The First Hill Streetcar’s Other Track

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The initial section of the Broadway Cycle Track, part of Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar project, has now opened to bicyclists.  The track will improve bicycle safety in a high bike use area, and was included as an element of the project at the request of the community.  Once complete, the cycle track will help bicyclists access streetcar stations, as well as the future Sound Transit light rail station at Broadway and Denny Way. 

Safety features of the cycle track include intersection treatments such as bicycle signals, green pavement markings and traffic signs.  Green pavement markings are also installed at driveways where vehicles and bicyclists cross paths.  Signage at driveways directs motorists to yield to cyclists, while at intersections, signage and signals establish when each mode of transportation can safely proceed without encountering the other.

This first demonstration section, running from Denny Way to East Union Street, is about one-third of what will eventually be a mile long track running along the east side of Broadway from Denny Way to Yesler Way, where it will also connect with new bike lanes and markings coming to Yesler Way, 14th Avenue, and Jackson Street.  The full length of the track is slated to open next spring.

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The two-way cycle track is separated from motor vehicle traffic with a 2’ wide buffer, curbs or a vehicle parking lane.  The track will be 10’ wide along the majority of its route, with 5’ lanes for each direction of travel. 

There will be periodic closures of the cycle track to accommodate continuing streetcar and light rail construction on Broadway in the coming months.  Bike detour routes and signage will remain in place until the construction is complete.  For instance, Sound Transit will temporarily close the northernmost block of the cycle track, between East Denny Way and East Howell Street, in January to complete construction of the light rail station. 

While the Broadway Cycle Track is not the first such track to open in Seattle, it will be a new experience for many bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians.  The density of Broadway presents challenges not experienced with the other cycle tracks, and like any new traffic revision, there will be a learning curve as each mode of transportation learns how the cycle track works.  SDOT engineers are monitoring its early operation and are making minor tweaks with signage and pavement markings to help people better understand its operation. 

Additional information regarding bicycling and the First Hill Streetcar can be found on the project website, located at http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/fh_bikes.htm.