Seattle’s Bike Infrastructure Hamstrings Growth

Seat­tle’s bike isn’t keep­ing up with the city’s ambi­tious plan to dou­ble bicy­cling as part of its cli­mate goals, writes Ryan Pack­er in The Urban­ist. Pack­er pro­vides of bike lane designs that lim­it the capac­i­ty of lanes, such as bike box­es at inter­sec­tions that can only accom­mo­date two to three bikes.

“But while the of bike box­es will absolute­ly play a small role, there seems to be , larg­er con­sid­er­a­tions loom­ing that look to lim­it the true poten­tial of the city’s bike net­work as it con­tin­ues to grow.” Pack­er points out that the pop­u­lar­i­ty of car­go bikes also sig­nals a need for increased road capac­i­ty.

Yet city designs rec­om­mend min­i­mum lane widths, putting cyclists in con­flict with cars and pedes­tri­ans on some of Seat­tle’s busiest bike­ways. “A bike route between Capi­tol Hill and Pike Place is one that clear­ly needs to accom­mo­date a lot of rid­ers. And yet the pro­tect­ed bike lane being installed right now on Pine varies quite a bit in terms of its width on dif­fer­ent blocks down­town. Between 7th Avenue and 6th Avenue it nar­rows to about four-feet wide, rais­ing ques­tions about the city’s abil­i­ty to main­tain it with the elec­tric bike lane sweep­er.”

Pack­er sug­gests that updat­ed design stan­dards should “leave the idea of ‘min­i­mum’ stan­dard widths behind and push the city to be for­ward-think­ing about its bike­way (and ) width stan­dards, with the goal of full align­ment with lofty goals laid out in places like the Cli­mate Change Response Frame­work.”

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