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The next installment of the Center City Bike Network is starting on 4th Ave!

Person riding a bike in a protected bike lane.
Ridership on 2nd Ave has quadrupled since we built the 2nd Ave protected bike lane. Employers located near paths and protected lanes have higher bike-to-work numbers.
(Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr)

We recently opened the Bell St Protected Bike Lane and we’re excited to share that construction will start as soon as mid-September to build a new protected bike lane on 4th Ave between Pine St and Madison St as part of the downtown Center City Bike Network. Both projects are funded by the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle

“We are facing a number of challenges in our City: from the COVID-19 pandemic to ongoing budget shortfalls to the emerging needs of the West Seattle Bridge. As we build a City that stands ready to come back stronger than ever, we must continue investing in our values. In addition to creating 26 miles of Stay Healthy Streets during the pandemic, we have prioritized moving forward with the 4th Avenue protected bike lane to give our residents safe, healthy transportation options throughout our City.” 

Mayor Jenny Durkan

This is another step toward Seattle’s connected Center City Bike Network. 

The Center City Bike Network is a longstanding priority to make center city streets safer for everyone, whether they are biking, walking, rolling, driving, or using transit.  

The Center City Bike Network: 

  • Promotes biking as a reliable transportation choice in our densest jobs center
  • Improves public health and equity
  • Maintains transit priority
  • Helps us reach our Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 

“Seattle is facing a global pandemic, a closed West Seattle Bridge, and one of the worst economic recessions in its history. As employees and visitors return to downtown, we must deploy an array of solutions to ensure that downtown remains accessible to people and goods. In 2018, DSA worked with the City of Seattle, King County Metro, and Sound Transit to identify near-term transportation and public realm projects totaling $30 million. The 4th Ave bike lane was included in this plan and delivers on the promise to keep downtown moving.” 

Jacqueline Gruber, Downtown Seattle Association

This is the first phase of the protected bike lane on 4th Ave and will connect between Pine and Madison streets. Future phases will extend north to Vine St, and south to connect to the 2nd Ave Protected Bike Lane via Dilling Way.  

Ultimately, we envision a bike network with a direct connection down 4th Ave to S Main St. We’ll continue to evaluate operations to understand how and when this might be feasible. Now, to mitigate the impact of the bike lane on bus travel times, while facilitating near-term connections for people biking to and from West Seattle, we’re routing the south end of the protected bike lane through Dilling Way to Yesler for a connection to 2nd Ave.    

A map of the Existing and planned Center City Bike Network.
Existing and planned Center City Bike Network

 “All ages and abilities bike infrastructure gives employees a great way to get to work in our downtown area and continues to build a bike network that serves everyone and prioritizes safety. This is the latest step in our efforts to connect people to where they need to go in Downtown Seattle.” 

Sam Zimbabwe, Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation

Last year, Seattle had a record number of people riding bikes. Our permanent bike counters showed that bike ridership increased 18% compared to 2018! The expanded Center City Bike Network and investments made through the Levy to Move Seattle make biking safer and easier for these riders, and hopefully more enticing for new riders. 

E-bike use is also on the rise. 

In a recent blog on Cascade Bicycle Club’s website, author Paul Tolmé noted that the closure of the bridge has “caused a ‘dramatic increase’ in sales at Seattle E-bike, the closest downtown electric bike shop to the West Seattle Bridge. ‘West Seattle residents have become about 50 percent of our sales, up from about 15 percent in the past,’ says Brian Nordwall, owner of Seattle E-bike.” 

Last year we built protected bike lanes on 8th and 9th avenues in Denny Triangle and Pike St to Broadway on Capitol Hill, and a connection through the Chinatown/International District. 

“We are very excited with the announcement of the impending construction on the first phase of the 4th Avenue bike lane. This project will be another crucial link in the Central City Bike Network and another step in fulfilling promises made to the citizens of Seattle. As we move into recovery, this project will provide a new safe transportation option for the thousands of people who live and work in our downtown, while supporting our city’s climate change and Vision Zero goals.”   

Patrick Taylor, Co-chair of the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board and participant on the Levy to Move Seattle Oversight Committee

Protected bike lanes are shown to increase safety not only for people biking, but for people walking too 

On 4th Ave, we’re making changes to the traffic signals at intersections so people biking and walking will have separate signal phases from vehicles. This means that drivers can make left turns while people walking and biking are stopped, which reduces collisions and makes for a more comfortable, predictable experience for everyone.  

People biking with text that reads, "Drivers have a red arrow while people walking and biking are crossing."
New protected bike lane will have a similar design to 2nd Ave.

“As the leading provider of flexible workspace, we know that employers and employees everywhere are looking for increased flexibility when it comes to where, when and how they get to work. Physical office space is essential for fostering creativity, culture and teamwork, yet many employees are worried about how they will get to the office. Additional protected bike lanes in the downtown core can play a key role in providing the flexible commuting solutions that employees now require, while helping to ensure that everyone returns to the office safely.”  

Robin Cardoso, WeWork’s Northwest Area Director

COVID-19 has changed the way we get around, and we’re responding to the community’s new transportation needs. WeWork has coworking spaces located next to the new protected bike lane. 

As we prepare for our new normal, Seattle has the opportunity to build lasting, positive change toward a more livable, safer city for all. In addition to investing in the Center City Bike Network, we’re also making 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets permanent, so people can plan on being able to walk safely, with enough space, through many of their neighborhood streets.  

Making biking easier and safer, while maintaining transit accommodations, is another way we prioritize equity. Sixteen percent of Seattle households do not have a motor vehicle for their use, and nationwide, the lowest-income households bike for transportation most 

Better, safer bike lanes make biking a more viable transportation option to and from downtown. We also recognize that not everyone is able to bike, so a high priority of the Center City Bike Network and this project is to maintain transit accommodations. 

Especially now, people who live, work, and visit Seattle need safe, healthy, and affordable options to get around. The new protected bike lanes on 4th Ave are one piece of the puzzle to help people travel safely while Seattle works to reopen and beyond. 

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