Westlake Concept B
Westlake Concept B. Image Seattle Bike Blog.

Tomorrow, 5:30 to 8:00 PM at Fremont Studios, the city will be holding an open house for the single most important bike project currently underway in Seattle, the Westlake Cycletrack. If you care about safe, flat, stress-free bike connectivity between Ballard, Fremont, Greenwood, Wallingford and South Lake Union, you need to be there to make your views known. Seattle Bike Blog explains the options the city is considering, which have been whittled to two protected bike lane options on either side of the Westlake parking lot. Construction for this long-overdue project has been funded by PSRC, so if you’re tired of looking at maps of ambitious but unfunded plans, this is your chance to show up and support something that you’ll be able to ride by Spring 2016.

22 Replies to “Tomorrow: Westlake Bikeway Open House”

  1. Will this leave room for a streetcar if the Ballard streetcar project goes through and wants to run on Westlake?

    1. If the streetcar is going to happen, it would be using existing lanes, not the parking lot.

    2. From what I understand, yes. The streetcar, if it were to happen, would probably be built in the roadway, not the parking area. So this would not impact that concept (well, other than provide better bike access to it!)

  2. Concept B is the “duh” of the century. Almost as much parking and add a protected bike lane? Win/win. This should be fast tracked.

    1. I agree and said as much on the Bike Blog. Really obvious. At worst you get more pedestrian/bike conflicts, but those are rarely serious, let alone fatal. Put a bike lane next to cars turning from Westlake and you are just asking for a lot of seriously injured bikers.

      1. There are already lots of pedestrian-bike conflicts, and I think Concept B would help make correct behavior clear. The problems with left-turn conflicts in Concept A are probably intractable given SDOT’s apparent contractual constraint to keep 4 general-purpose lanes on Westlake, which leaves no room for turn lanes (these would be required to eliminate uncontrolled left turns without a serious reduction in road capacity).

        What worries me about Concept B is the proposed “10 MPH design speed”. Design speed determines allowed sharpness of curves and what sort of sight lines are required where the bike path crosses both pedestrian and vehicle routes. Underdesigning these elements will result in a path that’s little safer than today’s. That’s what I’m going to comment on.

      2. @Al Even per AASHTO’s bicycle facilities guide, the minimum speed is 20 MPH for share use trails. Given my daily experience with this route, virtually no cyclists on this route are going 10 MPH, either road, lot or sidewalk.

        It would be much more worth it to give up additional parking to make the curves conducive to the 20 MPH speed, otherwise, the only people that will use the new path are people that were using the sidewalk. Road and lot bikers will maintain the status quo and really, nobody wins. They may as well just widen the existing sidewalk a few feet, get rid of the pointless swerve near the north end of the sidewalk, and that would be a 10 MPH “shared use trail”.

      3. Al – “Underdesigning these elements will result in a path that’s little safer than today’s.”

        Unlikely. Bike on pedestrian incidents, while some can be pretty bad, are nothing compared to bike on car incidents. I agree that this should be designed up to faster than 10 MPH though. Anything that helps 1. Pedestrians realize there is a bike lane when crossing and 2. Gets bikes away from cars completely — is a huge improvement.

      4. Ped/bike conflicts are rarely *fatal*, but often serious.

        Broken hips and head injuries are both potentially life-altering, and are common outcomes of being knocked down by a bicycle. They should not be taken lightly when facility design can have a huge impact on injury rates. (For example, in Copenhagen, routing cycletracks next to transit stops produced a more than 1,750% increase in injury accidents between transit passengers and people on bikes. With Copenhagen’s mode shares, those are actually significant numbers.)

      5. @Bruce The funny thing is that there is so much “free, unlimited” parking that is taken up by cars that don’t move for weeks, people that work across Westlake or people that park and bike/bus downtown.

        If they extended the current RPZ 25 to the whole lot (or metering for those without a pass), they would find that there’s actually plenty of parking for both businesses, patrons and residents, even after they build the trail. And if businesses are concerned, throw a few 2 hour only, unmetered spots their way.

      6. Also worth remembering, “pedestrians” includes people who are blind, and people in wheelchairs. Whatever the final design is, it needs to provide sufficient guidance and operating space for these pedestrians when crossing paths with human-powered vehicles on the sidepath.

        Consider the sidepath on Broadway as an example — its design speed is fairly low, it’s not suitable for fast bicycles to begin with, yet it requires transit platforms with barriers to channelize pedestrian crossings of the path. Even there, SDOT failed to provide adequate tactile pavement warnings for visually-impaired transit users crossing the bike path at transit stops.

        Westlake is apparently proposed to have an even lower design speed for bicycles, leaving even shorter sight and stopping distances when people on bikes encounter pedestrians crossing the path. It’s a recipe for accidents.

      7. With regards to the speed limit, there is a discussion of that on the Bike Blog. Long and short, I’m not worried about it.

  3. Paid on-street parking and protected bikeways, cycle tracks, are problematic. I parked on Broadway a while ago. Crossed the bikeway once to get to the parking permit machine, again to install the sticker on the car door, and a third time to get to my destination.

    No bikes were there at the time, but it did make me wonder — who has the right of way along the cycle track? Pedestrians who must necessarily cross mid-block, or the bicycles?

  4. Sounds like this meeting went terribly. Packed by the “save westlake” crowd.

    Rumor is both plans A and B are toast.

Comments are closed.