In the shadow of the Seattle Center Monorail, bicyclists might someday get their own protected lane on Fifth Avenue, in a potential city retrofit.
Bicyclists might someday cruise in their own protected lane on Fifth Avenue in the shadow of the Seattle Center Monorail tracks, if the city’s latest idea survives the political gauntlet.
Right now, the southbound-only street has supports for the monorail tracks running along the middle, with one lane on the right and two on the left. There is no bike lane.
Under the plan, the right lane would be converted into a protected bike lane, while microparks or greenery might replace parking stalls at the right curb. Motorists could park their cars in what’s now the no man’s land beneath the monorail tracks. That leaves two left lanes for general traffic, plus some left-curb parking.
Dongho Chang, city traffic engineer, said such a change wouldn’t happen this year.
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“We are not very close yet,” said Chang.
Such a project would connect Seattle Center to McGraw Square Park, where the South Lake Union streetcar ends.
Neighborhood forums, City Council briefings, cost estimates, design studies and other accouterments of the Seattle Process aren’t yet scheduled, but the concept is circulating among bicycle advocates.
At least two changes are ahead of this one, Chang said: a route on Fifth connecting the new Mercer Street green lane to Denny Way; and a second phase of the new Second Avenue bike lane, linking Denny to the corner of Second and Pike Street.
Also, Amazon has agreed to fund two blocks of protected bikeway on Seventh Avenue next to its high-rise Rufus 2.0 campus.
Mayor Ed Murray’s transportation director, Scott Kubly, is striving to wean more travelers away from cars and toward transit, walking and bicycling — for instance, by making two lanes transit-only along four-lane Westlake Avenue North by next year.
Individual drivers, who lack advocacy groups, frequently say city polices are aggravating some of the nation’s worst congestion. City samplings show that 12,000 to 15,000 cars and trucks per weekday use the monorail segment of Fifth Avenue.
Washington is ranked the most bicycle-friendly state by the League of American Bicyclists, despite a mediocre 66 percent score, while “gold”-rated Seattle loses ground to Minneapolis. Somewhere around 4 percent of commuters use bicycles here, far from the potential 8 percent the city espoused in 2007, when then-Mayor Greg Nickels issued a bike master plan.