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Beacon Hill Bike Route: Completed safety enhancements + 60% design of the bike route | LEVY DOLLARS AT WORK

A sunny day outside the Beacon Hill Station. Credit: SDOT

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Editor’s Note (August 15, 2023): We originally published this blog post on February 3, 2023, and have updated it since then with the latest information.

We recently reached the 60% design milestone for the Beacon Ave S & 15th Ave S Safety Project!

By incorporating community feedback on our 30% design, we were able to make the following design updates, as well as complete construction on near-term enhancements so that we don’t need to wait for the rest of the project to be implemented.

Since announcing our 30% design, we have completed near-term safety enhancement projects, including: 

  • Speed cushions on 15th and 14th Aves S  
  • A rapid-flashing beacon at the 14th/15th/Golf intersection  
  • Paint-and-post curb bulbs to make crossing the street easier  
  • Pavement repairs  
  • Signs and paint, where parking already isn’t allowed, near intersections to make it easier for travelers see oncoming traffic 

New features of our 60% design include:

  • Identified sidewalk repair locations 
  • Identified bike signal and detection upgrades 
  • Updated curb cuts in bike buffer along project route
  • Partnership with Seattle Public Utilities to upgrade drainage along 15th Ave S

Check out the full 60% design plan.

You can learn more about the project and next steps on the project website or by signing up for email updates.

Project overview

The Beacon Hill Bike Route project has evolved, and along with that comes a name change to Beacon Ave S & 15th Ave S Safety Project. This reflects the range of improvements the project will provide. It will create a safe and comfortable bike route that connects people to businesses and community destinations in Beacon Hill. It’s also an opportunity to improve safety for all travelers, provide a better north-south connection in southeast Seattle, and improve safe access to transit.

Previous Project Update (February 3, 2023)

This spring, in response to community input, we installed safety enhancements along 15th Ave S to make travel safer for people biking, walking, and rolling.

We held community site walks and listening tours to see the project area first-hand and understand the safety priorities of people living, working, and visiting the neighborhood. Along with providing a safe place for people to bike, people want traffic to slow down by their homes and businesses. People have said they want these busier streets to be more people-oriented and easier to cross.

  • Speed cushions to slow speeds
  • Rapid-flashing beacons to make it easier for people driving to see you and safer to cross the street
  • Painted curb bulbs to make people walking and rolling more visible to drivers and shorten crossings
  • Pavement repairs for smoother travel
  • More green paint at existing bike lane crossings to raise awareness
  • Signs and paint where parking isn’t allowed already at intersections, so pedestrians aren’t hidden by parked cars and trucks
Map of safety enhancements in the project area. Graphic: SDOT
Taking a break from a walk along 15th Ave S. Photo: SDOT

We are nearing 30% design of the bike route and drafting an on-street parking management plan. We look forward to discussing it with you during the next phase of public engagement.

Continue reading to learn more about what we learned through public engagement and how we’re collecting data to inform the on-street parking management plan.

Recap: what we heard during community outreach

During our latest phase of outreach, we asked people to share their thoughts about safety needs and the bike route, particularly in the project’s north segment. We gathered input through surveys, events, meetings, listening tours, conversations, and correspondence.

We received more than 1,000 comments from a diverse group of people living, working, and traveling in Beacon Hill. We’re excited to share what we heard and are thankful for the engagement.

Overall, the feedback we received aligns closely with what we’ve heard across Seattle and via recent engagement on the Seattle Transportation Plan vision for the future of city streets. Namely, people – particularly in underserved communities – want streets that work for them.

This feedback told us to design slower, safer streets for everyone on Beacon Hill. This mean streets that are easier to  walk, roll, and bike on, with safe and convenient access to transit. It means streets designed for people that accommodate small businesses and common-sense parking approaches developed in collaboration with the community and residents.

You can check out our early design outreach summary (2-page overview with full survey results) to recap our engagement activities. It includes what we learned about design preferences, priorities for potential improvements, and more.

Key themes of feedback are also detailed below:

  • Protected bike lane location:
    • About half of the people (47%) prefer a protected bike lane on each side of 15th Ave S
      • Bikes moving in the same direction as vehicles feel safer and more logical. It’s a more intuitive design for people walking, biking, and driving.
    • Nearly a quarter of people (22%) prefer a two-way protected bike lane only along the east side of 15th Ave S
  • How people travel: Folks shared they would prefer to bike (80%), walk (76%), or take public transit (68%) to get around north Beacon Hill.
    • Currently, most people get around the neighborhood by either walking (71%) or driving (71%).
  • Safety concerns: Unsafe driving is a big safety concern for people who weighed in. Specific concerns include speeding, cut-through traffic, and aggressive driving. People also mentioned drivers failing to yield to people walking and biking.
  • Street and sidewalk conditions: Street and sidewalk maintenance was another safety concern we heard. Feedback included dim lighting, missing crosswalks, and longer crossings. Folks also shared about pavement, sidewalks, and drainage being in poor condition.
  • Protected bike lane opposition: Some people shared feedback in opposition to installing the protected bike lanes. We heard people say they felt we were proposing the bike lanes for people who don’t live in Beacon Hill.
  • Concerns about parking: We also heard that there are not enough people biking to warrant removing parking. There is concern about where residents without off-street parking will park their cars.
  • Maintaining access: Folks asked us to ensure their homes and businesses remain accessible. They need deliveries to be able to reach them.

Stay tuned: we’ll host a virtual open house in the next month to provide additional details on what we heard from the community, planned near-term safety improvements, and next steps for the project.

Two people smile as they walk up the hill from the Dr. Jose Rizal Bridge to north Beacon Hill. Photo: SDOT.

Also in the works: we’re evaluating how to manage limited parking for people who live and shop nearby

In summer 2022, we conducted an independent, third-party parking study for north Beacon Hill. The parking study helps us to better understand parking capacity and parking demands. The planned protected bike lanes on 15th Ave S remove about 100 on-street parking spaces. This includes 50 spaces in an existing Residential Parking Zone (RPZ). There are apartments on 15th Ave S, between Golf Dr S and S Atlantic St, that currently have limited on no off-street parking.

We’ve heard concerns about loss of parking for residents who rely on their car to get to work and possible displacement. Challenges along this stretch of the street include limited space to add parking. This is primarily due to the narrow street. There is also an existing ADA-accessible parking space to accommodate and steep side streets.

Using the data collected this summer and the concerns described above we’re drafting an on-street parking management plan with the residential community. This plan will be informed by the needs of the people that live in this area. The community includes Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community members, multi-generational households, and people with limited on-street alternatives. The draft plan will be shared during the next phase of public engagement.

As noted above, we encourage you to stay tuned as we develop the on-street parking management plan, by signing up for email updates and visiting the project website.

Thank you for your interest and for sharing your perspectives to help shape this important project.

Stay engaged:

A King County Metro route 36 bus travels up the Dr. Jose Rizal Bridge to north Beacon Hill. Photo: SDOT.