Councilmembers look to ‘revisit’ plans for controversial 35th Ave bike lane

Jun 18, 2019, 7:17 AM | Updated: 11:37 am

Concerns continue to mount regarding cyclist safety on 35th Avenue Northeast, and now, Seattle City Councilmembers are voicing their intent to revisit the controversial project altogether.

SDOT weighs flood of complaints after nixing 35th Ave NE bike lanes

“When I saw 35th [Avenue] Northeast, I thought, ‘we don’t have this right yet,'” Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said in a briefing session Monday morning.

Originally, a proposed project on 35th would have reduced a 2.3-mile stretch of the street 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 litany 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.

Negative feedback from cyclists ensued, and the updated project now nears completion. Many 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.

That had both Councilmembers Bagshaw and Mike O’Brien speaking out at Monday’s morning briefing.

“(35th Ave NE) seems to be a not a very safe alignment,” said O’Brien. “We’re asking (SDOT) to respond to some concerns we had about the safety there. If in fact we made some design errors, let’s talk about what the opportunities are to fix them. If they weren’t design errors, let’s explain how we make this safer, because it certainly doesn’t look or feel safe.”

SDOT puts brakes on controversial 35th Ave NE bike lane project

Not long after SDOT reported on the recent flood of safety complaints, a fatal collision occurred on 35th at the NE 75th Street intersection, where a motorcycle was almost entirely rolled under a pickup truck. The driver of the motorcycle passed away after receiving treatment at Harborview Medical Center.

The hope now from Bagshaw and O’Brien is to rethink the city’s plans for 35th Avenue.

“I’m going to ask, as we talk with SDOT, to see what we can do to revisit (35th Ave NE),” said Bagshaw. “It was well-intended but it’s not working — let’s figure out something we can accelerate.”

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