SDOT weighs flood of complaints after nixing 35th Ave NE bike lanes
Months after putting the brakes on a controversial bike lane project along 35th Avenue Northeast, reports of unsafe driving and dangerous conditions for cyclists are stacking up.
“We’re … hearing feedback about driver behavior and speeding being used to intimidate people riding bicycles in the street,” the Seattle Department of Transportation said in an update sent to its email subscribers on Friday.
Originally, a proposed project would have reduced a 2.3-mile stretch of 35th Ave NE through Wedgwood, Ravenna, and Bryant to one lane of traffic in either direction. It also would have replaced parking on the west side of the street with bike lanes, with select areas protected by three feet of buffer space.
After a flood of negative feedback from the neighborhood — including roughly 70 percent of 35th Avenue NE businesses — the plan to create protected bike lanes was nixed. SDOT instead opted to add center turn lanes in parts of 35th among other changes to the roadway.
Construction is now wrapping up on the amended plan. That’s come paired with complaints from cyclists and pedestrians, many of whom have taken to Twitter using the hashtag #Durkanspeedway to speak on conditions along the 35th Avenue NE corridor. Reports from users range from cars using the center turn lane to pass cyclists, to drivers speeding over 40 miles an hour.
“Watch 35th Ave NE in action … what are the odds of someone getting killed on 35th this year?” one user said.
“I drove the #DurkanSpeedway in a car for the first time since the redesign last night. The wide lanes are working exactly as expected. At the 30 mph limit, cars in front of me rapidly pulled away, & cars stacked up behind me. The desire speed seems to be 45-50 mph,” said another.
SDOT’s latest update noted it would be reviewing data to see if there’s been a change in “aggressive driving and the number of collisions.” It also said it would be adjusting striping, and installing vertical posts along center turn lanes to discourage drivers from using them to pass cyclists.
“As we have seen on other streets with a new striping configuration, there is always a period of adjustment as people get used to the changes,” said SDOT.