City delaying, redesigning proposed Admiral Way uphill bike lane

September 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 40 Comments

Another SDOT project update to share: Remember the proposal announced four months ago for an uphill bicycle lane between Olga and Spokane on Admiral Way? The city is putting it on hold and redesigning its proposal, after concerns about parking removal/changes. Here’s the letter sent to nearby residents by SDOT’s Sam Woods:

Dear SW Admiral Way Resident,

As you know, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has been studying how to make the uphill bicycle lane on SW Admiral Way a safer and more inviting facility by widening the bike lane and the buffer from SW City View Street to 80 feet south of 3508 SW Admiral Way.

Last May, we mailed a letter to you explaining the plan and inviting comments. The original proposal was to restrict on-street parking on the east side of SW Admiral Way within this section to allow for the improvement. A number of you voiced concerns about the loss of parking and about the proposed parking-time restrictions. After reviewing the comments, SDOT has decided to delay implementation of this project until 2014 and are working on an alternative that would preserve some on-street parking.

We will be in touch with you early next year when we have more information to share. Thanks for being engaged and we look forward to working with you. If you have additional questions please by e-mail walkandbike@seattle.gov or call 206-684-7583.

As shown on the map distributed with the May announcement, the now-scrapped plan would have removed street parking south of 3508 Admiral Way, and put a 4-hour limit on the shorter section northward from there to Olga. The city had said its repeated visits had shown few cars parked on the longer section, and that half of those that were parked there had been for sale.

40 Comments

  1. There’s plenty of room for a bike to go uphill without having to spend money on a bike lane. That right lane can easily be shared with bikes and cars. It amazes me even when there is a bike lane, how many bikes still make their way into mine.

    Comment by Alki Resident — 1:11 pm September 16, 2013 #

  2. This right of way is used for nothing more than selling used cars. I would rather see it used for a bike lane, than a used car lot.

    Comment by SGG — 1:24 pm September 16, 2013 #

  3. I’m glad we got that first anti-bikes tinged comment out of the way…

    the bike lane that’s there is okay (except where errant car and truck tires have worn the paint away…) but as a facility it is worthless since it abruptly ends at Olga. I recognize the pavement narrows and constrains options there, but dumping the cyclists onto the main lane right where the road starts to curve is dangerous – just ask the brick planters at the corner of 37th – how many times have they been plowed into by out of control motorists?

    If drivers can’t even stay on the road how are we supposed to expect them to share a lane responsibly?

    Comment by JAT — 1:32 pm September 16, 2013 #

  4. Transportation is a top topic of concern. Can we discuss it like grownups? Anyone? Please leave your anti-bike, anti-car, pro-whatever sentiments at the door. Both have the right to be on the roads, whether two wheels, three wheels, four wheels, more wheels, people powered, gasoline powered, solar powered, electric-powered, etc. – I would really appreciate some thoughtful comments on how that can be accomplished safely, regardless of which transportation mode you personally use and why, including specific thoughts on this specific stretch of road. Does anyone have a suggestion of what WOULD work on this stretch (even if you have already sent it to SDOT), since the city claims it will be retooling the idea, not dropping it altogether? – TR

    Comment by WSB — 1:43 pm September 16, 2013 #

  5. Ok, I’ll bite.

    Wouldn’t the area be safer if the bike like was EAST of the lane of parked cars? That way any rusting used cars sitting there taking up space would actually be offering an enormous amount of value – as barriers between car traffic and people on bikes.

    Comment by JW — 1:59 pm September 16, 2013 #

  6. I like JW idea.
    Another thought would be to keep the current path and use the money to remove the small piece of grass/tree section of the sidewalk from Olga to admiral. I.e. create a dedicated bike lane on the uphill side into west seattle. The sidewalk would still be present and you get a bike path.
    I believe the admiral bridge would also have enough room to support the path.

    Drivers would also benefit since they wont have to move over or wait for bikers in the sharrow. Its a win win.

    Comment by wsea — 2:18 pm September 16, 2013 #

  7. @JW There’s actually a popular way of doing bike lanes (I think Dutch, or German, but spreading) to separate bike lanes from traffic by putting them on the other side of parked cars, so that the parked cars/parking spaces do indeed act as a protective buffer.

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 2:25 pm September 16, 2013 #

  8. I think the JW & wsea approaches would actually be very effective. The sudden transition from dedicated lane to sharrow would be far less stressful to all road users a little further on – with less incline and straight lines of sight.

    Comment by JAT — 2:41 pm September 16, 2013 #

  9. I support the bike lane, and like the idea of a barrier separating bikes from vehicle traffic. But I don’t care much for using a parking lane for that purpose.

    Related problem is cars entering and leaving Admiral Way at CityView, SW Hanford, and 34th SW. We need a turn lane along this stretch. There is plenty of room on this right-of-way for all users.

    Comment by Mike — 2:43 pm September 16, 2013 #

  10. A funicular? I would like to ride but can’t make it up the hill on my leg power.

    Comment by Bus_rider — 2:48 pm September 16, 2013 #

  11. Further down the hill, they’re clearly two lots on either side of a house (lots are for sale and don’t appear to have been sold). It appears that access will be an issue (SW 31st doesn’t really have the infrastructure for additional access, so access will probably be via SW Admiral Way). Who at the City can one contact regard this?

    Comment by kt — 3:01 pm September 16, 2013 #

  12. WSB — Thanks for the ruler tap. JW’s idea has merit. I’ve noticed that drivers parking on busy streets, Calif Ave, Admiral, tend to fling their driver doors open without looking for oncoming cars or bikes hence JW’s idea is a good one for safety. I want to see the least amount of $ spent on Admiral’s bike lane. WSDOT needs to use our tax dollars for more severe roadway/freeway repairs.

    Comment by Seattlite — 3:07 pm September 16, 2013 #

  13. I can’t speak to the value of a separated bike lane (which is what you describe, JW) on Admiral, since I don’t normally ride there, except to say that I think they are a GREAT idea in general. SO much better to be separated from something that can kill me on my bike. BUT… it doesn’t work if cars are pulling across it to enter driveways or from side streets, or if people can open car doors into it (think: Alki). So that could render them unsafe on Admiral.
    .
    Since most cyclists are also drivers (but the opposite does not hold true), it’s good that cyclists are finally having a hand in bike infrastructure design.

    Comment by AE — 3:10 pm September 16, 2013 #

  14. More speed enforcement could help this section of road. People regularly drive it around 40-50 mph when the limit is 30.

    I’ve also never seen a cyclist riding that section so I’m not certain how close they actually come to cars. Or what the effect to drivers is when someone is coming up admiral.

    Comment by Civik — 3:41 pm September 16, 2013 #

  15. it’s fine as is. if you don’t like that there is no bike line past Olga then just hop onto the sidewalk. we don’t need to be spending money on problems that can be solved by a 10 year old.

    Comment by MarcO — 4:30 pm September 16, 2013 #

  16. So you don’t want ‘em on Avalon, and you don’t want ‘em on Admiral. Pray tell, folks, how are bicyclists supposed to get to the routes into the city? I remember cycling up Avalon before bike lanes, and it was downright scary. Even WITH the lanes it’s scary. Good idea, JW!

    Comment by ddr — 5:31 pm September 16, 2013 #

  17. I’m a little confused on the street markings going down-hill eastward on Admiral Way.The painted markings indicate a bicycle should turn right and procede to Avalon St. and then procede to Spokane St. Several times I’ve seen bicycle riders signal to switch lanes and continue onward and turn left with motor vehicles. Is this legal?
    The street signs say turn right. I’m confused. What happens in an accident? There was one less than a year ago and ended pretty bad. That rider also turned left and switched lanes. Sure would like some clarification on this. Thanks.

    Comment by let them swim — 6:09 pm September 16, 2013 #

  18. I don’t get it. Uphill on Admiral Way, use the sidewalk there’s hardly any houses or pedestians anyway. Unless Greg Lemond now lives atop Admiral way quit wasting taxpayer money on this nonsense.

    Comment by jj — 6:26 pm September 16, 2013 #

  19. I agree that the bike lane ending at Olga is unfortunate because sharrows or no, Admiral from Olga to California is problematic. And there are precious low-enough grade ways up the West Seattle hill. Admiral is one of them, Avalon another. California has such a steep and high curb and what I think is an increasing gradient at the park that it is a deterrent. I also think JWs idea is better than the alternate–let the car lot serve as a barrier.

    Comment by JayDee — 6:29 pm September 16, 2013 #

  20. Good. Wait until the next mayor then it will be canceled. I got w call today by someone from mcginns campaign asking to talk about the race, I started laughing, he asked why I was laughing and I said I would vote for daffy duck before I vote for mcginn

    Comment by Bye bye mcginn — 6:50 pm September 16, 2013 #

  21. Wonder if this was motivated by election year concerns …. Avoid getting voting blocs upset.

    Comment by My two cents ... — 7:09 pm September 16, 2013 #

  22. I like the divided lanes idea mentioned above-I.e., bike lane separated by parked car barrier…

    Comment by Giddy — 7:34 pm September 16, 2013 #

  23. I read the study SDOT put out last year anout parked cars on Admiral. This study didn’t mention how many cyclists actually ride up Admiral. I would say it’s less than 5/day in the summer and 0 in the winter. Most riders go up the sidewalk. of cars or that the climb is too hard?

    Comment by KSea — 7:50 pm September 16, 2013 #

  24. While they are at it they should change the speed limit back to 35 mph or even 40.

    Comment by Mike — 8:10 pm September 16, 2013 #

  25. This was a good article on the issue with biking in this town:

    http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2013/06/21/bike-expert-john-pucher-gives-downtown-seattle-a-scathing-review/

    Comment by Watchdog — 4:42 am September 17, 2013 #

  26. let them swim – I too am a little “confused” by the painted markings indicating that downhill bikes “should” turn right at Manning then turn left onto Avalon then turn tight onto Spokane or the Alki Trail. Negotiating all those turns and intersections seems far less safe or intuitive than merging into the left lane and proceeding more directly toward one’s destination. What was your question about legality?
    KSea perhaps my cognitive biases are showing but I see at least 5 bikes going up the hill every day in summer and 2 or 3 in winter and I’m only passing through there once; I have to presume that there are other cyclists using the lane when I’m not there observing them – it’s a real Schrodinger’s Cat problem isn’t it?

    Comment by JAT — 8:33 am September 17, 2013 #

  27. I ride up Admiral Way in the bike lane just about every day I ride home from working downtown. Moving it to the curb would make it a bit safer but I’m not sure the cost/loss of parking would be worth it.

    As mentioned above, the real problem for cyclists is that when you get to the left bend by the viewpoint, the bike lane goes away. At that point, I hop up on the sidewalk–it is way to dangerous to stay on the street with cars passing you around that bend.

    Overall, as both a cyclist and driver (and taxpayer), I would like to see less of the numerous small stuff like bike lanes and sharrows. Instead, separate bike lanes on a couple of the major commuter routes, such as Admiral and/or Avalon, and possibly 35th and/or Delridge would be more cost-effective and provide a safer environment that would encourage more people to commute by bike.

    Comment by J.J. — 8:46 am September 17, 2013 #

  28. I know the funicular is out there as an idea but seriously in this hilly city maybe a lot more people would be riding. I could go down hill to the water taxi and then if there was a funicular by the taxi or California Ave or maybe a little east of there – no problem going back up to the plateau. Most of the bikers could take the wide path/sidewalk from the lower bridge to Harbor Ave to it. It doesn’t need to hold passengers either. It could just be a bike funicular and steps next to it (unless it needed to be ADA compliant). Btw, this is city of Seattle right-of-way, not State. It would not be WSDOT which is state. Contact Dongho Chang with the city I believe he is the chief traffic engineer

    Comment by Bus_rider — 9:54 am September 17, 2013 #

  29. let them swim: yes, it’s legal for bikes to turn left there with traffic.
    .
    KSea: Where is your estimate coming from? There many, many more cyclists on that route than “5″ and “0.” It’s a common route.
    .
    JAT: Or as you said, “Schroedinger’s Cat.” Ha! You’re the cleverest kid on the block today!

    Comment by AE — 12:10 pm September 17, 2013 #

  30. Second JJ’s comments. I ride up Admiral during the work week daily, year round and sometimes on the week-end. It is a well used route. The issue really has to do with being dumped off into a dangerous corner at the top of the hill as other commenters have suggested. The sidewalk is the safest option except that there are also pedestrians using the narrow sidewalk.
    A funicular? People have been riding bikes up the hills in Seattle for over 100 years. Keep peddling: eventually you make it!

    Automobile speeds are way too high in general, and on the hill, people drive like it is a freeway. It is noisy and if you are riding in the bike lane, it is really unsettling to have people accelerating at 45 MPH 3 feet from your left shoulder.
    How about installing speed cameras on the hill and issuing tickets when people exceed the speed limit? The resulting revenue stream could easily fund safety and roadway projects on Admiral for ALL users of the road.

    Comment by Mr. Bradley — 2:22 pm September 17, 2013 #

  31. @JAT, On the legality: the road-way signs say turn right. That’s all. So, if riders turn left not following the road signs — is that illegal/legal? I guess that’s up to the police to decide when another accident occurs. Not if–but when. I, for one, slow way down when I see a rider at the bottom of the hill and wait to see which way they go. It’s scary ’cause at the last minute some riders –boom and turn left– pedaling like hell. Then they have to merge to the left and contend with traffic from Harbor and Avalon. Seems more dangerous than following the signs. I just watch-out.

    Comment by let them swim — 3:29 pm September 17, 2013 #

  32. @let them swiim – the sign at the bottom of the hill is informational – one sign shows the bike connections to the right, and there is also a Right Turn Only sign for anyone in that lane.
    I usually go right there and deal with the 3 intersections to get onto the bike path, but if traffic is light I’ll go the direct route to the left on the overpass. But you are right: going that way is sketchy.

    Comment by Mr. Bradley — 3:59 pm September 17, 2013 #

  33. One thing I would like to ask the frequent bike rider. Do you feel like the bicycle facilities belong mostly to the most able-bodied bicyclist or do would you welcome all bike riders such as families, young or old riders or “slow” riders? I read the Seattle bike blog after the pedestrian got hit in a crosswalk a few weeks back in Madison valley and I got the feeling that not only is there a great mistrust between some who use cars and some who use bikes, but I felt like there was hostility for the non-hardcore bicyclist and or pedestrian to get out of the way. I want to ride and I would love to be able to ride up admiral or Avalon but if I can’t, do you think my child and I shouldn’t be there? How can we share the road?

    Comment by Bus_rider — 6:05 pm September 17, 2013 #

  34. I wasn’t trying to come across antagonistic. Just want a safe to ride with my child that varies in difficultly. Accounting for the fact that I may never be as capable on a bike as riders who commute or ride often.

    Ok, how about a separate right-of-way switch back path just for bikes further north with an option for an easy grade and a more agressive grade for the abled-cyclist? This would give an option for getting a lot more people up the hill.

    Comment by Bus_rider — 6:32 pm September 17, 2013 #

  35. @bus rider: I am a frequent (daily year round) bike rider. I feel like many streets today in Seattle, especially arterials, are comfortable only for able-bodied, confident, bike riders. And that we can change that without slowing down cars!

    If we do it right, the more people on bikes, the less congested it will be for car and truck traffic. Our streets (not ALL of them but MOST of them) would be so much better for everyone if they worked for people of all ages and abilities to walk, ride bikes, take buses and drive cars and trucks.

    Right now, the demographics for bike riding are skewed to young males. Just like the army, because they are more physically able and more fearless. It does not need to stay that way. You are by no means alone in your desire to ride safely and have your children be able to get around their neighborhood safely on their own.

    Kids should be able to walk or ride to their school and parks and their friends houses. Older adults should be able to walk or ride to shop, socialize, or for fitness and recreation. Any adult or teen should be able to commute to work or school within a reasonable distance in a reasonable time without fear for their lives.

    I rode up that route on Admiral today on my way home, with another rider. Only one car was parked at 6 pm in the long stretch from Spokane to the bend before the view point, and it had a for sale sign in it. A buffered bike lane should work fine there. It would be like the stretch of Alki Ave by the statue of liberty, except less parked cars, less pedestrians. The curve at the viewpoint and the bridge, as others have pointed out, is the real problem, and safe crossings of Admiral at Olga and street to the west.

    Comment by Don Brubeck — 7:41 pm September 17, 2013 #

  36. @let them swim. Washington is a “permissive use Lane” bike lane state. Bicyclists may use bike lanes but they are not required to – this is analogous to an HOV lane; we do not require carpools to use the HOV lane, we merely penalize (too rarely) non-qualifying users from using them. Some cyclists may feel the Manning corkscrew is best for them, others may merge left and go with the majority of traffic along the most direct route.

    @Bus_rider – Excellent question and not antagonistic sounding at all. Obviously Don Brubeck sets the optimistic accommodating tone just right. There are probably some aggressive impatient cyclists that are aggravated by sharing bike facilities with slower cyclists – that’s a shame. It’s probably not feasible to build cycling facilities that suit every sort of cyclist out there and I think it’s a bit of a disingenuous pipe-dream for most cycling advocacy organizations to portray that as a universal and attainable goal.

    My hope is that where facilities are built (and “facilities” range from grade separated cycle tracks to stenciled “sharrows”) they are built competently and safely. The bike lane on Admiral, abruptly ending at Olga was not done so. The attitude of SDOT seems to be “eh, good enough!” and I don’t like it.

    Comment by JAT — 11:22 am September 18, 2013 #

  37. Buffered bike lane is needed…

    Comment by Giddy — 8:55 pm September 18, 2013 #

  38. Thank you Don B. and JAT for your responses and articulating your opinions. Perhaps if more people could feel like it wasn’t an elite type of activity to run about with your bicycle around town we would certainly have more people riding and would tip the scales to more inclusive (safer) facilities and not a prioritzation of one type of transportation mode over another. I would definitely rider more and farther if I felt safer.

    Comment by Bus_rider — 12:01 pm September 19, 2013 #

  39. @bus rider: Before getting back to the subject of the uphill bike lane on Admiral I want to reassure the “willing but wary” bike riders that we are thinking about them and their safety with the use of Neighborhood Greenways. Streets that run adjacent to arterial routes often can be not only safer but also more efficient. If I ride from Admiral to the Junction I like to use 44th Ave. from PCC to the Farmers Market. On that stretch I have only one stop sign as opposed to 5 traffic lights. At the stop sign I look both ways and go. I don’t run red traffic lights so the 44th route is much faster and with very low car volume. 44th is a potential Greenway with upcoming designs that calm the traffic speeds to 20 mph which benefit children playing or walking to schools and destinations, transit users who need to walk to their bus connections, home owners who do not want high speed traffic on their street and of course bicycle users who need a calmer route to ride. As for the position of the Admiral bike lane I would like to see it on the curb side with whatever cars might be parked along as a barrier, you know like in Europe. What we can all work on together is the behavior of bicycle riders who will not cooperate with the other cyclists and other forms of traffic.

    Comment by alkistu — 3:36 pm September 19, 2013 #

  40. Love all these ideas! West Seattle and WSB are terrific! I like the bike lane as a way to give bicyclists a safe place to ride in the street. I was nearly hit as a pedestrian three times this week by bicyclists riding very fast — on the sidewalk!!! Once was even in the dark and the bicycle had no lights. I was taught that pedestrians have the right of way on the sidewalk and that bicyclists need to be part of street traffic. Is that not true these days? Is there a productive conversation to be had on this issue? Is there a way to make sure sidewalks are safe for pedestrians?

    Comment by WS Family — 7:42 pm September 19, 2013 #

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