Bike lane behind bus bulb. Attributed to SDOT.
Bike lane behind bus bulb. Attributed to SDOT.

On March 26, 2014, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) held an open house for the Greenwood Transit and Sidewalk Project. The project involves building sidewalks and upgrading bus stops along Greenwood Ave N between N 90th St and N 105th St. The new bus stops will feature bus bulbs so that buses can stop without having to exit and re-enter travel lanes. In addition, the bike lanes will be rerouted so that they flow between the bus stops and the sidewalk, similar to the bus stops on Dexter Ave.

The open house was largely a recap of information that SDOT had already announced, but there were some new tidbits. The highlight of the evening was an informal announcement that SDOT is exploring the possibility of simultaneously constructing sidewalks on both sides of Greenwood Ave N. SDOT also revealed that construction is scheduled to start between October 2014 and March 2015 and is expected to take 6-10 months to complete. Finally, in the next year or two, SDOT will begin a complete corridor review of Greenwood Ave N, which may include bus bulbs, stop consolidation, and other transit improvements.

More after the jump.

Rob Gorman, the SDOT project manager, gave a brief overview of the project to a crowd of about 30 and then opened the floor for questions. As expected, there was a bit of kvetching, though a few people also expressed their support and enthusiasm.

One neighborhood resident observed that sidewalks had recently been constructed on N 90th St. She was concerned about the proposal to move the bus stop from N 90th St to N 92nd St and wanted to know if new sidewalks would be built along N 92nd St to align with the new bus stop. Gorman clarified that there were no plans to build new sidewalks on east–west streets.

After the presentation, I had a chance to speak with Christine Alar, the SDOT lead for the transit portion of the project. Alar explained that the bike lane configuration was designed to minimize conflicts between bicyclists and vehicles exiting driveways. SDOT evaluated a cycle track (where the bike lane is between the sidewalk and parked cars) but rejected it for safety reasons. Drivers exiting driveways will not expect to find fast-moving bicycle traffic between the sidewalk and parked cars, so a cycle track would increase the risk of collisions. In addition, there isn’t enough room to build a buffered cycle track without taking away an entire parking lane. An unbuffered cycle track would give bicyclists little room to maneuver away from hazards like car doors. Ultimately, while SDOT wants to make Greenwood Ave N as safe as possible for bikes, Fremont Ave N remains the primary neighborhood greenway and bike corridor.

I urge everyone to contact SDOT to express their support for this project, which will meaningfully improve safety and mobility in Greenwood. Remember that every public agency receives a disproportionate number of negative comments. Your positive feedback will help ensure that SDOT can continue to do their excellent work.

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