Followup: Your questions, SDOT’s answers about West Seattle’s first ‘bike box’

November 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 31 Comments

That’s the helmet-cam video of bicyclist Jeff‘s trip to and through West Seattle’s first “bike box,” originally linked in the discussion following our Sunday report on the addition to the north/eastbound side of Andover at Delridge. Commenters had several followup questions, as did we, and as promised, we took them to SDOT, whose Marybeth Turner researched and responded. Ahead, our eight questions and SDOT’s eight answers, including what’s next for this project site and whether any more are in the works:

1. Is the bike box done, or will there be a WAIT HERE or some other feature added on the road? Signage to come?

A: The project is not completed. The thermoplastic for the crosswalks and stop lines will be added at a later date along with signage.

[WSB note: Crews have been working at that intersection daily since then, but they're on the south/westbound side, doing curb work to help with truck-turning space.]

2. Why was this done on Sunday?

A: Sunday is the one day that Nucor Steel is not running heavy trucks in and out of the Andover access point. Weekday installation would have required one or two uniformed police officers, multiple lanes closures and a much more complicated traffic setup.

3. If there is a “loop” sensor under the road, will it still pick up cars stopped before the bike box as mandated, so that the signal is tripped? (Or, if this signal doesn’t use a loop, please let us know that.)

A: Detection at the signal is in the design. It will still pick up cars stopped before the bike box. Loop detection will be used and is considered an upgrade from the current detection.

4. A few have opined that a painted surface will be slick in the rain. Is this “just” paint? Is there something taking into account the slickness factor?

A: Slickness is an issue that affects all users of the road. The material that is used for the green color is slip resistant and meets national standards.

5. Somewhere on the SDOT site, it says Bridging the Gap has paid for – or is paying for – bike boxes. Is that the case here? And is $15,000 – a figure published by seattlepi.com some time back – still an accurate price tag for a bike box? If not, what is?

A: This project is funded by Bridging the Gap. We are trying a different procedure with installation so the cost will be less than $10,000.

6. Related to additional signage/verbiage in #2 – is there any kind of outreach planned to explain this?

A: We typically install one educational sign with the project, letting road users know where they should place themselves. You can also view our online video of how to use a bike box here.

7. Are there any other bike boxes under consideration (or, even, planned) for West Seattle? If so, where, and when?

A: No other bike boxes are under consideration for West Seattle at this time.

8. What’s the appropriate mailbox for people to send feedback to?

A: Going to neighborhood meetings and participating will have the biggest impact. If you have questions about SDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian programs, please call (206) 684-7583 or e-mail walkandbike@seattle.gov.

This area is in the jurisdiction of the North Delridge Neighborhood Council, which meets the second Monday of the month (watch their website for updates). Delridge road work – though not specifically this project – is also expected to be discussed at this Wednesday’s joint meeting of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council and Highland Park Action Committee, 7 pm at HP Improvement Club (12th and Holden).

31 Comments

  1. Thanks for providing your video, Jeff! I think it will really help people see that this does not block traffic, just gives cyclists a safe turn!

    Comment by JEM — 2:01 pm November 27, 2012 #

  2. I was relieved to read that this is the only bike box planned for West Seattle, good to hear.

    Would be nice if more people in cars used turn signals.

    Comment by Use Common Sense — 2:30 pm November 27, 2012 #

  3. I like how that one car ran the light, in front of you, making their left turn. And the ped in front of you likely did not have a light to cross since the light changed for cars right after the ped left the field of view of the video.

    Comment by WS rats in a cage — 2:36 pm November 27, 2012 #

  4. Looks good. I can certainly concede that this is likable when I see it in action. I guess that I haven’t gotten comfortable with the idea that I can just pass all the cars and take my position in the front. If I was a driver, I probably wouldn’t like it if several other cars darted by me as I waited in line to get to the front. But I suppose with bicycles that’s the new normal, and when I ride I have to give it a try.

    One thing that is a bit concerning is that I wonder if the 2nd rider held up the cars. 25 seconds is a long time to have a car held up at a light. On many signals that would be as long as the green, meaning that most of the cars did not make it through. If this is common, could it lead to outrage from the drivers who miss a light because 8 or 10 bikers went to the front and then took too long to get going? Has the length of the green been increased at this intersection to allow for that type of occurrence?

    Comment by VBD — 2:58 pm November 27, 2012 #

  5. Thanks Jeff and WSB for giving me a visual on the bike box!

    Comment by GreenGirl — 3:01 pm November 27, 2012 #

  6. I’d like to see an equivalent video of a cyclist stopping in the line of cars at the bottom of the hill, and proceeding with traffic when the light turns green, in order to make a safe left turn in the “Vehicular Cycling” style. My guess is that would result in fewer cars getting through the light cycle.

    Thanks SDOT for the forward-thinking infrastructure!

    Comment by Jake — 3:16 pm November 27, 2012 #

  7. VBD, it took 25 seconds for the silver car to *catch up* to the cyclist. The car and the cyclist were traveling in the same direction. The cyclist was probably riding at about 15-20 mph, and car at 25-30 mph. Also, the car had another car in front of it at the light that may have held it up for any number of reasons (maybe texting???). Anyway, doing a little math, you’d find that the silver car probably wasn’t delayed by the cyclist at all. And based on the 2nd cyclist’s position, I would guess that he swung wide so as to avoid any left-turning traffic.
    .
    Jeff, maybe next time mount your camera facing rearward to show how traffic moves behind you after entering and leaving the bike box.

    Comment by bada-bing — 3:19 pm November 27, 2012 #

  8. wsrats: obviously not legal to run the red light, but sometimes that is the only way possible to make that left, since there’s not a turn signal, AND the people rushing north on Delridge to get to the bridge often fly through the yellow and red lights as well. in the morning there’s steady traffic headed to the bridge and not many opportunities to make that left, legally. (no that’s not my car in the video)

    Comment by curious — 3:36 pm November 27, 2012 #

  9. Awesome…I made front page news in West Seattle! :-)
    .
    I thought of all the things commented here. Rear-facing video, taking some time to capture several light cycles with driver/bike interactions, etc. Maybe one of these days.
    .
    I should have mentioned that I saw the 2nd cyclist right behind me as I transitioned to the sidewalk from the road, so they may have been behind me the entire time. The 1st vehicle going straight may have been waiting for us to clear the intersection before proceeding, causing a slight delay in the 2nd vehicle being able to turn left and catch me. But ~25 seconds in that distance with those speeds should be truly negligible in the grand scheme of things.
    .
    This morning I got in line with traffic because the light just turned green as I was still approaching Delridge near 26th. I know one truck was farther behind me at that time (I have a helmet mirror) so I took the lane and followed traffic to make the turn. The light turned yellow
    as I was moving through, and the truck behind me made it through. Not sure what other vehicles were behind the truck. Deleted the video from this morning because it was uneventful, like all mornings typically are for me.
    .
    I’ll be capturing more video around some “challenging” areas for cyclists, so be sure to play nice with each other! ;-)

    Comment by Jeff — 3:39 pm November 27, 2012 #

  10. Dude, look out for those potholes!

    Comment by DRW — 4:22 pm November 27, 2012 #

  11. @ curious, I agree.. sometimes that’s the only way to turn left. I retract my statement.
    .

    Comment by WS rats in a cage — 4:34 pm November 27, 2012 #

  12. Jeff,

    Thank you thank you for putting this out. There is so much confusion out there and this helps smooth over the frustration by all road users as they adapt to these. That intersection is otherwise troublesome.

    There is nothing better than having pictures to explain how to do it right, but you’re taking it to another level by providing concrete video examples. I’ve pondered about getting a GoPro myself just from a safety perpective both as a cyclist and a driver. Think I know what I’m saving up for Christmans.

    Keep em coming! We’ll get folks more informed one way or another!

    Cheers

    Comment by JonF — 5:35 pm November 27, 2012 #

  13. Thanks for the follow up WSB!

    Comment by wsguy — 5:54 pm November 27, 2012 #

  14. As a driver I must say demonstrating the box being utilized in real time makes everything very clear. It does make cyclists more visible and keeps everyone safe. However, it would be nice if the bike lanes on the right were actually wide enough to accommodate parked vehicles and moving cyclists. They seem dangerously narrow if someone is exiting from the drivers side. No one thinks to look for an oncoming cyclist when they get out of the car – including me.

    Comment by Francesca — 6:29 pm November 27, 2012 #

  15. Francesca: don’t you check your side mirror before opening your door? I do, bike lane or no bike lane.

    Comment by datamuse — 6:59 pm November 27, 2012 #

  16. nuf said.

    Comment by bike boxes are stupid — 7:10 pm November 27, 2012 #

  17. As a daily commuter at this very spot I will just say that this is a great addition and the video shows why. It’s similar to the ferry queue — bikes and other smaller craft get priority so they can both be seen and quickly move out of the way of the big metal boxes (such as the one I drive). Good work, Jeff! Keep the videos coming.

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 8:03 pm November 27, 2012 #

  18. I wish there was a video of how cars are supposed to use acknowledge the bus lane on Delridge Northbound at this same intersection. The way I interpret the signage, cars should not move over into the right hand lane until after the light. Yet, whether I am on my bike getting pinched over, or in my car getting snaked on the inside, it seems people are ignoring this traffic revision.

    Comment by Delridge hustle — 8:21 pm November 27, 2012 #

  19. Cars can go faster than bicycles, but the average rate of travel for a car in-city is likely not that much faster due to traffic conditions and traffic lights. An experienced cyclist can easily average 15mph. A car can go 40mph on city streets for only short distances, and most streets are legally 25-30mph I believe. I don’t think cars average much more than 20-25mph in city conditions. That’s why speeding on the West Seattle Bridge or city streets is so stupid. Drivers may gain under a minute at best over cars going the speed limit. The idea that you’re going fast is an illusion. On top of that, bicycles are not holding up car traffic. Car traffic is holding up car traffic.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 9:07 pm November 27, 2012 #

  20. Great video, Jeff – and glad to hear all of the positve comments here by bicyclists and motorists. I regularly commute by bicycle to work downtown and take that very route. It is a narrow bike lane, and I don’t necessarily like passing all of the cars (appearing to cut in front of them), but I sure don’t like being parked between cars and slowing them down by remaining in the main traffic lane. Hopefully, this solution works well for everyone!

    Comment by B-Check — 10:27 pm November 27, 2012 #

  21. I only cycle recreationally (and rarely at that), but hot damn if Jeff’s awesome video doesn’t make me want to get out there and bust it up on the streets as a bike commuter. (In reality, I work from home and don’t ‘commute’ anywhere. But it was somehow oddly motivational and kickass.) Thanks Jeff!

    Comment by goodgraces — 10:32 pm November 27, 2012 #

  22. Jeff seems to be a commuter with a head on his shoulders. Good video to show how to use and what cars should be aware of with these new boxes.
    .
    As mentioned by the city, “The material that is used for the green color is slip resistant and meets national standards.” But, having seen people try to stop bicycles and cars on the same type of paint on 7th Ave near Denny, I can tell you traction is poor when wet on that paint. Be aware, it’s poor traction when wet, stop ahead of time and avoid an accident.
    .
    The problem I used to see at that light when I used to commute over that way was that the NUCOR trucks take those turns wide and will be using that box in their turn. They force lines of traffic to back up so they can make turns there, it’s the worst possible area to commute when they are coming in and leaving NUCOR

    Comment by Mike — 11:25 pm November 27, 2012 #

  23. Thank you for this video and explanation. I have no doubt it will still be confusing to those who don’t travel that route often (cars and bikes). I shows a step in the right direction. I applaud our city for making an attempt at a change. However if I was cycling in that route, I still see the major problem in the attitudes of the drivers vs the bikes. Can’t say I have a solution, just would like to see more education in that area. Why is it so much better in college towns than urban areas? Don’t have the answer just asking the question>

    Comment by Kim Mulligan — 2:45 am November 28, 2012 #

  24. theres a waste of money

    Comment by ws maverick — 5:47 am November 28, 2012 #

  25. Thanks so much for the video, Jeff. The best evidence there is (of anything). And good explanations.
    .
    Francesca said: “No one thinks to look for an oncoming cyclist when they get out of the car – including me.”
    -
    I find this shocking. I thought EVERYONE knew to check before opening a door into traffic! First, it’s the law; second, aren’t you afraid of losing your car door, even if you’re not concerned about cyclists? It’s just second nature to me to check carefully. I can’t imagine not doing so.
    -
    Finally, most cyclists can get going fast – a presumed cyclist posting here has made a point of saying that [s/he thinks] cyclists should be fit, yet people are claiming that they are holding up cars. I don’t see this (and I do ride there almost every morning). Drivers (when they are paying attention) normally don’t (or shouldn’t) pull out much faster than riders. Really, it’s a matter of seconds. If your trip is so important that seconds matter, you would be piloting a helicopter. So chill. Please :).
    -
    And THANKS to the great majority of drivers who are courteous, kind, and reasonable.

    Comment by Amalia — 8:24 am November 28, 2012 #

  26. I’m trying to keep up with the comments on these articles. I appreciate the positive responses.
    .
    I’d like to mention that I’m not a “cyclist”. I’m a person. A son, brother, fiance, engineer. I choose to ride a bike for transportation because it’s the most efficient for me, and I am physically capable of biking to “transport” me anywhere I want to go. I enjoy arriving safely to my destinations.
    .
    Seattle is “geographically challenged”. There is simply too little room for segregated facilities for all modes of transportation. Many more changes like this bike box will be sprouting up around Seattle, including West Seattle. The only constant in this world is change, and the changes SDOT are trying to make are certainly a balancing act.
    .
    Again, I encourage everyone reading this to participate the in upcoming Bike Master Plan meetings. It’s a shame SDOT isn’t advertising these meetings with more publications. There are also Pedestrian Master Plan and Transit Master Plan meetings that some “cyclists” have been a part of, because we understand everyone will have to share the space we’ve got.
    .
    I posted some new videos on my Vimeo account, showing perspectives of transportation around West Seattle using a bike. I’ll be continually doing this, and feedback is appreciated.

    Comment by Jeff — 11:57 am November 28, 2012 #

  27. Jeff, FWIW, they did advertise SOME of the meetings here – but only for a couple weeks, which ended around the 15th. Didn’t know there were more meetings and don’t know why they aren’t being promoted, but really appreciate your info. We can barely keep up with the ever-increasing volume of what’s happening in West Seattle (we report more than anybody else but there is even MORE that we keep trying to rustle the resources to cover, let alone meetings outside WS). – TR

    Comment by WSB — 12:04 pm November 28, 2012 #

  28. One trick, if you keep forgetting to check your mirror/window before opening your door, is to get in the habit of opening your driver’s door with your right hand, which forces you to turn your body & look.

    Comment by Jeff — 12:36 pm November 28, 2012 #

  29. theres a waste of money

    .

    ws maverick, I don’t believe that Jeff wasted his money at all!

    .

    I believe it was a wise and thoughtful investment, to educate vehicle drivers and other bicyclists of the safe and proper way for each to utilize the Bike Boxes, and surrounding area!

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 1:11 pm November 28, 2012 #

  30. @Delridge hustle

    The right lane before the light is only restricted between 6-9am (or whatever the hours are) — I assume you’re talking about that time window. If so, then yes, cars shouldn’t merge over until after the light.

    Outside of the restricted window, there’s a break in the solid line between lanes just before the light, so I assume at that point, cars are permitted to merge into the right lane.

    Comment by smileyy — 2:25 pm November 28, 2012 #

  31. If it took only 6 seconds for him to get into the bike lane (shoulder) on Delridge, isn’t that the only time that he would have contributed to delaying cars?
    .
    Granted, more bikes would mean more delays, but I usually don’t see more than 4 here at any one light (and usually just 1-2).
    .
    I like the analogy to the bike priority for the ferry waiting line. As a driver I’d much rather have the bikes all together and predictable.

    Comment by Kelly — 8:23 pm November 28, 2012 #

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