Three miles of Lake Washington Boulevard will close to cars during 10 weekends this spring and summer, a return of a popular program to temporarily designate the lakefront street for pedestrians, bikes and scooters.
The transformation of the road will occur as the city mulls long-term changes along the southwest portion of the lake, including permanent limits on car traffic and other alternative uses of the boulevard.
“Bicycle Sundays” on Lake Washington Boulevard date back years. But as the COVID-19 pandemic first gripped the region, the program was expanded to whole weekends. On one weekend last year, the Seattle Department of Transportation tallied nearly 4,000 bike riders. After the popularity of the program the city again closed the boulevard to cars on weekends from July through October 2021. The city took a similar approach across Seattle with its “safe streets” program, barring nonlocal cars to create more space for people cooped up in lockdown.
“Bicycle Weekends,” as SDOT is now calling them, will begin Friday, May 20, and run through the weekend of Sept. 16. For most of the 10 weekends, the route will be closed to cars from Friday at 7 p.m. until the following Monday at 7 a.m. On Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day weekends, the change will run until Tuesday.
The designated area will span between Mount Baker Beach to the north and Seward Park to the south, a relatively flat and tree-lined stretch that follows the curves of the lake. Residents and delivery drivers will be allowed to access the street via cross streets that intersect with the boulevard.
Parking lots at Mount Baker Beach, Stan Sayres boat launch, Lake Washington beach, Adams Street boat ramp, Lake Washington Boulevard Park, Ferdinand Street boat launch and Seward Park will also remain open, with access from nearby cross streets.
SDOT is simultaneously undertaking a $200,000 “visioning process” to consider how Lake Washington Boulevard is used. A group of community members in the area will offer the city input and ideas through the end of the year. Decisions about Lake Washington Boulevard’s future operations could come in 2023, according to SDOT.
“In terms of, what is the vision of what LWB could be, it really is to create more space to access for folks who don’t drive,” said City Councilmember Tammy Morales, whose district includes the 3-mile boulevard stretch. That could mean permanently reducing the road to one lane or some other change to make the road a more bike-centric arterial, but no such change seems imminent.
This year’s bicycle weekends are:
- May 20-23; 27-31
- June 10-13; 24-27
- July 1-5; 15-18
- Aug. 12-15; 19-22
- Sept. 2-6; 16-19