Now that Move Seattle has passed, the language Jean Godden added to the levy for us is part of the plan. SDOT must “Develop plans and complete improvements to enhance the NE 45th St corridor for pedestrians and cyclists between 4th Ave NE and Brooklyn Ave NE by the time University Light Rail opens in 2021.”
The current Bike Master Plan needs to be fixed as it lists no I-5 bike crossing options except for the unfunded and unplanned 47th street bike and pedestrian bridge. Here is the current plan, where the bridge is the red segment:
Here’s an adjustment to the Bike Master Plan that fits the language of Move Seattle and might get done in the next 5 years. This past Friday we biked this stretch with SDOT, and they are going to study the change (along with the Green Lake Way change):
The numbers in the diagram specify the changes to the Bicycle Master Plan:
- Add a widened, shared use pathway to either side of the 45th street overpass that will shield non-motorized users from vehicles and improve the barrier to I-5 below. Space for this is provided by eliminating 1 through lane into Wallingford (the left lane will be dedicated to left turns onto I-5, which is already true during rush hour).
- Add one-way protected bike lanes to Thackery and Latona, up until they connect with greenways on 47th and 44th.
- Add a cycle track to 8th Ave NE and to 43rd in the U-District in order to connect 45th street overpass cyclists to light rail and UW. There is already a planned greenway from 43rd and Brooklyn to UW.
- Complete the network by connecting the 47th street greenway to 45th
- Cut the unfunded bridge at 47th and associated greenway on 5th Ave NE. If SDOT does a decent job with the 45th street overpass it should longer be required in the near term, and even in the best case it’s 20 years away from being built (when there will be a new bike master plan).
The specifics mostly match up to what we’ve posted before here on Wallyhood, so the rest of this is going to be mostly repeat if you’ve read those posts, but I wanted to get all the ideas in one place. Here’s the visual of the shared use bridge:
Here’s the diagram of the bridge itself, with the 1 through lane into Wallingford removed:
Here’s the diagram of 45th going into Wallingford:
And finally here’s 45th going into the U-District:
this is a horrible idea when compared with a 47th connection. first, 45th in general sucks. in it’s entirety from stone way to the university, it sucks to ride on. there is no place along that route that i say, gee, this is great, and I’d much rather be riding here then on 44th or 46th. trying to promote cycling on it has not worked, since there are many conflicting intersections and a large amount of volume turning at all those intersections. then, riding through the 45th interchange also sucks. way too many turning vehicles trying to get to 60 mph or coming from 60 mph on I5. and then the buses.
making more width in the existing infrastucture on 45th doesn’t do anything to alleviate the conflicts. nothing. nada. nope. zero. zilch. a pretty screen? what’s that suppose to do? it’s like you’re trying to fix a leaky water valve by installing a smaller pipe but not fixing the actual valve. good luck with that.
do you even ride?
This route connects to the greenway on 44th. it doesn’t suggest riding 45th through wallingford. I think it looks like it will be a pretty fluid crossing over I5 for bikers with this new layout. You are saying it sucks now, but if you look at this plan it fixes the problem.
I understand this idea connects to adjacent greenways. that’s not the point. the reason the greenways exist is due to 45th being a horrible place to ride. and unfortunately, the only place to cross I-5 is at 45th. through an interchange. a really heavily used interchange.
if you can clearly tell me what “the problem” is, and how this is fixing it, i might agree with you. however, the problem is not the width of the sidewalk. widening it would create more capacity for peds/bikes. but that’s not the issue. conflicts are the issue, which are at the intersections.
this has very little net gain for improving safety and improving flow for pedestrians and cyclist. a 47th crossing does way more then this does.
Isn’t the point that there is basically zero chance of getting funding for a crossing on 47th? Of course a deluxe facility would be nicer but the current crossing on 45th is a death trap and this would be a big improvement at a moderate cost. Personally I am in favor of lots of moderate cost cycling infrastructure making it practical to ride many places.
These solutions seem pretty reasonable. The lane you are cutting out will have a minor effect during rush hour, but it shouldn’t have a significant effect. There is already a backup there and it will just make it a little worse.
My first choice would be the pedestrian, bike only bridge over I-5 on 47th. If this is definitely not feasible, the above plan seems reasonable. Eliminating a lane for through traffic into Wallingford will be problematic as during rush hour, the turn lanes onto I-5 often spill over onto what is now proposed to be the only through lane into Wallingford. There would be a back up of traffic from I-5 NB into Wallingford.
The problem with the 47th street overpass is that it’s unfunded and unplanned and has been explicitly excluded from the Move Seattle Levy (which covers the next 9 years of bike funding). That means that, at best, that project is 20 years away from being a reality. In terms of politics, that’s forever, so we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Modifying 45th can get done in 5 years by the time light rail opens, and it will benefit pedestrians as well as cyclists.
This could be a cool semester project for some UW design students
the 45th street corridor has been a quarter (not semester) project for students.
This seems like a good improvement, regardless of whether the 47th overpass gets built. People often won’t go too far out of their way to use the “approved” route, if they can even find it, so we’ll never hit Zero by leaving unsafe conditions lying around for people to encounter.
The Northmost lane on the 45th overpass is quite underused, at the moment. About the only time I see anyone driving in it is if the backup waiting at the I-5 light has spilled into the going-straight lane, forcing people to drive around them.
However, buses do use that lane until it goes away at Latona. The 44 is already one of the most frequent, most-used bus routes in the city, providing 60 rides/hour during peak times, and that # will probably go up substantially, once the U-District station comes online, so some care needs to be taken to avoid getting it stuck, perhaps with some bus-activated signal priority at the West end of the bridge.
Yes, I am also concerned about how this affects the bus, especially in light of the “plan” to make the 44 a Rapid Ride. Are the right and left hands coordinating at all?
I first heard of the 47th Street pedestrian bridge a decade ago. It could’ve been built by now.
Let’s be very careful about anything that removes parking from 45th, as they surely will do if they put a Rapid Ride across 45th. This will probably also take over any bike lanes east of Latona. The businesses along 45th are quite dependent on the on-street parking. If they do remove the parking we need to insist on the City building a parking garage in the business area, perhaps where the Velvet Foam/Teriyaki stores are. Unfortunately under the Velvet Foam lot is a hazardous waste clean up situation (from old Stinky’s service station), which will make it very expensive.
I think the parking can be preserved. There should be no impact on parking between I-5 and Latona, since the protected bike lanes take the space from the extra through lane. Parking between Latona and Thackery should also be able to be preserved for the most part if the bus stop there is moved 1 block West to be in front of the gas station, where parking really isn’t being used. I’m thinking the net impact on retail would be positive since the sidewalks will be nicer to walk on and cyclists buy stuff too.
This needs to come with improved stop light coordination at the interchanges on either side of the bridge, or it will be an even worse traffic nightmare than today. Other than that, this seems like a great plan.
As for parking on 45th… Increasing bike traffic is a good way to get more people into shops. Study after study has shown that increasing foot and bike traffic in urban areas boosts shopping more than parking. We need to stop buying into the parking myth in Seattle and Wallingford. Reducing parking is better for the neighborhood, for businesses, for the environment, and for a livable city.
This is a practical solution that should be implemented. We can all wish for more and better, but not in our lifetimes. As things stand now, crossing I5 at 45th on bike or on foot is insane and terrifying – not worthy of Seattle at all.
I’m grateful to Eric and Wallyhood for doing this practical work. Let’s make it happen.
whatever happens on 45th also needs to happen on 50th. bikers are not going to go all the way down the hill to 45th to cross and then all the way back up the hill to get to tangletown.
besides, there doesn’t seem to be any connection to this 45th street crossing from points north.
i think the 47th crossing is a good compromise and should still be pushed as the best option.