The U-District light rail station at 43rd and Brooklyn will be finished in 2021. In the next 9 years, 45th through Wallingford will be redeveloped with 40 and 65 foot condos with bike-only parking, and the U-District is already springing up with bike-centered towers as part of the light rail rezone.
Despite this, the Move Levy makes no effort at all to help people biking or walking between Wallingford and the U-District. The plan gets locked in 1 month, then commits us to that decision for the next 9 years. Want to bike to the new light rail station just across I-5? You’ll be using sharrows on 45th street. Want to walk over there? You’ll be walking on a narrow curb while I-5 howls at you from below. The “plan” is that over the next decade nothing will change from how things are today:
An I-5 crossing near 45th is the top priority for Seattle Greenways for all of Seattle City Council District 4. East / West transportation alternatives are the worst transportation problem Wallingford suffers from, and 45th is a top location in the city for accidents between cyclists and drivers. After a few weeks of pressing Hannah McIntosh on this issue, the sole person processing levy feedback, she offered this:
I do want to be clear that right now the funding for major new construction for bicycles and pedestrians over I-5 in Wallingford is not included in the levy proposal. If this is a priority for your readers, please encourage them to complete our survey and come to the many events happening in the next two weeks to let us know. A current list of events is on our website at: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/ltms_involved.htm
Consider yourself encouraged! Since there’s only a couple weeks left to impact the next decade of bike and pedestrian investments in Wallingford, I took a walking tour of the area with U-District greenways folks. Hannah is too busy to reply to most emails, much less look at things on the ground, so it’s sadly up to neighbors to do this kind of walk through on our own.
When you walk through the area it’s evident why 45th has so many bike / car collisions. The sharrows on 45th never made sense due to heavy vehicle traffic, lack of space, and hills to climb when going West. The major investments for buses over the last few years have further compromised them by adding curb bulbs on 45th that don’t let cars or buses go around bikes.
The Bike Master Plan says that an East / West route should be done via a 47th street greenway and then a bridge over I-5. This is labeled catalyst project #7 on the map below. This makes a ton of sense, and if this levy funded the 47th street greenway and I-5 crossing that would be the best solution for the neighborhoods. It does neither:
When walking through the neighborhood with U-District greenways we came up with a cheaper alternative to a new bridge. It’s not as good as the 47th street bridge option, but at least it might get done in the next decade.
The cheaper alternative would be to put cyclists on 45th for the I-5 crossing, then move them to greenways on either side of I-5. Improvements to the bridge could be made that would benefit both cyclists and pedestrians crossing the bridge. The “X” nature of the plan would also help people get from light rail to a range of destinations:
The numbered circles on the map above correspond to these changes:
- Complete the regional greenway in the Bicycle Master Plan on 46th and 47th except for the new I-5 bridge, with a gap between 4th and 8th. The greenway will connect to other regional greenways at Woodland Park Ave, Sunnyside, 12th, and 17th. It also connects to bike lanes on Latona / Thackery, cycle tracks on 15th, and the protected bike lanes on 11th and Roosevelt.
- Add a new greenway on 4th to bring bikes down to 45th for the I-5 crossing, add a signal at 45th, then connect down to the existing greenway on 44th. Bike lanes on Latona / Thackery could also be used, but then bikes stay on 45th longer.
Add shared pedestrian and bike crossing improvements to 45th between 4th Ave and 8th Ave. This will be expensive to do correctly, but less expensive than a new bridge. One option is a new sound and safety barrier on the sides of the bridge, then extending the curbs inward to enable cyclists and pedestrians to share them. Measurements show there is room to extend curbs inward by a fair bit while still maintaining existing traffic flow.
- Add a connecting greenway to 8th and a signal at 45th, similar to the one at 4th.
- Build the connecting greenway from the Bike Master Plan to connect to light rail in the U-District as shown.
A push will be required to get any changes to the levy at this point, but we can’t let SDOT completely ignore the needs of our neighborhood. The only way to get noticed is to stand up and yell. Northgate did, and they are promised this if the Move Levy passes:
So, please take the time to release your work week frustrations on SDOT for screwing our neighborhood. If enough people write in and show up to meetings they will listen, and the sooner you do it the better. Everything gets locked for the next decade when this goes to city council in 1 month. Please tell SDOT that sharrows on 45th and over I-5 are not an acceptable long term transportation solution for Wallingford. Please tell SDOT to connect Wallingford cyclists and pedestrians to the U-District and the light rail station.