A downtown network of protected bike lanes

Bicycling is joyful, healthy, and puts more money in people’s pockets instead of gas tanks. So it’s such a shame that downtown Seattle isn’t better for bicycling.

Back in June, during an interview with KPLU, cycling expert John Pucher called downtown Seattle’s Second Avenue, “extremely dangerous.”   But we know that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Cascade installed a temporary protected bike lane* on Second Avenue for Park(ing) Day in September, instantly creating a place where you could feel safe riding a bike, no matter what your age or ability, showing that we can connect Downtown with safe, protected bike lanes.  As people rode through, their faces were glowing with smiles.

Besides the joy and health benefits of bicycling, businesses are also pushing for protected bike lanes to help attract top talent. Amazon will build a protected bike lane in front of their new campus in Denny Triangle. Even Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has said he’s building out Chicago’s bike infrastructure in order to steal the top tech talent from Seattle.

Now the Seattle City Council is moving one giant step closer to making downtown streets like Second Avenue and Fourth Avenue great places to ride a bike. 

The City Council is currently in its final days of adopting the 2014 city budget. Mayor Mike McGinn proposed $10.5 million for bicycle infrastructure, which was less than in 2013 but much higher than previous years. It’s a long ways from where we need to go, but it’s also a good start.

So Cascade asked Seattle city councilmembers --- what’s one project you’d like to see added to the budget? The resounding answer was downtown protected bike lanes.

The proposed 2013 budget would fund the lanes to 30 percent design by the end of 2013. The City Council has moved to expedite funds to advance design and development of the downtown cycle track (protected bike lanes) network in 2014, speeding implementation of the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan.  

This would be a huge win. By expending the design of the protected bike lanes downtown, 2nd Avenue and 4th Avenue could be built in 2015, revolutionizing the downtown experience and making our streets safer for everyone who wants to safely bike to work, school, and shops downtown.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. This isn’t a done deal. The Seattle City Council is still finalizing its budget and will make its final decisions on November 18 and 19 and cast its final vote on November 25.

To get assure the downtown protected bike lanes make it through this process, we still need to let the city council know that we support making Downtown Seattle better for bicyclists. So, please contact our Seattle city councilmembers let them know how excited you are.


cycle track

A protected bike lane, or cycle track, is a bike lane fully separated from the sidewalk and from motor vehicle traffic by a barrier that can be planters, a curb or parked cars. Protected bike lanes can either be designed for both one-way and two-way bike traffic. This type of facility makes our streets safer for everyone, including drivers who know where cyclists are likely to be riding and have visual clues and clear sight lines at intersections.  A Montreal study found that protected bike infrastructure reduced injury rates by 28 percent.


Jeff Aken's picture
Jeff Aken