The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will repave N/NE 40th Street from Stone Way to 8th Ave NE as part of the Green Lake & Wallingford Paving & Multimodal Project that is set to get underway this fall.
SDOT's engineers had included the N/NE 40th Street bikeways in the near final designs of the project, but then cancelled them when a few landlords pushed back.
Now, instead of building the already designed bikeway, SDOT wants to install three pedestrian improvements instead. Pedestrian improvements are great, but shouldn't come at the cost of biking safely into the neighborhood.
SDOT has a disingenuous online survey that asks whether the pedestrian improvements are good. Of course they are. But that misses the point of Seattle's Complete Streets Ordinance, Bicycle Master Plan, needs for people biking into/from Wallingford, and basic fiscal responsibility.
The decision for N/NE 40th Street is exactly the same as what happened to the 35th Ave NE paving project. We need to put a stop these cutbacks to planned transportation infrastructure across the city.
Getting into the details
The Bicycle Master Plan calls for "minor separation bike lanes" on N/NE 40th Street, connecting Stone Way to the U District.
For approximately 1,000 residences between I-5 and Wallingford Ave, N 40th Street is the most convenient way to get to the U District and across the U Bridge. Plus, with John Stanford International School at 43rd St & 4th Ave, the connection is critical for children to bike and walk to school from the otherside of I-5.
Admittedly there are still many other streets across the city that also need safety improvements. With limited funding, it's critical that SDOT be fiscally responsible and strategic in its spending. That's why the Complete Streets Ordinance and the Move Seattle Levy call for biking and walking projects to be implemented at the same time as any other major transportation project.
SDOT estimates that building the N/NE 40th Street bikeway would cost $400,000 if planned, designed, and built by itself. Designed and built with the paving project, the bikeway would cost less than half — $175,000 — and that's what SDOT budgeted for the bikeway portion of the paving project.
This 56% cost savings is exactly why bikeways planned in the BMP, no matter their level of citywide priority level, need to be constructed as part of any other major transportation project. It's the most cost-effective way to build out the city's bike network and achieve the city's goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.
Consistent with its policies, SDOT designed an uphill protected bike lane and sharrowed downhill lanes for N/NE 40th Street. In addition, SDOT designed the Latona Ave NE and 7th Ave NE intersections to be much safer and rational for all users.
Unfortunately, after rather mild pushback from landlords of adjacent properties, the administration backed away from its near final design.
To not build the planned bike infrastructure is fiscally irresponsible and reckless to our safety. Plus, it violates the policies of the Complete Streets Ordinance, Bicycle Master Plan, and Move Seattle Levy.
SDOT wants to spend the remaining $70,000 of its original $175,000 from the bike budget on three pedestrian improvements. We are in favor of the pedestrian improvements, BUT:
The pedestrian improvements should've been designed into the paving project from the beginning.
We are deeply concerned SDOT is spending $175,000 of its bike funding on $70,000 worth of pedestrian improvements.
The effective impact on bike funding may be more than $575,000 — $175,000 spent on non-bike related projects and the $400,000 that will have to be spent in the future to build the bike lanes.
We still need a safer N/NE 40th Street.
What has transpired on N/NE 40th Street is the exact same issue as played out on 35th Ave NE. We need to tell the Durkan Administration that they must no longer backpedal planned bike infrastructure and waste funding dedicated to bikeways. It's unacceptable.
Tell SDOT Your Thoughts
In SDOT’s online survey, you can weigh-in on their three proposed intersection improvements: a leading pedestrian signal at Wallingford Ave N, a flashing crosswalk light at Latona Ave NE, and a flashing crosswalk light at Latona Ave NE and N Pacific St.
For each intersection, we suggest saying:
"I support this intersection improvement, BUT I also want the already designed bike lanes to also be implemented. Don't violate the city's Complete Streets Ordinance, Bicycle Master Plan, and common sense fiscal responsibility."