections against the light are a problem with or without the new bike lane configuration.

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 10:27 a.m. Inappropriate

Thank goodness we're beginning to apply some rationality to integrating various modes of transportation. When I first began bike commuting from Wedgewood to Belltown in 1978 it was a very different world. Dexter was a skinny and scary street (especially with buses passing by inches away sandwiching me between them and parked cars) and I rode with a whistle in my mouth once I left the Burke Gilman: happily a thing of the past. At that time SPD enforced bicyclist conformance to motor vehicle laws (and there was often a cop at the corner of Ravenna and University who easily met his monthly quota ticketing bikes that didn't make a full stop at the sign). We followed the rules not because of the law, or because we were too polite to assert our right to be on the road, but because there were so few of us and we knew that cars had little awareness of our existence and we would lose the war in the event of a one-on-one skirmish.
But it's the 21st century and there are now many bikes on our streets.
I would suggest that for everyone's sake and safety:
-we need a separate set of lights exclusively for bikes with a separate timing system (as is done in Sweden);
-we need a well thought out set of rules exclusively for bicyclists that explain what is required when they ride on sidewalks, on streets, and transition between the two;
-rules for motor vehicles and bike must be well enforced.
Until we do what we can to improve the infrastructure for bicyclists as well as make their behavior uniformly more predictable there will be too many accidents (car-bike interactions)--and I write that both as someone who recently lost a work-colleague in such an accident and a bike-aware driver who lives in fear of hitting a bicyclist in spite of my best efforts.
I appreciate the city's effort to make our roads safer for all.

IMHO

Posted Wed, Jul 23, 10:28 a.m. Inappropriate

Generally this is already occurring (except it's one way bike traffic) as a car going south on 2nd has to venture across a bike lane, a parking lane, and then sidewalk pedestrians - so I don't see much of a change here.

As a daily commuter I wasn't too crazy about traveling on 2nd and would always take 3rd where it is limited to bikes and busses during the rush hour. So I'm not clear on why 3rd Avenue was not chosen for the bike track. I suppose it would be tricky to figure out the bus stop thing, but hasn't this been done somewhere else before?

I really don't think traffic on 2nd can get much worse, unless you put some food service trucks in the middle of it. At rush hour it is just impassable by vehicle from Pine southward - and with or without a cycle track it will just get worse.

Treker

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 12:16 a.m. Inappropriate

Want to know why the city is taking infrastructure away from cars to protect other users? Count up all the traffic violations that caused property damage, injury, or death. Then find how many involved bikes or peds. SDOT surveys show people in cars speed all over this city, given the chance. They text while doing it, too. And they don't signal, glide through stop signs, and generally slide through or bend every rule they can in the name of their own convenience. And it is killing or injuring people and damaging property.

Simple fact - if every cyclists followed every law perfectly starting tomorrow, you would barely notice. If every driver stopped texting tomorrow - JUST TEXTING... still speed and glide through stops and all the rest of it - hundreds of injuries and deaths and incidents of damaged property would be avoided within months.

Look at the simple numbers as a person running a transportation and public safety infrastructure and ask yourself where you'd spend the money to fix what's broken.

nullbull

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 3:23 p.m. Inappropriate

Yep, the "progressives" always have a million or two lying around when they want it, but when they don't want it then they cry poverty. One thing we know is this: The city and state governments here are rolling in money. There is no need to EVER vote for ANY levy.

NotFan

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 3:33 p.m. Inappropriate

Rolling in money.

If you are going to be so wrong all the time at least be crafty and develop some witty prose. I know that your long-term dialog here is akin to an extended performance art piece - but you have made your ironic point by consistently playing the dolt.

Time to be a little more creative.

Maybe you should review some other similarly themed artists - here's a primer for you.

We anxiously await the your next curtain.

Treker

Posted Wed, Jul 30, 12:11 a.m. Inappropriate

So tell us, have you ever held a real job, i.e. one where you didn't subsist off the taxpayers? You have the arrogance of a city worker.

NotFan

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 3:34 p.m. Inappropriate

Here you go

http://flavorwire.com/227915/10-contemporary-performance-artists-you-should-know/7

Treker

Posted Sat, Jul 26, 12:15 p.m. Inappropriate

Seeing the headline, I thought there'd be a reference to the number of bicycle/car collision fatalities along the route. Either I'm overlooking it, or that information is not included in the article. Does anyone know?

Posted Mon, Jul 28, 11:38 a.m. Inappropriate

I don't bike in Seattle. It just seemed very unsafe. Look at some real biking cities and you will see they made an effort to have bike trails removed from roads. The Green Bike lane on Broadway? Do people even use it? It takes up a lot of space on the road and I have never ever seen a bike on it. I've seen bikes on broadway but they aren't using the designated green path. The effectiveness of dollars spent on a road should be the cost in time to go from a starting door to a destination door. All this work on Broadway looks a lot to me like a lot of $$$ being spent to increase my door-2-door trips times. More waiting. Hidden costs passed on to consumers.

Buses with bike racks were fine.

pdx

Posted Wed, Jul 30, 12:13 a.m. Inappropriate

Bike lanes have nothing to do with bikes. They are entirely about the Seattle "progressive" war on cars.

NotFan

Posted Wed, Jul 30, 8:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Buses with bike racks... is "riding the bus" not bicycling.

Seperated bike lanes have their own safety issues as well. Here's hoping SDOT pays attention to the lessons learned in other cities where they have built them.

GaryP

Posted Mon, Jul 28, 11:40 a.m. Inappropriate

The obvious bike path through the downtown is along the waterfront. We are rebuilding it right? That takes care of north to south. one would want a bike lane up the hill along denny, by the market, and by yesler. Preferably to meet up with a bike trail that wrapped around Lake Washington. I just wish we had transportation planners and budgets that understood lifestyles that are not wrapped around cars.

pdx

Posted Wed, Jul 30, 8:44 a.m. Inappropriate

That's not the way to go if you wanted to say "work at any of the office towers downtown." Riding the waterfront is fine for comimg in from Ballard, but once you hit the core of the city, you need to traverse it on one of the major streets.

Currently 4th is the best for going North and a mix of 1st and 3rd and 5th for going South. But they all suck in some way. 1st has too much traffic and no room to ride between the stopped traffic and the parked cars. 3rd has the bus dodge as they pull out and stop every other block. 5th is fine until you reach Pike then the crowd of cars, the no shoulder until you reach the library make it pretty dicy for about 4 blocks.

GaryP

Login or register to add your voice to the conversation.

Join Crosscut now!
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow Us »