Seattle’s First Bicycle Leaning Rails – Coming soon!

Hey bike riders – Looking for a place to rest an arm or foot when you’re stopped at a light? You’ll be able to soon. As part of the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan and upcoming safety improvements to the area, the City of Seattle is installing our first set of bicycle leaning rails at the intersection of the Burke-Gilman Trail and 25th Avenue NE next month.

LeaningRail

Already utilized in Copenhagen, Denmark, and recently installed in Chicago, leaning rails are convenient structures that allow bicyclists to rest their foot and have something to hold onto for balance while waiting at the traffic light rather than using traffic light posts or other poles around them.

In addition to the leaning rail, a push button will be installed directly in front of the hand rail for people on bikes to initiate the bicycle and pedestrian crossing phase. The new leaning rails on the Burke-Gilman Trail near 25th Avenue NE will also help align bike riders to one side of the trail so the sidewalk is kept clear for pedestrians, making it safer for all to cross the street.

As this the first project of its kind here in Seattle, the installation will be a testing ground for SDOT. We’ll be evaluating potential future sites, as appropriate. If you have questions or comments about the project, please email walkandbike@seattle.gov or call 206-684-7583.

Additional improvements to this intersection include:

  • Upgraded curb ramps to be compliant with current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
  • Signal modifications for a new protected bicycle/pedestrian phase for the south crossing on the Burke-Gilman Trail with bicycle icon signal heads and push buttons.
  • Signal modifications to accommodate a new right-turn only pocket and protected turning phase on the west side of the intersection for eastbound motorists on NE Blakeley Street.

We will also be improving the intersection of 30th Avenue NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail by building a raised crosswalk to alert drivers of this crossing and slow vehicle speeds. Raised crosswalks also help improve visibility between motorists and pedestrians and help maintain a level crossing for people biking, walking or with disabilities. You can learn more about the project, construction timeline and impacts by visiting our project Web page: www.seattle.gov/transportation/UnionBlakeleyImprovements.htm.

Bridging the Gap 2014 signage work nearly complete!

Did you know that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has replaced more than 44,000 regulatory traffic signs, more than 157 miles of bike routes have been signed and more than 9,800 intersections have received new street name signs all across the city? All of this work has been possible thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation Initiative passed by Seattle voters in 2006. The nine-year, $365 million initiative has been instrumental in making key improvements to Seattle’s roads, bridges, sidewalks, signals and signs.

New Street signs and South Jackson Street and Lakeside Avenue South

New Street signs and South Jackson Street and Lakeside Avenue South

 
The good news for 2014 is SDOT has either met, or is on track to meet, all of its goals for signage replacement and upgrades for this year. So far this year, SDOT has replaced 2,907 regulatory signs and installed new street name signs at 1,232, added 20 miles of new bike route signs, improved signage at 12 school zones and are working to complete replacement of five overhead directional signs. With only a few signs left to be replaced or installed all work will be completed by the end of the year.

 
Have you ever wondered what SDOT does with those old street names signs? Wonder no more! As noted in previous blog posts, various street name signs – named and numbered – are available through the City of Seattle Fleets and Facilities surplus warehouse.   An updated list of available signs ranging in price from $5 – 15 is posted on the web. Please see details and contact the warehouse directly if you are interested in purchasing a sign. Holiday shopping? The signs are great gifts for the person who has everything in life or is looking for a new creative project!

Please visit the Bridging the Gap web page for additional information about the initiative.

 

Mercer Corridor Project – Third Eastbound Lane on Mercer Street Opened November 16

The Mercer Corridor Project recently opened a third eastbound lane on Mercer Street between 5th Avenue North and 9th Avenue North.  Construction Crews have worked diligently to complete paving, lane striping, and signal adjustments in order to reach this important milestone. The new configuration provides three continual eastbound lanes on Mercer Street between 5th Avenue North and I-5, providing some relief for travel from Queen Anne and Seattle Center across Aurora Avenue North.

Crews also added two new turn lanes from westbound Mercer Street onto southbound 5th Avenue North and demolished the remaining portions of the bridge over Broad Street at Mercer Street and Dexter Avenue North. Work continues on the sidewalk and bike path on the north side of Mercer Street, at the intersection of Mercer Street and Dexter Avenue North, and along 5th Avenue North.  As a reminder, please pay attention to street signs as travelers adjust to new traffic patterns.

For up-to-minute construction updates join our project email list at: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/mercercorridor.htm or call the 24-hour construction hotline at 206-419-5818.

Installing new traffic signals on Mercer Street

Installing new traffic signals on Mercer Street

Construction Crews working on Dexter Avenue North

Construction Crews working on Dexter Avenue North

 

 

Investigating Carbon Fiber Potential

The proposed pedestrian and bicycle bridge over I-5 at Northgate – linking the North Seattle College on the west with the bus and (future) light rail transit center on the east – has to be pretty high for vehicles on the freeway to pass underneath. That height (about 40 feet above 1st Avenue NE) makes for a looong approach ramp, over 1500 feet, most of it up in the air.

Traditionally these bridge types are steel, and that is what the design codes reference, but SDOT’s team is considering the possibility of using carbon fiber – the stuff that Boeing uses in the 787. Carbon fiber is ten times as strong as steel at less than a quarter of the weight which enables longer spans, smaller foundations, faster construction and less traffic disruption. Andy Bridge, Director of Research and Development for Janicki Industries, says other advantages include reduced visual impacts due to a thinner support structure, easily formed organic shapes, and lower maintenance costs.

The SDOT Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge team will be considering many factors – principally safety – in making design decisions, but is excited about the potential of new materials and methods.   This is just one way in which SDOT is seeking to take advantage of innovations in design to reduce costs and provide great service.

Proposed Carbon Fiber Ped and Bike Bridge over I-5 at Northgate

Proposed Carbon Fiber Ped and Bike Bridge over I-5 at Northgate

Can you see it now? Signal Improvement work thanks to Bridging the Gap!

New signal 145thHave you noticed all the work that the Seattle Department of Transportation has been doing recently? Much of that work has been accomplished thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) Transportation initiative. The initiative, currently in its eighth year, has provided key funding for paving roads, constructing new sidewalks, re-striping arterials, rehabilitating bridges, replacing worn out street name signs, striping bikes and sharrows, repairing sidewalks, pruning and planting trees and making improvements along key transit corridors across the city.

While many of the BTG projects are highly visible, funding is also provided for basic maintenance work that is not so visible. Some of the projects include completing preventative maintenance on all 1,070 signals in the city each year and maintaining the “brains” behind the signals. Keeping signals in good working order is important to keeping traffic moving. SDOT has kept its promise to maintain all signals annually and to upgrade and maintain the systems behind those signals.

New traffic signal requests, left turn improvement requests and overall safety concerns are all investigated as part of BTG. If that investigation determines that a new signal or improvement is necessary, funding is available through the BTG program. Over the first seven years of the levy more than 445 new signal requests have been reviewed resulting in 27 new signals installed; 224 left turn requests have been investigated, resulting in 36 improvements; and, more than 333 overall safety concerns have been evaluated resulting in more than 185 improvements. These improvements are not cheap and every request ,whether implemented or not , must go through a lengthy process of on-site monitoring, data analysis, evaluation, review, more number crunching before final approvals.  The actual installation phase entails another equally lengthy process and none of this could happen without the funding from the BTG.

A lot of BTG project work is highly visible and easily recognized; it is the less visible work that helps keep traffic (all modes!) moving and safe. If you would like more information on BTG please visit the website.

 

 

Future Northgate Connection for Bikes & Peds

Interstate 5 is a critical transportation corridor for Seattle. It helps move people and goods north and south through the center of our city, often at high speeds, unhindered by pedestrians crossing at intersections or bicyclists of various abilities in – or even alongside – the roadway.

Interstate 5 is also an immense obstacle to transportation in the east-west direction wherever the freeway is not lidded or elevated. Where a major arterial does cross, it often has both on- and off-ramps well suited to vehicles, but not particularly friendly for bicyclists or pedestrians.

A new Sound Transit light rail station will soon be built next to the existing King County Metro transit station at 1st Avenue NE and NE 100th Street. The need to connect this transportation hub to the west side of I-5 has become paramount, expressed in planning documents, by public feedback and via support for funding.

Caption:  Artist’s depiction of planned bridge looking west along NE 100th Street

Caption: Artist’s depiction of planned bridge looking west along NE 100th Street

SDOT has responded by planning a new 15-20 wide bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians across I-5 at 100th Street. It would include a ramp on either side to return users to ground level at a less than 5% incline and at least one stairwell on the east side. The bridge would make a direct connection to the mezzanine level of the new light rail station, and would also connect to a new cycle track along 1st Avenue NE.The basic alignment is now being established in consultation with WSDOT, Sound Transit, King County Metro and the North Seattle College (where the landing on the west side will be). The bridge type is also being determined, after which design will begin in earnest.

The planning level estimate for this project is $25M; the City of Seattle and Sound Transit have each agreed to provide $5M towards the cost if the remaining funding is identified by July 2015.

For more information about this project, please visit our project website:

www.seattle.gov/transportation/northgatepedbridge.htm

If you have questions or comments about the project, please contact: Art Brochet, Communications Lead (206) 615-0786 • art.brochet@seattle.gov

City Delivers Bicycle Master Plan Implementation Plan

Setting vigorous project and program goals for enhancing cycling citywide, today the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) delivered to the Seattle City Council the Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) Implementation Plan. Covering work to be completed from 2015 to 2019, the five-year plan includes building nearly 33 miles of protected bike lanes and more than 52 miles of neighborhood greenways across Seattle.

Adopted in April 2014, the new Bicycle Master Plan envisions that, “riding a bicycle is a comfortable and integral part of daily life in Seattle for people of all ages and abilities.” SDOT’s implementation plan describes an ambitious set of projects and programs that will help create a connected network, improving safety for all roadway users and encouraging more people to enjoy the city on two wheels. The projects in the implementation plan were identified using the recommendations and priorities in the BMP, which emphasize safety, connectivity, equity, ridership and livability.

2015 Implementation Plan MapAmong the projects planned for 2015, at a cost of $18.2 million, are:

  • Creating approximately seven miles of protected bike lanes, to include a facility on Roosevelt Way NE (NE 45th Street to the University Bridge) to improve safety;
  • Building more than 12 miles of neighborhood greenways in Ballard, West Seattle, the Central Area and Southeast Seattle;
  • Beginning construction on the Westlake Cycle Track to create a safer, more comfortable and more predictable corridor for drivers, walkers and bicyclists;
  • Installing 225 bike racks and 15 on-street bike corrals; and
  • Creating 25 miles of bike route wayfinding signs throughout the city.

The projects will be funded using several sources, including Bridging the Gap supported BMP implementation and corridor projects, and state and federal grants. The Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board provided valuable feedback during the development of the implementation plan and SDOT will be providing regular progress reports to the board and to the Seattle City Council.

Additional information about the projects, to include maps of project locations, can be found here: BMP Implementation Plan.

Generation Y: Drive less, use alternative transportation more.

US-youth-2Generation Y, (age 16-34) is now driving significantly less than young generations have in prior decades. According to the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), between 2001 and 2009, the average number of vehicle-miles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita-a 23 percent drop from the previous year. Another interesting trend about generation x is that they are taking a while to get a drivers’ license. According to the Federal Highway Administration, from 2000 to 2010, the percentage of 14 to 34-year-olds without licenses increased from 21 percent to 26 percent. In addition, a recent survey by Zipcar and KRC Research found that many young people substitute social networking for driving and prefer living in a place that is walkable and transit-oriented.

As many more Americans, including young people, seek to move to places that have alternative transportation options we find Seattle at the center of an incredible transformation. As a technology hub with companies like Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Getty Images, Amazon and companies offering transportation alternatives like Tesla, Car to Go, Pronto Bike Share, and Uber we are geared to meet the transportation needs and preferences of the future.

SDOT will play a key role in shaping the future of transportation in Seattle. In the next ten years, we are looking forward to set policies and provide services that not only meet the demands of our future citizens but create equity in access to all that makes life in Seattle great.

For more information about the NHTS report visit: http://www.copirgfoundation.org/reports/cof/transportation-and-new-generation

Access Seattle: Working for South Lake Union Mobility

SLU

Map of SLU construction – click to enlarge

If you’ve visited Seattle’s unique South Lake Union neighborhood lately, you’ve likely seen not only the many attractions in this booming community but also the significant construction. In fact, South Lake Union is one of the neighborhoods identified by SDOT as a construction hub, or area experiencing multiple, simultaneous construction projects in close proximity and with considerable cumulative impacts. Those impacts often hamper mobility. That’s one of the reasons the Access Seattle Initiative came to be, to better serve the city through its growth and development surge.

Access Seattle is an initiative launched in 2013 to keep Seattle moving during unprecedented pressure on our transportation system: from increasing population density; new employment centers; and, a significant construction surge. In the South Lake Union area, all three of these factors come into play, creating daily travel challenges for residents and businesses.

A major Access Seattle goal is to proactively plan and manage the city’s transportation system to move people and goods more effectively. The South Lake Union community has a similar goal, of sorts, as part of the South Lake Union/Uptown Triangle Mobility Plan. That plan lays out the community’s vision for all travel modes, to accommodate growth that, “…demands a paradigm shift in how people travel…” The integrated and interconnected neighborhood vision calls for partnerships; the Access Seattle team is working to be one of those partners.

At a recent South Lake Union Community Council meeting, the Access Seattle team talked about progress coordinating multiple construction projects in the neighborhood. Very specific concerns of area residents and business owners were addressed, with results from direct coordination. Some of these concerns, with information the team identified and coordinated steps moving forward, are:

Harrison Street is blocked funneling all traffic to Republican Street and impacts public safety (by restricting access by emergency vehicles). 

The Harrison Street closure and limited emergency vehicle access are related. Off duty Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers were hired by Amazon to restrict street access in order to empty out the garages.

Moving Forward:   SPD will no longer close streets to address garage exiting.  Any such closures must be coordinated with SDOT’s Traffic Management Center in advance.

People avoid the neighborhood because of the traffic gridlock, which hurts local businesses

According to our community contacts, one of the biggest problems is the eastbound flow of traffic on Mercer East, which apparently backs up outside of peak hours.

Moving Forward:  In less than a week, another eastbound lane of Mercer is expected to open up, which will require retiming all the signals and should provide some relief for eastbound flow. Our signal timing engineers will be monitoring the changes and are happy to meet with any members of the community to see how we can make improvements after these changes are complete.

Efforts on the City’s part to coordinate construction to alleviate impacts to parking, and on residents, are not adequate.

SDOT and OED have heard from many community members in construction hub neighborhoods that our efforts through Access Seattle are helping, but more is needed given the scale of the impacts.

Moving Forward:  The Mayor’s Proposed Budget includes additional staffing in 2015 to increase our inspection presence in the field.  We also plan to release more regular traveler information in multiple formats so people can be aware of known impacts.

Residential developments are being constructed without adequate parking.  The community is still experiencing parking impacts, in part due to contractors getting to the neighborhood early and taking up all the available parking all day.

The larger South Lake Union projects all have the amount of parking required by code. There is also an existing Residential Parking Zone.

Moving Forward: Parking enforcement officers have agreed to increase patrols in the area.  Additionally, DPD and SDOT will ramp up the requirements that the builders find off-street parking for their workers.  This is a practice some developers do voluntarily, others are required to due to permit conditions; in the future, we will look at making this a requirement for all large developments

Pedestrian Safety Issues. 

Ninth Ave is not a great situation for pedestrians given the projects along the corridor and many heavy trucks are coming through other parts of Cascade and South Lake Union.

Moving Forward: The builders will pay for SDOT traffic crews to change the signal timing so that we will have all-way walks at the intersections of 9th and Republican, 9th and Harrison, and 9th and Thomas. Additionally, SDOT will be installing all-way walk signals at John and Minor, Yale and Minor, and Yale and Thomas.

Concern about the upcoming Denny Substation construction and increased gridlock. 

The Denny Substation will move into the next phase of construction including running new distribution lines to the substation.  The scale of this construction is significant and there will be neighborhood impacts.

Moving Forward:  We are working closely with Seattle City Light (SCL) to coordinate this massive project.  We continue our efforts to coordinate impacts, keep lines of communication flowing, and resolve issues quickly to minimize the impacts to the neighborhood.

Construction noise regulations are based on a commercial zone, despite the fact that Cascade residents are numerous, including a significant number of low income housing developments. 

Moving Forward:  There is not currently a plan to amend the Noise Ordinance to include more restrictive construction hours in neighborhoods not currently covered by the code (such as Cascade).

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The work listed above is the result of the new Access Seattle Construction Coordination Program, looking at all permitted public and private construction schedules and impacts holistically. It builds on the SDOT Street Use permit process, taking it to new levels while building relationships and systems to better communicate. It also joins multiple City of Seattle Departments–Transportation, Planning & Development, Neighborhoods, and Economic Development–toward the common goal of keeping communities thriving.

For more information on the new program, visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/hub.htm

I’m just biking in the rain…fall weather has finally arrived!

bikeandrain

Normally this time of year we would all be breaking out our rain gear for any outdoor activity. It has been an amazing summer and early fall, but we knew it couldn’t last and the rains have returned. This may relegate many folks across the county indoors; in Seattle, rain doesn’t keep us from riding to work or for play. Thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation initiative passed by voters in 2006, biking is becoming easier and more accessible in the City.

2014 has been a solid year for BTG cycling projects across the city and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews are working to wrap up their work, making it easier to ride a bike in a rainy Seattle. So far, SDOT is working hard to meet its promise of installing four miles of neighborhood greenways and restriping 60 miles of bike lanes and sharrows.

the wide shape of the arrow, combined with the bike symbol, gave rise to unofficial names such as "bike in a house" or "sharrow

the wide shape of the arrow, combined with the bike symbol, gave rise to unofficial names such as “bike in a house” or “sharrow

 

In addition, SDOT crews inspected 40 miles of trail across the city, made improvements to 10 key locations, are working to install 25 miles of bicycle route signage and complete the installation of 500 bicycle parking spaces at key locations across the city. All this work will be completed by the end of the year.

bicirain

Over the first seven years of the BTG program, SDOT has worked hard to implement the Bicycle Master Plan which calls for key improvements across Seattle to make bicycling easier and more accessible to everyone. SDOT is working hard to keep the promises made as part of the BTG program and is working to keep Seattle moving.

BTG

 For more information on BTG and work it is doing please visit the web site.