The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has started taking feedback on the RapidRide H line, which will travel from Downtown Seattle to West Seattle via Delridge Way and continue to Burien. This line is planned to start service in 2020, the year after the Madison line, Rapidride G, begins taking on riders. The H will replace the current Metro Route 120, which has 6,300 average daily boardings–with “RapidRide-ification” it is expected to double to 12,300 per day.

The open house currently shows two options for the line, and once again Seattle transit advocates are presented with a classic dichotomy: bikes or transit lanes.

Both options include bus-only lanes for the entire way from the West Seattle Bridge to SW Alaska St. Currently there is only a business access and transit (BAT) lane in the northbound direction–a lane would be added southbound as well. From there the two options differ, in a tradeoff that is becoming all-too-familiar to transit advocates.

Option 1

Option 1 would remove one direction of the current protected bike lane (PBL) between SW Orchard St and SW Holden St, and create peak-only bus lanes out of the parking lanes between those two streets in both directions. North of Orchard, the southbound transit lane would extend to 23rd Ave SW, but the northbound one would not. Between 23rd and Alaska there would be no transit lanes, nor would they extend south of Holden. No bike facilities would be added to Delridge, but the line would intersect with several existing or planned neighborhood greenways, making those the only all-ages-and-abilities bike facilities connected to the RapidRide line. The current southbound unprotected bike lane on Delridge south of Alaska would go away.

Option 1: One direction of a short protected bike lane removed in favor of a peak-only BAT lane, wider sidewalks. (City of Seattle)
Peak-only transit lanes in Option 1 from 23rd to Holden, wider sidewalks. (City of Seattle)

Option 1 is expected to improve northbound bus travel time by up to 9% and general purpose travel time by 1%, and reduce southbound transit time by up to 16% and general purpose by 8% by separating the lanes of traffic. You can view the full plan for option 1 here.

Option 2

The second option would convert the current southbound unprotected bike lane on Delridge into a protected bike lane. The only northbound bike facility would remain the stretch of PBL that is currently in place between Orchard and Holden.

Option 2: Protected bike lane connection at Alaska. (City of Seattle)
Option 2: retaining protected bike lanes in both directions between Holden and Orchard. (City of Seattle)

According to the City, option 2 would reduce transit travel times northbound by up to 8% and southbound by up to 12% but would slow general purpose travel times by 10% and 5% respectively. View the entire option 2 ere.

The Real Culprit: Parking

It is disappointing to see the dichotomy being presented that safe facilities for bikes need to come at the expense of faster trips for transit riders. According to the presentation that was made to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board last week, both options are retaining a lot of on-street parking, leading to the lack of options for other modes. Option 1, which converts a protected bike lane on Delridge into a peak-only transit lane, would actually increase the amount of off-peak parking available on Delridge, while decreasing the amount of parking space during peak hours. Option 2 would only lead to a reduction of 27% of on-street parking spaces on Delridge, even as general purpose travel times are expected to slow.

This RapidRide corridor should provide quick travel times, ease of boarding, and improved pedestrian crossings on Delridge Way, but the plan in its current stage clearly isn’t ready to be signed off on. SDOT should come back with a better, more-integrated plan that doesn’t pit modes against each other, but instead works to make our goals of complete streets a reality.

Seattle – Delridge RapidRide H Options by The Urbanist on Scribd

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Delridge Way south bound needs a PBL all the way to Thistle, As a bicyclist it can be very scary. For this reason, I wont ride on Delridge during winter dark. Yet, the west side “greenway” dead ends in a swamp, and no new bicyclist is going to ride up Snake Hill. Even as a seasoned rider, I tried it once and just about had a heart attack. Bikes just stay on Delridge all the way to Thistle as topographically and logistically it is easiest route. In fact, its the only route between Myrtle and Thistle. SDOT doesn’t even describe what the “Greenway improvements” would be on either option.

    South bound bus lanes solve a “problem” that doesn’t exist. Riding the 120 home in the evening during winter, its never held up by traffic. I think we need to ask, “Is the road for transportation or parking cars?”

    Why not actually fix the “poor centerline pavement”? That was SDOT’s excuse 10 years ago when neighborhood was trying to get improvements made then. This is a classic use of historic under investment in low income neighborhoods to justify continued under investment.

    What’s more SDOT’s outreach on this is complete bullshit. I’ve been trying for months to get a reply from Kubly on what and when the public input process would be and then all of sudden I find this and only because it was part of this article. I hope this isn’t the “new and improved” public input process.

  2. So in the area along Orchard Street and Delridge Way SW, why don’t they add a roundabout to help with the flow of traffic? There’s enough room to add a single lane roundabout. That would fix the traffic in that area.

  3. As a daily 120 rider, it is strange to be requesting fewer improvements, but…

    1. I don’t understand the proposed BAT lanes between Orchard and Graham. There isn’t typically traffic congestion in this section. Queue jumps at Orchard and Holden stoplights would be useful, but beyond that there is no need.

    2. Building a southbound protected bike without a northbound one is a literal half measure, without much value. The parallel greenways to the east and west are actually pretty good and I wouldn’t recommend adding bike infrastructure to Delridge, except…

    3. The east sidewalk between Graham and Elmgrove should be widened to create a true two-way multi-use path, to fill gaps in the 26th Ave greenway and the Longfellow Creek trail. (not shown on the attached maps, but there is a trail in the SW Elmgrove St ROW connecting Delridge to the street to the west, which connects walkers/bikers to the Longfellow Creek trail – a safe bike facility between Holden and Elmgrove is a must.)

    The good:

    1. The slowest part of the Delridge section of the 120 during peak hours is the stops – both the quantity of stops and quantity of people boarding/deboarding. Rapid Ride will help both of these: the stop placements are good, 3-door buses and on-board ORCA readers will reduce dwell times.
    2. Extending the bus only lanes south from Oregon to Alaska will be a big help on rainy mornings, and a southbound bus lane in this area will help in the PM.

    What else is needed (but out of SDOTs scope for this open house)
    1. The #1 delay on the 120 inbound is the 1 general traffic lane in the West Seattle Bridge to 99 loop ramp – 5 minutes per trip. Widening this bridge ramp and adding a ramp meter for general traffic would make H & C actually rapid in the peak.
    2. The White Center routing should be moved from 15th to 17th/16th. It appears on this map that the White Center stop will be moved to Roxbury/17th. In that case, the 2 extra stoplights need to reach 15th are without purpose.

    • Makes sense what you’re saying. In my survey response, I mentioned this, but it’s largely because SDOT is focused on saying “look transit, we’re helping!” while this is only to pacify the transit advocates to shove through more car stuff later on (“look at all this transit stuff! We totally care about you. Let’s build a highway”), while not really addressing the issue. You down for a picket/protest?

    • As a bicyclist and 120 rider, I agree with most of what you write. However, west side “greenway” is crap. It dead ends and you have to go back to Delridge. Most bikes just use Delridge Way itself for south bound.

  4. I think the better question to ask is whether this is the proper place for a PBL. Anecdotal comments seem to be that neighborhood and casual riders would prefer to use the greenways and be away from fast-moving traffic, while bike commuters are comfortable inserting themselves into the traffic on Delridge with or without the PBLs, and might prefer other options like bike boxes and queue jumps.

    • Not true at all. Most bikes to south Delridge ride on Delridge Way itself as its grade is the gentlest and you have to rejoin Delridge eventually anyway.

      • Rory,
        Hope you see this question. From a bike commuters standpoint (and trying to facilitate new, less experienced riders) is a non-PBLnext to transit only lane OK? Not as optimal as a PBL I know, but when viewing corridors and only so much width does knowing that a professionally driven bus is next to your lane and not general traffic better from a biker’s standpoint? [New to the site and have never commuted long distance by bike so if this has been covered before forgive me.]

  5. There are protect bike lanes on 26th and 21st, correct? As long as those are well designed, functioning PBLs, that should fully meet the bike needs of this corridor. I read this as SDOT learning the right lessons from Broadway. The RR corridor is broader than just the Delridge Wy ROW, so looking at the treatment of bikes on just that one street is too narrow of an analysis.

    For example, if I live in White Center, I will have uninterrupted PBLs all the way to the Link station via 17th and 21st. Why would adding a PBL on Delridge Way be a significant improvement? I think trying to squeeze in PBLs on to Delridge will make the road worse for both bike & transit, regardless of the options presented by SDOT

    Perhaps the plan can be improved with more east-west bike connections between these parallel PBLs and Delridge, particularly at proposed stations. Looking at the attached map, Thistle, Barton, and Myrtle could all use east-west bike infrastructure. For example, a bike path through Myrtle park to connect 21st & Myrtle to Delridge & Myrtle would be great (though I don’t know if that’s simply too steep of a grade?)

      • Ah, thank you – I misread the map.

        But still – could one or both of those be upgraded to PBLs? If the goal is to improve the bike infrastructure along the RR+ corridor using Move Seattle money, I feel like that would be better than trying to squeeze PBLs into the limited Delridge ROW.

        • I don’t think converting a greenway to PBLs is a priority, they are used for different things. PBLs are better for arterials, and greenways are better for neighborhood streets.

          The current bike master plan has PBLs on Delridge from the West Seattle Bridge to Orchard. Option 2 would provide that southbound but not northbound.

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