New Broad St Configuration
New Broad St Configuration. (Per SDOT, the “Bus Only” between Denny and 3rd is erroneous; it should read “Bus Only Ahead”).

The Seattle Department of Transportation is moving forward with the previously-mentioned rechannelization of two blocks of Broad Street in Belltown, between 1st and 3rd Avenues. The result of this restriping will be to take away one general travel lane in each direction, along with 24 parking spaces, and create a westbound 24/7 BAT/bike lane, an eastbound bike lane, and a left-turn pocket for westbound cars turning onto 2nd Ave. Since the September restructure, every bus which goes to or through Queen Anne or Interbay has used this two-block stretch of Broad, adding up to 8,000 riders per day, according to this pamphlet from SDOT.

I’ve written previously (here, and here) about the larger Uptown-Belltown Transit Improvement Project, of which this restriping is a part, and in spite of months of nagging from me, SDOT still hasn’t updated their website to discuss it, so you’ll have to refer back to those posts for more of the history. Otherwise, I have nothing but good things to say about this and the other low-cost transit speed and reliability projects SDOT is doing around the city (e.g. Ballard, Delridge, 3rd Ave). SDOT tells me that the Denny trolleybus wire project discussed in previous posts is proceeding well; and, in addition, another new RapidRide improvement is in the works for Uptown: an inbound queue jump at 3rd Ave W & Mercer, which is currently in design, with expected operation in spring.

OBA Excerpt Broad St
Local stops near Broad Street. RapidRide makes no stops between Denny and Cedar.

There is one thing which Metro could do to make this SDOT project better: the westbound bus stop at Broad Street & 2nd could, concurrently, be removed. As can be seen from the OneBusAway map excerpt to the right, the westbound stop at Broad & 2nd is far too close to the stop on 1st just north of Broad. Overly-close stops are bad in their own right (and against Metro’s service guidelines), but to me, it seems even worse when they are placed in a bus lane that is shared by buses (RapidRide and expresses) which don’t serve the stop and other local services which do.

I ran this idea of closing the two stops at Broad & 2nd past Metro staff, who responded in part: “There are no current plans to close either stop. However, the outbound stop appears to be a stop that could be closed while still providing for four-block spacing. […] Your request to consolidate bus stops in this area is reasonable and currently under review.” (Here’s the full Metro response). So, fingers crossed, that stop may go away; thanks to Metro staff for looking into this.

You can submit comments about this project to Jonathon Dong at SDOT; the project should be complete by March.

NOTE: Except for the new queue jump facility mentioned in the post, the D Line Uptown Deviation is off-topic for this discussion.

50 Replies to “Full-time Broad St BAT Lane In The Works”

    1. There isn’t one yet, but once Metro starts the public outreach, I’ll post about it.

  1. Forgive my question if this is mentioned somewhere in the links, but will the NE-bound buffered bike lane shown in the sketch have a physical buffer, or simply paint?

    1. I’m sure it’s just paint. Until the eastbound stop is relocated to Denny, buses will have to cross into the bike lane anyway, to serve the stop.

      1. It looks like the buffered bike lane goes further beyond the limits of this project. Does anyone know where the lane begins and ends? I looked on SDOT’s site and I couldn’t see any information on it.

      2. Agreed, it does look that way. There’s currently only sharrows on Broad St; it would be nice if there were a buffered lane. Then again, there are some inaccuracies on that map, like the “Bus only”/”Bus only ahead” thing noted above, so it’s totally possible that detail is wrong. I’ll ask.

      3. IIRC down to the RR crossing. They’re pretty silly, nobody would ride a bike there if they could avoid it.

      4. But, but, Lake-to-Bay Loop!

        I’ve tried biking up that hill, and it was way too steep for me. Bike lane or no bike lane, I’ll be walking my bike up to 1st.

  2. It’s great having SDOT be supportive of modifying street design for the use of thousands of people over the use of parked cars that can be counted on one or two hands. We may not be so lucky with the next administration. Mayor McGinn has made it official that he is running for re-election. Given the field that is out there, and the likelihood that they will try to distance themselves from the incumbent mayor by criticizing his willingness to support non-SOV infrastructure so readily, an early endorsement of the mayor may be the key to the future of better transit in Seattle.

    1. Agreed.

      I’m sure early money would also be appreciated. We should organize a Transit Moneybomb, turning a bunch of checks in all at once so he’ll know it is due to his work improving transit and mobility in this city.

      1. Thinking on it, if enough people were willing I could get on this. Get some remit envelopes, send them out to you guys and then collect them and turn them in all in personally, making sure it is known they are from transit supporters.

        Would enough people be willing to make it worthwhile?

      2. Hmmm. Apparently there could be legal prohibitions. I’ll look into it and see what is possible for transit supporters to donate and making sure it is known it is for his transit work.

  3. The EB queue jump at 3rd/Mercer is very good news. I’d been hoping for parking removal along the south side of Mercer between 3rd and 2nd, but I’ll take a queue jump.

  4. Out of curiosity, where do C/D riders see the biggest remaining bottlenecks on the route? (I’m not talking about routing or where there are too many stops, just where a single legally-parked car messes up traffic, or something similar SDOT could put on the honey-do list.)

    1. I catch the RR D at 60th, so I can’t speak about much north of there, but: the Leary Way light, the 15th left turn onto Mercer and pretty much the whole route along Mercer (this may be moot with the queue jump and alleged TSP).

      A flyover from 15th to Mercer would be a big help to buses and traffic in general, especially when the viaduct goes away and the tunnel goes online. Expensive, but a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the tunnel.

      The Leary Way light is a boondoggle. Other than speeding up the cycle, I don’t see anyway of fixing it without adding an elevated flyover stop over 15th, also expensive, but would help with post raised bridge timing.

      1. an elevated flyover over 15th at Leary would be murder for transfers. (then again it’s already an awkward place to transfer, might as well make it prohibitive.)

      2. Yes, 15th and Leary is a pretty bad place to transfer. I make the transfer from the southbound D line to the 40 pretty often to get to Fremont. The light is timed so that a person who obeys the pedestrian signals either has to run across 15th or wait two light cycles (crossing halfway on the first and halfway on the second).

        But with the amount of traffic converging from different directions to get over one of the very few ship canal crossings we have, I’m sure it’s quite difficult to time that light to please everyone.

      3. The pedestrian signal at that intersection is broken. There’s at least one phase in each direction where pedestrians should be given the signal to cross halfway the street but are not.

      4. The east-west pedestrian issues have been there for at least the last couple years. It’s about time I submit a comment to the SDOT Traffic Signal Maintenance form, and see what I hear back.

      5. The standard traffic control software says the walk sign is only allowed to go on for one signal phase, even if there are multiple signal phases in which it’s safe to cross.

        The theory here is that there’s not enough pedestrians out there to make it worth the company’s bother to update the software and that the few pedestrians that are out there will have the common sense to jaywalk during the signals phases in which the light guarantees it to be safe.

      6. I’m also not clear exactly what transfers one would expect to make at 15th and Leary to begin with that the proposed flyover would have any more difficult.

        The only bus you can really transfer to is the 40, and if you’re going to transfer D->40, you may as well just take the 40 all the way from downtown. Lower Queen Anne to Fremont has direct service on the 32, so no transfer necessary either. Which leaves only oddball trips left, such as Lower Queen Anne to 24th Ave. NE, which are probably best dealt with by simply taking the D as close as you can get, then get out and walk. Again, I don’t see any compelling reason why the transfer at 15th and Leary is something to worry about.

      1. Yes, you’re right, my bad. It just doesn’t feel like a TSP-equipped intersection because the cycle has so many movements and the weak form of TSP we saddle buses with won’t interrupt the cycle.

      2. Why isn’t Dravus more aggressive? I can understand Leary because of the higher volumes but Dravus from my experience isn’t a particularly heavily trafficked street and all approaches have two lanes.

      3. Dravus was the PERFECT spot for a flyunder stop. There’s already a third lane, which the BAT lanes could be extended to. There’s plenty of space under the bridge for a stop. You could put a staircase direct up, and an accessible ramp that follows the road. There’s no transfers you’d be messing with up top. Seems like a cheapish solution to just miss that whole intersection.

      4. I can only speculate as to why it’s not stronger. It could be for a variety of technical reasons, or it could be because SDOT in all its “vehicle throughput” glory just doesn’t think RapidRide warrants any disruption to car traffic making other movements. Aggressive TSP can be a bit disruptive to other users at heavy-traffic locations, as anyone who regularly crosses the intersections of MLK/Othello or MLK/Alaska can confirm.

        A flyunder stop would be possible at Dravus, but with one possibly crippling issue: ADA compliance. It would be very difficult to build a safe path to a Dravus flyunder for users in wheelchairs or who couldn’t climb stairs. You don’t want people crossing at the highway end of on- or offramps if you can possibly help it.

      5. David, I think there is plenty of room to build a ramp. It turns out (by looking at Google Maps) that the “pedestrian” section underneath there is really wide. It isn’t actually used by pedestrians right now, but is simply concrete with trees. The surface street will take more work, because there is no sidewalk on that side. However, it looks like you could move the guardrail over a bit and carve out a section. Worse comes to worse, you might have to build a ramp into the side of the hill, but even that wouldn’t be too hard. I think this is a great idea and wouldn’t cost that much.

      6. I can’t think of a single destination close enough to 15th and Dravus for a disabled person to walk to, and transfers aren’t possible at that stop either. Really – at that stop, you may as well not even bother worrying about accessibility because it doesn’t matter.

    2. Is the Leary intersection bad both ways? I recall it being worse SB back when I lived in Ballard.

      1. Definitely a mess both ways. Volumes are quite heavy, the light cycle is long, and the nearside stop NB really doesn’t help.

  5. Despite multiple warnings that passengers were on a 2 Express, I had a 50% chance of getting stuck at the light at 2nd & Broad with a passenger who expected that stop. The 29 probably doesn’t have the same issue since it doesn’t share the same route number as the local. Either way, that stop needs to go.

      1. Can’t speak for VeloBusDriver, but I used to be a Metro driver, and I usually wouldn’t let them off. I might if the bus happened to be stopped right in the zone and I wasn’t moving. But I wasn’t going to slow down service or stop outside of a zone to let someone off who ignored the loud, conspicuous annoucement I would always make before closing the doors at the last stop before I went express.

  6. Hopefully this is just a nice short term solution, with the long term solution being a transit-only signal for left turns at Denny and 3rd. With accompanying trolley bus wire.

    A BAT lane is good, but the real delaying factor is the two turns, mostly from Broad onto 1st. Bus drivers like to play chicken with pedestrians in this crosswalk to speed things up, which drives me crazy. Too many close calls.

    1. If you moved the Third Avenue to First Avenue moves to Denny (that seems to be the point of your first paragraph), the northbound right turn across pedestrians would be moved to Denny and First North. It would be much worse because of the high pedestrian volumes going to and from the Science Center.

      Yes, such a re-route would remove one 90 degree turn and replace it with an oblique one, and it’s shorter by a block or so. But is it worth getting in the Denny mess?

      1. The Denny mess is not that messy down there. Westbound, cars pile up at the lights between 5th and Broad, and the congestion at 1st is no worse than any typical city intersection. Eastbound, the worst part is the left turn from Queen Anne onto Denny, which has to happen no matter what you do when you’re on Denny.

        Broad is a lot messier than Denny in that area.

      2. “Eastbound, the worst part is the left turn from Queen Anne onto Denny, which has to happen no matter what you do when you’re on Denny.”

        I meant also to mention in the post that SDOT engineers are looking at ways to make that turn suck less for transit. No specific ideas at this point, though.

  7. Bruce, thanks for the update.

    Would it be too much to ask for BAT lanes along the entire “Rapid Ride” route even if the street is one way (Ahem: 1st & QA Ave.’s), AND on Elliot/Western/Denny to First/Third Ave? Who can I contact about that? I assume Jonathon Dong is a good guy, but not the guy making those decisions.

    Disclaimer: I’m not a car commuter, and would not care one-half of one-nano-iota about their problems or gripes. If it’s SUCH a problem, there are these really nice, new, shiny red buses that they can ride on now.

  8. I’d also add that SDOT needs to time the lights to allow the westbound GP, and Left turn lanes on Broad to clear between 3rd and 2nd. If cars back up there and start blocking the box, we may not be able to make that left turn safely. A similar example occurs in Bellevue turning Left from 108th to NE 8th. The 3rd lane where the 271 has a stop around the corner is almost always open but cars heading to Kemperland frequently back up during peaks and block the left turn for buses.

  9. If that diagram is to scale, I don’t see there’s room for “bus only ahead”. Since the lane leading up to it is right-turn only onto Denny, might as well extend the bus-only designation that partial block, though I don’t know if any buses actually use that stretch. Otherwise, just hash it blank except maybe for a short bike lane.

  10. This is a horrible adjustment. The backups on Broad are due to the detour that is in place for the Mercer work. This does not address the overall traffic levels of Broad, only a band-aid for transit.

  11. Umm… nobody really thinks that ‘BAT/bike’ lane is an oximoron? i never knew that in order to speed up a crowded bus it must share a lane with creeping bicyclist. thanks for opening my eyes geniuses.

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