Seattle Plans Emergency Bike Lanes as Spokane Street Bridge Remains Closed

Seattle Plans Emergency Bike Lanes as Spokane Street Bridge Remains Closed
With the Spokane Street swing bridge shut indefinitely, Seattle is organizing to harden the circuitous detour to the 1st Avenue S bridge. (SDOT)

In reaction to the indefinite closure of the Spokane Street Swing Bridge, the Seattle Division of Transportation (SDOT) announced Tuesday that it would be setting up non permanent secured bike lanes on the two most important streets that make up the suggested detour for persons biking.

The bridge, which has been open to marine targeted visitors only due to the fact an ice storm hit Seattle on December 23 and induced equipment to fail, is the only access between West Seattle and the rest of the city north of the 1st Avenue S bridge, operated by the state as a element of SR 99. That bridge, although it has a divided bike and pedestrian path, is lower off from the relaxation of the city’s bicycle community owing to the hostile and lethal streets on the SoDo facet of the crossing. Originally, SDOT explained the closure would very last at least two months, with no a lot more data accessible on a timeline to reopen given that then.

“This week, we are changing sections of W Marginal Way SW and 1st Ave S suppress lanes to non permanent safeguarded bicycle lanes making use of cones, barrels, paint, and signs,” SDOT’s Ethan Bancroft declared through blog publish. “The temporary bike lanes will remain until the Spokane St Swing Bridge reopens. We proceed to procure traffic command equipment and finalize the visitors control approach. We be expecting to complete the bicycle lane installation by the finish of the day on Wednesday, Jan. 4.”

Last week, SDOT unveiled its proposed bike detour route, which involves seven-lane 1st Avenue S as the major street to use in SoDo. That street remains a person of the number of arterial streets totally managed by the Town of Seattle with a velocity restrict of 30 mph. The detour advisable people today on bikes possibly use the sidewalk or the “sharrowed roadway.” Several knowledgeable bike riders expressed fears with the basic safety of riders applying the advised detour, specifically those people who might not be informed that following symptoms for a detour meant a five mile route.

A map shows the closed Spokane Street bridge and the detour along 1st Ave S, W Marginal Way, and the sidewalks connecting the two
By Wednesday, January 4 SDOT hopes to harden both 1st Ave S and W Marginal Way with non permanent secured bicycle lanes. (SDOT)

On the West Seattle aspect of the prolonged detour, West Marginal Way characteristics the divided Duwamish Trail for most of its length, creating it a a lot more desirable detour than the SoDo facet. But the Duwamish Path abruptly finishes about a quarter-mile from the reconnection to the West Seattle bridge path, a hole that the city has been operating to fill for a number of decades now, regardless of pushback from freight pursuits who don’t want to get rid of any house on the “major truck road.”

Pursuing the reopening of the West Seattle superior bridge this past fall, SDOT declared that set up of a permanent bike lane filling the hole would be dependent on the end result of an extra targeted traffic review. Preferably, there would not need to be any hole in between the temporary bicycle lane remaining in position and the installation of its long lasting replacement.

West Marginal Way filled with cars below the West Seattle High Bridge, with Mount Rainier in the distance
West Marginal Way, planned for a ultimate on-avenue bicycle lane to comprehensive the Duwamish Trail connection, will see a short term bike lane in addition to 1st Avenue S. (Photo by the creator)

As for 1st Avenue S, this non permanent bike lane is a terrific demonstration project displaying how a north-south secured bicycle lane by way of SoDo can perform.

“While the temporary bicycle lanes are in position, 1st Ave S will have a single general-purpose site visitors lane in each and every course, a middle flip lane, and one bicycle lane in each individual route,” Bancroft observed. “As achievable, current on-avenue parking will continue being but be limited in close proximity to driveways to support people biking and driving more simply see each other.”

SoDo remains one of the most risky spots in the metropolis for road end users of all kinds, with the quarter mile all over the intersection of 4th Avenue S and Holgate (which contains a portion of this detour route) accounting for around 10% of all traffic fatalities in the town due to the fact 2020. A lot of individuals on bikes use the sidewalk, where their existence is not generally envisioned: on Might 11, 2022, Gan Hao Li, a downtown resident, was killed when a driver exiting a driveway struck him whilst he was riding on the sidewalk on 4th Avenue S.

However, some parts of the formal detour route will call for riding on the sidewalk: on both stop of 1st Avenue S, along S Spokane Road and East Marginal Way to get to the 1st Avenue S bridge. “You may possibly desire to get off your bicycle and wander it by means of these regions with pedestrians,” SDOT observed.

Creating a momentary bicycle lane to accommodate people biking in an emergency closure like this is the suitable thing to do. The Seattle Bike Web site mentioned very last week that cycling advocates in West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley have been trying to get this route improved for many years, with urgency raising following a practically weeklong closure of the swing bridge in the summertime of 2018. But prior to the latest closure, improving upon access to the 1st Avenue S bridge on the SoDo aspect did not seem to be considerably of a priority, even as the point out highway bridge remains a person of the only methods for folks strolling and biking to cross the Duwamish river exterior of a car or truck.

This also receives SDOT into the practice of becoming ready to build short term infrastructure like this all over the city, a point that the section itself pointed out Tuesday in its announcement. “Creating this short-term bicycle lane detour will aid us to be more agile and ready to consider identical detours through planned small bridge closures and at other locations,” Bancroft reported.

We’ll be viewing the detours as they just take form and noting any lessons that could be applied to potential initiatives that not only respond to emergencies like the Spokane Street bridge closure but emergencies like the city’s website traffic protection disaster and the global climate disaster.


Ryan Packer lives in the Summit Slope community of Capitol Hill and has been composing for the The Urbanist considering that 2015. They report on multimodal transportation difficulties, #VisionZero, preservation, and nearby politics. They consider in applying Seattle’s heritage to aid attain the vivid, numerous town that we all would like to inhabit. Ryan’s creating has appeared in Capitol Hill Seattle Weblog, Bike Portland, and Seattle Bike Site, in which they also did a four-month stint as short term editor.