From worst to first: Seattle’s Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane Demonstration Project is a game changer

Second Avenue through downtown Seattle has seen more than 60 bike crashes in the last four years according to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).   One of the leading cycling researchers in the country, John Pucher, found the bike lane “extremely dangerous.”  

But things are slated to change.  Pronto Cycle Share will launch next month and by late September, thanks to the leadership of Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT’s hardworking staff, one of Seattle’s worst streets to ride on will be the site of downtown Seattle’s first protected bike lane.  Protected bike lanes physically separate bikes and fast moving traffic.  They make it much more comfortable for the 60 percent of people that want to ride their bikes more, but don’t feel safe.  

Second Ave, which is a one-way street southbound, will feature a 10-foot wide, two-way protected bike lane with a 3-foot buffer from vehicles.    On blocks without left turns, the parking lane will provide additional separation from 7 feet of separation from moving traffic.  To make these improvements, the roadway will be reconfigured to have a dedicated bus lane, two through traffic lanes and a left turn lane.  These roadway improvements will benefit all users of the roadway, from pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and drivers by reducing conflicts and clarifying everyone’s position on the roadway.  Cyclists and pedestrians will have a dedicated traffic signal phase, which will eliminate the current left turn conflicts with cars that exist along the corridor.  

The Second Avenue protected bike lane will create a comfortable, family-friendly route through downtown.

By moving quickly with a demonstration project, SDOT can apply lessons learned and design improvements into the future protected bike lanes in the center city as identified in the new Bicycle Master Plan.  Second Avenue is a great start, but we will need to continue working to make sure convenient, comfortable routes exist into and through downtown.  

To get involved in Cascade’s work in Downtown Seattle, join the “Connect Downtown” team of caring neighbors and bicyclists working to build a network of protected bike lanes in Seattle’s center city.