Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Russian Royale | An Open Letter to the Girl I'v... »

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No Bike Paths for South End

posted by on November 28 at 15:10 PM

OK, that’s not exactly true. The leaked bicycle master plan does call for one new bike lane in Beacon Hill (the red line in the map below), and new striping along Beacon Avenue (the yellow line), but the worst street for bikers in the city, Rainier Avenue South, is labeled “Improvement Needed, But Unknown.” So is Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. South, where light rail builders Sound Transit capitulated to drivers and agreed not to add a bike lane, which could slow down traffic. (Both streets are marked with dashed black lines on the map.)Nor is there any improvement scheduled for Airport Way into Georgetown, which used to be on the short list for improvements but was de-listed after industrial businesses complained.

bike paths south.jpg

This sucks for several reasons. First, light rail is supposed to make MLK a more pedestrian-friendly, bike-friendly corridor. Sounds like it’ll just be another expressway for cars. Second, it is fucking scary to bike down Rainier. Thanks to recent road “improvements,” drivers can careen down the road at speeds of 50 mph and higher with impunity. And Georgetown is already hard to get to without a car; a bike lane or trail along Airport would have finally given cyclists easy access to the neighborhood. Many improvements in the North End, like the much-delayed “missing link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail, are badly needed and long overdue. But I wish Seattle’s bike planners hadn’t left South Seattle in the cold.

RSS icon Comments


"Sounds like (MLK will be) another expressway for cars."

Hello? Hello? Did you ever go down MLK pre-light rail? It was worse than Aurora: People barreled off of I-5 and just kept speeding down MLK. There's no way light rail will make it any worse.

Actually, a bike lane along the ROW of the light rail might be a good thing, because the lights will theoretically be timed to coordinate with the trains.

Don't know if that's possible or not - I've been avoiding MLK since the construction work started. Not that it was my favorite boulevard prior to that.

Even more timely of a question: Will you be able to take your bike on the light rail trains? That would be cool.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | November 28, 2006 3:15 PM

Catalina is correct in saying that the MLK corridor will likely be somewhat better for bikes than the old corridor which was among the worst in town. And, yes, you will be able to take your bikes on light rail trains in the ST system as you are in most cities.

Erica is right in saying the South end gets short shrift in the city's plan, but why should this issue be any different than any other issue in north-dominated Seattle?

But she misses the fact that Sound Transit and its contractor are building a six mile extension of the Chief Sealth Trail with bike mitigation money down the length of Beacon Hill to the Rainier Beach station at Henderson.

ST has committed $1 million specifically to bike mitigation in the valley, which it really didn't have to do. The city and ST agreed that the property takes along MLK would be horrific if you widened the roadway and so the bike mitigation fund was established. Long story, lots of history, blah, blah...

Posted by i prefer a reality based commute | November 28, 2006 3:25 PM

I think IPARBC is correct - the reason it's not planned is they haven't seen how the new ST LINK line will affect traffic, and thus they want to figure that out before adding bike lanes to the mix.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 28, 2006 3:36 PM

Remember that this story is not over yet. These are draft maps. They will be revised after the public meetings. If you want those routes you should be ready to fight for them.

Posted by green street | November 28, 2006 3:47 PM

Thanks for unwinding this conspiracy! Once again, the north is oppressing the south, the whites are oppressing the blacks, and everyone is oppressing the bycicles. The racist, sexist, anti-bicyclists who wrote this master plan should have their driver's licenses revoked forever!

Posted by Sean | November 28, 2006 4:12 PM

Catalina: Yes, you will be able to take bikes onto the trains.

Sean: You are an idiot.

Posted by ECB | November 28, 2006 4:32 PM

I agree with ECB, Sean is an idiot.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 28, 2006 4:51 PM

Sean: Have you looked at Central/South Seattle lately? It is looking pretty white and well to do these days (true it is a tad downscale and a tad browner than the north end).

In any case I will agree South Seattle has gotten the short shrift compared to the rest of the City for a long time on pedestrian and bike improvements.

Posted by Chris S | November 28, 2006 5:24 PM

I've biked down Rainier Avenue before. If you're not sharing the road with homicidal drivers, you're sharing the sidewalks with drug dealers. WHAT AN ADVENTURE.

I think living along Rainier Avenue is a problem in itself. It's our MLK (even though we already have an actual MLK running near-parallel). The stretch isn't kind.

Posted by Gomez | November 28, 2006 6:04 PM

White and well-to-do? Columbia City, maybe. But Beacon Hill doesn't even have a Starbucks yet.

Posted by Waiting for a Wine Bar on Beacon Hill | November 28, 2006 8:23 PM

Great -- another excuse for Seattle's colony of asshole bicyclists to get on the sidewalk and do to pedestrians what they bitch so much about cars doing to them....

Posted by GoodGrief | November 28, 2006 8:24 PM

I tried biking to work for a while, beacon hill to boeing field. Almost being mowed down by a semi rumbling by put a stop to that. Very un-bike-friendly in the south end.

Posted by ky | November 28, 2006 8:31 PM

"But Beacon Hill doesn't even have a Starbucks yet."


We don't need a coffee McDonalds. We have two very good coffeehouses, (Java Love and Galaxy) But I suppose it will come in time, as there are those who equate a Wal-Bucks with affluence. ;-)

I will grant you that Beacon Hill's "business district" is pretty sparse, however.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | November 28, 2006 8:45 PM

"Sean: Have you looked at Central/South Seattle lately?"

Not only have I been to the Central Area, I live there! While the neighborhood has changed, it is no Greenlake.

"Sean: You are an idiot."

Driving is a privilege, Erica. Your driver's license should be revoked forever!

Posted by Sean | November 29, 2006 7:03 AM

Bike accomodations enable cyclists to stay on the street and off the sidewalk.

Posted by green street | November 29, 2006 8:42 AM

Erica, unless your aim is to systematically slaughter all of us bicyclists in the south end, then please do NOT call for a bike route on Rainier Ave. That street is no better suited for bikes then Aurora Ave, Cap Hill's 23rd Ave, or I-5 for that matter.

The Master Plan was wise enough to find pleasant and safe alternatives to Aurora and 23rd. It should do the same in the case of Rainier.

Posted by Southie | November 29, 2006 11:23 AM

Southie - what is a "pleasant and safe alternative" to Rainier Ave? By it's very nature, on the floor of a valley which cuts diagonally across the street grid, there are no parallel options. If not on Rainier, the alternative would consist of right turn, up hill, left turn, down hill, right turn up hill etc. I'd prefer to take my chances on Rainier.

In a similar vein, the extension of the trail along Beacon Hill doesn't help a lot either. If I'm downtown and want to bike to Rainier Beach, I'm sure as hell not going to go over that big hill to get there.

I'll be taking the flat, straight route to get where I need to be. If there are bike lanes, good. If there aren't, I'm just gonna 'own' my space on the road, and car drivers can deal with it.

Posted by boyd main | November 29, 2006 2:46 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).