We hear a lot about road diets and protected bike lanes all over Seattle. Most drivers say the city is putting the needs of a few over the needs of many. The latest bike lane project is already prompting complaints.
KIRO Radio listener Paul asked me to check out 35th Avenue NE where the city is adding bike lanes between 45th and 89th. The road runs north-south from the University of Washington to Lake City. In areas near UW, the road is too narrow to add a protective buffer, but new bike lanes will be added there as well.
Paul says he’s irritated the city is using his tax dollars to “make it more difficult for me and other Northeast Seattle residents to use our cars.”
“What can be done to stop the city from causing total gridlock during morning and evening commutes?”
Paul points out a bike lane already exists on 39th — four blocks over.
“It’s not always easier or intuitive to say, ‘well, this one street is the only one that can serve all the needs’ because people want to go east-west and so you need to look at the parallel corridors,” said project manager MariLyn Yim.
She said the resident response to this project included a desire for biking options to the business district along 35th and all the churches and the library.
Many residents are worried about the loss of parking to make room for the bike lane. All of the parking on the west side of the street will be eliminated. Yim said the current parking restrictions on the corridor will be lifted.
“Parking will be on the east side of the street,” she said. “Currently, there is a peak hour restriction on parking, and that is going to be removed. Parking will be available all day instead of just part of the day.”
Additional work on 35th Avenue
The road needs significant improvement; the bike lane project began as a pavement project. Yim said the city decided to see what other work could be done.
“We’re upgrading all of the curb ramps,” she said. “We’re going to be making sidewalk repairs. We’re going to be putting in a left-turn pocket at NE 75th Street. We’re going to be making a few crossing improvements.”
The city is also going to be working with King County Metro to move some bus stops, eliminating those with less use and combining them with others. Some of the stops are just across intersections, which prevent cars from moving around them.
The makeover on 35th Avenue will impact 13,000 cars a day that use that route, and I’m not sure if the explanation will be enough to satisfy Paul and others that continue to see the city’s efforts as a direct attack on cars and a bowing to the loud minority of bicycle riders.