One lane of Aurora Ave to be converted into bike lane along Green Lake
Following public pressure from community groups, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced that they will convert one lane of northbound Aurora Ave into a bike lane as it goes around the western shore of Green Lake.
SDOT announced the construction of the Green Lake Outer Loop bike path earlier this year, which would provide more options for people walking, running, or biking and increase connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Green Lake is a regional gem enjoyed by thousands of people daily, including myself,” said SDOT Interim Director Greg Spotts in a prepared statement. “The new outer loop design was co-created with the community. The project will improve the park experience by repurposing a lane of Aurora Ave N into an active space for people to enjoy. While we have more work to do to improve safety along the rest of Aurora Ave N, we expect this project to lead to safer speeds near Green Lake.”
With the passage of the Washington Legislature’s transportation package arrives $50 million in new funding for redesigning specific stretches of Aurora Avenue North. That funding comes as SDOT is set to begin a comprehensive, long-term safety study for the dangerous stretches Aurora Ave possesses.
The project is a part of the city’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries, and with the new protected bike lane running along Aurora Ave from N 63rd St and W Green Lake Drive N, they are hoping fatalities will go down in the area.
A study released by SDOT in June showed that 17% of all traffic fatalities across Seattle happen on Aurora Avenue North, looking at five years of data from Jan. 1, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2019. Since the end of the study period in 2019, eight more people have died on Aurora Ave, six of whom were pedestrians.
One of the community groups spearheading safety improvements is the Aurora Reimagined Coalition. The group calls out a number of improvements they would like to see be made to the highway, including more space for pedestrians, wider sidewalks, a greater number of traffic crossings, reduced speed limits from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour, narrower lanes, designated schools zones near Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, added bike lanes, and “anti-displacement policies and funding to ensure that small businesses are protected and have affordable rents in the future.”
SDOT has made changes to Aurora Ave. over the years. In April of 2021, speed limits were reduced to 30 mph between 85th and 109th Streets, and to 35 mph between 115th Street and 145th Street.
The agency says they have made several key updates to the project based on community feedback, including increasing pedestrian access in the Winona Triangle neighborhood and creating clear connections to existing bike lanes at either end of the project area. They are also creating additional pedestrian crossings on Winona Ave N.
There are still significant changes that need to be made to increase the city’s biking infrastructure though, according to certain community groups.
“This project is a very worthy improvement to the bike network. But we need this same urgency and creative repurposing of existing infrastructure in South Seattle, too. Lake Washington Boulevard is the most obvious place to start, but there are many opportunities to make improvements that will help people bike and walk safely and comfortably even if they don’t live near Green Lake,” The Seattle Bike Blog reports in their recent post about the update.