Central Part

Last night, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) held an open house for the Broadway Streetcar. The project would extend the First Hill Streetcar to the north by an additional half mile, adding 2-3 new stops. It would also extend the Broadway cycletrack along the same route.

Much of the information about the project was repeated from previous open houses, but there were a few new tidbits of information:

  • The proposed terminus at E Prospect St will have a center lane platform, rather than a curbside platform supporting bidirectional traffic. Previous renderings showed a single lane extending past E Roy St riding in the shoulder.
  • The turn-around track will be placed in a center lane on 10th Ave E past E Prospect St, similar to the final stop on the SLU Streetcar.
  • North of E Roy St, the cycle track will split into two individual protected bike lanes, one on each side of the street.
  • North of the E Prospect St terminus, the bicycle lanes will revert to sharrows. The width of the center platform at E Prospect St precludes any protected bicycle lanes through that stretch.

For streetcar riders, the center platform will be a nicer experience than a one-sided terminus. Yet the width of the new design effectively precludes any protected bicycle lanes between E Roy St and E Prospect St. Many people would like to see a continuous cycletrack between Yesler Way and E Roanoke St. But unless the E Prospect St terminus is redesigned yet again, the new design makes the Broadway Streetcar (or at least its extension from E Roy St to E Prospect St) considerably less desirable for them.

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  1. If there were ambitions to eventually extend this to the U-District, could a streetcar make the climb up from Eastlake? Or would that depend on an extension of SLU line?

      • Some folks seem to see the Streetcar as upgraded local service (mostly boosted capacity).

        As I said above though, the city has no plans to extend the first Hill car past this Broadway extension at this point. Its just in the realm of possible things the city could do in the (distant?) future.

  2. The sharrows specifically happen past the Prospect stop where the turn around track has exclusive right of way. Apparently the street is only three lanes wide here?

    If this is the case they should stick with the Roy unless/until they are willing to extend this all the way down 10th and either use a couplet with a parallel street or avoid stops/turn around tracks on sections of road that are less than four lanes wide.

    I agree that the extension past Roy currently looks weird, but I wouldn’t rule out an eventual extension that takes the full length of 10th and all of its current uses into account. I don’t think SDOT has any plans in this direction though.

    I have to say the Roy stop looks a lot more extensible and still allows the option of taking the cycle track (street car or no) all the way to Roanoke. There are more than a few cyclists on 10th and this should be worth considering even if it costs some parking (but not all of it) to give safer uphill and downhill access to Capitol Hill from the north.

    • Charles, thanks for the clarification re sharrows past prospect. I agree that the situation for cyclists on this most signifiant cycle route from points north to the hill and back should get better attention, and the stretch between roy and Blaine (maybe?) right now seems particularly precarious in my experience as a cyclist. A painted lane, perhaps even one with armadillos, would be a welcome measure on that stretch in each direction. I know that there is resistance to shunting cycle traffic off of main roads, but federal, if it were repaved, would be a pleasant alternative to the arterial, IMO. I’d ride it were it not for the rough road.

  3. One small correction: The bike lanes in the Prospect extension are not protected (they are green on the skematic, which is confusing. As of this point, they are paint-only and squeezed between parked cars and the streetcar tracks. They definitely SHOULD be protected, though.

    Another thought from the open house: People who want the Prospect extension are gonna have to fight hard for it. The cost presented is huge compared to Roy (don’t have the numbers in front of me, but it was $15-20 million more if I remember, largely because they have to buy another train to maintain10-minute headways), and ridership increase is not great. Is there some other argument for extending to Prospect?

    • I think it just gets us closer to the U District and really, added ridership increases the overall utility of the line further down along Broadway. It’s also important to remember that there is a fair amount of dense residential north of Roy Street with a number of local points of interest nearby.

      • Oh, one other detail: I think 10th Ave gets wider again further north of Prospect (way up at Galer). So if a stop beyond Roy is really wanted, perhaps pushing for a Galer stop could make sense to make sure there is space for protected bike lanes. Or maybe that’s a future phase?

        In the end, I don’t have a strong opinion about Roy vs Prospect. But there must be protected bike lanes the whole length of whatever option is chosen. I don’t think it needs to be a Prospect vs bike lanes fight (they could probably extend the two-way bikeway at the very least and make it fit). But paint-only is not good enough, especially since this will be the primary connection to the new 520 Bridge trail from Capitol Hill.

        And it certainly seemed like planners at the open house were pushing back against Prospect, so it could be an uphill fight for supporters.

        • I think you’re absolutely right, Tom. We want this to be fast and safe corridor for cyclists. I’m still a bit dismayed with how the current bikeway ends at Denny. It really kills the true utility potential that this corridor could have. Getting the cycletrack right is just as paramount as providing the right track and stop location for the streetcar.

        • I was told by the staff on hand “bicycle advocates prefer the bicycle lanes to the cycle track” as the explaination for why they switched from cycle track to bicycle lanes.

          I am not certain where they are pulling this from, but I know of at least one advocate that has been pushing against cycle tracks.

          Average folks will not use plain bike lanes. I know quote a number of folks who outright refuse to ride until they have a fully protected exclusive right of way.

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