SDOT is planning a north-south cycletrack on Beacon Hill as part of Safe Streets. Separately, a set of recreational trails recently opened in Cheasty Park on the eastern side of the hill.

The cycletrack will run along 15th Avenue South and Beacon Avenue South from the José Rizal Bridge to South Spokane Street. This will connect Little Saigon, the apartment-filled northern part of Beacon Hill, the Link station, the retail village, the library, and Jefferson Park.

This is just phase 1 of the project (or “Segment 1” as SDOT calls it). This phase is funded by Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District. Phases 2 and 3 are not yet funded. Phase 2 would extend the cycletrack south along Beacon Avenue to South Myrtle Street. Phase 3 would continue south to where Beacon Avenue ends at South 39th Street. If all these phases are completed, the cycletrack would run the entire length of Beacon Hill, from the 12th Avenue Bridge to where the 107 makes a U shape to get to Rainier Beach.

At this point SDOT is just introducing the project and collecting email addresses to send announcements to. You can email feedback now or wait for a survey later this month. One question the city is asking about is whether it should be a two-way cycletrack on one side of the street, or two one-way cycletracks on either side.

The Cheasty Park trail opened in October. I walked it last week. From Columbia City Link station, I went out the northern exit to the north side of Alaska Street, and turned left and walked a half mile to the entrance. Alaska Street merges into Columbian Way, and the entrance is a little further on the right, with a sign for “Strawberry Trail”, and a request for user feedback. Cheasty Park is an old-growth woods stretching north and south. The dirt trail runs across it, and is entirely switchbacks up the side of the hill to Cheasty Boulevard. I encountered five mountain bikers going the other way downhill, one or two at a time. At Cheasty Boulevard you can turn right and walk along the 2-lane parkway street to Mt Baker Station. I turned left instead, and walked along the south end of Jefferson Park Golf Course to Beacon Avenue. I turned north and walked along Beacon Avenue past the VA hospital, Jefferson Park (the non-golf park), and the village to Beacon Hill Station. Walking time was around thirty minutes from Columbia City Station to Cheasty Boulevard, and forty minutes from Cheasty Boulevard to Beacon Hill Station.

Partway along the trail there’s a connection to a mountain-bike-only loop that’s not open yet. Another multi-use trail and a mountain bike loop are proposed in the northern part of the park, closer to Mt Baker Station. A third mountain-bike-only [Correction: 2-way hiking only] loop is on the south side of Columbian Way. I’m not sure if it’s open; I saw a park sign but no obvious entrance.

I also walked the Westlake path from Fremont to Denny Way, for the first time since the cycletrack was installed. It is a full cycletrack next the sidewalk, between the continuous parking lot and the business entrances. The cycletrack was well marked, and I saw people walking across it with no conflicts.

On-topic comments for this article are on bike lanes (potential or current), transit lanes, pedestrian infrastructure (including pedestrian bridges), walking tours, and bike tours in the region. Other topics belong in an Open Thread.

15 Replies to “Beacon Hill Bike Lanes and Trails”

  1. Thanks for the article highlighting the current and future bicycle trail systems in Beacon Hill. I just wish the protected bike lanes on 15th and Beacon Ave would get here sooner than 2024. Can you please edit your article to state that the trails in Cheasty Green Space (Mountain View), south of Columbia Way, are pedestrian hiking trails only. You can verify that with the link you provided in your article.

    1. I misread the map color; the legend is small and it’s hard to distinguish the middle two. Corrected the article.

  2. My default for on-avenue bike lanes is one on each side, for maximum access, but I am curious about local opinions on which style would be preferred.

    However, for user consistency, I feel the worst case would be alternating between the alternatives along 15th Ave. Pick one style and stick with it on a corridor! Looking at you, RapidRide J lanes in the U-District.

    The Cheshiahud Trail along Westlake is great, but since I generally commute via e-bike that can too-easily break 20mph, I usually take Dexter since there’s less pedestrian/scooter traffic on the Dexter bike lanes. I do wish the loop trail was better-connected at its south end to the bike network in SLU, other than the awkward connection requiring riding on sidewalk to the crossing at the intersection of Westlake/9th.

  3. It would be great if SDOT showed routes 36, 60, and 107 on its bike option maps. SDOT ought to have multiple objectives to balance: safety, transit flow and ridership, and pedestrian movements. Does SDOT have a safe method for Route 36 riders to go between the curbs and the buses? Will cyclists be asked to yield?
    Route 36 has 10-minute headway and important work to do; it is slowed by long queues at its intersection with Columbian Way. There still seems to plenty of parking along Beacon Avenue South, even next to the VAMC that has a sea of parking and large garages.

    1. I agree. It appears from this latest update that they have settled on 15th for the bike lane. This is ideal, as it is a more gradual slope. People wanted 15th*, and it looks like people will get what they want. It also means that the bike lanes avoid the buses, which run on 15th. This is nice, as too often we are stuck with a dual-use corridor (for both bikes and buses). Sometimes (like on Eastlake) there is very little you can do. But in cases like this, it is best if we avoid having bike lanes where the buses run.

      The buses and bikes will mix on Beacon Avenue. This is an awkward area, as Tom Fucoloro mentions in one his recent posts: After the turn though, it looks like the plan is to mix the bikes and buses, using raised bike lanes and inline bus stops along with “floating” bus stops (i. e. island bus stops). An alternative would be to try and create a second pathway (e. g. Bayview to 17th, then dogleg again to 18th) but eventually the bikes and buses have to mix on Beacon Avenue anyway.


  4. And I quote:

    “We chose 15th Ave S as the northern segment of the bike route because:

    -It’s the flattest and most direct path between major destinations.
    -It has the least impact to priority transit.
    -It was preferred by nearly two-thirds of the community members engaged.
    -It aligns with the community’s desire for traffic calming and improved pedestrian access and safety along the corridor.”

    Well, it’s nice when lots of things point in one direction. Take those easy wins, SDOT!

  5. Can confirm the pedestrian trails south of columbian way have been open since before the pandemic. Probably a couple years before? What is time anyway? there’s an entrance off of the side road to the east side of the greenbelt. Across that road there are stairs taking you to the little stub road that is a straight shot from the station intersection. The other entrance is near the sign but fall leaves smother it, when you’re up close its a little more obvious. Oh and another entrance at the top of the hill (south side), if i remember correctly there might be a parking spot or at least street parking….

  6. The most important part of all of this is replacing 15th and Beacon. The terrible quality of the pavement is the most treacherous part of biking that stretch, more so than sharing space with cars and buses. Cars can’t drive safely around bikers who are constantly swerving to slalom between potholes.

  7. There is one other thing to understand about bike lanes we learned the hard way on Mercer Island: roads are crowned so the rainwater runs off to the side of the road, which of course is why the storm drains are along the curb. If you ever watch a street dry after a rain you will see the center dries first and the edges last.

    This means just the wind from the cars, and the rain, move leaves, needles, pebbles, oil, and other debris from the “car lanes” to the edge of the road, which is the point of the design, but not great if you have a skinny bike tire. This means not only are the edges or bike lanes filled with debris they also stay wetter longer.

    Mercer Island spent a lot of money building bike lanes along The Mercers that ring the Island (North, West and East Mercer, there is no South Mercer). The Mercers are very popular among recreational bicyclists, on and off Island. But they don’t like riding in the “bike lanes” along The Mercers because they are filled with debris. Since the city does not have the money or manpower to clean the bike lanes along The Mercers bicyclists bicycle in the center of the road, which leads to natural conflict with drivers when the weather is nice and the bicyclists are out in droves, especially if you have a peloton in front of you.

    So today all those bike lanes are basically “shoulders” for garbage/recycle/yard waste bins on pick up day, and parking for the army of construction workers. Ideally bicyclists at least use the shoulders to let cars pass, but often not.

    So yes potholes are not good, and neither are drains with steel grates although the water has to go someplace, but with our weather unless the city can regularly clean the bike lanes bicyclists will tend to ride in the road, and maybe use the bike lane to allow cars to pass, which is their legal right but frustrating if they are much slower than car traffic. My guess is 15th and Beacon has much more car traffic than The Mercers so darting in and out of the bike lane could be dangerous because the driver will assume the bicyclist will stay in the dedicated bike lane, which is why the bike lane was built although bicyclists think they can use both the bike lane and car lane which drivers often don’t understand or anticipate.

    One remedy is to put up barriers, like along 2nd Ave., so bicyclists are stuck in the bike lane and cannot access the car lane (although they do on 2nd.). Ironically one of the problems with the bike lane on 2nd is it is difficult to clean because it is narrow and the barrier fixed.

    1. If you’re going to have barriers, you have to keep the bike side of the barriers clean. Otherwise, the situation effectively devolves to “bikes share the road with cars”, only without a shoulder, while the “bike lane” functions as nothing more than a dumping ground

    2. Just drop the speed limit to 20. And put speed cameras on every corner. Problem solved.

    1. “How hard is it to order a bunch of these little puppies? Just use your credit card, Daniel.”

      Jim, after lunch today I went for a walk around the MI town center because it is such a beautiful day, with the yellow and red leaves floating to the ground. Lo and behold I saw a street cleaning truck, with a circulating brush along the curbside and a large vacuum about a lane’s width to vacuum up the leaves into a garbage truck like receptacle.

      The roads in each direction are mostly two or really 1.5 lanes wide, with room for either street parking or a bike lane on the outside. But the street sweeper is only one lane wide. The sweeper also drives pretty slowly.

      The town center has a lot of tall deciduous trees. So what part of the street did the truck sweep? The inside car lane, rather than the curbside lane. The “inside” car lane was spotless, with no leaves or debris, while the parking and bike lane was still covered in leaves, as well as the sidewalks next to the curbside lanes.

      My guess is the city figures that if it cleans the outer parking or bike lanes, but not the center lanes, and the roads are crowned, all the debris in the inner car lanes will just end up in the bike/parking lane anyway, either from rain or the wind of passing cars. Plus you rarely if ever see a street sweeper in the residential neighborhoods or along The Mercers. They move so slowly it would take a long time to clean all the lanes, probably four passes for each street to get the car lanes and bike/parking lanes, and there probably are not enough cleaners or city staff for that.

      1. Those cute little buggies in the link would work great if they decided to segregate the bike lanes with a jersey barrier. Buy a half-dozen and give them to the employees as commuter vehicles. Okay, only if they lived close on the island, otherwise their whole day would be spent commuting.

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