Seattle’s first downtown protected bike lane opened today on Second Avenue between Pike Street and Yesler Way. With segments also on Pike Street between First and Second avenues and on Yesler Way between Second Avenue and Occidental Way, this new facility will more safely connect Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square for people biking.
Protected bike lanes physically separate people riding bikes from people driving and are distinct from the sidewalk, adding predictability for all roadway users. Protected bike lanes are especially attractive to people who might be willing to bicycle but are concerned about safety.
“This project will help Seattle better understand how to build protected and grade-separated bike lanes,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Second Avenue’s improved design will work better for pedestrians, bikes, automobiles and transit.”
The number of protected bike lanes in the United States has quadrupled since 2010, many of them in competitor cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Boston. Better bike lanes can’t solve every problem, but they are one of many tools Seattle can deploy to attract new businesses that employ talented workers and for residents who prefer to live, work, shop and play in Downtown.
“A safe bike thoroughfare, places for people to park their bikes and a brand new bike rental system—all of these things help upgrade the neighborhood and make it easier for people to visit businesses along Second Avenue and in other parts of the city,” said Dick Cantwell, owner, Elysian Brewery and a Second Avenue business owner.
The 20-year Seattle Bike Master Plan was recently updated and adopted by the City Council in April 2014. The plan’s goals include increasing the amount of bicycling for all trip purposes and improving safety for people riding bikes. During the update process, the City clearly heard the need for a protected bike lane network in Center City Seattle.
“The City Council prioritized the design and implementation of a safe network in Center City for people of all ages and abilities,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “I am pleased to see this first segment in place to support the connections we are making throughout the city on our Neighborhood Greenways.”
Over the past four and a half years, 61 bike-related collisions have been reported between Pine and Jackson streets on Second Avenue. Fifty percent involved left hand turns, including a recent fatal collision. To help address this issue and continue towards its goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030, the city installed new traffic signals for the protected bike lane. The bike signals will let cyclists know when to move and the left turn signals for eastbound streets will alert drivers when they can safely move through the intersection.
The Seattle Department of Transportation will be monitoring the project regularly and making adjustments as necessary. As with any new type of facility, there is an educational component so that pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists are aware and know how to interact safely. The demonstration project will inform the design of the Center City Bike Network and provide a facility for Pronto! Cycle Share users to travel north-south across Downtown when stations open in October.
For more information on the project please visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/2ndavepbl.htm.