The Move Levy locks in all bike and pedestrian spending for the next 9 years after a 2 month public comment period that is already half over. For a place like Northgate that has been in planning for years that’s great as SDOT will throw 10’s of millions their way to implement their gold plated plans, but for a neighborhood like Wallingford without a transportation plan it means we only get a few cheap, half baked ideas. When plans were released 1 month ago they included a map that wasn’t even correct, so it has taken me a lot of time just to learn what SDOT is proposing for Wallingford. Today: Cycle tracks and Lower Woodland Park.
The levy currently includes a cycle track on 50th between Phinney and Green Lake Way, and another cycle track on Green Lake Way between 50th and up past the Green Lake Community Center. The cycle tracks are in the levy because they are in the bike master plan, and because those roads need to be paved. The current mantra at SDOT is to implement the bike master plan while doing maintenance, and hence we get these cycle tracks:
A cycle track requires moving all bike traffic to one side of the road, then erecting a barrier with traffic. It is often used for dangerous streets where there are few alternatives for cyclists, but it typically requires separate signals and turning movements for cyclists. It is also difficult to transition between cycle tracks and bike lanes, as some bikes must cross all lanes of traffic.
As anyone in the neighborhood knows, bikes on 50th and Green Lake Way are principally connecting to the bike lanes on Stone Way. This means the intersection of 50th and Green Lake Way will become much worse if these cycle tracks are implemented. Here is a simple cycle track crossing, now imagine this at the 5 way intersection of 50th, Stone Way, and Green Lake Way, with the addition of transitioning between cycle tracks and bike lanes (warning: your head may explode):
The reason those cycle tracks are in the bike master plan is that there was also a plan at the time to connect them to a cycle track on Stone Way. Right before the bike master plan was locked down the cycle track on Stone Way was removed due to neighborhood push back, in particular fear about the throughput impact it would have on the intersection of 50th, Green Lake Way, and Stone Way.
The neighborhood idea was to favor Woodland Park Ave as a greenway instead, connecting to bike paths through Woodland Park, up through the Zoo to Phinney, and down through Woodland Park to the bike lane that already goes around Green Lake. The idea was to leave Green Lake Way, Stone, and 50th as roads with bike lanes that favor faster commuters. I bike this route almost every day, so I know it very well. These greenway routes are already very workable, but some investment would greatly help them along:
Unfortunately, the bike master plan got locked before the rest of those fixes could be made to it. The result is a bike master plan that is broken for the Woodland Park area, but that was adopted by city council and is now all that SDOT looks at when coming up with plans for our neighborhood. In fact, SDOT has not had a transportation planning meeting in Wallingford since 1998, when our neighborhood plan was drawn up.
The cycle tracks on 50th and Green Lake Way are being prioritized simply because they are in the bike master plan and those roads are being paved, and SDOT wants to hit their numbers for implementing the bike master plan on the cheap. They are not being put in because existing bike lanes are unsafe, they are not being put in as a result of neighborhood wishes, and they are not being put in as part of a thought through design.
Do you think we need to further throttle and complicate the intersection at 50th and Green Lake Way? If you’re a biker, do you think Green Lake Way should be a top priority for Wallingford? Do you look forward to switching back and forth across the roadway to get on and off the cycle track? You have 1 month left to let SDOT know if you care:
Addendum: I understand you may not trust me after the April 1st post. To add to that, if you look at the map for our neighborhood in the levy, it is wrong. Below is the map (roads are unlabeled, but are in the levy text). See how the blue line on 50th stops before the intersection of 50th and Green Lake Way? See how it doesn’t go up to the top of the map?
Well, it took 2 weeks of asking around at SDOT before someone replied to why those blue lines stop where they do. Hannah McIntosh, who seems to be handling all feedback on the entire levy, finally found a minute to reply after I asked several times. Here is what Hannah says:
As you know, we’re collecting public feedback, and you identify some excellent points about the exact projects proposed in Wallingford. The changes below will be reflected when the map is updated.
- The blue line on NE 50th St should extend east to E Green Lake Way N, in coordination with the limits of the potential paving project.
- Likewise, the blue line on E Green Lake Way N should mirror the extents of the potential paving project.
When I then raised the concerns about the cycle tracks impacting the intersection with 50th (effectively this entire post), Hannah wrote this back:
You make some good points about the cycle tracks and they are exactly the type of thing to look at as we get closer to implementation.
In other words, the Move Levy funds these cycle tracks and that’s all there is to it. If the Move Levy is not changed, over the next decade the cycle tracks will be built, and nearby greenways will not be built. So, if you care, you must fill out the SDOT survey or go to a meeting to let them know.