Lost in the general transit-palooza of the viaduct options is this little paragraph under surface/transit:

Examples of other surface street changes include new transit lanes on Madison, Stewart, Olive and Howell streets, among others, and converting Third Avenue to transit-only all day in downtown.

This is a big, big deal.  As the endless streetcar comment threads attest, transit in its own right-of-way is the difference between a miserable trip and one that beats driving.

In the longer run, this’ll make it a lot easier for people to take transit to the Capitol Hill light rail station, too.

If Third Avenue is to become a transit mall, surely there isn’t a need for four lanes.  Two in each direction and a center lane for passing should be adequate.  I’ll leave it to the urban design folks to dream up things to do with that space, though I imagine a separated bike lane is pretty high up on the list.

Assuming the Governor picks this option…

10 Replies to “More Transit Lanes”

  1. Martin,

    Stand on 3rd @ University then ask yourself that question again =)

    Yes, all 4 lanes are needed there – The last thing I want is to be on the bus when another bus pulls out and plows in front of our bus which just about happens anyways with the 4 lanes but killing off one lane for a center lane would be asking for multiple injury accidents, daily.

  2. Why would keeping 3rd avenue as all day transit make any sense. The volumes off-peak are negligible. Buses don’t have much problme getting through downtown off-peak, with the one exception of the pike-pine corridor on weekends.

    1. If transit/single auto flow is changed, esp. with a reduction in capacity/lanes on a viaduct which will no longer be in existence as it is currently, yes, a dedicated transit thoroughfare will be needed. Have you taken a bus on 3rd Ave lately? It’s jam-packed with buses during rush hour. Imagine that all day long. That’s what will happen. No, don’t take away a lane, keep it four. As a bicyclist, I also use 3rd occasionally and it’s much safer for me to use a center lane to avoid buses in the right lane as well.

  3. Well, even though most downtown and near-downtown residents aren’t interested in the “beats driving” aspect, speed when you can get it is good.

  4. I was gonna say it and then, luckily, re-read the post and you got it: bike lanes in the transit mall, please. Would somebody remind Mr. Vesley at the Seattle Times that cyclists have already been taxed for ST2 so there won’t be any need for a bike license ;-) to pay for them!


    1. there was one at Stewart i believe, but they turned the bottom floor of the garage into a sporting goods store and moved the entrances to other streets. did they know 3rd ave bus only was coming?

      1. There are also garage entrances North of Stewart, IIRC the plan calls for extending the bus-only zone to Virgina or Lenora. I believe the Post Office has a garage entrance on Third as well though I believe this is limited to official vehicles. I don’t think there are any other remaining garage entrances on Third, just loading docks.

  5. The only thing I would be worried about with this is possibly it becoming a little bit less safe, especially at times with few buses. I really wish they would put retail into some of those buildings along third with blank walls facing the streets.

  6. I’ve never been convinced that making third exclusively transit was the way to go. I’d much rather see first and third converted to one-ways (pair 1st with 2nd and 3rd with 4th). Then put a single dedicated transit only lane on EACH one of the four street, rather than 4 transit only lanes one street.

    The advantage is that it spreads the buses out so they don’t trip on each other, but it also spreads the people waiting for the bus out. It’s virtually impossible to walk down the sidewalk at rush hour on 3rd because everybody is standing there. That actually harms street-front businesses. Not only can’t people park on 3rd like they can on other streets (off peak), but people can’t even walk there.

    And then I hate to be the one to bring it up, but a sizable portion of transit riders are not the kind of people you want lingering in large groups outside your storefront.

    Haven’t we learned yet that single purpose streets don’t work? The best street, from an urban design perspective blends all the modes on a single street. Give each a separate ROW, but put them on the same street if you want good urban synergy.

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