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What’s a Buffered Bike Lane?

N 130th before the buffered bike lane was installed.

After the buffered bike lane was installed on N130th.

If you’ve never heard of a buffered bike lane, that’s because before now, Seattle hasn’t had any.  SDOT has just has just put the finishing touches on the city’s first buffered bike lane on N 130th Street from Greenwood Avenue N to Linden Avenue N.  Long-awaited by the Bitter Lake Community, this is one of a number of roadway improvements recently made on this “complete street” that  makes travel safer for everyone whether on foot, bike or in a car. 

The first such enhanced bike lane in Seattle, the buffered bike lane is a five-foot-wide bike lane that is buffered by a 2 ½ – foot striped “shy zone” between the bike lane and the moving vehicle lane. This design makes movement safer for both bicyclists and vehicles. With the shy zone, the buffered lane offers a more comfortable riding environment for bicycle riders who prefer not to ride adjacent to traffic. This system allows motorists to drive at a normal speed; they only need watch for cyclists when turning right at cross-streets or driveways and when crossing the buffered lane to park.

The street also features two vehicle travel lanes (one eastbound and one westbound), a new curb bulb at the marked crosswalk at N 130th Street and North Park Avenue N in front of the Bitter Lake Community Center and will next build a pedestrian refuge island at this crosswalk.

The changes to improve safety, pedestrian access and bicycle usage along the N 130th Street corridor are part of SDOT’s Pedestrian Master Plan and Bicycle Master Plan implementation and were funded by the voter-approved Bridging the Gap transportation initiative.

18 Responses to “What’s a Buffered Bike Lane?”

  1. shahbaz says:

    The Washington State Dept. of Transportation makes decisions about I-5. However, not all roads are appropriate for bicycle facilities.

  2. [...] Some bike lanes are buffered from adjacent traffic with extra space designated with painted striping. [...]

  3. Andy Schmidt says:

    Just found this blog. I’ve been using these bike lanes on a regular basis. They make biking on 130th between the Interurban and the library much more enjoyable. Thank You.

  4. david miller says:

    I was just wondering when the bike lanes will be installedon Greenwood ave. N between 90th and 103rd? We are very excited about this change! Thanks!

  5. Michael A says:

    I live near 128th & Fremont. Thank you for implementing these traffic-calming measures; it has made the area much more walkable and enjoyable. I have not seen any traffic impact.

  6. Nelson Chen says:

    Kudos for experimenting and making things better. I’m so glad that all over the country people are taking steps toward completing the streets.

    Playing devil’s advocate, but what would happen if the buffer were placed to the RIGHT of the bike lane, to separate the bike lane from the parked cars instead? The infamous door zone problem would be solved if the bike lane were reduced to 4 ft or so, and the buffer of 3-3.5 ft placed between the parked cars and the bike lane. One would think that the door zone problem is a bigger issue than the perceived conflict between cyclists and cars given a bike lane.

  7. Jake says:

    First buffered bike lane? What about the one on Alaskan way? You can see a photo here: http://bikeseattle.blogspot.com/2010/06/bike-improvements-everywhere.html

    • SDOT Blog says:

      Our bike staff thought that this was such a short segment that it did not really count. But you must be a user of the Alaskan Way facility, so we’re glad you noticed.

  8. steven says:

    Thanks for screwing up our road. In the 2 years I have lived here, I have seen maybe 4 bicyclist pass bye. And are the bicyclists paying for this work?

    Since you have changed our road from 4 lanes to two, you have doubled the traffic. Today traffic was backed up from Greenwood to Aurora. Thanks for doing research before spending money that could go elsewhere.

    • SDOT Blog says:

      Sorry that you feel that way. Rechannelizations are done to enhance safety on roadways by lowering speeds, and research shows they are effective in Seattle and across the country. A road with reconfigured lanes still has the ability to carry the same volume of traffic, so back-ups are not due to the changes in lanes.

      • Mike says:

        Oh enough of these already. How people suppose to get around?! on bicycles? This is a region not some small farm town. You must first provide regional high speed connections before you gonna force people to walk and bike in vehicular traffic. Besides, walking and biking next to idling (slow speed) vehicles is not healthy at all.
        We need express bus lanes, not bicycle lanes…

    • Stan says:

      So when are bike lanes going to be implemented on I-5? I mean after all, who needs 4 lanes or more on a freeway devoted to automobiles? Cars are evil, at least that’s the impression I get from living in Seattle.

      • SDOT Blog says:

        The Washington State Dept. of Transportation makes decisions about I-5. However, not all roads are appropriate for bicycle facilities. The speed and volume of traffic on I-5, as well as its limited access nature, make it an inappropriate facility for bike lanes, so it is very unlikely I-5 will ever have bike lanes. SDOT is commited to building and maintaining a high quality transportation system in Seattle for all modes of transport. Every year investments are made to improve car travel in Seattle. A few good examples include the Spokane St. Viaduct, the Mercer Corridor Project, and the City’s Arterial Asphalt & Concrete Paving Program.

  9. Todd says:

    That looks a lot nicer. Any idea when bike lane on 7th Ave just south of Denny Way will be done?

    • SDOT Blog says:

      The bike lane work on 7th Avenue was just completed the last week of June. Hope you get a chance to enjoy using them!

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