We’re looking at fixes to the Bike Master Plan for Wallingford now that Move Seattle passed. First up: Green Lake Way and 50th.
Currently, the Bike Master Plan includes a cycle track on Green Lake Way North of 50th that continues around the lake, up to and past the Green Lake Community Center. The cycle track will be on the side of Green Lake Way that faces the park because that reduces conflicts with cars. It will also continue on 50th West of the intersection, connecting to a cycle track on Phinney.
The cycle track on Green Lake Way is funded as part of Move Seattle because Green Lake Way and 50th are going to be rebuilt for maintenance reasons. The cycle track does not continue onto Stone Way because of opposition by the Fremont Chamber.
If no change is made, the current Bike Master Plan will require that all the bike traffic on Stone Way North bound go diagonally across the intersection with 50th to access the new cycle track on Green Lake Way. That configuration will require a separate signal movement for bikes. What’s worse than a 5 way signal? A 6 way signal.
To fix that, we’re looking to extend the cycle track to include Stone Way between 50th and 46th, as shown here:
That change will result in the cycle track actually improving traffic, because the fix we proposed for Green Lake Way works great for a cycle track that continues onto Stone Way. It avoids the need for a separate signal movement and improves vehicle throughput at the light. Here is how the light would work:
The main advantage for vehicles would be more throughput since there would be a long 2 lane queue north of the light. That should eliminate backups to the lake and, with signal rebalancing, improve throughput in all directions. Here is how the pavement would look north of the intersection if the change were made:
- Vehicles gain a restored 2 lane queue on Green Lake Way south bound while approaching 50th. This should prevent traffic from backing up to the lake and greatly improve throughput at the light.
- Cyclists on the cycle track no longer must split car lanes while queuing up for the light
- Cyclists gain access to 50th and Stone Way cycle tracks without needing to merge into general traffic lanes.
The Stone Way cycle track would then go from 50th to 46th, ending up right around here:
As you can see, this location provides a giant sea of unused pavement, allowing for a lot of bike path options. This is also a great place to have a bicycle interchange as the Bike Master Plan calls for a regional greenway on 46th that replaces sharrows on 45th, and the interchange will help advertise that new greenway. The regional greenway on 46th will go all the way to I-5 if you go East, or connect up to a regional greenway on Woodland Park Ave if you go West.
It’s also good to have the interchange at this location because it will stop the cycle track from clogging the intersection at 45th- the light could continue working the way it does today, helping with Bus Rapid Transit throughput on 45th and the general traffic flow on Stone Way. I’m floating this and other ideas in a meeting with SDOT this Friday, let me know if you see problems or have detailed thoughts on other changes in this area.
Final side note: As for the roundabout idea for 50th and Green Lake Way that’s been floated a few times, if anybody is serious about diagramming that out and pursuing it with SDOT please let me know. My personal sense is that a roundabout will be less safe and will not fly with SDOT, but I’m all for creative thinking. When I started thinking all this through I thought a cycle track at 50th was going to be a mess, but after all this diagramming I now think it will work. The devil is in the details.
Goodness! A cycle track?!?! Traffic is already impossible with the road diet from Greenlake to 50th. And I thought the road diet was to help bicycles. Looks like this means no more free right turn at the corner of Lower Woodland to get on 50th going west? Ugh!
We covered this in the lead up to the election. Mike O’Brien + Move Seattle = yes, a cycle track on Green Lake Way. For instance, see here:
I think the free-right-turn could be maintained for most of the signal cycles, and only has to be blocked for cycle #3 when the cycle-track crosses. Unfortunately, it’s hard to prevent a free-right-turn. Perhaps a lighted “no turns on red” sign that is only lit during cycle #3.
Hi Eric, where within the Bicycle Master Plan does it require that all the bike traffic on Stone Way North bound go diagonally across the intersection with 50th to access the new cycle track on Green Lake Way, and would require a separate signal movement for bikes? I couldn’t find that in the plan. Please provide the page number. I could only find in the plan a map where cycle tracks (protected bike lanes) are called for, without details of how intersections/signals will be configured. Typically those details would be worked out during implementation. In any case, there would be multiple ways to access the cycle track (protected bike lanes) without an additional signal phase. If I were bicycling in the area I would walk my bicycle across the crosswalks, because I tend to do what feels most safe and comfortable. The most serious problem with your plan to me is southbound bicycle traffic from Green Lake Way north of 50th turning west on 50th, which would be in danger of right-hook collisions from car drivers continuing south through the intersection. I am a car driver and sit through that intersection too, but I see the cycle tracks as a community benefit for those wanting to use bicycling as a legitimate means of transportation.
The scenario where a southbound motorist collides with a bicycle turning from south to west onto 50th? That’s in the original configuration, where the track follows the current striping into a middle lane. Eric (et al.?) put the track on the curb, right? so bicycles turning west from the Greenlake track to the 50th track follow the curb and don’t cross any lanes. They’re the big winners in this scheme, they and the south and east bound motorists who get a lane back.
I rarely walk through this intersection. I’m sure regular users know the sequence and take the least wait path around, but for me it can be a long trip, from one corner to the opposite. I don’t think I’d ask for an all way scramble light, though – all the signal phases already add up to a very long cycle.
Sorry, scrambled brain. What I meant was southbound bikes heading straight through being at risk for being hit by southbound drivers turning right. Southbound bikes turning right are in less danger in either alternative than southbound bikes going through in Eric’s alternative.
In the current scheme, right turning bicycle has to keep right instead of following the stripes into that middle lane, true? Not sure if the “track” will be that flexible – there’s supposed to be a physical separation. That’s another advantage to the proposal: the physical separation has to disappear where it crosses lanes, as the current stripes do.
In the proposal, southbound riders get light 3, and then right turning drivers get light 4. That’s the old signal split into two new phases, so making them both long enough is probably the hard part.
I think Donn has it right- there should be no crossing conflicts between cars and bikes in the new scheme. Vehicle right turns are blocked while the bikes go, but the right turn still gets plenty of time to go overall, plus it gains a dedicated lane on Green Lake Way north of the intersection.
UrbanVillager- I asked SDOT for a feasibility analysis for the intersection and they said that hadn’t been done. Without a separate signal, bike commuters would need to walk their bikes across at least 2 crosswalks to access a cycle track and would have to wait on a tiny island between lights (on the NE corner of the intersection). I don’t know any bike commuter that would put up with that. See here for how things work today, and the trouble with adding a cycle track that conforms to the Bike Master Plan:
Note for pedestrians: Always travel counter-clockwise around the intersection. This path follows the signal cycle and will get you through within one-cycle.
The plan also needs to consider ways to make this intersection more pedestrian friendly. How about including an all-way pedestrian cycle?
Hmm, I don’t see any provision for northbound cyclists on Stone Way to turn right onto 50th Eastbound, or any other eastbound turns into Tangletown north of the intersection. There probably also needs to be a bike lane on the east side of Stone Way/Green Lake Way to make it clear to drivers that bikers are allowed to be there (otherwise they will complain that the bikers are scofflaws for not using the bike lane).
In fact, this proposal really only shows very limited options for bike travel – 50th to Green Lake way and reverse, Green Lake Way to Stone Way and reverse. What about all the other places bikes may need to go? Am I missing something?
50th East bound is not in the bike master plan- you’re not supposed to use it. Bikes accessing Tangletown can use the crosswalk at 52nd, which works well for bikes- just go into the Lower Woodland Park parking lot and then queue up to the crosswalk using the curb cuts. Actually, 52nd should be the Tangletown greenway, not 53rd, which there’s no way to get to. There will be other crosswalks as well, plus whatever SDOT comes up with for the Green Lake Way T (which will need to be completely rebuilt).
As a cyclist, why would I want to ride eastbound on 50th Street? Steeply uphill on a major arterial with lots of traffic. Better to take 46th or 47th Street eastbound.
Frank, my point was basically if the bike lane is to the west of all the traffic, how can a cyclist access Tangletown or places east of Stone Way that they may need to get to – including 46th or 47th.
Personally, I don’t know why they put bike lanes on busy arterials like Stone Way at all. Who wants to suck all that exhaust and risk high-speed injury? There should be dedicated side streets for bikes only, like they do in Portland.
I agree, but that battle was lost when Tony Provine and Catherine Weatbrook lost the election and Move Seattle passed. My goal in this post and going forward is to make the existing Bike Master Plan as good as possible for Wallingford. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Respectfully, I highly doubt Catherine Weatbrook or Tony Provine – as 1 or 2 members of a 9-member city council with the entire city to run – would have prioritized taking the bike lanes off of Stone Way.
I think they would have prioritized greenway development over development of on-arterial bike infrastructure, and I think they would have encouraged community input in transportation plans. Not undoing what’s been done, but they would have influenced what happens going forward.
If past traffic “improvements” are any indication of future ones, I have every bit of confidence in SDOTto screw thigs up even worse.
I’m with runyararo. I ride N/S in the hood regularly and INFINITELY prefer Wallingford Ave for southbound travel and any small neighborhood street (e.g. Burke, Meridian, Woodlawn) for northbound travel. Even without any real infrastructure I find these routes safer and more enjoyable.
I suppose the north/south difference is because you’re south of 45th where Wallingford slopes down to the north, so you’re traveling much faster going south. Neighborhood intersections are extremely perilous at high speed. I think cycle commuters get used to heavy traffic on arterials, and per mile traveled they’re really safer there.
I mean, Wallingford slopes down to the south from 45th. Or down from the north, up to the north, up from the south, whatever.
I’m further to the east so, as a rule, if I’m traveling south to the B-G, I take Thackeray which is excellent and not at all perilous. Northbound I take Bagley which leads me right into Meridian Park and up into Tangletown. Also a lovely and enjoyable neighborhood route.
I only ride on Stone Way if my destination is actually on Stone Way – like Aditi yoga studio.
I disagree that arterials are safer for bikes. It doesn’t matter if bikers “get used to” the cars; if the cars and trucks are moving faster and blowing engine exhaust in your face, it is inherently less safe to the biker. Not to mention the increased exposure to angry drivers and their rude reactions to bikers.
The danger is at intersections. Motorists at an arterial intersection usually stop to look for oncoming traffic, which may include me. At a neighborhood intersection, they usually don’t.