Route 7, one of the most popular bus lines in the city, is getting a RapidRide makeover in 2021. Metro and SDOT are kicking off the public process for the Rainier Valley line with an online open house through April 8.
10,800 weekday riders make the 7 the 5th busiest Metro route, behind RapidRide lines C, D, and E and the RapidRide-in-waiting Route 40. Rainier Avenue is also a very dangerous street for pedestrians, and bicycle facilities are non-existent. And while the buses themselves come fairly frequently, the also get stuck in traffic and bunching is common. All of which is to say there’s plenty of room for improvement here.
The open house materials break the 7-mile route into four segments:
- Chinatown to Mount Baker, which includes Jackson Street along with the widest, straightest, northernmost section of Rainier Ave. Improvements here could include a Business Access and Transit (BAT) lane for bus priority or a bike lane, but not both.
- Mt. Baker to Columbia City on Rainier Ave., which would continue to be a 4- or 5- lane general purpose traffic street
- Columbia City to Rainier Beach on Rainier Ave., where a BAT lane is already planned
- Downtown Rainier Beach to its light rail station on S. Henderson St., which could see protective buffer added to the bike lanes at a cost of some parking spots
Pedestrian/greenway crossings would be added throughout the route. A few stops would be consolidated and the remaining ones would be upgraded to RapidRide standards.
Bike access would be via a “parallel” neighborhood greenway, which is unfortunate — there really is no true parallel street to Rainier Ave. The materials include a lengthy note explaining why bikes and transit are not both feasible in the narrow section of Rainier between I-90 and Mt. Baker. It stinks, as ever, that bikes and transit have to be pitted against one another, but as you can see on the right an unbuffered bike lane hugging a bus lane would not be a pleasant experience.
Update: clarified SDOT’s involvement in the project