Green Lake and Roosevelt are at the heart of major new walking, biking, and transit infrastructure in North Seattle. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) recently rolled out improvements on NE 65th St and is poised add new improvements to NE 70th St in the coming months.

NE 65th Street Improvements

Responding to a “Fix 65th” campaign from safety advocates like Northeast Greenways and Cascade Bicycle Club, SDOT has rolled out improvements to NE 65th St by adding bike lanes and in-lane bus stop curb extensions. The bike lanes and in-lane bus stop curb extensions have been installed from NE Ravenna Blvd to 20th Ave NE.

The new bike lanes use a five-foot wide standard with green crossbike markings through intersections and buffers with flexible post delineators for semi-protection. The in-lane bus stop curb extensions differ from floating bus islands like those on Dexter Ave N and Roosevelt Way NE, but still provide a space for people biking to avoid crossing paths with buses in the street, although not so much for people exiting those buses.

New bike lane and in-lane bus stop curb extension.
New bike lane and in-lane bus stop curb extension.

People on bikes approach the in-lane bus stop curb extensions with early warnings to slow as the lane ramps up to the level of the bus stop. Warning markings continue along the path which is shared with bus riders in a mixing zone. Riders are warned of this conflict with rumble strips meeting Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

New bike lane and in-lane bus stop curb extension.
New bike lane and in-lane bus stop curb extension.

In the past, SDOT has put bike lanes behind floating bus island stops to reduce conflicts with riders boarding. But the department said the circumstances for NE 65th St made meeting the demands of all street users difficult and ultimately led to the compromise solution implemented. It will be interesting to see how this performs in the years ahead.

While the redesign is a step up, more could be done and the opening of Roosevelt Station will put it to the test, stimulating more bike and pedestrian traffic in the area. Some Fix 65th advocates had pressed for safer crossings at dangerous intersections–for example “No Turn on Red” at the hazardous 20th Ave NE intersection. It will also remain for another project to extend the protected bike lanes west of 20th Ave NE.

NE 70th Street Improvements

A key corridor connecting Roosevelt and Green Lake will soon receive several pedestrian and bicycle improvements. The corridor is NE 70th Street, which crosses I-5 and stretches from 6th Ave NE and 12th Ave NE. SDOT selected the project for design in 2016 through the Neighborhood Street Fund program and began construction last fall.

The project adds a new painted walkway on the north side of the NE 70th Street overpass as it crosses the interstate. The south side of the street already has similar painting, which helps trim down the general travel lane widths. The overpass also partially has bike lanes in both directions on the western half and a raised sidewalk on the south side. SDOT plans to install marked bike lanes on the overpass in both directions using a five-foot standard. Flexible post delineators will be paired with the bike lanes to added some measure of safety for people on bike with the south side of the street getting a buffered area from traffic.

A new bike lane will be further extended on the south side of the street using the same standard between 8th Ave NE and 12th Ave NE. To make room for these changes, on-street parking will be removed entirely between Roosevelt Way NE and 12th Ave NE and on the south side of the street between 8th Ave NE and Roosevelt Way NE. East of 12th Ave NE, the corridor turns into a greenway with chicanes.

Planned corridor improvements for NE 70th St. (City of Seattle)
Planned corridor improvements for NE 70th St. (City of Seattle)

To improve overall safety at key intersections, SDOT plans to install all-way stops at NE 71st St and 6th Ave NE as well as NE 70th St and 8th Ave NE. Speeds along the corridor tend to be high as motorists maneuver to and from the interstate cut through neighborhoods to go crosstown. Curb bulbs, new marked crosswalks, and lighting standards will also be installed at these intersections to reinforce safety and lower speeds.

This project is important because the corridor helps connect people between urban villages, commercial areas, schools, parks, and the Green Lake Branch Library.

Other Nearby Improvements

Not far from the NE 65th St improvements, SDOT installed a community pavement park and painted curb. This was done at the request of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, which led the design effort. The pavement park has fully closed a portion of Weedin Place NE between NE 65th St and NE 66th St.

Weedin Pl NE as a pavement park.
Weedin Pl NE as a pavement park.
Weedin Pl NE painted curb bulb at NE 66th St.
Weedin Pl NE painted curb bulb at NE 66th St.

In recent years, SDOT has also added–albeit often belatedly–a mix pedestrian, bicycle, and safety improvements like bike lanes, crosswalks, curb ramps, curb bulbs, and transit facilities on 15th Ave NE, NE Ravenna Blvd, Roosevelt Way NE, and Banner Way NE. On deck are a variety of bike and pedestrian projects along Stone Way N and East Green Lake Way N in Green Lake and Wallingford. Regrettably, bike lanes on 35th Ave NE in Ravenna and Wedgwood will not join the fold any time soon.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. It appears that the earlier scheduled eastbound bus stop on 65th between 14th Ave NE and Brooklyn is no longer happening, making it an extremely long distance between stops: from the east side of Roosevelt to 16/17th Ave NE (having been relocated from 15/16th).
    This makes no sense whatsoever, especially since there is already a westbound stop across the street on Brooklyn/14th Ave which serves Roosevelt High School and the new large apartment buildings adjacent, so why will there not be an eastbound stop as well?
    The relocated bus stops have already made transferring much more difficult for transit users, especially the mobility-impaired, and removing an already scheduled stop is insult on injury.

  2. I’m of 2 minds about the recent 65th revisions. On one hand the bike lanes are great for me and other able bodied riders, but only as far east as 20th. I’ve noticed a lot more cyclists and the trip to green lake is much quicker and safer. On the other hand the lanes don’t feel safe enough to take my kids biking on. So with the kids it’s still the very rough pavement on 63rd.
    What I can say is the bus seems quite a bit slower in the rush hour peaks, so I wouldn’t call this a transit improvement.
    Very much looking forward to the improvements planned on 12th

    • I can definitely see that with the bike lanes. More needs to be done for all ages and abilities. You might want to report the pavement issue to SDOT.

      Typically, consolidation of stops and in-lane stops should improve speed and reliability, but it’s interesting that you have observed issues at peak hours. Do you think the slowness is due to ongoing construction near the light rail station? Or do you think the rechannelization for the bike lanes and new bus stops are a cause for delay? Or do you think there is something else causing delay?

      • I am always bewildered as to why people think that when you install in-lane bus stops it will automatically lead to improved reliability for bus operations. This is really only the case when buses previously had to merge back into a very busy traffic lane.

        Reality is much more nuanced.

        For the situation along NE 65th, the better bus drivers know how to hug the curb at the stops, then upon departure, flow with the traffic for a short distance to until they can merge back into the traffic (or, many times simply reach the next stop). Buses on NE 65th cannot do this anymore between 20th and Roosevelt. And even though there is some space at a couple stops for cars to get around, it’s very narrow and they generally wait for the bus to move.

        All this translates into a much longer queue of vehicles (mixture of cars and buses) occupying the same single lane which results in a build-up of more congestion and delay during the peak periods when there are the highest volume of cars and buses traveling the roadway. This is simple traffic engineering and it should have easily been anticipated by both SDOT and Metro.

        Moreover, now that the queues of slowed, sometimes completely stopped, vehicles extend across multiple blocks, it’s much harder for cars and bicycles to enter or cross the traffic stream from the side streets. Same goes for pedestrians trying to cross at unmarked intersections. Basically, the capacity for motorized vehicles has been reduced. Hence, under conditions that were already approaching saturation, the predictable, and now readily visible, result of capacity reduction is much slower traffic and more congestion.

        I believe this is exactly the goal that SDOT wanted to attain. Their priority all along was to install bike lanes; the negative impacts to bus service and other modes were less of less concern. Now you have slower buses, and frustrated drivers who are avoiding the street altogether and finding other routes, thus displacing the impacts to other locations across the neighborhood.

        If Seattle only had another 12 to 15 feet of width to many of its arterials, then a lot of these problems could be avoided. Alas, narrow streets have historically been part of the appeal of Seattle’s neighborhoods, but with the dramatic increase in population and employment within the city over the last 15 years, we’re discovering the downside to not having enough space on our rights-of-way to accommodate all the demands.

        And by the way, with the advent of electric bikes and scooters and more non-car owners moving into apartments at/near the arterials, you can imagine even the new bicycle lanes eventually becoming clogged. In other words, expect things to only get worse. Sorry to be a downer, but this is our reality.

  3. Those bike lanes on 65th feel like an accident waiting to happen. Buses drop passengers off right in the middle of an active bike lane. There are pavement markings encouraging cyclists to slow down, but still…it hasn’t felt very safe to me the few times I’ve gotten on the bus at these new stops so far, and getting off is even worse because you can’t even look both ways very effectively before you step into traffic.

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