We’ve heard stories of how smooth commuting has been for transit riders since the Alaskan Way Viaduct shut down.

We’ve also seen a spike in bicycle commuting, in the middle of a literal Seattle Freeze.

So, tell us what is missing in your cycling commutes that makes you feel less safe.

This is an open thread.

34 Replies to “Post-Viaduct Day 4 Open Thread: Cycletopia Rising”

  1. It is not my regular commute but I rode on Alaskan Way this week a couple of times this week during the day. There are a few more cars moving fast and there isn’t much room for bikes to ride in places. It will get worse when demolition starts. There is room in many places to take parking out and create a temporary bike lane for the next few months. The city if more concerned about where cars go in the squeeze than bikes.

    1. +1 Especially at the north end between the aquarium and Pier 70, where there is no trail.

  2. We are seeing a big increase in people biking from Fremont and from West Seattle. Both of those routes have a fairly separated direct bike connection to downtown, though there is still not a fully connected network downtown so all of those routes include some not-fun segments.

    Meanwhile there still isn’t a connection of really any kind between Southeast Seattle and downtown. S Dearborn Street was supposed to be completed by the end of the year but it wasn’t apparently a priority for the city to complete by the viaduct closure. Even when that’s done there will still be a huge number of gaps in the network in that area.

    1. I’d also add that given that the SoDo trail is actually a pretty good piece of infrastructure that gives you access to 2 Link Stations, the city fails horribly in giving you access to it on either end. It’s not far from the issue with Dearborn that you mentioned.

    2. Eastbound Dearborn at the I-5 ramps is terrifying. Whoever designed that at SDOT needs to try biking on it.

      1. I am hoping that SDOT isn’t thinking that Dearborn is finished. They haven’t installed any white plastic pole barriers yet, or the diverters on Rainier. I also got a little scared at I-5 Eastbound this week.

    3. I moved from SE Seattle to West Seattle last summer. I was a committed bike commuter from SE Seattle to Downtown and I LOVED my commute. I started in Rainier Valley, went over the hill down to Seward Park, and then along the lakefront, connecting to the I-90 trail by way of Colman Park, and then from there along 12th to Jackson to 2nd Ave bike lanes. It was great, though a good portion of it was totally unseparated from car traffic along Lake Washington Blvd. Not even a shoulder there, but I didn’t mind.

      My new commute, from the top of the hill in northern West Seattle, totally sucks. Getting from the top of the hill to the bridge is treacherous. My options are Admiral Way with speeding cars, a constantly wet spot, and terrible road surface, or go a couple miles out of my way to the north to take California down the hill, which has an even worse road surface and no lighting at all. A few very confusing and busy intersections later, you make several tight turns and cross a few tracks to get to Marginal Way S, which is busy, ugly and sometimes has glass, etc. in the roadway. But, the bike lane is pretty wide and I feel comfortable enough riding on it. Getting into downtown from Alaska way is also pretty unpleasant.

      1. Just to add: getting home is bad in yet another way. Climbing the hill into North Admiral is a beast, no matter where you do it. It’s an incredibly steep grade, and very few people will be willing to do it more than once.

      2. What about taking the Water Taxi?

        I personally don’t find biking on LWB to be at all pleasant or safe feeling. I take the greenway through Mt Baker when I ride, which is OK but not great. The last bit of downtown is the worst, I hate the Jose Rizal bridge and Dearborn is not good either.

  3. The stoplight timing on 9th Ave N near the Westlake bike path is awful. Unless a pedestrian pressed the beg button (not easy to reach for bikes), the light turns yellow almost immediately after it turns green at Mercer and Roy. This is especially a problem at Mercer, because that street is so wide.

    At the south end of downtown, the 2nd Ave bike lane, when heading south, quickly degrades after Yesler from PBL, to door zone bike lane, to left lane sharrow, to no sharrow at all within just a few blocks, without any wayfinding signs giving a better route.

    These are major parts of the Basic Bike Network. The gaps in the network are definitely limiting in who feels safe bicycling on them.

  4. As someone who has tried (unsuccessfully) to bike around Seattle, I can give an abbreviated list of the problems on the routes I have been on:

    1) Every single major bike route near downtown dead ends and throws you into traffic with no signs or directions. The West Seattle route dead-ends at Alaska and Main St. The Elliott Bay trail dead ends at Alaska and Broad St. The 2nd Ave bike lanes are not connected to anything at either end. I gave up trying to get from SLU to 2nd Ave–there simply isn’t a safe and efficient way to do it. The new Broadway bike lanes have no ridership because they are not connected to anything at either end and there is no signaling or signage to get to the lanes going SB when you are initially on the opposite side of the street. Not to mention the dangerous tracks for the empty streetcar.

    2) The existing bike routes are too slow or contain inefficient/dangerous maneuvers that encourage shortcutting or defeat their purpose. Very simple connections like 2nd Ave to the Westlake light rail station are unintuitive. The left turn from the southbound University Bridge to Harvard doesn’t exist and has to be made as a pedestrian. If bike lanes are added as afterthoughts, why bother?

    3) The new 99 tunnel route would have been an excellent bike route that I would have used frequently. Unfortunately there is no replacement and there never will be.

    The one thing Seattle does well is recreational bike routes. I love the 13-mile ride from West Seattle to the U-District via the Ship Canal/Elliott Bay trails (despite the lack of a connection on Alaskan Way).

  5. Riding from Downtown To Mercer Island on a JUMP bike has been my way of avoiding any traffic. A mostly fantastic ride with the glaring exception of 12th Street between Yessler and the I-90 Bike path. I am bemused at the lack of decent cycling infrastructure that leads to and/or connects such a fantastic regional route.

    Any plans for improvements to 12th?

    1. Bicyclists can do what YT did in Snow Crash: harpoon a car bumper and ride like a waterskiier.

  6. This is a timely post for me, as I was almost hit by a car turning left, without a signal, across the bike lane on 4th Avenue this morning. We need a network of protected bike lanes downtown now.

  7. I started taking Jump bikes this week for the first time into work. Dearborn is great street to bike down and 5th ave is great (until it goes one way in the opposite direction).

  8. SDOT can’t even maintain the cycle trails they have. Basic maintenance like paint, trash/debris removal, and signage repairs/graffiti removal are sorely lacking. Leaves are one thing, I’ll take that with the shade from trees, but there’s so… much… trash.

    The “fancier” stuff is even worse. Spring-loaded bollards, intended to demarcate traffic and bike lane, are routinely destroyed with no repairs. For example, along the stub-end of the BGT near the Ballard Bridge and along the West Seattle Trail between Downtown and the WSB. Some of the broken bollards have been there for more than a year – I’ve been making mental notes. More and more get destroyed so there aren’t many left standing. Often the remains of the bollard are lying in the trail path, ironically transforming bollards from safety feature to safety hazard.

    Unclear whether SDOT doesn’t see the poor maintenance as a problem, isn’t aware of the problem, or has no money to fix it.

    1. The same SDOT that hasn’t fixed the bus-arrival displays at Campus Parkway for over two years. The westbound one has an error dialog covering the middle of the display. The eastbound one is stuck at 10:30am some day two or more years ago.

    2. So when xDOT creates separated bike lanes, do they put any thought into being able to clean them? Do they have appropriate street sweepers that can be used regularly (daily?), or are they expecting to send someone with a large broom in response to some online work order submission system?

      1. WSDOT has a sweeper truck for the SR-520 bridge trail. I’ve heard SDOT has something similar for protected bike lanes but I’ve never seen it in action.

  9. The spot on Yesler where in the name of free parking on the bridge over I5 the protected bike lane disappears and dumps me into downhill traffic, wedged between cars and a parking lane, with trees and a bus shelter blocking the view of bikes for drivers and cars for those riding bikes at the point of the merge.

    It is a literal death trap and appalling.

  10. I ride to approximately Lander St on 1st Ave S in Sodo from the 2nd Ave protected bike lane most days. 1st Ave S has 2 lanes in each direction with curb parking along the entire road, and a center turn lane.

    There is never enough car traffic to take up both lanes, so I always take the right lane. I’ve never gotten honked at or anything, but I always feel unsafe riding on that road. I wish they would replace the curb parking with a protected bike lane that would connect all the way to the 1st Ave S Bridge.

  11. The tents and trash under the Yesler overpass are constantly spilling into and blocking the bike lane.

    Speaking of garbage in the road, it’s time to kick the last 25 or so vehicles using the northbound 15th Ave S shoulder (bt Jose Rizal bridge and Beacon Hill center) as a private parking lot so that we can stripe a bike lane to match the one headed southbound. It’s an arterial, not a private storage lot.

    Not that I’m a huge fan of sharrows but if we are going to have them they should be maintained. Many have faded away to Bolivia.

  12. _Please_ remove the sharrows on Airport Way S along Boeing field. Cars are going 60mph — sharrows are useless at that speed, cars cannot safely travel at 15 mph behind a bike, no matter how the road is painted.

    1. Adding to this, the bridge over the train tracks on Airport is very dangerous, which is a shame because of the three bridges that cross the tracks from north to south (1st, 4th, and Airport), this one has the best connection to downtown (6th/SoDo trail). You really have to use the sidewalk over the bridge, but it’s really hard to merge back into the traffic barreling down the bridge when the sidewalk becomes no longer an option.

  13. Of course no bike safety thread can be complete without talking about the Ballard bridge.

    1) The stretch between Dravus and the bridge is unsafe in both directions, with cars, trucks and buses merging from both right and left, and no designated bike route or facilities.

    2) The left-hand turn northbound onto 15th from Dravus is uphill in 4 lanes of mixed traffic into a D Line stop and a row of parked cars.

    3) On the northbound bridge exit, car traffic turns right across the sidewalk/bike way, usually without checking for bikes coming down grade they’ve just passed. No signage or signal, just some recent pavement paint that people seem to ignore.

    4) The infamous southbound exit forces bikes left thru a 5-foot gap in the concrete curb into onrushing traffic, at the exit to Fishermans’ terminal. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced it in the morning rush.

    All of these are major barriers to cycling for regular folks who live in NW Seattle. If your destination is anywhere downtown west of 4th, it doesn’t make too much sense to take the Fremont bridge where you either have to climb over Queen Anne or detour even further east into SLU. And the locks are great if have time for a half-mile walk, and when there are no tourists present. Free Ballard.

    1. I really like the new PBL on Emerson towards the Gilman PBL. It’s a little bit of a detour going south, but feels much safer than Dravus.

      However, going North on that route, you either need to ride in mixed traffic on that awful awful awful cloverleaf thingy between Emerson and Nickerson (can we tear it down already and just turn it into a stop light?, or detour even further east towards 14th and cloverleaf back onto the bridge from that side.

      All of those options are bad, so even though I have a NW in my address, I take Fremont to Westlake about 95% of the time, even though that route has issues, too.

    2. Much of the bike traffic from Ballard southward seems to avoid all that by crossing at the locks and taking the route through Magnolia and the waterfront trail, but that path section just south of the locks where it crosses the railroad on that rickety wooden bridge is awfully steep. Also, parts of that route (the locks and the section through port property) are supposedly closed sundown to sunup.

      1. During daylight hours 8-9 months of the year, the locks are crowded with tourists in very tight spaces for walking a bike. This includes the gates to the locks themselves — the only way to cross the water — which are single-file and often loaded with standees admiring the view. Sure, you can dodge all that with patience. From a practical point of view, it adds 10-15 minutes to the trip, negating the time savings over the bus.

      2. It’s time consuming and out of the way, but I’ve seen far more people go through there with bikes in an hour than I have ever seen, in the past 10 years of visiting Seattle, bicyclists crossing the Ballard Bridge. Hell, I think I’ve only seen one person stupid enough to try to walk across it, and that was me.

      3. The locks are fine as a recreational route, but unless your destination is Discovery Park or West Magnolia, or your trip originates in Sunset HIll, it’s a significant time penalty over other routes.

        People ride on the Ballard Bridge and the segment of 15th between Emerson and Dravus because it’s direct, despite the danger. Ballard Bridge -> Emerson -> Gilman costs a few minutes over that, and is significantly safer, but still has issues – the narrowness of the sidewalk and the mixed traffic on the ramp heading north.

  14. My ride from SE Seattle to the West Side of Boeing Field has a couple “Rider Beware” spots. These are spots that I’m used to navigating, but would be dangerous for the casual rider or someone new to the route.
    Westbound on S Albro Pl, right after crossing I-5, there’s a tight I-5 offramp to watch for traffic entering from the right. Then, as the two lanes cross the railroad bridge towards Ruby Chow Park, the right lane is marked Right Turn Only. I’m going straight, so I either stay in the right lane if there’s no traffic pressure behind me itching to zoom into Georgetown, or I merge left after some careful over-the-should checks for cars. I wonder if adding “Except Bikes” to the Right Turn Only sign would help.
    Once I hit E Marginal Way southbound, I have a bike lane that is perpetually filled with debris. The bike lane continues straight approaching the 16th Ave Bridge, but a right turn lane opens to my right, so I have to watch for cars, trucks, and buses which pass me on either side while I stay in that bike lane. It’s not a place for a novice rider!
    I hear there’s plans for a Georgetown to South Park bicycle Greenway. I wonder about the stretch on East Marginal and how they plan to minimize conflict between people walking and biking and people driving everything from cars to 18 wheelers.

  15. I would like to see more notifications to drivers when their cross street intersects with a specialized bike trail (Burke-Gillman, Alki, Duwamish, etc). To cars it can just look like an empty sidewalk. A small sign indicating that it is a pedestrian trial and should be kept clear to keep an eye out would be safer.

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