SDOT's unacceptable decision for N 40th Street

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

  1. The pedestrian improvements should've been designed into the paving project from the beginning.

  2. We are deeply concerned SDOT is spending $175,000 of its bike funding on $70,000 worth of pedestrian improvements.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Please complete the survey to let SDOT know.

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."

Complete SDOT’s Survey

Why we're excited for safer streets in Green Lake and Wallingford

The City of Seattle is planning a paving project for major arterial streets in Green Lake and Wallingford, to be completed in 2019. At the same time, the City will improve bus stops, add new traffic signals, and upgrade the bikeways to what is set-out in the Bicycle Master Plan.

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The City is currently about two-thirds of the way through its planning work for the project.  Here's what the City's plan would do:

  • Create new bus bulbs for easier & quicker bus loading at the bus stops along Green Lake Drive N East Green Lake Drive N, from Aurora Avenue N to NE Ravenna Boulevard.
  • Add three new traffic traffic signals near Duke's Chowder at the north end of the lake, near the Pitch & Putt at the south end of the lake, and at N 52nd Street.
  • Upgrade the existing two bike lanes on Green Lake Drive N from Aurora Avenue N to the north end of Green Lake Park with a three-foot buffer and plastic posts.
  • Change the current two bike lanes on East Green Lake Drive/Way N around Green Lake Park to a single, two-way protected bike lane directly adjacent the park.  The two-way protected bike lane would extend south on Green Lake Way N from the Pitch & Putt to N 52nd Street
  • Upgrade the existing two bike lanes on Green Lake Way N and Stone Way N from N 52nd Street to 45th Street with a three-foot buffer and plastic posts.
  • Add an uphill protected bike lane and downhill "sharrow" markings to N 40th Street.

As a group dedicated to safer streets in our neighborhoods, we are excited for the City's planned improvements. Here's why.