HCT Corridor Overview
Fairview/Eastlake/Roosevelt HCT corridor. From SDOT’s open house materials.

Zach informed us all last Thursday that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) plans to make only minimal transit improvements in its proposed Fairview-Eastlake-Roosevelt “high-capacity transit” (HCT) corridor.  SDOT’s proposed improvements would be limited to a few blocks of BAT lanes near downtown, queue jumps at just a few congested intersections, off-board payment, some signal priority, and electrification north of Campus Parkway.  Nearly all of the route would remain in mixed car/bus traffic.  There are no improvements to two intersections that cause major transit delays along the corridor today: Fairview/Mercer (in the northbound direction) and Eastlake/Lynn.  In short, the project would amount to a through-route and electrification of today’s Metro routes 70 and 67, with only a few functional changes.

SDOT, this is not good enough, and it’s not HCT.  Residents and workers in our burgeoning city deserve far better.  You promised to make it better before last fall’s Move Seattle vote, and you know how to make it better.

This corridor has been on the City of Seattle’s radar since the original 2011 Transit Master Plan.  Serving approximately 10,000 daily riders on today’s bus routes, the combined corridor would be one of the city’s highest-volume bus corridors, even before any growth.  Ridership on its south half has been growing fast with increasing employment in South Lake Union.  As Zach recounted, it has been proposed for streetcar service, BRT with end-to-end dedicated lanes, RapidRide, and then “RapidRide+” — all within the last five years.  In the Move Seattle levy measure, approved by city voters last November, the corridor was to be one of seven new “RapidRide+” corridors. It has been a core project in every iteration of the city’s Transit Master Plan, and there has never been any real disagreement that most of it is worthy of substantial transit investment.

So why did SDOT devise such a limited concept plan?  The corridor has many competing uses, and it appears that transit drew the shortest straw of all of them.  Right-of-way is limited throughout the corridor, and SDOT had to balance transit with competing uses: general car traffic, street parking, and bicycle traffic. Different uses were prioritized in different sections of the project; bicycles took priority along Eastlake, while car parking and general traffic remained the highest priorities along Roosevelt.  But the end result is that along nearly all of the corridor — with the sole exception of the short stretch between Republican Street and Stewart Street — transit took a back seat.

That is a decision that makes no numerical sense today, and will make even less sense in the future.  Our resident and employee population are growing fast, while available right-of-way stays the same.  Today, transit serves a large minority of trips in the corridor.  Very close to 10,000 daily riders used routes 66, 67, and 70 combined before the March restructure of bus service in conjunction with U-Link.  Preliminary indications are that ridership has risen after the restructure (as usual with restructures).  Meanwhile, SDOT traffic flow data indicates that most portions of the corridor carry 13,000 to 20,000 daily car trips.  This comparison is imperfect; not all car trips cover the entire corridor, and many duplicate other bus routes such as the 45 or 49.  But it is more than enough to establish transit’s importance.  And transit, as always in city centers with no room for more right of way, is the way to grow capacity.  There is no way to stuff more general-purpose traffic into Roosevelt or Eastlake.  The city’s ability to grow population and jobs relies in a very concrete way on transit being able to grow ridership.  Transit should have taken first priority, not last.

What would that mean?  Ideally, dedicated bus lanes throughout the corridor.  But SDOT signaled early on that dedicated bus lanes throughout were not a financially realistic option.  And much less expensive improvements could make a huge difference.  Address all of the bottlenecks, not just a few.  This means the following:

  1. A real bus priority solution, whether through dedicated lanes or extremely aggressive signal priority and queue jumps, at Mercer Street northbound.  This is the worst bottleneck along the entire route, and an SDOT staffer’s statement at last week’s open house that “there is too much traffic” for transit priority northbound at Mercer deserves every bit of the criticism it has been getting.
  2. Queue jumps at all congested intersections along Eastlake.  Unfortunately, this would probably require planned protected bike lanes (PBLs) to be downgraded or eliminated.  It’s painful for me to call for that, as I’ll discuss further below.  But there is no realistic way to retain both PBLs and transit priority.  In my view, the numbers strongly support prioritizing transit over PBLs there.
  3. Queue jumps at all traffic signals along Roosevelt south of 75th, and further elimination of on-street parking wherever it could speed transit.
  4. More aggressive transit signal priority than SDOT and Metro have implemented to date.

Campaign materials implied that “RapidRide+” HCT would be at least equivalent to today’s RapidRide lines.  All three existing RapidRide lines in Seattle feature bus-only or BAT lanes for significant portions of their length, along with a steadily increasing number of queue jumps.  They have improved speed significantly over the local bus routes they replaced as a result, especially during peak hours.  Move Seattle’s HCT projects should get at least the same treatment.  The futhre mobility of Seattleites, outside of the few Link corridors, depends on it.

* * *

My call for prioritizing transit over protected bike lanes along Eastlake deserves special discussion.  I feel some of the same conflicted emotions as Zach on the issue.  I spent about a year commuting by bike along Eastlake, often during evening rush hour, and had my share of harrowing experiences.  This is a critical bike corridor for citywide mobility, and one with longstanding safety problems.  In any other context, I’d call wholeheartedly for PBLs along the entire corridor.  But in this particular instance I don’t believe that both PBLs and proper transit priority are possible throughout, and transit priority must come first.

Assuming that a bike-friendly Eastlake would generate similar bike traffic volumes to the Fremont/Dexter corridor, the corridor would serve an average of about 3,000 riders daily, with wide seasonal variations.  That’s a more than respectable number, but pales compared to today’s transit ridership — let alone potential ridership after major service improvements.  If this corridor were to experience similar increases in passenger volumes as other RapidRide corridors have compared to their predecessors, it could serve 15,000 or more passengers daily.

The good news is that non-protected bike lanes and some transit priority would be compatible along most parts of Eastlake, and would represent a major improvement over today’s Wild West situation for Eastlake riders, who must ride either in general traffic or sometimes in a dangerous “door lane.”  Curb to curb, 49 feet of right of way are available in SDOT’s “typical” cross-section, pictured below:

SDOT Eastlake Alignment
SDOT’s “typical” Eastlake cross section.  From SDOT’s open house materials.

In our offline discussions, other STBers have proposed a 2-way Protected Bike Lane, a pair of 10′ bus lanes, and a pair of 9′ auto lanes, and no turn lane. Such a channelization would be tight by any standard but also calm traffic considerably and incentivize fast through-traffic to use I-5, both of which complement the Vision Zero objective of protecting people on bikes while not slowing down transit.eastlake-2-way-cycle-track--bus-lanes

But I think the best tradeoff would involve narrowing traffic lanes to 10 feet and bike lanes to 5 feet (as SDOT does elsewhere along the corridor), narrowing the turn lane to 9 feet, and removing the buffers to allow an additional transit-only lane in one direction.  Even one additional lane could help significantly with bottlenecks, particularly approaching the chronically congested intersection of Eastlake and Lynn, and allow for queue jumps at signalized intersections.  As a bonus, narrow lanes famously slow down car traffic, and could improve pedestrian safety in the corridor.  Overall, I think this would be the best tradeoff between transit and bikes for Eastlake.eastlake-w-bike-lanes--one-bus-lane

90 Replies to “SDOT, We Need Real HCT”

  1. Did you forget to put sidewalks in your cross-section designs?

    Anyone who wants to mess with their own ideas can do so here:


    Anyway, I think it’s pretty laughable that this is their definition of RapidRide+. If this is any indication what 45th is going to be I think we should just pull the plug on the whole thing now.

  2. In the “Eastlake w/ Bike Lanes & One Bus Lane,” how would you envision the bus stops working with the bike lane? There’s not any room here to build out a floating bus island in the 49′. Perhaps a bus stop mid-block where there may not be a need for a turn lane?

    Could other safety improvements be made to the bike lane (paint?) to help improve bike safety w/o protected bike lanes?

  3. Sorry, but putting unprotected bicyclists in a skinny 5′ lane next to a 10′ lane solely dedicated to 8′-wide heavy vehicles is not the way to go and not in line with Vision Zero. You will not encourage people of all ages and abilities to bike along Eastlake this way, and this is a sad attempt to placate all parties. I would encourage STB and SDOT to look again at high signal priority, which would help buses quite a bit even without queue jumps.

    1. Signal priority accomplishes nothing when the bus it is supposed to serve is in a multiple-block line waiting for the signal. For signal priority to matter, you need a way for the bus to reach the signal as well.

  4. It’s interesting that this is no longer called a BRT corridor. At least that’s terminology progress!

    I’m still dubious of the HCT term though. What makes this more capacity than other routes in town?

    Let’s just give this an innocuous term like ‘Enhanced Bus’.

    1. @Al.S,

      concur. This isn’t true BRT nor is it true HCT, but then this corridor probably doesn’t rate full BRT. Just increase the frequency a bit, add some reliability improvements, and call it good.

      But call it “Enhanced Bus”, or something like that. At least that term is honest.

      1. RapidRide + makes sense (since RapidRide is not BRT). But then that implies (as David said) that this is actually better than RapidRide. It isn’t clear that it is.

  5. We desparately need a multi-agrncy transit project development office. Cities, Metro, ST and WSDOT all need to be an equal footing as project development oversight. Otherwise, transit will never be integrated as well as it should be.

    Most logically, that would be administratively nested under ST since its board is most represented. Still, the composition of a board to oversee this function needs a different voting mix.

    Sound Transit Regional Interagency Project Execution (STRIPE) office?

    1. Regional Intermodal Transit Agency (RITA).

      But unfortunately these efforts at combined governance, or governance reform in general, are usually efforts by the anti transit folks and R’s in Oly to guy transit funding in favor or roads. It is far from clear that governance reform would provide any benefits at all, and it comes with a lot of risk.

    2. or perhaps under the ‘Seattle Consortium of Rural, Enviro Wonkies Yearning for Our Untaxed$$’
      or SCREW YOU, for short.

      1. Actually we have one, all humor aside.
        It’s called the PSRC and they’ve just released their rankings of all transit spending of Federal funds for the next 3 years. Lots of buses being purchased regionwide.

      2. PSRC could work. The problem there is that we need an agency that can deliver projects. PSRC merely delivers reports and studies – and even then they are always late . Where is that updated travel model that they started in 2009? Delayed again?

  6. OK, I was about to write a very long comment about Fairview and Mercer, then it occurred to me. How many lanes will there be along Fairview? If is five lanes wide (and I assume will remain five lanes). For most of the way, there will be two bus lanes on each side. There is also a turn lane in the middle. For northbound traffic, this means that there is one general purpose lane most of the way, and then at Republican, you have three lanes (two heading off to the freeway and one heading straight or left). Is that the case? If so, this has a lot of positive ramifications. Before I comment further, I just want to make sure I have my facts straight.

  7. STB isn’t doing anyone any favors by pitting bikes vs transit. Remember that bikes enhance the range of transit immensely, and what we’re talking about here is basic bike safety. If a family of 4 wants to get to transit and they’re outside the walk shed, they’re only going to bike if there’s a safe option. A 5′ painted bike lane next to 2 lanes of moving traffic is not compatible with biking with your 8-year-old. That realistically looks like this: https://twitter.com/NEGreenways/status/725216489196810240 , and feels about 200x worse as a massive loud diesel-spewing thing roars by 6 inches away from you.

    1. I don’t know if anyone is “pitting” bikes vs. transit. There simply isn’t enough roadway to accomplish all of the desired street uses. Something has to give; removing sidewalks, smaller bike lanes, or no transit lanes.

      David made a point that from a utilitarian perspective the transit lane would serve more people. Other arguments can be made, of course.

      1. By proposing unsafe facilities in favor of moving more people, it is without question “pitting” the two modes. I understand that something has to give, but that something should never be safety; even in a utilitarian perspective. “Rapid” things don’t function well when they need to be closed on a regular basis due to collisions.

      2. Why do bikes have a right to a cycletrack on Eastlake? We need a high quality local transit network throughout the city because that’s what can serve the largest and widest cross-section of residents and visitors without them each being in a car. Bicycles are not an option for many people, they’re slow, Seattle has hills, and some people have to travel over a significant part of this 60×30 mile region. We can accommodate bike lanes where feasable but transit must be top priority and we must have a complete transit network.

      3. No. This is what the priority should be: http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/sebin/z/r/triangle.jpg

        It’s funny that you think bikes are slower than transit. I ride a bike because transit is so slow, with the exception being light rail. When I lived in Boston, I started riding a bike because the T (subway) was so slow.

        With bike share, bikes and transit aren’t even clearly defined any more.

        Bicycles aren’t an option for many people, but neither is transit. It’s silly to (once again, *sigh*) pit one mode against another based on what theoretically works for some people. For every example of someone needing transit because a bike doesn’t work for them, I’ll give you an example of someone needing a bike because transit doesn’t work for them. Here’s one: when my wife was pregnant, she rode a bike up until the day she gave birth. She was commuting to Bellevue, and couldn’t handle taking a bus because there were no bathroom breaks and she needed to pee every 20 minutes. Biking was fine because she could stop at rest stops along the way. Another example: when I hurt my back, it hurt to walk. I couldn’t walk 4 blocks to catch a bus. I could ride a bike, however. There are countless other examples, and I see plenty of people with disabilities riding trikes, recumbents, tandems, etc for both exercise and transportation.

        I completely agree that we NEED a fully functional, fully connected (and reliable!) transit network. We ALSO NEED a fully functional, fully connected (and safe!) bike network. They should not compete. If there’s not enough space on Eastlake for bikes + transit – kick off some SOVs. Make it one-way for cars. End of story. Considering removing safe bike facilities should be about as logical as removing safe walking facilities.

      4. Because the bicycle lobby in Seattle is strong, has a lot of connections “in the right spots” and is able to make good PR. Never mind the fact they are even worse than the highway lobby when it comes to multimodal planning and use. It’s amazing how anti transit both bus and rail these people really are in favor of riding their bikes everywhere and back. I won’t even mention the ones that can’t follow basic traffic rules.

    2. STB isn’t doing anyone any favors by pitting bikes vs transit.

      It’s the built infrastructure of Eastlake we’re inheriting that pits them against each other, unfortunately. Sometimes, unfortunately, there isn’t enough roadspace and/or anti-car political will to accommodate both in the way you’d like. Perhaps David and Zach are wrong in thinking this is one of those times, but the case seems pretty clear to me. (And your follow-up comment makes it seem as though you accept the basic terms–they are pitted against each other in this case–but uttering the word ‘safety’ is all it takes to make the case for bikes bikes over transit.)

      1. I don’t oppose the bike plans, as I hope my previous post made clear. My article focused on the bait-and-switch regarding the transit provisions promised in Move Seattle.

      2. No, ‘safety’ doesn’t. We need essential services, which means what in Europe would be considered the minimal level of transit. It would be nice if bicycles could be second after walking, but for a variety of reasons that’s not practical for the majority of the population. In the streetcar era they didn’t say, “You don’t need streetcars, get bicycles.” They saw the streetcars as the minimum level of mobility and gave them the right of way. If bicycles are allowed to slow down a bus in a major corridor like Roosevelt/Eastlake/Fairview, that’s only slightly better than SOVs slowing down the bus. We need a network of unencumbered bus corridors. If the Eastlake neighborhood does not have enough flat width for both transit lanes and a cycletrack, then the transit lanes should get priority,

        The 520 western approach will have a bike trail. Hopefully there will be a convenient path from the Montlake Bridge to Boyleston/Lakeview Blvd. That’s not on Eastlake or the same elevation, but maybe it will be a reasonable alternative for U-District – downtown trips.

    3. Full BRT didn’t happen because the cost was 3x the budget. Also consider that half the line isn’t even being built (North of 65 or even 45th) any time soon due to budget constraints. Would it make more sense to move the entire Madison budget over to Roosevelt and sacrifice that other line for a gold-plated Eastlake?

      I’ve personally been a proponent of this line precisely because it makes a lot of sense in the context of biking to and from it. BRT lines and stops are widely spaced and any speed advantage is sacrificed by the walk time to the stop unless you’re all-in on a transit-orient lifestyle. The 10-minute bike-shed for this route is huge (and it’s already in the Pronto zone). This is a mixed mode city. You’re not going to turn it into Manhattan and you’re not going to turn it into Copenhagen with any kind of plausible budget or time frame. I’ve found that I was able to give up my car for a bus commute given that biking gets me that last mile, lets me run errands and gives me an out when the bus doesn’t come. If I have to pick one and only one mode in Seattle, I’m car shopping again.

      If the bike network gets (or stays) chopped up in one section of the city and the bus network gets chopped up in another, you’ll soon end up with an exponentially less useful or resilient transportation system rather than taking advantage of positive network effects. The bike lanes shadow the RapidRide line, providing more granular coverage much as the RapidRide line shadows Link. It’s kind of a great feature of this route.

    4. If SDOT gives reliable proof that 45th will be substantially better with no watering down, then perhaps we could look the other way on Roosevelt. But it needs to be a more solid commitment than what they gave on Roosevelt.

  8. With regards to Mercer, one obvious source of space for a transit queue jump (in the northbound direction) would be 2nd right turn lane after Republican. You could recover the queuing space for cars trying to get onto I-5 by simply eliminating the parking in the blocks further south. Southbound, the signals at Mercer and Valley are synchronized, so the bottleneck is really the run-up to Valley, not Mercer. For that, the left and can simply become transit-only for the one block that the it contains the streetcar tracks.

    On Eastlake, however, I am going to argue against eliminating the protected bike lane in the name of a transit queue jump. The ratio of bike riders to transit riders is probably similar to the ratio of transit riders to car drivers, so strictly following your “existing numbers” argument would actually mean prioritizing not bicycles, nor transit, but SOV throughput. Bicycles take up a lot less road space than cars, and scale very well, and if we want the bicycle mode-share to grow, we need space that more people will feel comfortable riding in. Outside of rush hour, the backup at Lynn St. is not really an issue, and riders headed all the way from downtown to the U-district will already have Link as a bypass.

    1. This is a huge problem, IMO, and will give me pause before voting yes on any future measures. I was an enthusiastic supporter of Move Seattle but really don’t feel that we’re getting what we thought we were — and in some cases having transit moved to the back of the line. The reason for transit priority throughout the city should be clear: everyone regardless of age, income, or physical ability can use it. There is not a single other mode–even walking, which should also be prioritized–that can say that.

  9. You would get more sympathy for dedicated transit lanes if you at least mentioned that there is a subway all along this route that will take a large portion, probably a majority, when Roosevelt station opens, then justified basically recreating the same line on the surface.


    There is a ton of need for more transit in Seattle.

    There are many places that desperately need more, faster service that are not getting it.

    Why you are getting your panties in a bunch that this duplication service isn’t getting the gold plating, and at the same time saying that those on bikes should get injured and die due to that gold-plated redundant service, is just bizarro-world to me. 5-foot lanes without even any protection is far too dangerous for this stretch. I’ve been hit with right hooks on this stretch. I’ve had friends hospitalized with left hooks on this stretch. You are recommending more of the same, so that you can run a dedicated bus lane essentially over the top of a friggin’ subway.

    You appear to have lost all perspective.

      1. Finite money and finite road space means you can’t have everything you want.

        Sacrificing a vital safe bike route into the city so that someone travelling 10 blocks to the link station can do so in 4 minutes instead of 6, when crush-load buses are passing up people at stops in other parts of the city, is perhaps not the way to spend our finite money and space.

      2. Because it’s needed elsewhere doesn’t mean it isn’t needed here. And this is setting a really bad precedent for each RR+ line 60% of us voted for last year.

        There are plenty of places to speed this bus up without sacrificing PBLs, BTW.

      3. There’s a large steep hill between Eastlake, Fairview, and Link. It’s a completely different transit market. The route that shadows Link is the 49, and the 43 would have shadowed it better.

    1. Your right biliruben, everything north of the bridge is 6 blocks from a link station and everything south of the bridge and west of I-5 is not that dense, and the 70 serves it fine. There are much more congested and in desperate need of funds then the 70.

    2. I boggles the mind to think that someone would spend time writing a comment on a blog (with several paragraphs and perfectly good sentences) and not bother to consider a few trips. It really doesn’t take too much imagination to find very popular places that would be connected with this route, and not with Link. Many of these places are actually in the very regions that are served by Link. Downtown, U-District and Roosevelt neighborhoods. Really. Do I need to spell it out for you, or you do lack the imagination and wherewithal to read a map and do the calculations yourself? Maybe you can team up with Engineer, since that is what an engineer is supposed to do.

      Oh, and I think engineers are supposed to look at data, such as the popularity of bus routes. Consider the 7, which is the second most popular bus route, which edges out every RapidRide route but the ‘E’. Where does it go? Why it goes from Rainier Valley to downtown, which is precisely what Link does! Stupid, redundant 7, carrying over a third the riders of Link (until Link got expanded). They should have killed that thing a long time ago.

      1. And I’m not suggesting removing access to those places via transit. I’m only suggesting that perhaps dedicated lanes aren’t necessary for those short trips, given that if you are going any distance, link, which has dedicated ROW, is almost always less than a 10 minute bus-ride away.

        I have done more than look at a map. I have ridden buses and rode my bike all over these routes and destinations for the last 20 years.

        Given the trade-offs, mainly the absolute, desperate need for a safe way downtown from the U-district via bike, I just don’t see a transit dedicated ROW as a priority along this route, if dead and hospitalized folks on bike is the price we have to pay. That’s ignoring all the people who would love to ride the route, but are currently too scared to.

        I am an experienced urban rider, and I avoid it if I can possibly help it, often climbing over the top of capital hill as a safer alternative.

      2. The plan is for the 7 to become a RapidRide+ north of Mt Baker Station. South of Mt Baker will become an extension of RapidRide 48.

      3. The point of bringing up the 7 was to point that Link simply won’t work for every trip. The 7 carries plenty of riders. Some of those riders ride a long ways, some of them don’t. Seattle will make the 7 better because it (like the Roosevelt/Eastlake/South Lake Union corridor) is very important, and making that section faster is very cost effective. You put your money where it can do the most good, and this is where it can do the most good.

        Another example is the bus tunnel. Just for trips within downtown it has been a great accomplishment. A significant number of people ride the bus or Link within that area. Of course both do more, but ignoring the importance of little trips is to ignore what is key for most successful transit systems. There are plenty of really successful subways that have very slow travel times from a long distance (e. g. New York City). There are also systems that are a big failure, because they provide nothing more than long distance travel. If you have to pick one, pick the little trip to focus on, not the big one.

    3. The subway does not run along this route.

      I don’t understand why people think it’s OK for short trips to take long traffic delays. That is the sort of logic that gets you 10+-minute travel times to go ten blocks, and causes people to drive the entire trip rather than doubling the duration of their trip because the last mile on transit takes so much time. This route has major congestion and delay problems at Mercer, Lynn, and Harvard. If we want Eastlake and SLU to be transit-reachable destinations, they need solving.

      If you can present a credible case to me that slow transit + PBL will benefit more people than fast transit, I’m all ears. Right now I don’t see that as plausible given the respective volumes of users the two modes attract.

      1. Ask anyone who’s family member or friend who has been injured or killed along this stretch what the benefit of safe facilities is.

        To some extent, this is a question of “Why should we build a bridge there? Nobody ever crosses that river”. The only people currently biking this are fool-hearty hard-core cyclists. It would be an absolute revolutionary change to connect downtown to the U-district with a safe, reasonably flat route for bikes. It is by far the most obvious, healthy, fast and easy way to get back and forth. They ONLY barrier is threat of injury and death.

        I challenge you to show that the residual transit riders who would ride this route after northlink opens will be more than a paltry few local riders. I suggest they would be not nearly enough to justify the expense and the continued carnage on Eastlake.

        I cha

    4. There are two separate issues here. One is U-District – downtown trips. The other is destinations along Eastlake. Let’s start from the premise of how to build a good UW to downtown bike route rather than insisting on a cycletrack on Eastlake because it’s the shortest route now. The 520 bike trail may allow another route via the Montlake Bridge and Boylston/Lakeview Blvd/Melrose Ave. If there’s not a complete path or too much hill, maybe we can create some right of way like we’re doing with Link; e.g., a bike bridge for the gaps in the corridor.

      1. That may or may not be an answer. I think it’s more an answer of how to get to Capital Hill than to downtown, as the rise will bring you up close to the level of Roanoke. You can actually do that route now via Montlake playfield and Lynn/Delmar, but few do it because of the climb.

        I have given this route a lot of thought. What frustrates me is the most is that the city didn’t extract an easement from Harbor Cove when the permitted those condos and townhomes along the water. That would have been the ideal route. A little bridge, and we would have a safe, flat, scenic route from the u-bridge to SLU.

        Water under the bridge, so to speak. I doubt their is the political will to retroactively jam something through that very pricey development.

  10. Has anyone studied combining the following corridors into a bike boulevard to parallel Eastlake Ave E?
    – Fairview Avenue between the Ship Canal and E Hamlin St
    – Yale Terrace E between E Hamlin St and E Edgar St
    – Yale Ave E between E Edgar St and E Howe St

    I am in Bellingham right now, so I can’t offer any perspective into the feasibility of this option, but maybe some residents nearby could.

    Providing a great bike corridor on a street with less traffic, while providing uncompromised HCT infristructure on Eastlake, might be a decent compromise in this narrow corridor. You could make sidewalks larger too!

    1. Two problems: the Hamlin diversion is a *significant* grade. To the point where I, as a near-daily cyclist, choose to avoid it.

      Second, the route is separated by a block of very steep grade from all destinations on Eastlake. If you assume cyclists are trying to bypass the neighborhood, it may be a viable alternative. But as a route designed to serve the neighborhood and connect to destinations along the way, it utterly fails.

      1. In applying alternative routes, there should be one on either side of Eastlake. Franklin, which provides a straighter and hillier route, and along the lakeside. Routing choices are not so easy further south (following the I-5 right-of-way, ugh, or a cycling overpass of the Mercer ramps at Yale, slow route, too many busy cross-streets) although an acceptable solution may be possible.

      2. Right, I use that route sometimes, but the steepness and awkward turns around Yale/Roanoke work against it.

        Whether or not, as psf says below, the “yacht people would be fine” with Fairview being completed, they’d certainly have opinions about anything going through their little corner of the world, which they’d probably voice in the form of lawsuits. We know how that story goes: the Fairview route isn’t getting any better for decades, meaning there will be bikes up on Eastlake for decades no matter how the road is configured.

    2. Spend a little money to rebuild fairview between Hamlin and Roanoke.
      The yacht people would be fine. Alternative, put in a panel from old SR520 in front of the marina.

      Make Fairview one way from Galer to the ship canal and put in a two way cycle track.

      Then you have plenty of lane width to put in a bus lane both ways on Eastlake.

      1. Agreed. Why are we thinking so small? A through route for bikes on Fairview, either bridge/ pier in the right-of-way or public access boardwalk along the (currently private) shoreline between Roanoke and Hamlin is clearly the best option for bikes in this corridor. Combined with pavement work along the length of fairview and a bike ramp between fairview and eastlake under i5 and this corridor could be an amazing bike route AND not conflict with Eastlake bus lanes. 10 million to build this structure or gain the property rights for the bike missing link seems like a better investment than moving the streetcar tracks. The streetcar could end south of mercer for the time being. It should eventually be extended up Westlake to Fremont anyway.
        Maybe that ped bridge at south lake Union park with the settled abutment could be repurposed for the bike bridge.

    3. I take Minor every day, it saves me going up the hill on Eastlake and a ton of traffic lights. Would love if Fairview would go thru, currently I go up Edgar… Even if there would be a PBL, I wouldn’t use it unless I have to go to a place on Eastlake…

  11. I’m not a big PBL proponent but I think they make sense here and your suggestion is misguided.

    Completing this corridor will be revolutionary for cycling in Seattle. Along with the Westlake project we’ll finally have an all-ages, all-ability bike route around Lake Union in the heart of the city. I can picture a future where THE thing to do when tourists visit Seattle is to rent bikes and cycle around the lake. Taking in views of the downtown skyline, stopping for Fremont Brewing, picnicking in Gas Works or SLU, connecting to the locks or GG via the Burke.

    Speaking of, it connects to the Burke! I wonder how many people live in biking distance of the Burke that would consider commuting downtown via bike if there was a safe route to do so. I ride Eastlake now but know my Mom wouldn’t.

    This is an absolutely crucial corridor, without feasible alternatives, for completing a CONNECTED cycling network in Seattle.

    1. I just helped a big bike tourist group find their way to the Westlake trail for a loop around Lake Union this morning. Their route passes plenty of businesses in other areas (Fremont, North, SLU, Westlake even), but they’ll miss the Eastlake businesses almost entirely. I’m also shuddering at some of the difficulties they’ll have following the current route signs and dodgy connections; their map was only so-so. It’s really a great idea though. Looked like fun and it’s a manageable distance for casual riders who aren’t solely visiting for an epic bike tour.

  12. Not a big fan of 2-way center turn lanes. Drivers can still hit cyclists while turning left. Utilization is much worse than a general purpose lane since few cars are using it. Delivery trucks sometimes park there.

    Banning left turns and forcing drivers to make 3 rights instead would not only stop dangerous left turns, but also obviate the need for a center turn lane. That could become a dedicated transit lane in one direction, or be used to widen the bike lanes to ~10′ each way.

    1. There’s a threshold at which center turn lanes make traffic flow more efficient AND improve safety (especially reducing rear-end collisions), particularly at higher speeds.

      At Eastlake’s 13k vehicles per day and what should be a slow-speed business district, I’m not convinced that it’s above that threshold. So yes, I agree – the center turn lane is unneeded.

      1. Depends upon how you do it, I guess. If you use just signs, a good number of people will ignore them and turn left anyways. Maybe that’s good enough, though? If you use physical dividers (hello pedestrian crossing islands), that would be a more forceful option but also potentially more expensive. You also then have to watch out for random U-turns. Design in some areas for turning around, and you’re good. You don’t want to make it too difficult for people to make those left turns, otherwise you’ll end up with unintended consequences like the aforementioned U-turns or traffic on side streets.

      2. Denny has restricted left turns at many intersections. Although I occasionally see confused drivers attempting to turn left where they can’t, it is mostly obeyed.

        One issue with more physical dividers is that emergency vehicles going to areas along Eastlake will inevitably use Eastlake given it is the only arterial and will need to make left turns without too much difficulty.

        There could be more traffic on side streets, but only the car traffic going to/from those blocks near Eastlake would be affected. That is not a tremendously large area. With more reliable transit service, more local residents may choose not to drive, which could counteract any increase in side street traffic.

      3. I don’t care about traffic on side streets. Just because someone is wealthy enough to own a single family home on a “quiet street” does not mean they get to block off safe and efficient access to the rest of us. 86 lefts!

  13. Redundant. Spread the resources to neighborhoods and corridors that are not getting a light rail.

    1. Eastlake, Maple Leaf, South Lake Union. All not getting light rail.
      Also, this sets a bad precedent for other RR+ corridors.

    2. Part of the issue is Eastlake, and part of it is transit in general. SDOT said Madison BRT would be a showcase of effective bus service that would bring Seattle local transit up to the next level. Then it said it would do better in Roosevelt. It’s actually doing worse in Roosevelt So will the same thing happen to the 44, 48, 40, 120, and 7? Will buses still be caught in traffic and stoplights, limiting ridership and making people insist on parking minimums because the transit isn’t effective for getting around in a timely way?

      1. Will buses still be caught in traffic and stoplights, limiting ridership and making people insist on parking minimums because the transit isn’t effective for getting around in a timely way?

        If this is the what SDOT does to those corridors, definitely. What’s the point of taking a bus to Northgate light rail if it’s stuck in traffic? Just drive.

    3. Thank you, Engineer for demonstrating the great fallacy of transit that has lead to misguided projects throughout the city. Light rail is not magic. It does not serve entire regions just by existing. Nor should it be spread around like community pools.

      It is simply a tool, that does its job, given the geographic and geometric constraints of the region. It does not work for every trip, because it doesn’t go everywhere, nor (in the case of our system) stop frequently along the way. If you are on Campus Parkway and Roosevelt, for example, you sure as hell are in the U-District (some would say the heart of it). Fairview and Denny is certainly downtown. So, someone who superficially understood Link as serving as the only connection between the UW and downtown would assume that Link is the best way to take that trip. They would be wrong. To get to either station will require either a ten minute walk (on each end), or a bus ride. This bus. So you either have a twenty minute walk, along with the train ride (which, as I said, is not magic, as it requires walking deep into a tunnel as well as waiting and the ride itself) or you take a bus. Even today, it would be faster to ride the bus and only the bus.

      This is for the exact same trip (UW to downtown) that Link provides! This is to say nothing of other areas, like Eastlake or South Lake Union, both worthy areas that Link comes nowhere near serving. Which is not to say that these two don’t work together. From Rainier Beach to Eastlake would likely involve both a ride on the train as well as a ride on this bus. But getting into the details of transfers and the like are complicated. If you don’t understand the fundamental principle — light rail is not magic, and only serves the stops and connections that it provides — then there is no point in explaining this any further.

  14. Great article David, I agree. It is tough to make suggestions, because each suggestion is based on another assumption. If you don’t get a bus lane throughout, then a bus lane in parts can actually be counter productive. That being said, here are my ideas:

    1) Virginia — There are no special treatments for Virginia, despite the fact that it is an obvious congestion point. There is parking there that could be taken and used as a bus lane.

    2) Northbound Fairview between Republican and Valley — This is the area that has raised the most concern (for good reason). Proper traffic signal management is essential and an additional bus lane may be necessary. I see a couple possible ways to make this better:

    Improve the traffic signal management. This was not called out in the meeting, nor is there any mention of it in the literature. The bus lane is on the right side of the road. North of Republican, the bus lane ends and the two right lanes are for traffic headed right (onto the freeway). This means the bus will have to move over two lanes, while cars do the opposite. You need very good signal management here, especially during rush hour. There should be a queue jump, which allows the bus to enter the intersection (Republican and Fairview) and move over two lanes while traffic headed northbound has to wait. A few seconds before this happens, the northbound traffic lights for Fairview at both Mercer and Valley should turn green. That will allow those cars to move through, opening up space for the bus (thus avoiding gridlock).

    2A) Make the left lane between Republican and Mercer a BAT lane. Cars headed straight or taking a left can use it. This makes it an unusual BAT lane, but this will prevent people from changing lanes at the last second (between Republican and Mercer). With proper signs and striping, it is pretty easy to understand.

    2B) Change the second to the right lane between Republican and Mercer into a bus lane. An added benefit to this change is that it would allow commuter buses (such as the 63, 64 and 309) to get onto the freeway more easily. I realize the city is reluctant to reduce the number of lanes entering the freeway, I but I don’t see this as being a big loss. If traffic is light, then it doesn’t matter (one lane is fine). If traffic is heavy, then I-5 traffic is usually heavy, and you really haven’t gained anything. Gone are the days when heavy traffic flowed out of Seattle, onto a free flowing freeway.

    3) Southbound Fairview between Mercer and Republican — This has not received as much attention, but I think it deserves special scrutiny. At the next intersection, two general purpose lanes will squeeze into one. That will cause congestion and greatly reduce the value of the BAT lanes farther on. If you remove a general purpose lane, then you would probably change the off ramp. This should be easy. Right now the exit lane for Mercer widens to include a couple left turn lanes (it goes from three to five). Simply have it widen to include one left turn lane (from three to four). There would be no significant change, as the lane isn’t long enough to hold a significant number of people anyway.

    4) Roosevelt and 11th/12th — Change a general purpose lane to a BAT lane, and a parking lane to a general purpose lane north of the ship canal. The right lane (heading both directions) would be a BAT lane next to the bike lane. This is where the plan is for the bus to stop right now, so it is cheap to make this change (just add paint). The parking lane (on the left side of the street) would be available for parking, but not during rush hour. This would enable the same amount of traffic flow during rush hour, while allowing people to park during off hours. For much of the day, this means 11th/12th as well as Roosevelt is one lane. This would have the added benefit, therefore, of making the street more pedestrian friendly while allowing merchants to load/unload as well as serve the occasional stop and go customer.

    4) Take a general purpose lane southbound across the ship canal. This is by far the most disruptive suggestion. With this project, SDOT has tried very hard not to screw up general traffic (preferring instead to screw up a promising bus route). But in this case, the penalty for drivers is minimal. Southbound on Roosevelt, there are no exits from 40th until Allison. (40th has that little connection heading west — https://goo.gl/maps/kuVx7CJWrQx). Before Allison, the two lanes that go over the University bridge get converted to one lane. So past that exit on 40th, everyone has to wait for the lanes to converge into one lane. You might as well move that convergence north. I would add a bus lane on the left side of the street, just south of 42nd. Drivers would be forced to squeeze into the right lane. The bus would have to move from the stop up the street to the left lane (if it was necessary to do so — the bus doesn’t have to use the bus lane).

    This will have the added benefit of slowing down traffic headed south over the bridge, which (at least initially) is shared by bikes. By having one lane on the more dangerous (if not most dangerous) section of this road (the 40th on-ramp to Roosevelt — https://goo.gl/maps/6CjRRMPb1Us) you improve safety significantly. I can easily see how a driver headed southbound on Roosevelt, in the left lane, might change to the right lane at the last second to avoid a slow car. Someone riding a bike decides to go, seeing a gap in the nearby lane and we have another ghost bike. Having one lane through there won’t prevent accidents, but it should reduce them (as it has throughout the city).

    5) Save money by simply truncating the streetcar line. The plan is to spend seven million dollars to move the track for one single stop. It isn’t worth it. People who transfer will have to walk a very short distance on flat ground. We shouldn’t spend that kind of money for so little.

  15. I think it’s fair to say we do not have a single real supporter of transit at city hall.

  16. This transit route is nearly entirely redundant with Link.

    Meanwhile this would be absolutely transformational for people biking in (flat, direct, and between major urban centers? nearly unheard of for a bike route in Seattle – this will get more use than Dexter).

    The RapidRide+ compromise SDOT has presented is reasonable. There are six other RapidRide+ corridors that aren’t as redundant with Link and deserve the funding and street ROW more.

    1. How would you get from NE 43rd Street to Lynn Street on Link? How would you get from Louisa Street to Harrison Street on Link? How would you get from NE 43rd Street to Harrison Street on Link? (I chose examples south of 45th because SDOT is planning to end at 45rd or 65th this phase.)

      1. Transfer at Westlake Station and take the C line or SLUSC for your SLU examples. For your Eastlake examples, transfer at U-District station and take a frequent bus (I.E. this RR+). Whatever happened to frequency is freedom? Local access to Eastlake now also has to be fast at the expense of safety?

        It’s a local access problem for transit. It’s a regional connectivity problem for people trying to bike safely. People biking are dying and getting seriously injured along this corridor: http://old.seattletimes.com/flatpages/local/pedestrianandbicyclecollisionsinseattle.html

        If this piece had focused on ideas 1, 2, and 4 you’d have a united force to work to claw back space from the SOV status quote (I.E. Zach’s reporting last week that they didn’t want to put a bus lane at Westlake because that would “back up traffic too much”). Instead we’re focusing on what divides us. The intersection of Furhman Ave and Eastlake is one of the most dangerous intersections in the city for people biking and transit reliability suffers here too – why not focus more on that?

    2. How is this redundant with Link when Link doesn’t serve most of the neighborhoods along it?

      Link doesn’t serve SLU, Eastlake, the northwest part of the U-District, or Maple Leaf.

    3. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that people think this is redundant with Link, because Link has promoted the idea. No sense having urban stop spacing, it doesn’t matter. Link will serve all of West Seattle and Ballard. These are myths that only make sense if you have a superficial understanding of how transit works. Pick a spot, then another spot, and it is pretty easy to see how Irrelevant Link is, despite the claim that it “covers” and connects both areas. My example I had above was Campus Parkway and Roosevelt (UW) to Denny and Fairview (downtown). Link does that, right? UW to downtown, right? Well, not exactly; not unless you want to include a twenty minute walk along with your train ride.

      Even if Link was built with better stop spacing, it wouldn’t do everything. It wouldn’t be a substitute for a line like this, which also covers the areas David mentioned (Eastlake, SLU, etc.). In fact, if Link was better, then the demand for this line would be even higher (but let’s not get into that — some folks have trouble understanding the basics).

      1. Yeah, if someone disagrees with you, it must be ignorance. Right.

        I lived in NYC, carless, for years. It was just a fact of life that sometimes it was a 10 minute walk to the train. Nobody complained, or begged for some magic express bus with it’s own dedicated lane to sweep them up and zoom them those 10 minutes in 2. They walked.

        The problem isn’t that this is a terrible idea (though destroying the safe bike route is a really, really terrible idea), it’s that this area is soon going to have the best transit in the city. And there are lots and lots of other areas that are desperate for decent transit, and making this a priority is making something else not get the transit they need.

        It’s not ignorance, it’s looking at this situation with clear vision, and realizing this isn’t where our priority should be.

      2. We should serve the greatest good for the greatest number.

        Either this passes that test or it doesn’t. There may be other areas of the city desperate for decent transit, but if they are in areas without many people, then it probably isn’t worth spending the money on better service. I’m sure folks in West Magnolia would love 5 minute service all day long, but it isn’t worth it. Using your logic, we should focus on that area, because we want to spread the transit around.

        As for New York, you have heard of the Second Avenue Subway, haven’t you? Look where it runs — right next to the other subway! What the hell are they doing? Why not add new lines out to Queens — they need it more. No, it is a great project because even a very minor improvement in an area with millions of people is worth it.

        I’m not saying this is necessarily the case here, but it is ignorant to assume that just because a train passes within a mile of your place, all your transit needs are met. This isn’t the case here, nor it is the case in most parts of North America (even cities with great subway systems often have higher bus ridership).

      3. H had a girlfriend who lived on 1st and 82nd, and my sister lived on Avenue B in the East Village, so I understand the the benefits of the 2nd avenue line very much. It’s a haul to Lex. I don’t really see your point, or the parallel the Eastlake though (so to speak). You know it’s a subway, right?

        I think there are far more places in Seattle that need improved transit than West Magnolia, and need it far more than what this redundant line would provide for Eastlake. And East-West BRT above or below Greenlake, improved 8, Lake City Way, 130th, A half dozen places in the the Central district. Waterfront. West Seattle. You are being disingenuous with your Magnolia snark.

      4. Additionally, you are looking at the frequency of benefit rather than the severity. When the benefits of a PBL are removed, their may be (though I question it), more counts of people moved. But the severity to those who get hit and severely injured or killed counts for more than a tally mark. It’s their lives destroyed. Their families lives completely upended or destroyed. Their friend’s lives completely changed for the worse forever.

        The analogy is black-swan and the financial crisis. Sure, all those stock brokers were getting huge benefits from deregulation. Until they weren’t. Then millions of lives were destroyed.

  17. This is totally unacceptable.

    At a time when consequential choices must be made with regards to the shape of our city’s streets and buildings, here is SDOT advancing a proposal that fails even the mildest of scrutiny.

    This is a key corridor, and one that must possess swift transit. It has always been prominently notated as such, and has long been host to rail rapid transit schemes proposed in the decades past. In the absence of U-Link, this would have been the premier right-of-way to the University of Washington for any rail transit.

    Build quality bus (or cost-controlled rail) mass transportation in this corridor, make it swift and reliable, and do it to the exclusion of other users of the roadway. Our urban and mobile public must come first.

    These are the miserable planning decisions that compel the public to support absurd investments in light rail extensions to everywhere.

  18. Need to walk as much of that route as necessary for an informed opinion. It’s been some years. But am losing patience big-time over fights between people who are really natural allies.

    No sympathy for street parking. Assuming transit good enough that both business and customers are grateful for a lane that delivers more customers at one de-boarding than can park in front of anybody’s store in a day.

    Having seen street rail the size of LINK handle street parking and bicyclists in Europe, willing to be flexible. Until reading this: ” Right-of-way is limited throughout the corridor, and SDOT had to balance transit with competing uses: general car traffic, street parking, and bicycle traffic.”

    Same phrases I heard almost verbatim out of SDOT after a couple of years watching streetcar transit slowly and quietly fade out of Waterfront plans- after fair amount of strong presence. Often accompanied by: “Every use getting what it needs, but none getting everything it wants.”

    Tonight’s event at piers 62 and 63 should make it pretty plaint that substituting vans, small buses, and pedicabs for line-haul transit same as porta-potties for a sewer main. Leaving out a lot that the whole project both wants and needs.

    Two separate projects, agreed, united by desperate need for one very large change of attitude.

    To this end, though, first suggestion in my first sentence. Should be some regular walking-while-meetings along whole corridor, with Seattle Department of Transportation officials- and engineers, look the line detail by detail.

    Every discussion, especially argument, should at least start with all participants looking at same, for instance, intersection or parking space.

    Mark Dublin

  19. As with every story where something is going majorly wrong (or right!), it needs a quick sentence with links to the contact info of the appropriate public officials. If we don’t like it (or really do!), we need to make some noise. A link makes it that one little bit easier, and prompts the reader to actually take action.

    Roosevelt Feedback form: http://www.roosevelthctfeedback.org/

    If you want to be more pushy:
    SDOT director, Scott Kubly: scott.kubly@seattle.gov
    Mayor Ed Murray: http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/get-involved/contact-the-mayor
    Your council members (your district + Tim Burgess and Lorena Gonzalez

  20. I support way more transit infrastructure (and replacing general purpose lanes with dedicated transit ones on all relevant corridors), but this is a huge bike commute route that is dangerous and underused because of the danger.

    The best use is for protected bike lanes. We need them installed now/ASAP.

  21. If you put a substandard bike lane next to a bus lane, you’re limiting the speed of buses along the route, because some safety-conscious fraction of cyclists will ride in the travel lane instead of the substandard bike lane. (Remember that SDOT allows bicycles in all “bus only” lanes, even where they haven’t put that on the signs.)

    You’d see the same problem with the narrow 2-way sidepath suggested in your first alternative. 2-way cycletracks are inherently more hazardous than separate lanes going the same direction as traffic, and building it that narrow, only 10 feet wide, increases the hazard. As on 2nd Ave, some safety-conscious segment of cyclists will chose the safety of the street over the comfort of separation, and you’ll be slowing traffic more than intended in those narrow travel lanes.

    Making a 2-way path that narrow also significantly limits bicycle capacity, 150 bikes per hour maximum, both directions combined at commute peak, according to CROW standards. The more crowded and slower the sidepath is, the more cyclists choose to ride in the street instead.

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