[Correction! Alert reader Richard noticed that the plan which I referenced for this article, dated May of last year, was updated this past March 20 (a few days after I downloaded the PDF of what was then the current plan). Although bike lanes will still run along 40th, the layout of those lanes has changed significantly. I have updated this article to reflect this new plan. I apologize for not checking to make sure the plan was still current before this article was published.]
Neighbors living near 40th St. recently received a notice from SDOT advising them of details of the paving project to begin in 2019. I made mention of this project in an article I wrote back in May that was focused on more near-term changes to the intersection near Irwin’s. What I may not have noticed at that time, or what may not have been in the works back then, is a number of other changes that go far beyond a simple repaving. Perhaps of greatest interest to residents, and maybe of greatest impact, will be the addition of bike lanes to 40th.
The various elements of the project are grouped together under the name Green Lake Area Paving and Safety Projects. (The details of the plan are available here in this PDF from SDOT.) Given this rubric, it’s not surprising that the work to take place on 40th has escaped the notice of many of us. In fact, to find any mention of what is afoot on 40th, you have to scan all the way to the last two pages page of the PDF. I’ve pulled these figures out, and they appear elsewhere on this page.
Between Stone Way and Wallingford Ave., bike lanes will run along both the north and south sides of the roadway. These bike lanes will each be five feet wide with the space being made available through the elimination of parking on the south side of 40th and some narrowing of the travelling lanes. Between Wallingford and Latona, there will one separated bike lane westbound with sharrows pained on the eastbound lane. However, on this stretch of 40th, there is no north-side parking currently, so the space for the bike lanes will be created through the elimination of the south-side parking as well as lane narrowing. This will no doubt force some of the folks who currently park on the south side of 40th to park on the side streets instead.
In addition to the paving and bike lanes, improvements will be made to the intersection near Irwin’s coffee shop, scene of a vehicle versus pedestrian accident a year or so ago. This may include repair of sidewalks, some minor relocation of bus stops, and better pedestrian lighting. All of this work is paid for by the Move Seattle levy which we, the voters, approved back in 2015.
Now, I’m a pretty avid bicyclist, but I never bike on 40th. There are too many cars there travelling too fast. If I have to travel east from Stone Way on my bike, and I’m near 40th, I’ll choose to travel on 39th or 41st. I like the Neighborhood Greenway that we have near 45th (which swaps between being on 44th and 43rd). I would never travel on 45th; I don’t need to get whacked by someone exiting Dick’s. So while I am very supportive of the city’s efforts to expand bicycle lanes, I again have to question why they are sometimes located where they are located. I wonder if bikes on 40th make sense.