Unless SDOT has a change of heart in the coming months (as they’ve recently been known to do), cyclists will have a safer way to travel between lower Wallingford and the heart of Fremont, beginning in 2020.
With funding from the 2015 Levy to Move Seattle, three potential design alternatives for protected bike lanes on North 34th Street between Stone Way and Fremont Avenue were pitched to the public via in-person forums and online surveys in early 2018. Design alternative #1 removed existing on-street parking, widened vehicle travel lanes, and installed a protected bike lane on each side of the street; alternative #2 preserved existing on-street parking and installed a protected bike lane on each side of the street; and alternative #3 preserved existing on-street parking and installed a two-way protected bike lane on the south side of North 34th Street.
Although alternative #3 was the preferred choice for a plurality of the 516 survey respondents, design alternative #2 was selected by SDOT. According to an SDOT evaluation, the department believed that a two-way bike lane along this corridor would create a more negative impact on cyclists and motorists than two one-way bike lanes would.
For cyclists, this is good news.
I ride North 34th Street often to get to destinations south of the ship canal, since the Burke/Gilman Trail does not connect to the Fremont Bridge. I have encountered some bad behavior by motorists that the installation of these bike lanes should help mitigate. Oftentimes motorists will use the eastbound bike lane as a bypass to squeeze past cars waiting to make a left turn into a driveway or roadway on the north side of 34th. Motorists (I’m looking at you, Uber and Lyft drivers) will frequently use the westbound bike lane as a loading zone to pick-up and drop-off passengers or goods. By moving the parking lane away from cyclists and adding protected, paint-and-post bike lanes, these bad behaviors should be a thing of the past.
The North 34th Street project is currently in the “10% Design Concept” phase (whatever that means), and SDOT is still accepting comments on the chosen design. Hopefully feedback will be overwhelmingly positive since this new lane configuration seems to be a win for both cyclists who like safety and motorists who like (legal) parking.