Planning for a hilly greenway through the 23rd Ave corridor

If you live in or commute through Seattle’s Central District, you may have heard about the myriad of road improvements coming to the corridor. From lane reconfiguration on 23rd Avenue to safer intersection crossings and plans for a Central Area Neighborhood Greenway, we’re very excited about the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) pro-active measures to create a safer, more efficient and accessible corridor for all road users.

Bicyclists are most excited about having safer and more convenient bicycle routes through this heavily trafficked commuting corridor. Central Seattle Greenways, Montlake Greenways and Madison Greenways groups have played a critical role in shaping the conversation around how SDOT should strategically use their limited funding to best plan, design and implement the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway, which will eventually connect the University of Washington to Rainier Valley along slow speed, low traffic neighborhood streets parallel to 23rd Avenue.

Although SDOT recently announced their route selection for the southern portion of the greenway (see map here), they are still in the process of determining the best options for the northern part of the route (phase 3) from E. Galer to E. Roanoke, which is undeniably the most challenging section to both plan and ride. With over 300 feet of elevation gain in less than 2 miles and steep parallel streets with up to 17 percent grades (i.e. Ward Street), the community and SDOT will ultimately need to pick the “best” route option from a selection of steep streets. As much as this route warrants dreams for amenities like bicycle elevators, gondolas or subsidized electric wheels, at this point in time, our best bet lies in seeking out an on-street route that takes topography, convenience, safety and connectivity into account. As a community of cyclists and pedestrians looking for safer and more connected routes, we have the opportunity to weigh-in on the planning process.

We would like SDOT to make the following installations and improvements:

  1. Parallel greenways on the east and west side of 23rd/24th Avenue arterial, especially on the north-end (Phase 3).
  2. Intersection improvements along 24th Avenue arterial to help cyclists and pedestrians access the Montlake business district and safely cross the arterial. In particular, we would like to see intersection improvements at E McGraw Street, E Lynn Street, Boyer Avenue E, and E Interlaken Boulevard, as well as the north-south crossing at Boyer and 26th Avenue.

In addition to these near-term critical installations and improvements, we envision an even safer, bike-friendly corridor further down the line. The new Bicycle Master Plan, for example, includes a protected bike lane across the Montlake bridge, and we believe this protected facility would serve as a catalyst for more bicycling between the Burke-Gilman Trail at the University of Washington, the Montlake neighborhood and multiple greenways through the Central District. Cascade is pleased with SDOT’s current project proposals for safer streets both on and off 23rd/24th Avenue arterial; however, we would like to see even more of a commitment toward building safe routes and connections for bicyclists and pedestrians through the corridor.

What would you like to see?
Which route do you ride when traveling to or through this corridor? Which intersections do you feel need the most improvements for cyclists and pedestrians? Leave a comment with your preferences and ideas. Maybe one day Seattle will have bike elevators, gondolas and electric wheels to assist bicyclists on steep hills, but for now let’s work on planning the best routes for those who ride bikes the old-fashioned way.

Want to get involved?
Join Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Cascade for Silly Hilly, a family-friendly scouting ride/walk on Saturday, April 26 from 2-4 p.m. The event will start at the Montlake School Playground and end at Miller Community Park and participants will have the opportunity to explore and provide feedback on one of four greenway options along this route. Please stay tuned for more information about this upcoming event.