This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
It has been around 14 months since the city adopted the bicycle master plan and SDOT has made great strides. Over the summer it seamed like every time I rode somewhere there were new bike lanes or sharrows popping up. There were some snafus and I think the city still doesn’t fully understand how to design bicycle facilities but they are working it out (although slower than I would like).
Bike lanes are great but SDOT shouldn’t stop there. We only need to look to Portland or Boulder to see all of the amazing bicycle facilities that can be built when you really want to. So far the city has done a lot of the low hanging project that are just obvious but soon the city needs to show how serious it is about bicycle facilities and start taking out parking and vehicle lanes. We all know what happened to Stone Way. I think that was a very important lesson for the city.
One corridor that I think these more advanced types of bicycle facilities are especially warranted are along Eastlake Ave. It connects Seattle’s largest urban villages, has a lot of bicycle traffic and it should be designed accordingly.
The most important thing Eastlake Ave needs are cycle tracks (not bike lanes) from Fairview to the Harvard. Actually the cycle tracks could even go all the way up to Ravenna or even Lake City Way but again I won’t touch on that.
Eastlake is uniquely suited to have cycle tracks. The blocks are very long in the N/S direction which reduces the number point in which the bicyclist have to interact with vehicles. Additionally there are a only a few driveways that connect to Eastlake Ave. Again this reduces the number of times that bicyclist interact with vehicles. Eastlake would become the defecto N/S spine of the bicycle network connecting to the Burke and Ravenna.
Cycle tracks are very common in Scandinavian cities and provide the most attractive bicycle facility possible in urban environments. Instead of wedging bicyclist between parked and traveling cars cycle tracks move the bicyclist to the very edge of the road, next to the sidewalk. Bicyclist are protected from moving cars by a 2-3 foot median and when possible parked cars. The most important aspect of cycle tracks are that even an average person who wouldn’t normal ride in the road will use them. If you want to learn more about cycle tracks watch this presentation or flip through the power point.
This is a quick sketch I made to see how cycle tracks might be fit into the ROW. Eastlake is around 55 feet wide. I also think that the intersection with Harvard and Fairview should be looked at because they are major points where bicyclist branch off. Harvard is a perfect location to install a bicycle signal with a protected left turn phase. My only serious accident was at this intersection and it wouldn’t have been serious if there was a protected left turn.
This cycle track in Melbourne is what cycle tracks in the Seattle might look like.
At the end of the day bicycling has to become safer and more attractive if it is to become accepted as an integral part of our transportation system. Bike lanes are a awesome but cycle tracks are the type of segregated bicycle facilities that really start to bring around the necessary paradigm shift.