July 13

Should bike lane trump parking on Roosevelt?



Although cyclists appear to be in favor of a city plan to add marked bike lanes along Maple Leaf’s hilly portion of Roosevelt Way Northeast, many of the residents who live along or near the section that could lose 10 blocks of parking are not as supportive of the project.

At an open house last night at Fairview Christian School, 844 N.E. 78th St., the Seattle Department of Transportation laid the plan out and answered questions from curious as well as furious neighbors. (View a pdf of the plan here.)

The plan would add a bike lane  in the uphill sections and a shared bike-car lane (sharrows) in the downhill sections of Roosevelt between Northeast 75th Street and Northeast 105th Street. To make space for the bike lane on the narrower section between Northeast 75th Street and Northeast 85th Street, the plan also calls for eliminating parking on the west side of Roosevelt along that stretch.

And although parts of that section already prohibit parking on the west side during morning commute hours, simply adding that time limit on parking to the entire 10-block stretch still wouldn’t allow enough room to safely add the bike lane and the sharrows, SDOT workers explained. Zoned parking? Also not an option at this time, although Associate Transportation Planner Brian Dougherty said that is something the department would be willing to consider in the future.

Many of those who spoke up said they don’t even live on Roosevelt, but still live close enough to feel the effects of people parking on their block to shop, dine or go to Maple Leaf Playground, and some are even suspected of commuting via bus from Roosevelt and using neighborhood streets as their own park and ride. 

Residents were quick to remind SDOT workers that parking could be even more limited once the Maple Leaf Reservoir Park is completed in 2012, which doesn’t include any plans for additional parking.

But postponing the project until the park is finished, or even until the buses that are temporarily traveling down Roosevelt return to their former routes on 15th Avenue Northeast next spring, isn’t part of the current timeline.

The goal is for the department to adopt a final plan by the end of August, with implementation by September or October.

The project is part of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan, and is part of the voter-approved Bridging the Gap levy. But one cyclist pointed out that this bike route, which peaks at the third-highest hill in Seattle, isn’t likely to get the bike traffic the city expects because it’s so steep.

The dedicated bike lane would span for northbound cyclists from 75th Street to Northeast 89th Street, with sharrows in the southbound direction. Meanwhile, cyclists traveling southbound from Northeast 105th Street to Northeast 92nd Street would have the benefit of a bike lane for that uphill portion, while those traveling northbound would have sharrows.

Where the slope evens out a bit from 89th to 92nd streets, cars and bikes would share the road on both sides.

The plan includes other measures to encourage people to get out of their cars, including adding a new marked crosswalk at Northeast 90th Street, and SDOT also is hoping residents will offer other suggestions for potential crosswalks, Dougherty said.

If you didn’t make it to the meeting but still would like to make a comment about the proposal, call 206-684-7583 or e-mail walkandbike@seattle.gov, preferably within the next two weeks.

And please share your comments about the plan with us, as well.

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  1. Has anyone noticed that buses making a right turn from eastbound NE 80th to southbound Roosevelt can barely make the turn while staying in it’s lane. How is a bus going to make that turn when the lane has been narrowed by 5 feet to make room for the northbound bike lane? Looks to me that the buses are going to have to cross the Roosevelt center line to make the turn.

    One of the several problems that will be created regarding buses if the parking lane is omitted.

  2. A dedicated bike lane “sounds” like a great idea on the uphill sections, especially between 75th an 85th where it is already so crowded for everyone. That is until one listens to what must be given up to make that happen on a narrow road like Roosevelt Way NE.

    A dedicated bike lane in this section, as per SDOT plan, removes the second travel lane used by commuters and buses going South (the major direction of flow in the AM) between 80th and 75th causing even more congestion, idling bus and car fumes, and makes the buses stuck in traffic backup for the entire 10 block distance. I would recommend bicyclists consider riding the sidewalk to avoid this disastrous and dangerous congested lane. (Oh, and be sure to watch out for the unmarked drainage grates along the roadway edge where you’ll be riding in the SB congested lane. You don’t want to drop a tire in, bend a wheel or crash.)

    Using the West side parking lane for a commute and bus lane makes sense in the morning as it has been helping for some time now quite well for everyone, including residents, commuters and bikers. Taking out a lane of travel for the heaviest users and for mass transit to install a short “dedicated lane” northbound makes little sense and only worsens traffic flow, congestion, pollution, and safety.

    Marking the lanes as shared travel lanes with “Sharrows” keeps everyone moving, while making drivers more alert and therefore bicyclist more visible and safer.

    Our roads work best when we all quit trying to “get our own space” and start sharing the existing spaces with due respect toward all users: buses, commuters, bikers, residents.

  3. I wish there was a better plan for what to do with on-street parking (in general). Usually, the city’s decision has been to put in pay-stations, people then refuse to use it once it costs money. If the idea here is to remove parking then a suitable alternative should be given for those residents directly affected, otherwise it is not an option.

    Not surprisingly, cars/bicycles (which are both vehicles) continue to antagonize one another, to some degree each regards the other with certain disdain, just look at the vehement comments.

    We all understand that drivers must share the road with bicyclists. Painting all those little bike emblems “sharrows” everywhere seems rather unnecessary. Errant drivers are just that, they by definition do not slow down or pay attention.

    Putting dedicated bike lanes on busy city streets shows no evidence of actually making the traffic situation any safer. This project adds to overall congestion by defining absolute minimum lane widths instead of allowance for sharing the road.

  4. also a bicyclist – great point about the location of bus stops. I have always wondered that myself. It seems like right after an interaction is the worst possible spot for a bus stop.

    Nickbob – I understand your point about the roads, but the reality is that many of them are currently designed for vehicle travel and not bicycle travel. I have no problem designing new roads that include bikes lanes etc…, but trying to take an existing road not originally designed to have a bike lane and putting in one at the expense of already established parking places does not seem reasonable to me. I like some elses idea earlier in the comments about re-routing the bikes to side streets.

  5. Speaking of buses, who in the hell decided that putting bus stops right after an intersection was the best place, all it does is cause congestion and rapid merging of vehicles at the intersections . Wouldn’t the middle of the street or even right before an intersection be the better spot for bus stops?

  6. Another point hardly acknowledged is the backups behind buses at the bus stops if the street is narrowed to one lane southbound.

    And why would this change be so important to implement while Roosevelt is experiencing so much extra traffic serving as a 15th Ave detour route as well as being impacted by the new park construction?

  7. Bicycles cannot currently be held accountable, by law, if they cause accidents. Yes, drivers need to be mindful of bikers, but cyclcists are essentially “above” the law as traffic laws currently stand. Putting bike lanes on Roosevelt causes two problems:

    1. It limits parking in a neighborhood that sees a booming population

    2. Dedicating a lane (on one of the business throughways in Seattle) to cyclists is dangerous. For one, they are difficult to see and could be accidentally hit by a driver. Secondly, they can cause an accident and never be able to be held accountable by rules of the road. All vehicles on the road are required to have auto insurance. How come bicyclists do not need insurance? What if they are truly the cause of an accident?

    I’d like to work towards integrating cyclists on the road, but I think Seattle has gotten to a point where they cater to bikers who are not insured. It’s a matter of safety and accountability on the part of automobile drivers and bicyclists…. before responding, please just think of “safety and accountability.” That’s all – by drivers and cyclists.

  8. “streets were built and designed for cars first”
    -@MapleLeafBob, there have been streets in cities for thousands of years, autos have been using them for about 110. They’re for people getting around, and yes in living memory that means cars and so we don’t see hitching posts anymore because things change. As they continue to do. And every resident pays for street upkeep through property taxes either directly or through rent, and your licensing & registration helps to defray the higher wear & tear on those streets in addition to paying for police costs for the vastly higher consequences of lawbreaking in cars. (this isn’t to let nitwits on bikes off the hook, and there are always too many of them, but cars kill or maim a lot more people per cap) .

  9. People need to remember that streets were built and designed for cars first. I support bicycles and people that choose to ride them, but until they start to pay for registrations fees, licensing, and tabs like the owners of vehicles, they are not the priority on streets. I fully agree with bikes lanes, but at expense of previously established parking spots.

    Also, sorry, but trying to use Copenhagen as an example is not applicable. My cousins were born, raised, and live in Copenhagen and the only reason most people there choose to ride bikes is because the taxes on vehicles are so high they can’t afford to buy one and most people live in high density housing because no one can afford to buy a home.

  10. Street parking on Roosevelt is one of the things that keeps it from becoming another Lake City Way. If the bike lanes fail to decrease congestion, will the parking restored? I don’t think so. I bet the congestion backlash would vote to make Roosevelt four traffic lanes. Then no one will want to live along it, just as no one wants to live along Lake City Way now.

  11. Dan- we homeowners do not own the streetfronts for parking or any other use. That parking is a socialised expense, and as anyone who owns a home fronting Lake City Way can tell you, property owners don’t get a tax break for lacking a free parking spot. Furthermore, side street parking is nowhere near capacity, this isn’t Capitol Hill by a long shot.
    If more people used their bikes to commute, congestion goes down. Portland’s already showing that it can be done in the sane climate & geography, the best way to do is to make bike-friendly streets. No one will force You to bike, so your car commute ought improve.

  12. Simon – I take it you do not live in one of these houses ? So these homeowners should reduce the size of their lots that may be dedicated to gardens or other out door space to make you happy ? Pleased – you’re right, people do park too close to the corners. Where do you think those cars will magically disappear to when the road diet is implemented ? They will end up clogging the side streets. Now that is a great solution we can all get behind. Move traffic that can barely be accomdated on an arterial onto a side street that is already at parking capacity.

  13. The current plan removes an existing lane for traffic (southbound, during the morning commute). This means more congestion and more difficulty pulling onto Roosevelt — not less.

  14. By my count, there are a total of four (four!) houses on the west side of Roosevelt between 75th and 85th that do not have side street or alley access to their properties. The city could inexpensively mitigate the parking situation for these four houses, in the event they don’t have garages and driveways already, to put in a front yard driveway with a curb cut, even if they don’t have a car port of garage. Problem solved.

  15. I, too, see this as a welcome opportunity to make both cycling AND driving safer for all. Roosevelt is an extremely dangerous road through our neighborhood with people parking far too close to the corners. This makes pulling onto Roosevelt a tremendous challenge. By eliminating cars parked between 75th and 85th it will make both cycling and driving less treacherous. My hope is that they would extend this plan through 94th, add some painted crosswalks and another pedestrian light at Ace Hardware.

  16. I believe removing parking on half of Roosevelt Way will lead to lower real estate values both on Roosevelt and adjacent properties. No one wants to buy a house they can’t park in front of…even bicyclists. The current set of owner-occupied houses lining Roosevelt Way will slowly turn in to all rental properties, becoming progressively shabbier as time goes on. This bike lane will eventually be a huge financial burden to all homeowners in the area. The city’s tax revenues will suffer as well, because of the reduced property values that will result. We have to make sure the dedicated bike lane and parking restriction are blocked.

  17. @also a bicyclist- if that arterial comes with a streetcar line, sign me up. It would have to be one way, because changing a residential street to arterial doesn’t widen the street even if parking is eliminated. And I’m not “wishing cars away”, but keeping the door open for alternatives for the not far off day when gas prices spike again and stay there. If you don’t remember the gas lines in the 70’s, how about 2008? The buses were packed such that I was often late to work because the downtown espresses were too full to stop. Good for the city in looking ahead because like it or not we’re going to have to live with changed conditions.
    The Banner Way notion is worth a look, but putting bikes on the same path as people anxious to hop the freeway doesn’t fill me with confidence.
    The City could certainly do a better job of putting their reports and recommendations online, neighborhood surveys don’t seem to be available, but implimentation of bike integration is here:

    finally, 25 posts before the anti-bike rant appears. Not bad at all. Dave, you might be surprised to read this but not every car driver obeys the rules, either. Only two times I’ve been hit in the back with a soda can (while riding lawfully, I’ll add) were thrown from cars. Lots other drivers don’t throw cans at bicyclists, diversity at work. Blaming groups for the sins of the few, doesn’t solve many problems.

  18. Dave, now wait a second. This is not an anti-bicycle thing. I have as much right to ride my bike, as somebody else does there car, motorcycle, or scooter. I see many more idiotic and rude drivers than cyclists. BUT the city should not be inconveniencing homeowners to push their cyclist agenda.

  19. Bicycle people don’t give a damn about anything but themselves. They are rude, iunbcoibnsuiderate and I have yet to see them obey the rules of the road. At night they are liable to appear out of nowhere, no lights, dark clothes and will ridetight out infront of traffic, not fearing God or death. They can ride their bikes on the sidewalks or the gutters. They don’t need a special lane.

  20. Ok Stef, so lets take street parking out from your street and see how you like it.

    Does anyone who actually bikes through the neighborhood feel like commenting on my suggestion of using the side of Banner Way, and pave a trail where the grass hill is, and connect it right to 1st and then use 1st all the way to Northgate Way. This would also connect up with people coming from Greenlake and going to the Northgate transit center (which will also eventually be light rail).

  21. I support this on key arterials that make essential bike connections. The street is a public right-of-way and should be used to benefit the greatest number of people. Bike lanes would benefit more people (hundreds to thousands per day) than on-street parking does.

  22. If this proposal goes through as planned, my family will lose easy access to the front door (and main floor) of our house. This will prevent grandparents from visiting in the short term, and prevent us from staying here in the long term. Removing this residential parking will push out families and seniors. It is not good for the health of the neighborhood.

    Also, if SDOT follows through with this plan as it is currently designed, the result will be increased traffic on Roosevelt. Right now, traffic is worst during the morning commute, when drivers are heading south down Roosevelt. Many drivers take a right on 75th in order to get onto I-5. These drivers currently have a right turn lane on Roosevelt as they approach 75th to turn. This turn lane will be removed according to the plan. If removed, the backup of southbound cars during the morning commute will be substantially increased, and buses will be slowed down significantly.

    Lastly, the narrow width of Roosevelt between 75th and 85th, along with the high amount of bus traffic present, makes it a dangerous place for a minimum-width bike lane. The proposed lane would barely meet the federal guideline for minimum width. Car doors and buses are still going to present a huge danger along this stretch. I hope cyclists understand this. This dedicated bike lane would be much more dangerous than most (although it would appear much the same).

    I recommend sharrows be added to both sides between 75th and 85th, as well as a dedicated northbound lane be added to a wider, less dangerous parallel street (such as 15th, once the bridge is completed). This would avoid taking parking away from residents and visitors. It would also prevent cyclists from being hurt in a dedicated lane that is much more dangerous than it appears.

  23. I wonder how the guy who lives mid block on Roosevelt between 83rd and 84th, with out any alley access, feels about having parking restricted in front of his house. The guy does have a drive way but if he decides to buy another car or have visistors then he is out of luck.

  24. FYI – the Bridging the Gap levy was passed by (some) voters during Mayor Five Pennies term. I do agreee they analysis was limited and lack of informing the people impacted was also limited. I didn’t hear about the meeting until late yesterday when someone in the neighborhood came by to inform us. The city planners admitted they could have done a better job.

  25. These types of road diets are going on throughout the City with no analysis of the impacts on transit times or of traffic and parking bleeding into neighborhoods, the very communities the mayor campaigned to advocate for. Instead, he appears to be pandering the bike contingent to the exclusion of communities, families and transit riders.

  26. Last night the city planners did not have the answer available as to what is the average number of bike riders who currently use Roosevelt. I have been observing out my office window since 1996 and would guess few and far between. The goal is to increase bike rides but I suspect making Roosevelt safer isn’t going to make much of a difference because it isn’t just the 3rd highest hill, it is a long climb both directions. So, for a few, is it ok to impact the many residents and business owners?

    The main thing I heard last night is why use Roosevelt when you can connect with the existing bike lanes on 5th via Banner Way.

    It was also brought up how many people already park on the side streets because of our infamous messy Linden trees. One city planner said removing and replacing them with different ones would be an option! I liked that idea!

    I didn’t hear anyone last night that was pleased with the plan and there were residents there who were also bicyclists. I am glad to read the comments here from the pro side.

    I don’t know how many people were there but the comment box was filing up. The city planners said it was not a “done deal”. It was noted, however, that most people there were pretty cynical. I guess we will just have to wait and see if the cynics are right!

  27. As a driver and a cyclist that uses Roosevelt fairly frequently, the addition of a bike lane up the hill will only increase the the sight lines which will make it safery for all users. As for the loss of parking, maybe stepping up parking enforcement to better prevent derilict cars and RV.s from being parked long term. And while they are at it maybe parking tickets for the drivers who cannot seem to park any closer than two feet from the curb. I am all for it, a bike lane will help the handful of busniess on Maple Leaf see more foot traffic, more foot traffic means more money spent.

  28. As an actual resident who lives on Roosevelt, this is the first I have even heard of this proposal. At a minimum, the residents should have been notified of this meeting. Typical Seattle government making decisions in a vacuum. Since Roosevelt has such a high hill, we see very few bikers on the 95th to 105th stretch of Roosevelt and it is lunacy to get rid of parking to accomodate so few and impact so many. Once the cars are off Roosevelt, they will be jam packed in the surrounding sidestreets as the condos and apartments do not have sufficient parking. While it is nice to live in a Utopian world where everyone bikes and never has to haul anything or anyone, reality is otherwise. Time to wake up and see the unintended consequences. Not everyone wants to or can get out of their cars. Social Engineering in Seattle has got more than a little old as has the ridiculous argument that making life harder for others will make them see the world through another’s biased viewpoint. Good luck with that.

  29. Reducing parking on the west side of Roosevelt will only increase the number of cars parked on the side streets. Does anyone posting here actually live in Maple Leaf ? I do – on a side street that is currently at street parking capacity just from the people who live there. For you posters who live in Maple Leaf what is the parking like on your street ? Anyone who lives on 82nd, 83rd or 84th want to chime in ?Poster # 3 raises a great point about the new park.

  30. Actually, it is not NIMBY “to be pissed that your neighborhood is greatly changed since you have bought your house”. It is NIMBY to refuse any change at all because it is your neighborhood, and instead request the change be in somebody else’s neighborhood.

    So NickBob, would you be pissed if Seattle decides that the street you live on should change from perhaps a residential to a main arterial?

    Wishing cars go away won’t make it happen. I just think Roosevelt is a poor choice for a bike lane.

    As I said, they should use the side of Banner Way, and pave a trail where the grass is hill, and connect it right to 1st and then use 1st all the way to Northgate Way. This would also connect up with people coming from Greenlake and going to the Northgate transit center (which will also eventually be light rail).

  31. Pablo wins this round- 10.0!

    “It is not NIMBY to be pissed that your neighborhood is greatly changed since you have bought your house”
    -also a, that pretty much defines NIMBY. And, ‘greatly changed’? I’ve lived in Seattle since 72 and had my home here for 16 years and the nabe is better spruced, continues to lack sidewalks 60 odd years after incorporation and the Jolly Roger is gone and Yings has gratefully replaced Coons Chicken, but this neighborhood today wouldn’t shock my grandfather who died at Green Lake in ’58. Plenty to be unhappy about these days, but rapid Maple Leaf change isn’t one of them.

  32. As a cyclist, Roosevelt is a good route & smooth road, and the proposed bike lanes/sharrows are a good plan to improve fraffic flow. And as a driver & resident of the area, it will also help reduce speeds–too many drivers see the open pavement between Northgate and the top of the hill as an expressway, and far exceed the 30mph limit–which is unsafe for everyone–walkers, cyclists, and cars trying to navigate the area.

    And for more area parking–why not convert the lots next to Snappy Dragon that have been empty for years?

  33. Another way to phrase the question posed at the top is: “Should a major arterial be used for parking or should it be revamped for more efficient travel and public safety?”

  34. I’m thrilled with the plan–not just the bike lanes but also the pedestrian crossing improvements, etc. People freak out about parking, but the truth is that society is moving away from a drive-everywhere mentality and the change has to start somewhere.

    The removal of parking will actually help many drivers, too, since visibility is so poor when turning into Roosevelt from side streets.

    As we know from other neighborhoods (and from cities with permanent pedestrian-only zones downtown e.g. in Europe): reducing parking and making pedestrian and biking improvements does not generally negatively impact businesses. That is a tired argument based on fallacy. Instead, reducing parking usually increases foot traffic and creates stronger ties with customers who live nearby. Safe-to-walk and safe-to-bike areas draw people in, in actuality.

    The proposed plan does much to make Maple Leaf easy to walk and easy to bike, with minimal impact on drivers.

  35. We could just hire laid off cops to shoot people driving SOVs. That would certainly clear the roads for the bicyclists.

  36. Looks like a great plan – parking can still remain on one side of the street and traffic will be calmer. The new park will be a neighborhood destination, so businesses should benefit from walk-in traffic.

  37. Hey NickBob, yeah, that parking solution worked great for light-rail in South Seattle, didn’t it. It is not NIMBY to be pissed that your neighborhood is greatly changed since you have bought your house.

    And FYI, I commute by bike from Shoreline to downtown.

  38. They should use the side of Banner Way, and pave a trail where the grass is hill, and connect it right to 1st and then use 1st all the way to Northgate Way.

  39. The idea that parking on an arterial is somehow protected is another reason congestion is a major problem here. This measure is designed to reduce single passenger traffic, so drivers who continue on this route will benefit, busses will be less likely to get caught in traffic, and a surprising number of people (to those of you that *don’t* bike) will use the route for biking. I did in the 80’s when I lived in the UDistrict, worked in Shoreline, and commuted by bike. It’s not that hard, and as the first commenter pointed out a healthy way to live.
    It’s disapointing seeing this Nimby attitude on this
    blog, if not surprising. It won’t be a surprise to see a record number of comments, and if comments at the PI, Times, and other nabe blogs are a guide, well leavened with road rage. Hope I’m wrong about that.

  40. The people who live on Roosevelt and on the neighboring streets will be the ones burdened. If there was parking there before, it should remain. If you take away Roosevelt street parking, the neighboring residential streets will get all of the overflow. And since, as they pointed out, the city didn’t add any parking for the new park, it will be an even greater impact.

    I am all for bike lanes, but why the urge to stick it main streets? Roosevelt has so many blind intersections, not to mention it is VERY busy during peak hours, and they want to add a bike lane right in the middle of the street. Idiots, plain and simple. That is why I bike side streets, they are safer.

  41. For what they are proposing, this will affect many, many businesses along that road that do not have parking! why don’t we move the bike lanes over to 15th Ave instead, after the bridge opens up??

  42. Bike lanes should trump car parking on Roosevelt and everywhere! We have an urgent need for a fundamental infrastructure change, and bicycling in a city as compact as Seattle is a no-brainer. The added benefit of improving health makes one wonder why it’s even a question. Look to Copenhagen as a bike-friendly, low carbon footprint, good health model.

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