WEST MARGINAL WAY: Long-awaited decision is in – SDOT says bicycle lane will be built

The decision is finally in on the West Marginal Way protected bicycle lane replacing a half mile of the outside southbound traffic lane north of the Duwamish Longhouse. The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force has just been told – in their monthly meeting (watch here) – that the lane will be built.

>(Screenshots from slides presented at today’s meeting)

It’ll be a 4-foot, 2-way protected bike lane with a jersey barrier (here’s our previous coverage of the design that was recently unveiled).

SDOT contends that losing the lane at that spot will have a “negligible” effect on travel times. The construction will not start, however, until after the bridge reopens in 2022. In Q&A, Zora says the mayor has signed off on this. Here are the topline reasons for the decision:

In discussion post-announcement, SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe noted that traffic on WMW is not likely, post-bridge-reopening, to be anything near what it is now. He insists SDOT is committed to freight mobility (the city’s Freight Advisory Board opposed the bicycle lane, and the Port of Seattle expressed concerns). Other updates from the meeting will be in separate coverage.

60 Replies to "WEST MARGINAL WAY: Long-awaited decision is in - SDOT says bicycle lane will be built"

  • Joe Z July 14, 2021 (12:35 pm)

    This is great! I was afraid they were going to kill it. It is currently unpleasant to bike in that corridor but it will be better after the high bridge reopens and traffic returns to its old pattern.

    Also, can jersey barriers please be the default for ALL bike lanes in Seattle. 

  • Eldorado July 14, 2021 (12:56 pm)

    This is great news… and even better news that they realized the best thing to do would be to wait until the High-Bridge has been repaired. The bad news though, (and this is just my opinion…) it won’t be in 2022… more like 2024. Just sayin’

  • D July 14, 2021 (12:58 pm)

    This is awesome! I was just thinking to myself: “What else could Seattle do to add more congestion and make things more dangerous while the West Seattle Bridge fiasco runs its course”.

    • WSB July 14, 2021 (1:36 pm)

      As the story notes, this will not be built until after the bridge reopens.

    • rpo July 14, 2021 (1:43 pm)

      How would this create more congestion? It is not taking away a lane that continues down Marginal.

    • Foop July 15, 2021 (7:50 am)

      Honestly, waiting makes it more dangerous and adds more congestion. That section of lane only enables line jumpers who will cut back in and slow traffic as they do, if not cause an accident.

  • Duffy July 14, 2021 (1:03 pm)

    Well thank Christ they have the brains to wait until the bridge re-opens to build this.

  • Kathy July 14, 2021 (1:06 pm)

    Right decision to finally complete the gap in the West Duwamish Trail for bicycle traffic. Wrong decision to drag heels on this project until after the WS Bridge is fixed. The threat to people biking is more urgent than ever now that there are more impatient speeding vehicle drivers on this short stretch of West Marginal Way. As happens far too often, SDOT bows to the wishes of pearl clutching drivers who wildly exaggerate the impact that doing this project now would have on their commutes. My sympathy for truck drivers opposition to this project diminished yesterday when a speeding semi driver gave me the finger for being in a crosswalk on Harbor Island. I judged the distance to be adequate when I entered the crosswalk. He didn’t like having to slow down, I guess.

    • rpo July 14, 2021 (1:43 pm)

      I agree 100%.

    • Spoked July 14, 2021 (10:28 pm)

      Agree that roadway improvements like this should be implemented asap, without delay, wherever possible. Safe and well connected bike infrastructure is sorely needed here and elsewhere. Hope the delay isn’t simply an appeasement of frustrated motorists. The bridge will take as long as the bridge will take, and perhaps it’s possible to work projects like this simultaneously. If not, it’s understandable, the high bridge is a major transportation crisis affecting many people and businesses in West Seattle.

  • A-Red July 14, 2021 (1:08 pm)

    Cue West Seattle motorists losing their sh!+

    • Kram July 14, 2021 (2:25 pm)

      Why? I don’t even own a bike and I’m for this. It’s a great design for a terrible stretch of road for everyone including cars. The only people who were upset were people who thought a lane was going away but it was not a useful lane.  Any motorists upset by this just aren’t reading the plans.

      • Olivist July 14, 2021 (3:24 pm)

        I don’t believe this is correct.  I believe one of the plans could have resulted in 2 useable lanes for the duration of WMW, starting after the lane reduction under the actual bridge by removing the 3 parking spaces at the longhouse. To be honest, I never thought they’d come to any other decision so silly the spent so much time and any tax dollars on it. SDOT had already made it’s  decision before it even published the options.  I’m sure the poet and the freight association feel very heard. 

  • DelridgeDriver July 14, 2021 (1:21 pm)

    This is such great news! I drive that stretch often and I’m so happy that my bike riding neighbors will have a safer, more convenient route there.

  • Greg July 14, 2021 (1:23 pm)

    Is anyone actually surprised by this decision? 

  • T Rex July 14, 2021 (1:39 pm)

    Reminds me of the Three Stooges.”Hey Moe, I’m trying to think and nothing happens!” I have never seen a more incompetent group of people at SDOT or our city council. Also quoting Steve Martin…”I get paid for doing this….” 

  • Alki rider July 14, 2021 (1:47 pm)

    Although the bike lane is a welcome addition, the location and implementation will make it more dangerous to avoid or pass drivers on West Marginal when commuting via a motorcycle. Jersey barriers are dangerous to motorcycle riders and the only other option to avoid a collision would be the center turning lane, not a good option either.

  • NotWoke July 14, 2021 (1:54 pm)

    Bad decision here. Great example of a 1 party town losing touch with reality. Not everyone is able to bike yet the minority (bike commuters) are dictating policy for the majority (car drivers). Not the way its supposed to work in our society. Fingers crossed for a regime change in city hall.

    • Asleep July 14, 2021 (3:06 pm)

      @unwoke,  ditto that!Also, why not keep the bike lane on one side for the full stretch of WMW?  Get rid of the crossing light that stops traffic in both directions for the one lone bicyclist that occasionally may need to use it.

    • Seattlite July 14, 2021 (9:20 pm)

      NOTWOKE — I like your thinking. 

    • Spoked July 14, 2021 (10:18 pm)

      The biking minority (which is increasing every year) are also citizens and need safe infrastructure for their mode of transportation as well.

      Also, for those who say there aren’t enough cyclists on this road for the project to be worthwhile, that’s actually part of the point. More bike infrastructure and improvements will increase biking to these areas, and make shared roadways safer for all. And, will help reduce car traffic, and carbon emissions. These are positive things for the community.

      • JenT July 15, 2021 (10:32 am)

        Can you share a data source on how many more people will switch from cars to bikes with this infrastructure work?  How many people currently bike this stretch? How many more will bike this stretch? Is it in the thousands? 

        • Don Brubeck July 16, 2021 (9:08 am)

          JenT,  there is not a data source to count something that does not yet exist.. Planners do not count the number of people swimming across a river to decide whether to build a bridge.Many hundreds and sometimes thousands of people do bike across the Spokane Street Bridge every day thanks to a bike-pedestrian path separated by a concrete barrier from heavy truck traffic. That is one indication that if safety improvements are made more people will bike,  Other examples include the 2nd Ave bike lanes downtown, where biking increased several times over the preexisting condition.  24/7/365 counters provide data for those locations others.

        • Spoked July 16, 2021 (5:02 pm)

          Hi @JenT, it’s been shown time and again that when bike infrastructure is built or improved, biking along the route increases. Cyclists need safe and efficient access to connect from one place to another, just like motorists do. Once there is improved access along this route, more will consider biking it. I’ll be looking forward to biking out to Georgetown and South Park more, which I rarely do currently, because there is such a lack of safe and well connected bikeways out that way.

          Thanks Don for your comments here.

  • Mike July 14, 2021 (2:28 pm)

    I still don’t understand why the timing of this was such a huge deal.  Because of the existing parking at the longhouse people only use that half mile stretch of a right lane for passing only to be shoved back into the same lane of traffic you started with at the 5-way. 

    • rpo July 14, 2021 (2:53 pm)

      You nailed it. Everyone who is against the bike lane is not understanding the location or that 95% of cars don’t use the right lane during the short half mile section it exists, and the ones that do are dangerously passing people at double the speed limit.                

      • K July 14, 2021 (7:34 pm)

        Because there is bike infrastructure already in place on the other side of the street. 

        • bill July 14, 2021 (10:05 pm)

          K — No, you do not understand the location. There is no bike infrastructure in this stretch. That is whole point of adding a bike lane here. The Duwamish Trail begins on the east side of WMW at the ped crossing light and runs south. To the north the “infrastructure” consists of a narrow sidewalk with blind driveways.

          • K July 15, 2021 (5:46 am)

            I do—I just misplaced my comment reply on here. I thought I was responding to someone who asked why not extend the bike lane down WMW entirely to avoid car drivers having to slow down for a crossing. But I don’t see that comment today…maybe I was that tired, hah.

  • DRC July 14, 2021 (2:41 pm)

          How much will this cost between 5-10 million dollars

    • WSB July 14, 2021 (2:59 pm)

      No. $400,000, as previously reported.

      • Rick July 14, 2021 (4:43 pm)

        Aaaaand we all know how that works.

  • reed July 14, 2021 (2:45 pm)

  • Jeepney July 14, 2021 (2:56 pm)

    Since it will happen after the bridge is reopened, I think it is a great idea.  However…….How about a bike lane (or sidewalk) on East Marginal?  I rode that stretch last weekend on my bike and it was pretty rough, even rode on train tracks at one point.

  • AN July 14, 2021 (2:56 pm)

    Where are the protected bike lanes on Delridge Way? I noticed that there are small sections but nothing continuous in either direction. 

    • Benjamin July 14, 2021 (4:50 pm)

      An.  There are none!  The city expects everyone on a bike to detour to 26th Ave. until they get up near Home Depot.  It’s ridiculous.  I note here that I not a fan of most “protected” bike lanes.  But the situation on Delridge is going to be horrible, as cyclist will not want to detour and cars have nowhere to pass, between the bridge and Home Depot,  approximately. 

      • Cyclist July 14, 2021 (5:29 pm)

        Count me as someone who willingly rides on 26th rather than Delridge.  When given the choice of a heavily trafficked road vs a parallel scenic route through a neighborhood, why wouldn’t you choose the safer, scenic route?  I don’t lose any significant time, and I don’t have to worry about drivers who choose to not give me 3 feet of space.

        • K July 14, 2021 (7:27 pm)

          26th hasn’t always been safe for cyclists, and I think we’ll see these problems crop up when traffic levels increase and the bridge reopens. Despite its greenway status, car drivers use it at a cut through during rush hour to “escape” Delridge traffic, sometimes traveling 2 lanes in the same directly, and it’s rather unsafe. The joys of a very wide, barely designed roadway! We’ve also had cars harass cyclists on greenways in general, including noted incidents on 26th, because they can and do get away with it. Pick your poison, I guess.

      • Foop July 15, 2021 (8:04 am)

        26th stops too soon, it’s much slower for a bike competing with cars, makes me cross more traffic (I live in south delridge so I end up on delridge anyhow) and adds more hills to my ride.I ride fast, close to the speed limit, even southbound (uphill) so taking 26th would add quite a lot of time of stop n go to my commutes.21st to 16th is…okay, at least with the construction detours, but I’ll be back on delridge personally when it’s back open. My biggest issue with delridge is the forced merges caused by car parking.

  • Kalo July 14, 2021 (3:45 pm)

    When talk of cyclists paying for these citywide improvements, be it having to license or pay some sort of tax at purchase, they start in on how they DO pay ifor these improvements. They perhaps pay property taxes to contribute, but how else do they help pay for these 100’s of thousands dollars for their specific two wheel lanes? Are there special disposal fees for bike tires (like w/motor vehicles)? I live and walk Alki daily, and most bicycle riders (and all scooter riders!) are great hazards to pedestrians on the Alki trail. Perhaps one in ten use their voice or bell to let you know they’re coming through . Electric bikes and scooters definitely do not belong on sidewalks! They should most certainly ride in out in traffic. They’re doing darn close to the posted 25mph limit! 

    • reed July 14, 2021 (4:06 pm)

      Yes many of us own houses, cars boats, blah, blah, blah and pay for bike infrastructure. But more importantly, we also heavily subsidize those who chose to do nothing by drive. In regards to the bike/scooter interactions you have on the trail, that shouldn’t be happening. I personally ride in the road because I’m going fast and get the same irritation when I’m running on the trail with my kids on their bikes. I find being confrontationally and yelling at people gets their attention.

      • Rick July 14, 2021 (4:51 pm)

        And it will get your arse kicked and/or just plain run over. Laws of man vs. laws of nature. Your choice.

        • Reed July 14, 2021 (9:42 pm)

          Rick I was a Naval Academy educated Recon marine before I became a corporate engineer, I’ll take my chances. 

          • Scubafrog July 15, 2021 (5:41 am)

            Semper Fi, Gyrene!

    • Kram July 14, 2021 (5:45 pm)

      Does this logic apply to sidewalks? Should people be paying tax or license to have a protected walking lane? Seems like a very detached comment as we should be supporting bike usage and making it safe. In fact your very example would benefit if there was a protected bike lane along Alki.

    • Foop July 15, 2021 (7:57 am)

      If you want cyclists off sidewalks, make roads safer for them. I ride in the road 99% of the time. I know people who want to get into cycling more for health reasons and because driving is a pain, but cars terrify/ terrorize them on a bike.

  • Jort July 14, 2021 (4:18 pm)

    Great news. Inch by inch, socially-conscious, thoughtful community members will claw back our public land from the society-destroying menace that is automobile traffic. This is but one step along the way to the overall goal of forcibly making transportation safer, more sustainable and more equitable for all residents. Car drivers can go ahead and enjoy the other 99.999 percent of non-park public land dedicated to their personal transportation choices. For now.  

  • ProbablyYourNeighbor July 14, 2021 (5:37 pm)

    Happy that they decided to go ahead with this, both as a driver and cyclist that uses this stretch of road. Waiting to do it is disappointing and seems arbitrary, but better than the alternative.

    One thing that has confused me- it seems like commercial traffic has been given the most weight in opposition, and from my observations it seems like nearly all of the tractor trailer traffic is on the opposite (east/northbound) side of the street, so what are the mechanics of this lane going away impacting commercial traffic? Is it just that vehicles turning onto West Marginal from the west side of the street won’t have a “merge” lane if they’re headed south?

    Kalo- the same could be argued about the financial burden of pedestrian infrastructure, and you can look at it a couple different ways; by the numbers, injured or dead pedestrians/cyclists are extremely expensive (first responders, medical care to recover to whatever extent possible, and cynically, the loss of economic contribution). Alternatively, we can choose to just…care about our fellow human beings and recognize that people should be able to go for a walk or bike ride safely. Until we figure out the magic answer to getting drivers to stop maiming and killing people who don’t have the protection of a car, that means paying for infrastructure to mitigate the risk.

    Alki is an interesting situation, and something that would generally benefit from everyone being a bit more thoughtful. I agree that anyone moving faster than a runner should probably be out on the road, but that doesn’t excuse oblivious groups of pedestrians that take up the entire width of the path, or people with headphones in that can’t hear yelling or a bell no matter how loud. There isn’t a ton of room to share the road along that stretch, and the influx of what I’d kindly call unsympathetic drivers that we get is terrifying, even for an experienced cyclist used to being around cars.

  • Del July 14, 2021 (5:48 pm)

    I’m glad the city is waiting until after the upper bridge is repaired. 

  • Scubafrog July 15, 2021 (5:44 am)

    I can’t imagine how many awful accidents there might be if the lane isn’t large enough.  Semis have a tough time seeing cars, let alone cyclists.  Situational awareness please, motorists.   

    • af12 July 15, 2021 (11:17 am)

      Good point scubafog!  In addition, by installing fixed object such as the proposed barrier next to the roadway, they may compromise the existing driveways sight distance specially if there is curve in some part of the roadway.  This project if implemented may decrease safety for all  modes of transportation and not improve it. 

      • Don Brubeck July 16, 2021 (8:52 am)

        AF12 the sightlines at driveways will improve over the current condition. Right now, people on bikes ride on the narrow sidewalk and can only be seen by drivers when the bike rider is actually in the driveway, due to buildings located up against the sidewalk and the property lines. Putting bike riders further out into the roadway gives drivers and bike riders a better sightline distance. The barrier between bike lane and general purpose traffic lane will be low enough to see over. It will significantly improve safety for bike riders. Improves safety for drivers, too, by eliminating the opportunity for reckless right-side passing of cars and trucks in the drivers’ blind spots,

    • Kathy July 16, 2021 (9:59 am)

      Excuse me, Scubafrog. If semi drivers have a tough time seeing objects around them like other vehicles or people walking or biking, that is on THEM.  If their vehicle is designed in such a way as to make it impossible to see objects around them, that is a vehicle design flaw that should not be allowed in this city/county/state/country. R.I.P. Robert Miesse who was killed March 24th when biking in a Georgetown crosswalk by the driver of a semi truck who turned into the crosswalk and “didn’t see” him. There are overdogs (large vehicle drivers) and underdogs (people walking and biking) in this street fight. By delaying this project, SDOT is siding with the overdogs who have a few minutes commute time and maybe a slight delay in the delivery of goods at stake versus the underdogs who have their lives at stake. 

  • AlkiResidentAgain July 15, 2021 (9:19 am)

    I suspect that there are many like me really puzzled with this decision. When I am going south of West Marginal, I see a bike path virtually the length from under the high rise bridge to Highland Park that is separated from the roadway by a grass median.  I suspect that commenters believe this is for walkers (or not the right surface for “serious” bikers) — but this is an industrial area with few walkers. Rarely do I see anyone (bikes or people) on that path, which is the safest as one can be (relative to taking a car lane)???  This seems like a very stupid decision given the existing bike path.  Even when the bridge was open (or is again), its the backway to Burien/Des Moines, etc and gets a fair amount of usage.  Another SDOT poor use of existing infrastructure.  If the existing path is not sufficient for biking, make that the project  – dont take a car lane.

    • rpo July 15, 2021 (12:41 pm)

      The new lane being built is along the section of W Marginal where there is NO EXISTING BIKE PATH ON THE EAST SIDE.

    • Don Brubeck July 16, 2021 (8:56 am)

      AlkiResidentAgain, the bike lanes are only slated to be installed in the short section of WNW north of where the bike/pedestrian trail ends. At that section there is not even a sidewalk on the east side and just a narrow sidewalk on the west side.  99.9% of bike riders use the path where it exits instead of riding in 40 mph+ traffic with impatient vehicle drivers,

  • iwyyzpcpbatssadfqi iwyyzpcpbatssadfqi July 15, 2021 (10:46 am)

    So the bridge is going to be fixed, they’ll add the bike lane, and then its going to break again in 5 years, and traffic on WMW will be twice as bad for the 10 years to replace it, and they won’t remove the bike lanes, just like they arent removing the mostly unused parking spots now.How about we make the 1st Ave S bridge bike-only while were at it?

  • Don Brubeck July 16, 2021 (9:28 am)

    While sooner would be better, it is good to have this commitment from SDOT to improve safety for bike riders and vehicle drivers on West Marginal Way SW.  Reducing the opportunities for reckless right-side passing by impatient drivers should reduce the frequent crashes that tie up traffic for hours and injure people using this route. WMW is an essential freight route. SDOT is right to prioritize freight and to accommodate all others who must use this street.

    Kudos to the SDOT team that developed a creative plan and reached out to all who depend on this street for transportation.
    This will fill in a missing link in the Duwamish Trail, a regional bike commuting and recreational route leading to the Alki Trail, West Seattle Junction, South Park, Georgetown, Tukwila, SODO, Downtown Seattle, and the Mountains to Sound Trail. The route serves marginalized communities in the Duwamish Valley. This route is critical for all bike
    traffic between northern West Seattle and Greater Seattle at times when
    the Spokane Street Bridge is closed to bike traffic for inspections and repairs. It will make the route safer for commuting by bike, especially in winter and at night.

  • West Marge July 16, 2021 (5:06 pm)

    This should be a fun experiment. As a decade-long West Marginal resident, I live right here in the chaos on Riverside, and I’m super interested to see how much this lane will actually get used. It’s mostly rec users down here, and I know that our entire neighborhood, except for one lone bicyclist, who works from home, is not looking forward to the brand new bottle neck. It’s already a ridiculous challenge to get out of our street as it is. And before anyone starts hating on us for our cars, the closest bus stop is a mile away, and the only grocery stores are up on the hill. We are literally a USDA food desert down here. I appreciate the idea of safety, but because there are so few pedestrians down here, bikes use the sidewalk. If anything, pave 17th SW and put a bike path through it. This is so dumb. 

Sorry, comment time is over.