Just in time for National Bike Month, Broadway’s Protected Bike Lane opens Wednesday morning, May 7. The protected bike lane, a design feature of the First Hill Streetcar project, helps cyclists avoid streetcar tracks and creates a facility where people of all ages and abilities can ride a bike.
The City of Seattle is developing the First Hill Streetcar in a partnership with Sound Transit with funding of $134 million provided through the 2008 voter approved Sound Transit 2 (ST2) transit expansion plan. Construction of the protected bike lane was included with the First Hill Streetcar Project in response to community input and the high concentration of bicycle riders who live, work, or go to school on Capitol Hill and use Broadway as a major transportation corridor.
Broadway is becoming a complete street where one can walk, bike, take transit or drive depending on their needs. Extending 1.2 miles along Broadway from Denny Way to Yesler Way, the protected bike lane incorporates a buffer between people riding bikes and moving cars. The facility features a two foot buffer separating the bike lane from the traffic or parking lanes to enhance bicycle safety and provide predictability for all users.
Additional features of the ten foot wide, two-way bike lane includes smooth new road surfaces, bike-friendly drainage grates, and green painted pavement at those locations where bicyclist and cars cross each other’s paths. Special traffic signals at intersections provide a few seconds of advanced green time for cyclists, to ensure they are visible to motorists making right turns across the bike lane. (Right turns on red across the bike lane are prohibited along the entire lane length.) Posted signage warns motorists of the presence of bicyclists and informs them of the need to stop for bikes.
The northern third of the Broadway Protected Bicycle Lane, the segment between Denny Way and Union Street, was opened to cyclists in October 2013. SDOT is applying lessons learned from the opening of the first segment to provide additional information about traffic operations on Broadway with this new bike facility. In advance of the protected bike lane opening, SDOT has added 23 temporary signs with photos to clarify where motorists can park and where they cannot. Learn more about how to use protected bike lanes by visiting www.seattle.gov/transportation/PBL.htm. You can even watch a 40 second video showing how a two-stage left turn box works at www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=6436&file=1.
Construction of the underground pedestrian concourse at Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill Link Light Rail station has narrowed the street between Denny Way and Howell, in turn requiring the closure of this one-block section of the bicycle lane. In July this year, the work will shift from the west to the east side of Broadway. This construction is slated to continue until the end of the year, during which time people riding bikes can detour along Harvard Avenue between Denny Way and Pine Street.
Later this year, streetcar operations will begin on Broadway and the rest of the 2.5 mile/10 station First Hill Streetcar line. Construction of the streetcar facilities is now approaching substantial completion; streetcar manufacturing, delivery and testing will continue through the summer as the preparations for operational startup begin. Additional information on the project can be found at www.seattlestreetcar.org.
The First Hill Streetcar will be the first Sound Transit 2 rail project to come online. Sound Transit is on track to open the University Link light rail extension, which is six to nine months ahead of schedule and more than $100 million under budget, in early 2016. By 2023 Sound Transit is on track to deliver more than 30 additional miles of light rail extensions approved as part of Sound Transit 2, including extensions east to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area; south to Angle Lake and Kent/Des Moines; and north to the U District, Roosevelt, Northgate, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood.