Westlake Cycle Track Project Area
Westlake Cycle Track Project Area

Are you a bicyclist in Seattle who appreciates not being killed, or nearly killed, when you ride? I certainly am, and if you are too, you should turn up for the Westlake Cycletrack Open House, on Monday, from 5-7 PM, in the gym at B.F. Day elementary school. There will be a presentation at 5:30, followed by an open-house format for feedback. If you can’t attend the open house in person, you can email WCT@Seattle.gov instead.

Just as the principal way a useful transit network delivers mobility is by high-frequency, reliable, comprehensible service, a bike network needs to provide safety, comfort, and easy wayfinding if its appeal is to extend beyond dedicated, risk-tolerant bikers. Fully-separated cycletracks are how those features are provided on multi-lane arterials, and this cycletrack will be a big step towards making Seattle a city that is genuinely accessible to anyone on a bike. I can’t wait for it to open.

31 Replies to “Monday: Westlake Cycle Track Open House”

  1. Real cyclists ride directly into oncoming traffic while triple-wrapped in a Lycra blindfold, and never leave the house unless headed to the other side of a mountain range.

  2. Really? We need to two major bike investments in the same corridor (http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/dexter.htm)? I’m 100% supportive of bike infrastrcuture, but given scarcity of resources, I’d rather the city look at fixing some problems in other corridors, like the Ballard Bridge, Sodo, 2nd Ave, West Seattle, and other places that haven’t seen a recent upgrade. If you want to cycle between SLU and Fremont, there’s a perfectly good and safe route being installed between Mercer & Dexter.

    1. Speaking as a not-so-strong cyclist, I would have preferred they built the infrastructure on Westlake in the first place.

      1. When they put in that streetcar would have been best IMO… (we could have had bike lanes all the way to westlake center maybe?) but hindsight is 20/20.

        I don’t mind Dexter myself (but then I frequently take 10th up Capitol Hill). I would like some form of bike lanes or cycle track to go further into downtown though.

    2. I would trade this in a heartbeat for a good connection between Ballard and the Elliott Bay Trail, but you work with the projects you have. This is certainly far cheaper than anything that would really make life better for Ballard Bridge cyclists.

      1. An easier connection from the Burke Gilman the Fremont bridge might make this better. That seems like it should be doable at least… (of course then there is also the missing link problem in Ballard)

    3. I’d be tempted to agree that it’s duplicative, but I’m convinced it’d be the most heavily used bike route in the history of Seattle from the day it opened, and that makes it easier to swallow. Plus, the amount of new housing on Dexter makes those lanes worth it in their own right.

      1. “amount of new housing on Dexter makes those lanes worth it in their own right”

        Exactly, The Bike Master Plan uses Dexter as a local connector,with the main Freemont-Downtown connection on westlake. The Dexter lanes are not that separated anyway since you still have to deal with a ton of driveways and they are between the travel lanes and parked cars.

    4. “We need to two major bike investments in the same corridor?”

      There was never a “major investment” in bike improvements on Dexter. SDOT staff have told me that in the context of a total street rebuild and rechannelization, the bike lanes and bus islands were essentially free. Dexter was overdue for a repaving and needed rechannelizing for safety, quite independent of any need for bike infrastructure.

      1. Even better. We got a free, safe, dedicated bike right-of-way from Fremont/BG to SLU/downtown. It exists. It’s being heavily used. That’s a triumph of coordinated planning. Now spend the scarce bike dollars somewhere else, where such routes don’t yet exist, where more and different people can get access to similarly safe routes.

    5. Dexter was due for work already; its status as a major transit route but not a major highway made the bus bulbs an obvious choice, and the remaining work for bikes on Dexter was really cheap. It wasn’t a major bike investment.

      In general, I sort of wish the city would focus its attention on the greatest needs. I think those are downtown, the big railyard in the industrial district, and Eastlake. But I guess there’s room along Westlake…

    6. “Really? We need to two major bike investments in the same corridor?”

      I know, right? Same for cars. Like, why do we even pave every street? You only need one per neighborhood, the rest can be dirt roads.

    7. I was surprised that “this cycletrack” would be “a big step toward” making Seattle accessible on bike because Westlake was never on my top 5 list of ways to get around. Maybe if I’d spent most of my years in Ballard rather than the U-District I’d feel differently. It’s unfortunate that half of Westlake’s potential rideshed — Phinney Ridge, Greenwood, and Aurora — is up significant hills from the Ship Canal.

      But if this is just the first of a series of cycletracks to eventually cross the city, then I agree that the whole series of cycletracks will be an immense benefit to the city. Although I guess this is the second cycletrack, because isn’t the thing on Broadway one too?

      1. Fourth I think. There is also Linden Ave cycle track that linked the Seattle Interurban trail to Shoreline and the spur off of Burke Gilman out to Magnuson Park.

  3. Give the absurd amount of roadway devoted to parking here (not just perpendicular parking, but also a bi-directional lane in between) it seems like it would be a good idea to talk about not just a bike lane, but also some devoted transit lanes in the same study. You could cut the parking in half, still have a solid amount of parking for the area and dramatically increase mobility through this part of town.

    Even if they don’t put rail up Westlake, imagine how much faster something like the 40 could run with devoted lanes through this section.

    I would greatly appreciate the cycle track too, but I am not clear on what it would connect to… and I would like to see that clarified. It would be great to have a solid cycle track through downtown through to at least Jackson… Imagine how many people would be taking their bicycles downtown if that existed.

    1. “[I]magine how much faster something like the 40 could run with devoted lanes through this section.”

      On average, it would be a negligible speedup. The relevant section of Westlake is fast and uncongested. It would improve reliability slightly, by making the bus faster on the very rare days that a serious backup happens here.

      There is a major chokepoint at the Fremont Bridge, which is why I suggested building a new road bridge and making the Fremont Bridge a transit-priority bridge. Is is a slow slog through the street grid south of Aloha. Transit lanes on this section of Westlake would do very little.

      1. Bingo.

        Which is why the “Rapid Streetcar” along Westlake a waste of capital, both political and monetary. It will still trudge through South Lake Union.

      2. Well I can see your point.. I guess just seeing the extra space here makes me want to ponder transit only lanes (like we should probably have more of Aurora), but I don’t really have any figures to back that up. Its entirely possible that there could be a really nasty bottle neck at either end of this as well, which is why we probably need a more comprehensive study of flow of both bicycles and transit through the corridor. (Solid, connected transit corridors would make a big difference, but that will be harder to get done, unfortunately).

        I do agree that having a new bridge would be a good idea.

      3. I agree the extra real estate does look very tempting.

        One of the cruel ironies of such “low-hanging” right-of-way is that it’s almost never available where it’s really needed, because if a given area had been suffering chronic car congestion, the “easy” ROW would long ago have been taken for GP travel lanes.

    2. “I would greatly appreciate the cycle track too, but I am not clear on what it would connect to… and I would like to see that clarified. It would be great to have a solid cycle track through downtown through to at least Jackson… Imagine how many people would be taking their bicycles downtown if that existed.”

      Perhaps it could connect to the existing bike lanes on 9th and the Fremont Bridge.

      1. I agree that the north end is not mysterious (that is not what I was referring to actually, I do ride through the north part of that route quite a lot), I was wondering about the south end.

        Connecting to 9th wouldn’t be terrible, but you would still have to solve the streetcar problem. Unfortunately 9th does cut off when it hits the freeway, so I think we need better lanes closer into downtown. If I recall correctly, there were some other lanes mentioned in the bicycle master plan, but we still need to actually connect to them first.

        To do that there needs to either be a good detour around the SLU car or a bicycle track along the same route.

      2. @Bellinghammer

        The route on 7th also has a big problem in that its incomplete, and stops well before reaching the downtown core. As far as I know there is no complete bicycle route across downtown (except maybe out on the waterfront?).

        If other more experienced bicyclists know of better routes though I am fully willing to be educated on the subject.

      3. I usually use Dexter-Bell-2nd/4th, but Bell is currently under construction. Sharrows aren’t perfect, but the streets are known to be used by cyclists.

      4. @47hasbegun

        I will probably give those a try myself, but getting anyone who isn’t an avid cyclist to use those sharrows will be all but impossible I fear. That is what the cycle tracks are really for, to increase bicycle usage and make it safer in general. Sharrows on a busy street will not accomplish that.

    1. Actually that was not specifically interurban ROW. When the interurban got past 85th it switched to existing city trolley rail lines (which means that any street car rails along westlake would have been for the city street cars and not for the interurban).

      It is interesting to note that a lot of the parking we have around town exists because there used to be rail lines on those wide streets parking now exists on though.

      I find it interesting that the Westlake corridor is actually exceptionally wide for rail streets. Most former streetcar streets are only 6 lanes wide at the widest, while Westlake looks roughly double that in the section we are looking at. I wonder if there was also some industrial rail running on the west end of that lake in the past (along with the street cars of course).

      1. Regardless, the Interurban ran there, and I’ve heard this piece of dirt referred to by many people as “the old Interurban right of way”.

        I believe an old freight track ran there, in addition to streetcar rails. Between the north end of the parking lot and the Fremont bridge, there’s a derelict bit of rail line down the bank from the footpath as the road rises to meet the bridge. I think it connected to the old bits of rail that used to stick up treacherously from the road at the intersection of Valley and Fairview, until recently when that intersection was rebuilt. Now, the only remaining stretch of abandoned freight rail left in SLU is down on Terry, just north of Denny.

Comments are closed.